Saturday, May 18, 2013

How to Chose a Mah Jongg Hand

How do I decide which hand to go for?
In my opinion, this is the #1 stumbling block for the
beginning mah jongg player.
I assure my students that this is the challenge that we
all face when playing this game.
The sooner they learn the hands on the card--really learn the hands--
the easier it will be!  

Once you look at the tiles that have been dealt to you, there
are times when it is fairly obvious which hand is calling your
But quite often, you just don't know where to start.
Here's two suggestions: 
If you have been dealt pairs, try to start building something around them.
It is not always possible--9's and 4's don't go together very well,
but the 7 Hands do lend themselves to some interesting number combinations.
And you do have the choice of doing a 7 Hand either in one suit or 3 suits.
There are 6 possible hands in the category.
Depending on if your pairs are even numbers, odd numbers, consecutives, or 3,6,9's,
you will know what section on the card you should be looking at.
Then during the Charleston you try to gather tiles that would work with what you have.
You don't necessarily have to have a hand right away, but hopefully after the Charleston you will have a good start in some section. 
Another idea is to save all of your dominant suit and try to obtain more
of that suit during the Charleston.
Then see how it looks when the game begins
 and keep all your options open for as long as possible.
I count 15 hands on the 2013 card that you can do using just one suit--some 
requiring flowers and the matching dragon. That is a lot!
 I have had students who have trouble grasping the color coding
concept of the card just play the game, and be successful, playing
only the one-suit hands
until they feel more comfortable with the card.

Happy Clicking!

If you know of anyone in the Phoenix area who is interested in learning to
play Mah Jongg, please have them contact me at

For The 12 Pitfalls of Beginning Mah Jongg, go HERE.

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