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The game of mahjong is widely played today, particularly in many Asian nations. Many play it for leisure, while others employ strategies for winning mahjong because a bet is at stake. In the United States, the concept of mahjong as a strategy game has become a hit among many players from different cultures.
Why Play Mahjong
Playing mahjong offers many benefits. Here are some of them:
Good Leisure Activity
Playing mahjong can help you unwind. It doesn’t take much to start a game. All you need would be a mahjong table and a set of mahjong tiles that you can play with. You can have as many as four players at a table, but it’s also okay if you only have three players.
Perfect for Catching Up with Friends
Aside from thinking about the different strategies for winning mahjong, players can also use the time to catch up with friends. When you go to a home while friends play mahjong, notice how the noise of the shuffling of tiles mixes well with the noise of laughter and chatter.
Improves Cognitive Ability
Constantly thinking about the strategies for winning mahjong, you keep your mind active. An early study showed that playing mahjong is effective in enhancing a player’s short-term memory, attention span, and logical thinking. The improvement is seen in both middle-aged and elderly individuals. The study included elderly individuals with diagnosed mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Playing for 12 weeks has been shown to improve executive function considerably.
Prevents Depressive Symptoms
As we grow older, the feelings of isolation can have a significant impact on one’s mental health and wellness. When you play mahjong with friends and colleagues, you also reduce your risk of developing depressive symptoms. In a study conducted by researchers in the University of Georgia and published in the journal of Social Science & Medicine, mahjong players have lower rates of depression.
Why Employ Strategies for Winning Mahjong
As mentioned, mahjong can be considered a leisure game. But, it can also be a betting game where huge money can be at stake and it becomes a gambler’s game. In general, bets and who pays depends on the outcome of the game and the initial agreement among the players.
A strategy would be necessary to help you get the upper hand in the game. What’s nice about mahjong is that you have the chance to improve your tiles as you play the game. Unlike poker where you have to deal with whatever hand you play at the start of the game. In mahjong, you can draw and change the quality of your tiles depending on what you can draw from the deck of tiles and on the table.
Related Article: How to Play Japanese Mahjong
You have to remember that playing the game requires both skill and luck. While you can control the decision of the game, winning the game is 75% luck and 25% skill, to be exact. That’s why it’s important to learn different strategies for winning mahjong.
Effective Strategies for Winning Mahjong
Here are some strategies for winning mahjong:
1. Start with a Plan
As soon as you get to see the tiles that you have, start thinking about how you want to proceed with the game. You have to choose the tiles that you should wait for, pick up, and identify which ones you don’t want in your hand.
You also have to keep in mind that your opponents will always be observing what you throw on the table. For most experienced mahjong players, whatever tiles you throw can already give them a fairly good idea of what you have on your hand, and strategize against you. That’s why you can use your throw as a way to bluff other players.
If you think about it, you can do bluffing as one of your strategies for winning mahjong. But, remember, it won’t always work to your advantage, so it’s always to have a clear plan.
Similarly, you can also read your opponents’ throws to single out the tiles they need. From there, you can try to withhold those tiles so they don’t end up winning.
2. Have a Plan B
While it would be advisable to stick to your initial strategy, it’s always best to have a Plan B, particularly if you notice that the game’s direction is not working towards your advantage. Keep in mind that you should know when it’s time to switch your tactics.
Changing your plan is also one of the effective strategies for winning mahjong as it will keep your opponents guessing about the tiles you have and what you’re trying to arrive at. That said, it’s critical that you have a major hand that you’re trying to win and have an alternate hand in case the first one doesn’t work.
Ultimately, you should work on your tiles and your plans to achieve mahjong. One thing to remember, though, is that you should not get lost in your own switch. If you’re going to end up confused, you’re more likely to lose as you would lose the rhythm of the game.
3. Skip the First Throw
Remember how we said you should start with a plan? One of the most effective ways of not giving away your plan is to skip the first throw. It can be tempting to get the first discard as it will help you advance in the game early.
However, the downside of this is that it can reveal what strategies for winning mahjong you have for that particular round. For opponents keen on winning the game, they’ll already know your game plan. While you may have completed a set with that throw, you’ll notice that your opponents will be more careful of what they throw so you won’t get any chance of completing another set.
Plus, grabbing the first throw can also show that you still lack the experience in playing the game, and your opponents can use this against you. Don’t get too hung up on not getting the discards. It’s okay to hold them off. Remember, there are several tiles that you can play in mahjong, you just have to wait for the perfect opportunity to build an excellent hand that will ensure your win.
Don’t be too concerned with being first. You have to play smart and playing a hand later in the game is often much better. Of course, this goes to say that you should also observe how your opponents are progressing into the game.
4. Stick to a Pair
If there’s a hand you should keep in handy, it’s a pair. They are among the most flexible tiles that you can have. You can stick to them as pairs or use them to build a three-of-a-kind or a Pung, a set of three tiles with the same suit or Chow, or a four-of-a-kind or Kong.
That’s why if you have a pair or two, don’t attempt to break them. In fact, they can become your winning tiles as you progress in the game. Don’t forget to work around your strategies for winning mahjong in a timely manner. Again, building a Pung too early into the game can give out your game plan to your opponents. Use it wisely.
5. Skip the Gaps
When setting up your rack, one of the strategies for winning mahjong is to not leave any gaps between the tiles. As mentioned, mahjong players are highly observant. Maintaining gaps will give away your game plan. They can readily pinpoint the hand that you’re trying to set up and your possible moves.
Some newbie players would create a gap to help them line up their tiles in combinations and help them identify their next moves. But, it also means that other players can do the same with your hand.
Like the game of poker, you don’t want to reveal to your opponents the strategies that you have for the game. Once they get an idea of what you’re planning to do, they can choose to block a tile so that you can’t achieve mahjong.
However, if you’re really into ensuring that your opponents don’t get an idea of what you’re doing, you can use the gaps as a strategy for winning as well through bluffing. Leaving gaps can throw opponents off by setting up unrelated tiles. But, it’s only advisable to do so when you’re sure that you’re not going to end up confused with your own strategy.
Key Takeaways: Adopt a Combination Strategy
Perhaps one of the best strategies for winning mahjong is when you can combine different strategies and adjust them as necessary. As you apply these strategies to each of your games, you’ll notice that you’re significantly improving your game and skills.
Before getting into playing mahjong for real money, spend some time watching other players. Talking to them can also give you an idea of how they approach the game. Do careful observation and you’ll surely pick up some of the tricks and use it on your mahjong games. Eventually, you can inject some of your own strategies for winning mahjong. But more than winning the bets, you’re a winner once you have a good time with your friends.