Learn to Play Mahjong

by Brendan Byrne

Dec 4, 2016

© Onion | Dreamstime

Tips / Other

There’s something gratifying about going to a country and participating in an activity or event quintessentially part of its culture. Some may consider this watching a bullfight in Spain, cocatourism in Colombia, maple sugaring in a toque in Canada or practicing yoga in India. Step up your cultural appropriation game: Mahjong in China.


Mahjong has a heavy history in China; that’s why the women in the Mahjong section of your local casino look intense. It is a four-player game that originated during the Qing dynasty, was banned in 1949 and then brought back after the Cultural Revolution. Mahjong has a set of 144 tiles with Chinese characters and symbols, although there are some variations depending on where you are in China and it is similar to the game of Rummy. It is a game of skill, strategy and a dollop of chance — the perfect trifecta for a bit of wagering.


You have a number of options when you are looking to up your Mahjong game prior to visiting China. The most obvious is to check out video tutorials online, or, if you learn most effectively by reading instructions, try written tutorials.


Another option is to go to your local casino and let the players patiently teach you by observation and trial and error (no, don’t do that).


Your best bet is to get the general rules down and then play other people online. You can find many free online sites that will allow you to play without wagering.


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