Contrary to what many people think, mahjong is not a game of chance. Experienced players win consistently or, if they do lose, lose small. So how do experienced mahjong players do it? Simple! They adopt the following 3 simple, but powerful, tips and strategies.
Tip #1: Sometimes Winning is not Losing. This might sound contradictory, but it is not. To win consistently you must acknowledge that you will not always have a "winner-able" hand - you might need to change "too many" tiles to be ready, or your opponent may be holding on to your tiles, or you need to discard a "dangerous" card in order to be ready. In situations like this, the experienced player will play for a draw, or let another opponent discard the winning tile. By doing this, the experienced player preserves his capital and wins by not losing (discarding the winning tile).
Tip #2:Game of Probability. The game of mahjong is played with incomplete information. Fortunately, based on the known number of each type of tiles, you can use your opponents' discards, the tiles in your own hand and the remaining number of turns to assess the probability of you drawing the winning tile. Mahjong is overall a game of probability, and experienced players constantly "count cards" to help them decide what to do. The use of probability to guide choices during the game is an important edge that helps experienced players prevail over their opponents.
Tip #3:Watch you Opponents' Discards. To avoid discarding the winning tile for your opponent, you must assess which tile he wants. While the idea of remembering all your opponents' discards seems overwhelming, it is not. The trick is to note the area on the table where they usually discard their tiles and observe what tiles are there. You can then use the presence, or absence, of a particular type of tiles to indicate what your opponent is playing. This information will then decrease the probability of you discarding the winning tile.
While the above 3 tips and strategies sound simple, they are not easy to master. What I have done in this short article is to point them out to you. Your awareness is your first step in becoming an experienced player. Actually becoming one will however depend on how well you build on this information.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing your comments and inputs.
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