It’s played in home games. It’s played at casinos all over the world. And it’s been a favorite among gamblers for centuries. We’re talking about Texas Hold’em, right? Wrong. This has nothing to do with cards. We’re talking about Mahjong, a game that has captivated minds for way longer than you can imagine. And today we’re introducing you to Casino Mahjong so you can have a blast and make a little money.
The history of Casino Mahjong
Mahjong is a game of chance originating in ancient China. Much like poker, Mahjong requires both skill and strategy. In fact, you could argue that Mahjong takes even more strategy than poker, bordering on Chess in terms of the skill level required.
While Mahjong’s roots are planted firmly in ancient China, it’s become hugely popular all over the world. Chances are you know someone who plays Mahjong at home. And its home game popularity has fueled its popularity at land-based casinos and online gambling sites all over the world.
There are many different types of Mahjong, so if you scour the Internet to look for the rules, you’ll find many different tutorials. In fact, searching for Mahjong rules is much like searching out poker rules. In poker, there’s Texas Hold’em, 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, Omaha, RAZZ, and a host of other casino games. Mahjong is much the same, except the name of the game doesn’t really change.
For the purpose of this introduction to Mahjong, we’re going to stick with Casino Mahjong and the most popular version of the game you’re likely to find online.
Understanding the basics
Mahjong is played with a set of tiles ranging from 136 to 144, depending on the version, and a pair of dice. The tiles feature various Chinese symbols and are divided up into three distinct categories—suits or simple tiles, honor tiles, and bonus tiles.
Suits or or simple tiles is the largest of the three categories, and within this category of tiles you’ll find three different suits including bamboos, characters and circles/dots. Each suit within this category has nine tiles in total, and each one is numbered from 1 to 9.
Honor tiles feature two symbols—winds and dragons. The wind tiles include north, east, south, and west. And the dragon tiles feature red, green, and white dragons.
There are also bonus tiles in play. These are numbered from one to four and fall under the flowers and four seasons category. In total, there are eight bonus tiles in all.
The end goal of Mahjong
The goal of Casino Mahjong is to assemble a winning hand using 14 tiles. A winning hand is made up of sets of two, three or four tiles, which score a minimum number of predetermined points.
How to play Casino Mahjong
The game starts with all tiles spread on the table face down. The tiles are shuffled, much like a deck of cards is shuffled at the Blackjack tables. Players then receive piles of two tiles each, which are then stacked to form a wall of tiles. Many players like to call this a fortress (or at least I do).
The dealer deals 13 tiles to each player. Players then turn the tiles face up and pair them into sets of three and four tiles.
As the game progresses, each player picks up an additional tile from the wall. If a player can use the tile he or she picked to complete a winning hand, the player gets to keep this tile and scream “Mahjong!” much like one would scream Bingo in an online Bingo game. If you win this way, it’s called winning from the wall. If this doesn’t happen, the player has to discard one tile, tossing it into the middle of the table for all players to see.
Here’s the best part. When a player discards a tile, any player can pick up that tile and use it to complete a valid set. If more than one player tries to grab the discarded tile (it happens more than you think), the priority is given to the player who can use that tile to win the game. If neither player can use that tile to win the game, the tile goes to the player who would win with the highest tile.
You might assume that it would be worthwhile to grab any discarded tile. But it isn’t. That’s because by claiming a discarded tile, you have to show all players the discarded hand you’re going to complete.
The game ends when a player has completed a set of 14 valid tiles.
How to complete tiles:
- Complete pairs or sets of 3 or 5 identical tiles of the same suit
- Complete three sequential tiles of identical suits
Getting paid for Mahjong wins
Winning Mahjong is great in a home game, but the real fun comes in a casino when you actually get paid out for your victory. Each winning hand scores a certain number of points, so the payout can vary based on the hand you actually win with. What’s more, it also depends on whether you win from the wall or win from a discard.
Play games like Casino Mahjong at Prism Casino
In the mood for Casino Mahjong? The truth is to play it, you have to head to a live casino. Most online casinos don’t offer Casino Mahjong because you’re playing against other players, much like poker. But that doesn't mean you can’t experience the excitement of dice games.
Check out Sic Bo, an online casino game involving dice and tiles, much like Casino Mahjong. You can play it online for free at Justbit. All you need is a free online casino account, which takes just a few minutes to set up. When you’re good to go with a username and password, you’re all set to play Sic Bo and a whole world of free online casino games. And of course, you can play for real money with a simple deposit. You’ll find over 2000 online casino games, so come play.