Substituting in Mah Jongg Games

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I’ve been part of a regular Mah Jongg game for a few months, and played with another group for a couple of years before that. With players missing the regular games due to vacations and family illnesses, I’ve been recently substituting for regulars in a few different games. I have therefore played not only with different players, and different personalities, but with different Mah Jongg sets and different house rules.

Most people think their playing habits mirror everyone else’s. But that isn’t so. Here are some nuances I have observed:

  • Announcing the name of a tile being discarded as the tile is leaving the players hand. This player did this purposely so that everyone could hear the name and then see it, giving others two chances to decide whether to call for the tile.
  • Keeping the tiles that are definitely being used in her rack, and others for possible discard on the table in front of her rack. I therefore knew how many tiles this player needed to call Mah Jongg.
  • Dividing the tiles into groups on a rack, thereby giving everyone an idea of her hand and how many tiles were missing.

House rules have varied:

  • dealing without breaking the wall,
  • putting a quarter into the pot for a wall game
  • not paying extra for giving a Mah Jongg tile to a player with three exposures

I’ve also played with Mah Jongg sets with different stickers for Jokers. In one set the 1 Bam tile looked close enough to a Flower that I exposed three Flowers and a 1 Bam for a kong of Flowers. I did this twice in the same game. The second time was for Mah Jongg. Even though my hand was correctly declared dead at that point, the other three players had exposed their hands before it was noticed that I did not have Mah Jongg. That reinforced for me that the two tiles looked so much alike that initially it did appear I had Mah Jongg.

I’ve enjoyed playing the experience of playing with different players, house rules, and Mah Jongg sets. I’ve learned to play well with others, and to pay attention!


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