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Mahjong instruction in good English


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If you don't find anything satisfactory online/free, I bought this guide for my niece last year after looking around a bit. It's written pretty clearly and covers most of the common variations.


It's simpler to actually play with someone and learn than to try and figure it out by reading. If you can drum up a couple who already play that's a better route. (You'll need at least three to play, though I suppose it can be done with just two.) They can simplify or eliminate some of the more elaborate details until you're familar with the basic game. We taught our second cousins over a week during a family reunion a few years back.

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I thought I would mention.... That wikipedia page doesn't mention the (common?) rule that the jiang ("eye") has to be a pair of 3, 5, or 7's (? I forget. For 3 players I think we've used 2 and 8 ) rather than a pair of just anything. This obviously makes it harder to win.

This rule was used in both places in China that I played (towns in hubei and heilongjiang). I'm not sure if it's intended to make the game more "interesting" or just slow down the rate at which people win and lose their money so that they don't get wiped out so quickly and have more fun-having time.

Probably for similar reasons people didn't play with the "flower" tiles or do anything else that make it easier to win a round. In fact I think many sets don't have them. I bought a set that did and the people I asked didn't even know what the tiles were or how they'd be used.

(When I played we just used chips, but it seems like most people in the PRC that I've talked to feel that they're not "really playing" unless they do so with real money, even though gambling is technically illegal :D)

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