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USE THE PAUSE BUTTON

There is only a certain amount of time during each round that is given for you to make a decision on what you want to do. Time usually range from 5 to 10 seconds at most. For beginners, the time allotted sometimes just isn't enough to make a good decision. This is where the pause button comes into play. For beginners, this button should be the single most important button on your keyboard. Use it and use it often. Pause the game and take your time when making decisions on what to do next.

 
PLAN OUT YOUR HAND
Plan out what you want to do with your tiles in order to go out as soon as you see your opening hand. What tiles do you want to keep and which should you discard. After a couple of discards, you should have a general idea of what Yaku conditions you can likely make with your hand and try to stick to it. Try not to change your plan too much especially during the later parts of the round. It may be too late then. It's better to stick to your initial plan than to change it later and then regret making that change.
 
AIM FOR THE EASY YAKUS
Always aim for the easiest Yaku conditions to win. The most common and easiest Yakus to get are from declaring Reach, going out with a Fanpai, going out with an All Simple hand, or going out with a No Points/All Chi hand.

Of course, if you have the opportunity or chance to get a bigger hand, go for it. You might be lucky. Just don't do it all the time :)

Remember as well that Doras do not count as Yakus and cannot be used as a method of going out. They are only counted in as Fans for scoring.

 
BE AWARE WHEN MAKING REVEALED SETS

Never make a revealed set unless you know already what Yaku conditions you are going for with your hand. Never make a revealed set just because the opportunity is given to you. Doing so will often times leave you in a bad situation where you cannot win at all simply because your hand is worth absolutely nothing.

Also, remember your Yakus. Know that some of them allow you to have revealed sets while others do not. An all Chi hand, one of the easier hands to get, is worth 1 Yaku if your hand is concealed. However, it is worth absolutely nothing if your hand is revealed, which means that you cannot go out with this hand unless your hand is worth something else.

Some Yaku conditions even downgrade in value by 1 Yaku if your hand is revealed instead of concealed as well. A Clean Hand, for example, is worth 3 Yakus if your hand is concealed. However, it is worth only 2 Yakus if your hand is revealed.

If you know what Yaku conditions you are going for, then making revealed sets is a great and easy way for quick and sometimes big wins, simply because you have more tiles to choose from when making your hand. You get to use tiles you draw as well as tiles discarded by the opponent. Many of the bigger hands allow you to have revealed sets as well.

All in all, just remember that you should know what Yaku or Yakus you are going for if you decide on making revealed sets in your hand. Do not make it if you don't.

 
KNOW YOUR YAKUS
Don't always try to go for the same Yakus each time you play. Diversify your game by learning each of the Yaku conditions in mahjong. Focus more on the 1 and 2 Fan Yakus since those are the main ones made during play. Still it wouldn't hurt to learn the rest or simply be familiar with them. The more Yakus you know, the more options you have to select from when deciding on what to make with your hand. With more options come better odds of winning as well.
 
DON'T THINK YOU CAN WIN EVERY ROUND
Realize that you cannot win every round. If tiles are running out, the opponent declares Reach, and you have nothing close to a complete hand, try not to let the opponent win. Play defensively for a change. It's better to get No-ten or Tenpai at the end of the round and lose a little than it is to see a bunch of your points taken away if the opponent happens to win.

Check your opponent's discards. If the game features the Furiten rule, which is often the case, she can declare Tsumo but cannot declare Ron with any tile that she has previously discarded. Check her discard pile and discard the tiles within it to try and decrease her chances from going out.

 
1-4-7 DEFENSE

1-4-7 is a defensive strategy that can be used when deciding what to and what not to discard. It is a strategy that can be used because of the furiten rule. For example, if the opponent discarded a 4 dot tile, it would be safe for you to discard a 4 dot tile as well since the opponent cannot go out by Ron on a tile that she has discarded previously under the furiten rule. Additionally it may also be safe to discard the 1 dot and the 7 dot tile. The reason is that if the opponent is waiting to go out on a chi, she would not be allowed to make a 1-2-3 or 2-3-4 with a 2-3 dot tile waiting combination or a 4-5-6 or 5-6-7 with a 5-6 dot tile waiting combination by Ron because the 4 is a sacred discard. Therefore the 1 or 7 will also be sacred discards under the furiten rule with either of the two waiting tile combinations. As a result the 1 or 7 are safe tiles to discard. 2-5-8 and 3-6-9 tile sets also apply.

Additional, if the opponent is waiting to go out with a 3-4-5-6-7 tile combination and happens to have already discarded a 5, then it would be safe to discard either the 2, 5, or 8 tile since each of the three are sacred discards.

Of course, there is no guarantee that this defensive strategy will work 100% of the time as in the case when the opponent is not waiting to go out on a chi but something else. However, because a chi is most likely what a player may wait to go out on since it provides 2 different tiles to go out with, this strategy can be used to provide more options for safe discardable tiles.

 
INCREASE YOUR PROBABILITY OF WINNING
One of the most simple and fundamental strategy of mahjong is to increase your probability of going out. The more options you have to create a mahjong, the more likely you are to win the round.

Let's say, for example, you have in your hand 4 complete sets and a 1-dot tile. In order to go out, you need another 1-dot tile to create a pair and complete the hand. In this case you have only one option to go to in order to mahjong which is the 1-dot tile.

                   

To go out you need a

Now let's say you have in your hand 3 complete sets and 2 pairs. Maybe you have a pair of 5-dots and another pair of red dragons. In order to go out, you need to make one of your pairs into a set. Now instead of having one option to go out, you have two options. Your probability of winning just about doubled.

                   

To go out you need either a or a

Now let's say you have in your hand 2 complete sets, a pair, and a group of 5 consecutives. Maybe your 5 consecutive tiles are the bamboo type, numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. To go out, you now need a 1, 4, or 7 to make two sets and complete the hand. You now have three different options and your odds of winning further increases.

              

To go out you need either a or a or a

You guys get the picture. Read the next section below for even more variations.

 
TENPAI HAND : WAITING FOR...

Tenpai is the name given to a hand that is one short of a tile to be a complete hand. Several Tenpai hand variations exist. Many, as stated above, can increase your chances of going out by having more tile possibilities to choose from. Here are some examples of a Tenpai hand:

Waiting For :


Tanki : A hand of any 4 sets and one other tile. The tile needed is the tile to make a pair.

There is 1 possible tile to go out with.

 

                   

To go out, you need a


Ryanmen : A hand of any 3 sets, a pair, and an incomplete Chi. The tile needed to go out is either the tile before or after the incomplete Chi.

There are 2 possible tiles to go out with.

 

                   

To go out, you need a or


Kanchan : A hand of any 3 sets, a pair, and an incomplete Chi. The tile needed to go out is the tile in the middle of the incomplete Chi.

There is 1 possible tile to go out with.

 

                   

To go out, you need a


Penchan : A hand of any 3 sets, a pair, and an incomplete Terminal Chi. The tile needed to go out is the tile before or after the incomplete Terminal Chi. Only 1,2,3 and 7,8,9 types apply.

There is 1 possible tile to go out with.

 

                   

To go out, you need a


Shanpon : A hand of any 3 sets and 2 pairs. The tile needed to go out can be a tile from either pairs. One pair would stay a pair, the other would change to a Pon.

There are 2 possible tiles to go out with.

 

                   

To go out, you need either a or a


Ryanmentanki : A hand of any 3 sets and a sequence (consecutive) of 4 tiles. The tile needed to go out can be the 1st tile of the sequence or the last in order to make a pair and Chi.

There are 2 possible tiles to go out with.

 

                

To go out, you need either a or


Sanmenten : There are 3 types.
 
1) Ryanmenten : A hand of any 2 sets, a pair, and a sequence of 5 tiles. The sequence should not contain a 1 or 9. The tile needed to go out can be the tile before or after the sequence or the tile in the middle of the sequence to make 2 additional Chi.

There are 3 possible tiles to go out with.

 

              

To go out, you need either a or or

 
2) Ryanmentanki : A hand of any 2 sets and a sequence of 7 tiles. The tile needed to go out can be the 1st tile in the sequence, the last tile (7th), or the middle tile (4th). Doing so will make 2 additional Chi and a pair.

There are 3 possible tiles to go out with.

0000

          

To go out, you need either a or or

 
3) Name Unknown : A hand of any 3 sets, a Pon, and another tile that is the tile that is before the tile contained in the Pon. The tile needed to go out can be the tile before the single tile, the single tile itself, or the tile that follows the tile in the Pon. Damn, I'm confused. The example below should explain it more clearly.

There are 3 possible tiles to go out with.

 

              

To go out, you need either a or or


Name Unknown : A hand consisting of the following numbered tiles; all of which are of the same suit. (2,3,4,4,5,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8)

There are 5 possible tiles to go out with.

 

To go out you need either a or or or or


Name Unknown : A hand consisting of the following numbered tiles; all of which are of the same suit. (2,3,4,4,4,5,5,5,6,6,6,7,8)

There are 7 possible tiles to go out with.

 

To go out, you need either a or or or or or or


Chuuren Pooto 9men Machi : A hand consisting of the following numbered tiles; all of which are of the same suit. (1,1,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,9,9)

There are 9 possible tiles to go out with.

 0000

To go out, you need either a or or or or or or or or


There are many more as well.

 
MORE PROBABILITIES
Besides trying to go out with multiple tile possibilities, also make sure that the tiles you are waiting to go out on are still available to be drawn. It's no good when you are waiting for a tile that is no longer available to be drawn since all 4 of them have been played already. Say, for example, you have 3 sets and 2 pairs. You need to make one of the pairs into a set in order to go out. For this hand, you have two possible tiles to go out with. Also, you should know that you may have at least 2 of each of those tiles left to be played in the game. This means that out of the remaining tiles left to be drawn, you can win with at least 4 of them. That is, if you or the opponent have not discarded one of those tiles and that the opponent does not have one or all of those tiles that you need to win with in her hand.

Another example is having a hand consisting of 2 sets, a pair, and a sequence of 5 tiles. If the sequence does not begin with a 1 or end with a 9, then you have 3 different tiles to choose from to go out with. There may be as much as 11 tiles to win with as well. If the sequence is a 2-6 of bamboo tiles, then there may be as much as four 1-bamboo tiles left in the game, three 4-bamboo tiles (you have one of the four already in the sequence), and four 7-bamboo tiles, making eleven tiles that can win you the game. Again, that is, if none of these tiles have already been played in the game.

Of course, I do not take into account the fact that not all tiles are played in a single round of mahjong. There are 136 tiles, totaled, in the game. Typically, only around 62 tiles are played each round in video mahjong since there are only two players playing. Since barely half the tiles are played in video mahjong, it is a very good idea to try and win with multiple tile possibilities :)