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Mahjong is one of China’s most ancient games, yet only recently has it made its way to the casino. It is a game of both skill and luck that requires player to build a hand consisting of certain combinations in order to win. A maximum of 4 players compete per Mahjong game, and aim is to build a hand containing 1 “eye” (2 identical tiles in suite in value) and 4 “sets” (3 sequential tiles, or 3 or 4 identical tiles). Each player begins with either 13 or 16 tiles (depending on the Mahjong variation), and must draw and discard a tile each turn until a full hand is dealt. The 14th or 17th tile will complete the hand, and each hand is calculated according to the points the tile combinations are worth. The scoring technique is what differs between most Mahjong variants, and there's a number of classic variations: Solo Mahjong and Solo Mahjong Pro.


Mahjong (also called mah-jongg by the American association, Traditional Chinese: ??; Pinyin: májiàng) is a game for four players that originated in China. Mahjong involves skill, strategy, and calculation, as well as a certain degree of chance. Depending on the variation which is played, luck can be anything from a minor to a dominant factor in success. In Asia, mahjong is also popularly played as a gambling game. In the game, each player is dealt either thirteen or sixteen tiles in a hand (depending on the variation being played). On their turn, players draw a tile and discard one, with the goal of making four or five melds (also depending on the variation) and one pair, or "head". Winning comes "on the draw", by drawing a new or discarded tile that completes the hand. Thus a winning hand actually contains fourteen (or seventeen) tiles.

Current development

Today, the popularity and the characteristics of players of Mahjong vary from country to country. There are also many governing bodies, which often host exhibition games and tournaments. It remains far more popular in Asia than in the West.

In Japan, there is a traditional emphasis on gambling and the typical player is male. Many devotees there believe the game is losing popularity and have taken efforts to revive it. In addition, Japanese video arcades have introduced Mahjong arcade machines that can be connected to others over the Internet.

Mahjong culture is still deeply ingrained in the Chinese community: Sam Hui wrote Cantopop songs, using Mahjong as their themes. Hong Kong movies have often included scenes of Mahjong games. Gambling movies have been filmed time and again in Hong Kong, and a recent sub-genre is the Mahjong movie.

A recent study by doctors in Hong Kong concluded that the game can induce epileptic seizures. (Credit: Wikipedia).

Video Game

A Mahjong video game is a video game that is based on the classical Chinese game mahjong. However, many mahjong video games, especially among those released in Western territories, do not depict the actual game of mahjong but rather mahjong solitaire.

Most commercial games released in this genre are created by Japanese developers for domestic release. Game makers have created dozens of mahjong titles for arcades and home consoles, but none have ever been officially released outside Asia. Some operating systems included a Mahjong game, such as Sun Solaris, OS/2, and Amiga OS.

Game types

Japanese computer mahjong games typically challenge serious players, such as Athena's Pro Mahjong Kiwame series. For example, many Japanese video arcades feature games like Konami's Mahjong Fight Club that feature online play, allowing people across the country to play against one another.

Many computer mahjong games play a variant of the Japanese game known as "taisen mahjong" or "battle mahjong." Here, a single player goes head-to-head against a cartoon character controlled by the software. The game is shortened for faster play, so that each player is only allowed eighteen discards. Scoring is counted as usual. The contest typically ends when one of the opponents' score reaches zero. A good example of this genre is the 1992 Sega arcade game Tokoro San no MahMahjan, which is emulated in MAME.

Mahjong solitaire is a puzzle game based on the same tiles. The goal is to match open pairs of identical tiles and remove them from the board, exposing the tiles under them for play. The game is finished when all pairs of tiles have been removed from the board or when there are no exposed pairs remaining.




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