The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hong Kong Style Mahjong.. maybe. Part 2 港式麻雀簡介二

I assume you have read the last post that introduced the Mahjong set yea? Now let’s talk about how you set up the game.

Let’s play! But how… ?

First thing first, a Mahjong Table. 

Mahjong is a four-player game. We usually play it on a square Mahjong table that each player sits on one side of the table; I think the major reason is that mixing Mahjong creates a loud noise, and the Mahjong table has a mat that can diminish the noise. Even if you don’t have a Mahjong table, you can make one by yourself by putting a towel on a normal dinning table. There is also a drawer on each side of the table for players to keep their money.

A Mahjong table.


The above is just a very basic, very normal Mahjong table. I have seen many high-class Mahjong tables that would mix the tiles by itself and I am not there yet…

Take out your Mahjong set…

Pour out your Mahjong tiles and mix them!

  1.  Each player take 18 tiles, line them up and face them downwards.
  2.  Get another 18 tiles, line them up, face them downwards, and put the whole stack of tiles on  top of the first set.
  3.  After setting up the tiles, push right side of the stack of tiles inward.
  4.  Finished basic set-up!

Picture of my cousins and I playing Mahjong. 

You can get a sense of how you should set up the tiles from the above picture.

Start the game, throw your dices

I forgot to mention that there are three dices come with a Mahjong set. To start the game, one random person would throw the three dices to determine who will be the first one, which is the “East,” to start the game.

What? East? What are the “directions” in the game??

Each round of the Mahjong game has a direction, and each player also has a direction. You can say the directions are the orders of the game.

The first person to start the game is the “East” in that game. The person on the right is “South,” the third person on the right counting from “East” is “West,” and the last one is “North.” After one game is completed, the “South” in the first game becomes the “East” in the second game. When four players have taken turns to be the “East,” we call it the completion of a round.

The first round is the “East” round, and the second round is the “South,” etc. A complete Mahjong game consists of four rounds, which is at least 16 games.

Now you have thrown your dices, then what?

Let’s use an example here. Choose a random person to I threw the dices and got 18. Then I will count 18 counter-clockwise, starting from myself as 1,  the person on my right is 2 and so on. Finally, I found that the person on my right is the number 18. Then she/he will be the “East” of the game, and she/he will throw the dices again to determine where to take the tiles.

Let’s say she (the “East”) got 4. Then she/he would count 4 positions counter-clockwise – the number 4 is the person on the left. Now she/he has to get the tiles from the stacks of tiles in front of the number 4. The “East” would count 4 from the right, and take the two stacks of tiles after the forth stacks, that is the fifth and sixth stacks – a total of four tiles.

Then the “South” would take the seventh and eighth stacks and so on, until everyone has 12 tiles.

Once the “North” has gotten 12 tiles, the “East” would now “jump the tiles.” The following picture illustrates how it works.

Jumping the tile.


Starting from the right, the “East” would take the first and third tile. Now the “East” has 14 tiles, then the “South” would get one tile on the bottom of the first stack in the picture, the “West” would get the tile on top of the second stack, and the “North” would get the bottom tile of the third stack. These three players would have a total of 13 tiles.

However, if you get flower cards, you would have to put them out, and draw new tiles according to the number of flower cards you got. You would take the tiles from the “end” of the whole Mahjong set, which is the tile behind where the “East” first got her/his tile – the third stack of tiles in front of the “North.”

Picture of a mahjong game.


Assume the person whose tiles are facing us is the “North,” then the person who gets flowers would take the tile from the stack of tiles in front of the “North,” which is the “end” of the tiles. The “East” would be the one who gets to draw tile first if he/she has a flower card, and then the “South,” “West,” and “North.” (See the “North”‘s flower cards on the right?)

Now the “East” should have 14 tiles, and everyone else should have 13 tiles. Count your tiles – and you are ready to start the game!

It took me forever to finish this post… The major reason is that I am still practicing on explaining things effectively and I have tried hard. Please let me know if there’s anything I should change. (If there’s anyone who has read the whole post haha)

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hong Kong Style Mahjong.. maybe. Part 2 港式麻雀簡介二

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