The Office Workers’ Guide to Winning at Mahjong (When You’re Losing)

imageAfter 3,927 games of Mahjong in my entire lifetime, I feel it’s appropriate to sit down and re-think, how to increase my chances of winning at Mahjong. Especially after my losing streak stretched to 64 games. Okay. Those numbers were made up but you get my point.

Mahjong is one of the most played and most talked about game among office workers in Singapore and it’s also one of the best game to bond and build friendships.

If you don’t know the game, learn it! And if you already play the game, why not think of ways to increase your chances of winning?

Mahjong is a game where a few defining factors when put together, determines if you’re a winner or loser and by how much. These factors are namely, Luck, Defensive Skill and Mindset.

For the purpose of this post and since we can’t exactly determine our luck (unless you’re into superstition) nor am I a skilled player, we’ll look into the Mindset of the player.


As I have mentioned, I’m on a losing streak and my streaks usually end with a couple of wins before I embark on another record breaking losing run.

Trust me, I know the kind of tiles you get when your luck sucks. So what do you do?

I’ve gotten so used to bad tiles that here’s my humble three cents input.

1. Finish the game as fast as you can

Go for the 1 double. Don’t try to get the big wins because when your luck suck, by the time you are calling, the tile you discard will be the tile another player wants for their win.

The logic is simple. Small wins add up. If you can get your 1 double, the game moves on.

The objective is for you to earn some cash and move the game as quickly to the finish line hence minimising the chances of you losing more. When the game ends faster, you also get a chance to change your seat to change your luck (if you’re playing another game.)

2. Discard the big tiles

On a good day, big tiles like 东,南,西,北 or 中,發,白板 (口)can be your best friends. They increase the value of your wins and instill fear into other players (increasing their need for Defensive play). On the other hand, if you are following the advice to finish the game as fast as possible, discard the big tiles.

Big tiles don’t connect with other tiles other than themselves and are a hindrance to building a winning set. Every time you choose to keep a single big tile, you are losing the chance to get a connecting bamboo, character or circle. And, that means the other players are a step ahead of you to winning the round because they get a higher chance of connecting their tiles. Worse still, when you hang on to the big tiles for too long, it becomes the calling card for others to win, then you’re stuck.

So if your luck is down, know where you stand, discard the big tiles.

3. Don’t lose focus

When you’re losing, chances are your mind loses its focus. You can’t decide how you want to go about winning your hand. When your upper hand feeds you a tile, do you eat it to complete a sequence or do you carry on with your initial plan to play a “pong pong”? Really, the mere deliberating over that tile exposes your tile to the table. Players know the possible tiles you have (to eat and complete the sequence), you lose an advantage.

In such situations, it is important to carry on with your initial plan. Unless it equates to a faster route to winning your hand, the second point comes into play. Win and finish the game as quickly as you can – even if it’s just 1 double.

Do you have any tips to share or add on? Or do you dispute my points? Discuss in the comment field below.

When I’m not at work, I’m into the arts, music and history. Football’s my other big love so if I’m not around museums and galleries, I’m probably on the field. If I still can’t be found, I’m having my me time.