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Basic Mahjong Etiquettes: Unwritten Rules of Mahjong

Credits: Fat Choi Spirit

You know the saying " Be on your best behavior " your parents tell you all the time when you were young. As small of a reminder as it can be, it can greatly influence how you act in front of others. Sometimes, it takes just a few words to positively impact your life. And these few words stick with you for good and forever. Comparable to popular gambling games like poker, Mahjong also has its own unwritten rules to follow. Out of the many types of Mahjong players, the worst has got to be whoever with the poorest etiquette. Although unspoken, manners are imperative for an enjoyable game.

With that, here are some basic etiquettes that I believe each player should exercise.

1. Offer to set up the table, chairs, and chips

Since everybody agreed to play together, it is innate that everybody helps to get the game started quickly so that they do not waste anybody's time.

2. Be patient with beginners

For starters who have just learned the game recently, do understand that they will be slow initially. Practice takes time. We were all once novices in the game as well. It will be appreciated of us to not rush them all the time during the game.

3. Be cool about your loss and move on

Knowing that you made a bad move and threw the winning tile to someone, just accept your loss and not be affected by it. Nobody will want to see a black face throughout the game as it dampens the mood. Thus, simply move on and be more attentive for the upcoming rounds.

4. Do not keep whining about your unluckiness

Heard of the famous saying: " 70 percent skills, 30 percent luck "? Sometimes, our drawing is not the best and our tiles just do no justice. Since it is just a bad day, stop complaining about how you are so ill-fated. Nobody wants to hear your endless sorrows. If you cannot afford to lose money, do not gamble in the first place.

5. Do not advise on someone's tiles after looking at others

This is openly cheating at its finest. Believe it or not, nobody likes it when you execute such behavior. If you want to teach the person, only do so after the round ends. It's fair then.

Credits: Kung Fu Mahjong

6. Always pay up if your game with a non-winnable hand (炸糊)

If this rule was settled upon by everybody before the game started, do adhere to it. Please do not play the sympathy card and beg others to give you a chance. Do not stoop down to such low levels and keep your dignity intact. Or else, the situation is going to be awkward and ugly if you do not pay up for your own mistake.

7. Never play with your dirty and oily hands

Playing with nasty hands can just be a personal pet peeve but who wants to play with stained tiles? Personal hygiene is imperative so spare a thought for others. Nobody wants their hands to smell like potato chips or so.

8. Help with packing up

Similar to our first point, whoever was part of the game should play their part in this. Please be considerate to the owner who hosts the game. After all, this is most likely his house and nobody wants to live in a dirty home.


Manners maketh man, do they not? Even though Mahjong is just a game for entertainment, it can also be used to teach ethics. In the History of Mahjong, such methods are also practiced. Sometimes, essential etiquettes can also be taught outside of books. And in our professional view, we strongly agree that Mahjong can be a great avenue to teach these important life skills. Nevertheless, we hope you can follow these practices regularly so that your games will be more enjoyable and congenial for everybody.


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