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How To Play Mahjong (SG Version)

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

The complete guide to learn Mahjong in under 10 minutes.

Quick Introduction to Singapore Mahjong

A typical Mahjong set consists of 148 tiles with different families - Circles , Characters , Bamboos & Winds - including various animals like the Cat , Mouse , Chicken & Centipede. Out of these 148 tiles , each individual has to form the best combination of tiles using only 14 of them. On a basic level , these 14 tiles should contain 4 sets and a pair of "eyes". A Set can be in the form of a straight like "5 6 7 " or a triplet.

Different Families in Mahjong

©Chinatown London

Animals in Mahjong


Heading #1: How to start in Mahjong ?

To begin , each player will roll 3 dices to see who has the highest number. The person with the highest number will be East and he gets to choose which side to seat. The person with the 2nd highest number will be South , followed by West and North. The 1st player and the player opposite him will have 19 rows of tiles while the other two will only have 18 rows of tiles as seen below.


The 1st player will roll the dice and start to take the tiles from one of the sides depending on the number. In this case, Player A will starting counting from himself and count in an anti-clockwise direction. For e.g. if the dice sums up to a total of 6, Player A will then take the tiles on the side of Player B. Player A will only take the tiles after counting 6 from the 18-tile wall. Next, he will take Two Rows of stacked tiles followed by the other players until he has 14 tiles while the rest have 13 tiles. The 13th and 14th tile of Player A are taken as shown.


Heading #2: How to win in Mahjong ?

For most SG families, we normally require only 1 point (台) to win whereby we cap the maximum points at 5 points (台) , with the exception of 6 points (台) for special hands.

However , others may play at higher stakes such as a 2-6 game where 2 points (台) are required to game and the cap is at 6 points (台).

Special Rule:

People also play up till 13 points (台) where for every additional point (台) after the capped point (台), the payout is 5/10. This means that each opponent has to pay 5 extra chips for each extra point (台) when someone shoots or 10 extra chips when the person zi mo.

For e.g.

Scenario 1 : Player 1 shoots Player 2 who won with 8 point (台). In the case where the cap is 6 points, Player 1 has to play 15 x 2 chips + 60 chips to player 2.

Scenario 2 : Player 2 Zi Mo with 9 points (台). In the case where the cap is 6 points, the 3 other players will then pay the winner 10 x 3 chips + 42 chips.

Note: 1 chip will be taken as 1 SGD in this case where everybody's starting base is $300.


Heading #3: How Are Points (台) Calculated In Mahjong?

As mentioned above, the minimum point needed to win is one. Unlike other variations of Mahjong, Singapore Mahjong has its own distinct way of calculating the points (台).

If you are still unsure of how to calculate Mahjong Points , do click the link to find out.


Congratulations. You are now an expert in Mahjong!

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