Differences between real life and online mahjong?

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DdR_Dan
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Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby DdR_Dan » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:03 am

I figure it's probable I'll someday play mahjong in real life against people who play regularly, so if that day comes I don't want to look too foolish. So, does anyone know things to think about when transitioning from online play to offline? Not just rules, but things like etiquette or customs too. I know basic setup and play and I watched the videos on Krabman's channel about discarding and other tips and I learned a lot from that.

Some questions I can think of now are:
I've seen players in Japanese matches turn the tile they draw sideways and put it on their tiles, is that something you're supposed to do every draw?
When mixing tiles do you try pretty hard to keep them all face down or just mix freely and turn them over while building your wall?
Is it bad to not call a tile quickly? What if someone calls chii and is already taking the tile and then you realize you want to call pon? Also, what if you're thinking about calling chii and you wait some before drawing your next tile?
Are there any norms on which point sticks to give when transferring points or is it just doing something that's reasonable and ends up in the right points being transferred?
Are you supposed to keep your point sticks visible so that other people can see how many points you have, if you're not playing on a fancy table that keeps score?
Also just any other notable differences anyone has seen or knows about between playing online and offline.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Senechal » Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:24 am

Partial Q&A :)

Q1: I've seen players in Japanese matches turn the tile they draw sideways and put it on their tiles, is that something you're supposed to do every draw?
A1: No, this is solely a made-for-tv/manga thing. If you drew a tile you are going to discard, then chuck it, don't bring it to your hand.

Q2: When mixing tiles do you try pretty hard to keep them all face down or just mix freely and turn them over while building your wall?
A2: It's ideal to break up the groupings of tiles as fast as you can that were formed from the previous hand. Once that's done (3-5 seconds), you should focus on shuffling in a way that keeps tiles down but vigorously mixes. If a dozen or so are up, bring them down and keep shuffling. Depending on context, usually by 15-20 seconds, you can build walls. If you flip a tile down and then drag it towards you, or palm/finger it then people can look at it a bit weird. Playing live with different groups of people will get you an ideal balance of what kind of timing to expect.

Q3: Is it bad to not call a tile quickly?
A3: Kind of. If a player can draw and discard before you notice, you're way too late. If it's been over 3 seconds, it's also too late, unless you can reasonably claim that the discarding player was obstructing view of the tile. It is important to consider that the time between turns is a time that allows you to calculate what tiles you can call pon (max 6), and of them, which you want. When learning to play, that's one thing, but you seem to have a solid base, so I'm not going to talk down at you. Now, if you get easily distracted, and it slips by, unfortumately, it's gone. In a casual game it shouldn't cause a problem, and in a tournament game, you should be focused on the game at hand, and not your neighbour's hands and scores.

Q4: What if someone calls chii and is already taking the tile and then you realize you want to call pon?
A4: Depends on context. In beginner circles, within a reasonable time frame, they will give you the chance to pon the tile. In intermediate circles, tournaments, and the like, you have a vanishingly small period of time to try to make that call. 0.5 seconds, no more. In the JPML for example, call priority goes to whoever calls first unless the calls are simultaneous (0.1 second). So by the time a player is taking a tile, it's usually too late. Ron timing is different.

Q5: Also, what if you're thinking about calling chii and you wait some before drawing your next tile?
A5: If you're evaluating whether to call a chii or draw a tile yourself, it can happen, but don't do it too often. Otherwise, you are either telling too much about the content of your hand, or are sandbagging for time/deception. Like for pon calls, there should be enough time during turns that a player could guess which tiles are worth calling chii, which are not, in order to reduce the number of tiles that thinking is required for. Zero is optimal.

Q6: Are there any norms on which point sticks to give when transferring points or is it just doing something that's reasonable and ends up in the right points being transferred?
A6: While there's no prescriptive guide, I always recommend simple, prompt overpayment. Or whatever reduces the number of sticks transferred. 3900? Give 4000, get 1 stick back [total=5] {or 5000, get 1100 back in two sticks [total=3]}. 5800? Give 6000, get 200 back [total=4]. 5200? 5200 is fine [total=3]. If due to the game in progress, think of what results in the least change to give back. Do not pay 5800 with 5x1000 and 8x100, ever, unless it's all you have. Never touch their points unless it's the change they hand you or deposit on the table for you to take... or if they give you permission to (yeah, right).

Q7: Are you supposed to keep your point sticks visible so that other people can see how many points you have, if you're not playing on a fancy table that keeps score?
A7: I can't counsel on that specifically. If people are using a tile box for points, everyone's points should remain in them in a standard location. If using Junk mats, keep points in the provided slots. Club matches could be a bit more free-form, so just ask your opponents what they expect.

Q8: Also just any other notable differences anyone has seen or knows about between playing online and offline.
A8: Being able to do the han:fu math is a thing. Not babbling to yourself or conversing with others while playing is another. Not taunting your opponents. If the match is any bit serious, don't talk about could-have-been hands (a suuankou wait is nothing) or who was holding what, no showing your losing hand, chasing rabbits (dora) or wall diving. Grabbing someone else's losing hand to check their tiles is a gross taboo, but to a certain degree, so is the rest.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Krabman » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Great answer by Senechal!

I think you just gotta be aware of everything going on around you & in your hand.

Make sure to practice counting points, especially fu. It's always nice to play with people who do it swiftly. You can practice on your own, scoring random hands. Hmmmm... actually, since you're ranked high on Tenhou, I guess you have that stuff in your pocket already xD

Don't forget to watch other players' body language. Unless they're 'poker face pros' you may collect some information.

You've seen my video! OMG OMG xD I'm glad it was useful.

Are you going to play any tournaments/looking for some Mahjong buddies? I pity those who will assess your skills by looking how you handle tiles hahahaha

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby DdR_Dan » Sat Mar 12, 2016 2:36 am

Thanks for the reply Senechal. :) I'm not too worried about calling slowly or getting distracted myself, but I do want to know what other people are going to think about it if it happens. On that note there isn't any "time limit" per discard is there? I imagine it's probably a little annoying if one player consistently takes longer than the others, but what about thinking really long about a single important discard? Is that normal or is it kind of frowned upon?

I can score most common hands quickly but will have to think more about hands with kans or lots of triplets, and I'm a little worried I'd miss edge cases. I heard a hand like 9-crak 9-crak 9-crak 1-dot 1-dot 2-dot 3-dot 4-dot 3-bam 4-bam 5-bam 5-bam 6-bam , tsumo on 4-bam goes up to 40 fu because you can see it as completing the 3-bam 5-bam . Close cases like that I might mess up on.

I was going to ask about reading people in live games. I could see tile placement being a thing too. I have some thoughts about making reads on where someone inserts a tile into their hand when they don't know you're reading that hehe. (For example, if someone has like 3-dot 3-dot 4-dot , if they draw 2-dot they should place it right next to the 3-dot they discard from their hand.)

I've heard about tournaments in the US and I could imagine going to one some day. Occassionally my friends will play mahjong with real tiles, and some of them know all the yaku but none of them are that serious about the game besides me. When we do that I do all the scoring and make sure everything's set up all right so I want to make sure I know what I'm doing for that as well. I've thought that it would be cool to try to find people who live reasonably close by and form a group, and I could focus on teaching and strategy, but the whole meeting people and setting up a group sounds like the hard part for me. :?

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Krabman » Sat Mar 12, 2016 1:11 pm

People who I play/have played with are easy going & indulgent. They aren't bothered much by stuff like that. Especially in friendly games. Surely, you will occasionally meet snob players or even total assholes but I think they're rare. Even if you make some mistakes, you will USUALLY be politely corrected by other players.

You might assume that people who have a lot of experience offline will get impatient and rush you. I think it's the other way round. I think the better the players are, the more understanding, relaxed and willing to help they get. At least that's how it should work in my opinion.

Yes, you always score the highest possible hand variant. In this case, more Fu for the middle wait.

I guess tile placement could be used to get some information. I've seen somewhere a piece of advice to 'never organize your hand the same way'. When I started my offline adventure I was used to the tile order from Yakuza 2 and subconsciously stuck to it when playing. Nowadays, I have my tiles in different order every time. I line them up backwards, e.g. 432, keep Honors in random places etc. Again, I don't think it's that important unless you're playing with sharp, strong players.

BTW: Have you ever played American Mahjong??? I've always wondered if it's very popular? To be honest, some rules used in it seem atrocious xD

I'm sure you'll find people to play with sooner or later, if you keep at it. I've created our little club in a small Polish town (Mahjong is by no means popular in Poland).... you can do it! You can ask for help at Osamuko Mahjong Group on FB or here.

Advice based on my experience: try a library :)

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Gnom » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:53 am

Most of your questions have been answered, so here's just a quick word. About tiles placement, it requires a certain level of comfort with the game, but you can definitely get some info. If you're careful (and your opponents are not) you can sometimes know their wait so that's pretty big. Unless you're playing with Akagi no need to worry too much about it, but organizing your hand at a time when it's hard for other players to keep track is a good idea. When somebody calls is ideal, otherwise when a player puts their arm in front of your game to draw, and if the wall placement prevents them to do that, when the player in front of you picks up... If you plan on calling you can also organize your tiles in a fashion that isolates the group you'll form, sometimes you can get a pretty good idea of what's inside the hand depending on what's left standing.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby rotkehlchen » Sun Mar 13, 2016 2:58 pm

There is a group of tiles my group calls "turnables". Those are tiles that can be seen upside-down like all Man-tiles, but also the wind-tiles, red-dra 1-bam 3-bam 7-bam and 7-dot. So if you see people rotating their tiles they might have some of them in their hands.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Gnom » Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Gnom wrote: If you plan on calling you can also organize your tiles in a fashion that isolates the group you'll form, sometimes you can get a pretty good idea of what's inside the hand depending on what's left standing.


We were playing today so I took the opportunity to take a picture, if somebody discards a 2s and the next player makes a chii, if their hands looks like this it gives other player some info about a danger zone:
Image

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby DdR_Dan » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:50 am

Krabman wrote:People who I play/have played with are easy going & indulgent. They aren't bothered much by stuff like that. Especially in friendly games. Surely, you will occasionally meet snob players or even total assholes but I think they're rare. Even if you make some mistakes, you will USUALLY be politely corrected by other players.

You might assume that people who have a lot of experience offline will get impatient and rush you. I think it's the other way round. I think the better the players are, the more understanding, relaxed and willing to help they get. At least that's how it should work in my opinion.
...
BTW: Have you ever played American Mahjong??? I've always wondered if it's very popular? To be honest, some rules used in it seem atrocious xD

I'm sure you'll find people to play with sooner or later, if you keep at it. I've created our little club in a small Polish town (Mahjong is by no means popular in Poland).... you can do it! You can ask for help at Osamuko Mahjong Group on FB or here.

Advice based on my experience: try a library :)

I'm not too worried about mean people, I'm just thinking if I'm in some kind of big event or tournament, or if I play in Japan in some situation where people are experienced, I want to do well not just in in-game choices but in the other stuff as well, so I want to know what kinds of things people tend to care about.

I've never played American Mahjong but having first learned Japanese mahojng the rules do seem strange. I've heard that there have been riichi tournaments in the US though and one had guests from Japan.

A library sounds like a good idea. I tried sitting at a table at an anime convention with mahjong tiles out and one person walked by knowing what mahjong was and said they wanted to come back and play later.

rotkehlchen wrote:There is a group of tiles my group calls "turnables". Those are tiles that can be seen upside-down like all Man-tiles, but also the wind-tiles, red-dra 1-bam 3-bam 7-bam and 7-dot. So if you see people rotating their tiles they might have some of them in their hands.

That's something interesting I didn't think about.


The idea I mentioned before relies on people keeping their waits together, so regardless of the order or location of the suits and tiles, if the tiles that form a wait are kept together it might work. It's pretty much the same as the logic for open hands, where if someone calls and discards a tile near the call, that area is probably safe, but if someone calls and discards a tile away from the call, that area is probably dangerous. So, I'm thinking of applying this trick to riichi discards. If someone declares riichi on a tile out of their hand and then inserts the tile they drew next to the tile that came out of their hand, that area is more likely to be safe, and if they insert the tile in a different location, the tiles near the riichi tile are probably most dangerous. For example:
9-crak 9-crak 2-dot 2-dot 3-dot 4-bam 5-bam : if these are the waits to complete, you'll usually discard 2p. If you completed the 23p, then even though you'll riichi on 2p, the 2p area is actually safe because you completed that wait. If you completed the other wait, 45s in this case, then you'll riichi on 2p and that's where your winning tile is.
Of course, it only works if the player keeps their waits together and inserts the tile in the correct place (and sometimes both waits might be next to each other in the hand), but if someone does that, this trick would be pretty cool because it tells you specifically whether a range of tiles is dangerous or safe, and you only have to pay attention on one draw and discard. If your hand was something like
3-crak 4-crak 5-crak-red 2-dot 3-dot 4-dot 6-dot 7-dot 8-dot 4-bam 5-bam-red 9-bam 9-bam 1-dot
and 9s is safe but someone just declared riichi on 2p, this might be the tip you need to decide to discard 1p or discard 9s hope to pair 1/4p.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Kyuu » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:51 am

By the time I joined my mahjong club for some real tile action, I played about 300 games in Tenhou.

The main transition involves having to deal with the game rules all on your own because the computer doesn't do it for you, especially the wall building. For the early learning stages, online play at the very least gives you a pretty good idea referring building hands and the like.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Barticle » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:54 pm

The Japanese novelist Gomi Kōsuke used the term Sawarazu no Jū-yon Mai (触らずの十四枚) to refer to the fourteen tiles that look the same when upside-down.

2-bam 4-bam 5-bam 6-bam 8-bam 9-bam 1-dot 2-dot 3-dot 4-dot 5-dot 8-dot 9-dot white-dra

These are the "fourteen tiles without touching" so you don't need to rotate them to give the correct orientation.

Of course from reading discards we are all well practised at reading tiles at 90, 180 and 270 degrees so if you are comfortable with it you might prefer to not rotate the other tiles (except maybe the ones that are harder to read like the winds and mid/high craks). Conversely you might even choose to flip some of the fourteen tiles that don't need rotating. :wink:

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Gnom » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:47 pm

OR, if you want to be a dick about it, you may argue that on most sets the white dragon and the two dots are the only tiles that are really exactly the same upside-down, since on most sets dots and bamboos are not rotationally symetric! Dots have a kind of white decoration and bamboos have a kind of flat part on one of their ends, as in this picture:
Image

One of our club member actually goes through the trouble of putting his tile in the "right" orientation, even for bamboos and dots.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Kyuu » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:48 pm

I'm gonna highlight something from the PML tournament this past weekend:

http://www.mahjongnews.com/en/tournamen ... iichi-open

There was another suu ankou declared this same day by another player who shall remain anonymous, won on its pair wait (tanki). Unfortunately, after declaring ron, it was discovered the hand was furiten, and instead of cashing in on a slew of points, the player ended up paying a costly chombo penalty. This fact was almost missed, and the tiles were already being washed, when the problematic discard that put the hand into furiten was discovered while looking at a photograph of the winning hand.


This scenario simply does not happen in online mahjong, because the game platform strictly enforces the rules and prevents any player from invoking a move, that'd grant a chombo.

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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby Shirluban » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:43 pm

So... the photo immortalizing his success took him down?!
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Re: Differences between real life and online mahjong?

Postby ardiel » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:18 pm

Kyuu wrote:I'm gonna highlight something from the PML tournament this past weekend:

http://www.mahjongnews.com/en/tournamen ... iichi-open

There was another suu ankou declared this same day by another player who shall remain anonymous, won on its pair wait (tanki). Unfortunately, after declaring ron, it was discovered the hand was furiten, and instead of cashing in on a slew of points, the player ended up paying a costly chombo penalty. This fact was almost missed, and the tiles were already being washed, when the problematic discard that put the hand into furiten was discovered while looking at a photograph of the winning hand.


This scenario simply does not happen in online mahjong, because the game platform strictly enforces the rules and prevents any player from invoking a move, that'd grant a chombo.


Yeah furiten can be scary some times. I tend to see them start popping up when I've shuffled my hand shape a lot. Especially when I'm trying to do something like a chinitsu or honitsu and it isn't quite working so I change my wait and don't notice that it makes furiten.


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