We mentioned it in the most recent podcast (#6) and I think it’s important enough to warrant its own strategy column. It’s something that is in high demand, low supply and not for sale. It’s patience and I’ll bet that you could use some more of it.

Mahjong is a 4-player game and by simple statistics, it should be obvious that one player cannot win every single hand. Yet, there are many players that still push every time, trying to win against all odds. The good point is that if there is only one player doing this, their chances of winning goes up by default with other players giving up their chances. On the other hand, pushing too hard with cheap hand can lead to deep traps and big losses. Every player needs to have a bit of patience in their bag’o’tricks and it will take some practice to figure it out.

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

It is the 8th discard, your opponent has reached and your hand is going nowhere. So why fight it? Just let the hand go. You have plenty of safe tiles to keep you floating while the others try to win and hopefully drown themselves in the process. You also have enough points to keep you alive if your opponent happens to win the hand by draw. I know the hand looks lovely and you want to keep going, but this isn’t a do or die situation. Just let it go.

Patience is not only important for defense, but for offense as well. Since offense usually means aggression, this may be a hard concept to accept, but think about this hand:

[edited] If you pull an 8c or 5c then you’re hand is ready, it’s early, you have 3 winners out there waiting for you. But what if after that you draw a 4b. Or an 8b. Or a 6d? There are lots of winners, but there are also lots of things that bring this dinky little Reach+Lucky Tile (dora) hand to a guaranteed 8,000 point hand or more.

What about in this case?

Dealer, South Round 1st hand, have 35,000pts, Lucky Tile:

Your hand is already worth 18,000, you’re the dealer, you’re Ready and your wait is good. Go for it no matter what you draw!! Right? Maybe. But don’t rush to conclusions. Take a few seconds to think about the hand. Just a few seconds. One reason, is that if you Reach right away with your big hands, but not with your cheap or bad-wait hands, then someone will pick up on that and know when to fold to you. Also, remember that you are the Dealer. If you win, you will continue as the Dealer and that gives you more chances at the big scores. So why not keep this one closed and let someone walk into the trap unknowingly? You risk someone else getting lucky and winning with a cheap hand, but chances are at this point, that someone is going to be pushing their hand and will easily pass you the winner. On the other hand, a Reach might scare them off and at this point, it’s very likely that they have plenty of safe tiles to ward you off.

It doesn’t mean that Reach is a wrong move in that last situation or that there is a correct answer for anything. I’m just saying that you should take the time to think about your decisions, even in retrospect, to get a better idea of how you play and what works. Things that take time take patience and that might be just what you need to kick your game up to the next level.

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