Jenn’s Corner: Other Games

As I write this, Garthe is on his way to Macau for a poker tournament. I’ll be joining him shortly, although I’ll mostly be covering the event and working, not playing. On the other hand, if I have time, I’ll definitely jump at the chance to play a few hands in the cash games and maybe even the ladies’ event.

As a mahjong pro, it’s important to keep your game up. This doesn’t mean just practicing mahjong all the time. Nearly any game you play is going to help your mahjong game. Card games like poker, rummy, even memory games are going to make you a better player. Although there are a number of mahjong players that don’t like gambling, I have yet to find a mahjong player that doesn’t appreciate other games.

The biggest difference between mahjong and poker is folding hands. In poker you fold your hand and you’re no longer at risk, while in mahjong you have to continue reading your opponents, even after giving up your own hand. At the poker table, this is a time you want to develop skills that will help you in both games, a luxury you don’t have in mahjong.

Reading movements and tendencies in your opponents is just as important in both games, but poker is where you’re going to have a better chance at developing these skills. This is also one of my biggest challenges in all games. Once you throw away your cards, watch your opponents like a hawk and take everything in. At first it won’t mean much, but as you practice and get used to watching for things you’ll pick up more and more, sometimes without even realizing it. Personally, when I drop my hand, I lose interest and look at my phone, my ipod, whatever I can to think about something besides the games. Don’t do this.

Even if you don’t have a chance to play a lot of live poker, during mahjong your best chance to watch your opponent is going to be after you’ve declared Reach If you’re like me and stop watching the board after reaching, rethink your game. If you play mostly online, a good way to force yourself to pay attention is by taking off the “auto-win” button. Notice what other players are throwing and if you can, look at their hand afterwards. Usually you can tell by their discards if they are folding or not, what they are going for, and sometimes even their level of play.

Mahjong is a four player game and the winners are going to be the ones that notice things the other players don’t pick up on. When you’re at the table and even when you’re not, watch, watch, watch. You’ll be surprised at how fast your game and your understanding of the game improves after you gain these observation skills.

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