Red fives? Pshaw!

Response to the red fives poll has been overwhelming. The people have spoken and they are……..ambivalent!

And that’s as it should be. Red fives are going to be a small factor sometimes but there are usually only 3 of them (sometimes 4 if there are 2 red 5’s of dots) out of 136 other tiles so they shouldn’t need to figure too largely into everyone’s thinking. While we’d like to be able to use them if they come, we shouldn’t tailor our play to the point that we actually make it more difficult to win just because of the possibility that they might come.

Let’s begin by looking at a situation where you should just let it go. You’re dealer in the first hand of the East round and a few draws in you wake up with a nice hand (Note: we’re currently missing red five images so you have to imagine that the 5 of bamboos is red):



What are you gonna do here? Throw the 8 and wait for just the 6 so you can use the red 5? Throw the 8 and wait for the 4 so you can get an open ended wait and then reach? Throw west and hope another 5 comes so it’s now your new head? Something else ridiculous? Or do you play like an adult, throw the red 5 and reach? (Did I load that question just right?)

Of course you drop the Lucky Dragon and Reach. The open-ended wait means you also have Peace so you’ve already made up for the hand point you lost by dropping the Lucky Dragon. The hand already has a Double Run so with Reach it’s already at least 5800 points, maybe more with a little luck. Actually, throwing the red 5 will make other players think that tiles around it must be safe and they may even throw the 6 on the first draw. BLAM, 12,000 points!

Alright how about a different sort of hand. On Fight Club (2 red fives of dots), it’s the second hand of the east round, we’re in the South seat and our hand looks like this on our 7th draw:



What to do here. Well it seems like we’re going for 7 Pairs here, yes? Normally for such a hand I would like to keep Honor tiles and singles on the outer side of pairs I have in my hand as those tiles are more likely to be difficult for other players to use. However this time, I think I might throw one of them in favor of keeping the not even red 5 of dots. Why? Two of the remaining 5’s are red Lucky Dragons so I feel like the risk of waiting for such desirable and useful tiles is outweighed by the reward when one of them comes especially if I’m playing at a mahjong parlor where red Lucky Dragons are worth a little extra money too.

Well, now that we have a couple examples, at least of the way I think, let’s hear some thoughts from our strongly ambivalent readers. The Lucky Dragon is East on the 3rd hand of the South round, you’re 4300 points out of 1st place with a hand like this(again, you must use your imagination to picture the redness of the 5 of characters):



What would you do here, and would your answer be different if the 5 of Characters was not red?

P.S. Sorry I forgot, you’re in the North seat.

RM on Social
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