Red Mahjong

Red Mahjong (2-4 players)

Red Mahjong (2-4 players) is a rich game of strategy that you can learn and start playing in 5 minutes!

Red Mahjong resembles both Cribbage and Gin Rummy - there's much skill & subtlety needed to outscore opponents - ranging from hedging your bets with a discard to preventing the opponent from going out with a big hand.

As a game of strategy, Red Mahjong is not about a simplistic race to meld sets. It is about balancing short-term vs. long-term strategy, about maximizing gains while cutting losses. Where one player may seek to build a high-scoring hand, another player may decide to go out for minimum points just to stop their opponents from capitalizing on a good hand that they were dealt.

The Goal in Red Mahjong

Just like in other mahjong versions, the goal in Red Mahjong is to score points by being the first to play down all of own tiles, in the precise combination of 4 sets of 3 tiles (can be either exact triplets or suited runs) and one pair:

  • Set

  • Set

  • Set

  • Set

  • pair

The 1st player to make a combination of 4 sets and a pair wins the hand immediately and receives points. As opposed to some other mahjong versions, only the winner of the hand scores points in that hand. The rounds continue until one player reaches an agreed number of points (e.g. 300 points) first and wins the game.

Sets in Red Mahjong can ONLY be either a sequence of 3 (chow) or 3 of a kind (pung) like in a picture below.


3 identical tiles



3 same-suit consecutive tiles



2 identical tiles


Mahjong Tile Set

Like a set of playing cards, a mahjong tile set has suits, but instead of Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs, there are just 3 suits: Bamboos, Circles, and Characters. Each suit is numbered from 1 to 9 and there are 4 of each tile.

(4 of each)
1 - 9
(4 of each)
1 - 9
(4 of each)
1 - 9
Also, there are Honor tiles -- Dragons & Winds - 4 each
There are 8 Flowers & Seasons tiles - 4 each
Finally, there's an optional "wildcard" Joker tile - 4 of them

Starting the Game

Roll 2 dice: the player with the highest roll will start the game.

Picking and Discarding Tiles

Tiles are shuffled face down and each player receives 13 tiles.

If a hand contains a Flower or a Season tile, this tile is opened up and placed in front of own tiles and a new replacement tile is dealt. If Flower or Season tile is picked during a game, it is similarly replaced. Flower and Season tiles only count at the end of the round.

The starting player discards one tile face up. Upon discard, opponents have the option of picking up that discarded tile or selecting a tile from the draw pile. A discarded tile can only be used to make a set or to go out (go Mahjong).

The game continues clockwise. Each player keeps picking one tile and discarding one tile while collecting tile sets: pungs or chows. The game continues until one player collects 4 sets of any combination of sets (pungs or chows) and a pair.

If a tile set is made by picking a just discarded tile, that set must be displayed immediately.

If a tile set is made by picking a tile from the draw pile, such set may be displayed at any time on that player's turn.