American Mahjong 100% Free

American Mahjong, also known as US Mahjong or Mahjong American style, has gained popularity in recent years. This exciting game of American Mahjong unites strategy, skill, and a bit of luck, making it an engaging pastime for players of all ages. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of US Mahjong, covering the rules, how to win, different types of the game, tips for success, and frequently asked questions. Let's dive in!

Introduction to American Mahjong

The American Mahjong game is a fascinating version of the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, adapted to suit the preferences of Western Mahjong lovers. American Mahjong is played with tiles, featuring different suits and symbols, and can be enjoyed by four players at a time, although some variations allow for fewer or more players. In this section, we'll provide an overview of American style Mahjong, exploring its unique characteristics and how it differs from other Mahjong variations.

History of American Mahjong

American Mahjong is a fascinating game with roots that can be traced back to ancient China, where it evolved from similar games played centuries ago. The game of American Mahjong first made its way to theUnited Statesin the early 20th century, and since then, it has undergone significant alterations, resulting in a unique and distinctly American Mahjong version. The history ofAmerican Mahjongis a tale ofcultural exchange, adaptation, and the enduring appeal of a game that continues to captivate players across the nation.

The origins of Mahjong itself are steeped in mystery, with numerous theories and legends surrounding its creation. Some believe the game was invented byConfucius, the famousChinese philosopher, while others claim it has its roots in the court games played during the time of the Chinese imperial dynasties. Regardless of its true beginnings, American style Mahjong as we know it today emerged during theQing Dynasty (as traditional Mahjong), in the mid to late 1800s. The game ofAmerican Mahjong quickly gained popularity throughout China, and by the turn of the 20th century, it had spread to other Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea.

It was not long before Mahjong found its way to the United States.American businessmanJoseph P. Babcock, who worked for theStandard Oil Companyin Shanghai, is credited with introducing the game to the Western world. In 1920, Babcock published the first English-language rulebook for the game, titled "Rules of Mah-Jongg," which streamlined and simplified the rules to make them more accessible to American audiences; this was the first major step towards American style Mahjong. To further popularize the game,Babcockpartnered with several other American businessmen to form the Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, which imported Mahjong sets and sold them in upscale department stores.

The game's exotic appeal and the allure of the mysterious East quickly caught the attention of high society in the United States, and Mahjong became a fashionable hobby in the 1920s. It was during this period that the game began to diverge from the traditional Chinese version. American players started to modify the rules, devising their own unique scoring systems and introducing new elements, such as jokers and theCharleston, a distinctive initial tile exchange that has become a hallmark of American Mahjong (or US Mahjong).

In the 1930s, the American style Mahjong popularity began to wane, partly due to theGreat Depressionand partly because of the rise of otherleisure activities, such as bridge and poker. However, American style Mahjong found a new lease on life when a group ofJewish womenfromNew York Citybanded together to form theNational Mah Jongg League(NMJL) in 1937. The NMJL standardized the ever-evolving rules of American Mahjong, creating a version of the game that was uniquely suited to the tastes and preferences of American players. The league also began publishing an annual card of hands for the American Mahjong game, which outlines the specific combinations of tiles that players must collect to win US Mahjong. This card is updated each year, ensuring that the game remains fresh and challenging.

One of the key differences between American Mahjong and other variations is the emphasis on a more flexible and dynamic gameplay. While classic Mahjong is typically played with a strict set of rules and a limited number of winning hands, American Mahjong allows for a greater variety of winning combinations, making it possible for players to develop their own strategies and approaches to the game. This has resulted in a game that is both more accessible to newcomers and more engaging for experienced players.

Over the years, American Mahjong has become deeply ingrained in the fabric of American culture. The game has been featured in numerous films, television shows, and books, often as a symbol of camaraderie andfemale empowerment. For many, American Mahjong is not just a game, but a cherished tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, providing a unique connection to the past and a source of comfort and enjoyment in the present.

Today, American Mahjong continues to thrive, with a dedicated community of enthusiasts who gather to play in homes, community centers, and online platforms across the country. The NMJL remains a driving force in the world of American Mahjong, with thousands of members and an annual tournament that attracts participants from around the globe. In addition, numerous regional and local clubs have sprung up to support American Mahjong and foster a sense of community among US Mahjong players.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in American Mahjong, particularly among younger generations. This renewed enthusiasm has been fueled in part by the rise of online gaming platforms, which have made it easier than ever for players to connect and engage with the game. Additionally, a growing number of celebrities and public figures have embraced American style Mahjong, further increasing its visibility and appeal.

As American Mahjong enters its second century, it remains a testament to the power of cultural exchange and the enduring appeal of a game that has captivated players for generations. From its humble beginnings in the parlors of Shanghai to its current status as a beloved American pastime, the history of American Mahjong is a story of adaptation, perseverance, and the shared human desire for connection and challenge. As American Mahjong continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of modern players, it is certain that American Mahjong will remain a cherished part of the nation'scultural landscapefor generations to come.

American Mahjong vs. Traditional Mahjong

While American Mahjong shares many similarities with traditional Mahjong, there are some key differences that set it apart:

  1. Joker Tiles: American Mahjong introduces the concept of Joker tiles, which can be used as wildcards to replace any other tile in a set or run.
  2. Hands and Rules: The game follows a unique set of rules and predetermined hands, which are updated annually by the National Mah Jongg League (NMJL) and the American Mah-Jongg Association (AMJA). This adds an element of novelty and challenge to the game, as players must adapt their strategies to the changing hands each year.
  3. Charleston: American Mahjong features a distinctive tile exchange round called the Charleston, allowing players to improve their initial hand before the game begins.

Rules of American Mahjong

In this section, we'll delve into the rules of American Mahjong, providing a step-by-step guide to understanding and enjoying this captivating game.

Tile Setup

American Mahjong is played with a set of 152 tiles, including:

  • 3 suits (Bamboo, Characters, and Dots) with 9 tiles each, numbered 1 to 9, totaling 27 tiles per suit or 81 tiles in total.
  • 16 Wind tiles (4 each of North, West, East, and South).
  • 12 Dragon tiles (4 each of Green, White, and Red).
  • 8 Flowers and Seasons tiles (1 of each, numbered 1 to 4).
  • 8 American Style Mahjong Joker tiles.


The primary objective in American Mahjong is to form a complete hand, known as a Mahjong, which consists of 14 tiles arranged in a specific pattern. Patterns for American Mahjong are determined by the NMJL every year and include combinations of sets (3 of a kind), runs (a sequence of 3 consecutive tiles in the same suit), and pairs.

Game Flow

  1. Tile Dealing: Each player receives 13 tiles, and the dealer (also known as the "East" player) receives 14 tiles. Tiles are drawn from a "wall" created by stacking tiles face-down in the middle of the table.
  2. Charleston: Following the initial American Mahjong tile deal, players participate in the Charleston, a tile exchange round consisting of three passes (right, across, and left) to improve their hands. Charleston is one of the many unique features that make US Mahjong a Mahjong American game.
  3. Discarding and Drawing: Players take turns drawing and discarding tiles, aiming to form a complete Mahjong hand.
  4. Claiming Tiles: American Mahjong players can claim discarded tiles to complete sets, runs, or pairs, but only if the claimed tile immediately forms a valid combination.
  5. Joker Tiles: Players can use Joker tiles as wildcards, replacing any other tile in a set or run. However, Jokers cannot be used in pairs or as part of a single-tile claim.

How to Play American Mahjong

Now that we've covered the basic rules of American Mahjong, let's dive into the specifics of how to play the game, from the initial setup to claiming victory.

  1. Seating and Determining the Dealer: Players randomly draw Wind tiles to determine their seating positions (North, East, West, and South) and the first dealer (East).
  2. Building the Wall: Each player builds a 19-tile-long, 2-tile-high wall in front of them, creating a square in the center of the US Mahjong table.
  3. Breaking the Wall: The dealer rolls the dice to determine where to break their wall, then draws the first 2 tiles above the break, followed by all other players in a counter-clockwise order.
  4. Tile Exchange (Charleston): Charleston is unique to American Mahjong, it involves players performing three rounds of tile exchanges, passing 3 unwanted tiles to the right, 3 tiles across, and 3 tiles to the left.
  5. Optional Courtesy Pass: Players have the option to exchange 1, 2, or 3 tiles directly with the player opposite them after the Charleston.
  6. Play Begins: The dealer (East) of the Mahjong American game discards a tile, and play continues counter-clockwise with each player drawing and discarding tiles, claiming tiles to complete combinations, and using Joker tiles strategically to form their Mahjong hand.
  7. Declaring Mahjong: When a player completes a valid hand, they declare "Mahjong," revealing their tiles and winning the game.
  8. Scoring and Payment: After a player wins, the hand is scored, and payments are made between the players based on the predetermined point values of the hands.
  9. Next Round: The role of the US Mahjong dealer rotates counter-clockwise, and a new round begins.

If all these American Mahjong rules seem quite confusing and difficult to get your head around, we recommend that you first start out playing American style Mahjong online as the computer system will guide you through many of the steps (such as the Charleston). If you don’t wish to play American Mahjong online but it is your first time playing, we often recommend that you find a friend or community that already knows the rules of American Mahjong. They can be very helpful at guiding you through how to play American Mahjong and helping you make the best moves.

Winning Strategies

While American Mahjong is a game of careful planning, persistence, and a bit of luck, there are some tips and tricks to enhance your chances of success:

  1. Get to Know the NMJL Card: Study the current year's NMJL card to understand the possible hand combinations and plan your moves accordingly.
  2. Maximize the Charleston: Use the Charleston (unique to American Mahjong) to your advantage, discarding tiles that don't align with your desired hand and exchanging them for tiles that may bring you closer to Mahjong. And thus closer to succeeding at your American Mahjong game.
  3. Be Flexible: Don't lock yourself into a single hand too early in the game. Be prepared to switch strategies if you receive more favorable tiles.
  4. Watch Your Opponents: Keep an eye on the tiles your rivals are discarding and claiming; don’t be afraid to alter your strategy to avoid competing for the same tiles.
  5. Manage Your Joker Tiles: Use Joker tiles wisely and try to replace them with actual tiles whenever possible, as they can be stolen by other players under certain conditions.

Types of American Mahjong Games

While the core rules of American Mahjong remain the same, there are several types of games that offer intriguing variations and challenges:

  1. Siamese Mahjong: A two-player version of American Mahjong where each player plays two hands simultaneously, adding an extra layer of strategy and complexity.
  2. Speed Mahjong: A fast-paced variation of American Mahjong with shorter rounds and modified rules, such as eliminating the Charleston and limiting the use of Joker tiles.
  3. Solitaire Mahjong: A single-player version of American Mahjong that challenges the player to clear a pre-arranged set of tiles by matching pairs, similar to the popular computer game.

Tips for Success

To improve your American Mahjong game, consider the following tips:

  1. Practice: The more you play US Mahjong, the more familiar you will become with the tiles, hands, and strategies, ultimately improving your skills.
  2. Learn from Others: Join a local American Mahjong group or watch experienced players to pick up new techniques and insights.
  3. Stay Updated: Keep up with the latest NMJL card releases and rule changes to stay ahead of the competition.
  4. Stay Focused: Be attentive while playing the American Mahjong game and keep an eye on your rivals to foresee their moves and make informed decisions.
  5. Enjoy the Process: Keep in mind that American Mahjong is a game meant to be enjoyed. Have fun, learn from your mistakes, and celebrate your successes.


Answers to all questions about American Mahjong.

How does American Mahjong differ from calssic Mahjong?

American Mahjong includes Joker tiles, follows a unique set of rules and predetermined hands published by the NMJL, and features a tile exchange round called the Charleston.

How many tiles are used in American Mahjong?

American Mahjongrequires a set of 152 tiles, including 3 suits, Wind tiles, Dragon tiles, Flowers and Seasons tiles, and Joker tiles.

Can you play American Mahjong with two or three players?

While American Mahjong is typically played with four players, variations like Siamese Mahjong and modified rules for three players can accommodate fewer participants.

Can I play American Mahjong online?

Yes, there are many websites and apps that offer American Mahjong games, allowing you to play with friends or against computer opponents.


We hope this guide has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of American Mahjong, from its unique rules and strategies to the different types of games available. Now that you're equipped with the knowledge you need to succeed, it's time to dive into the exciting world of American style Mahjong and put your skills to the test. We wish you the best of luck, and have a great time playing American Mahjong!