Scoring in Mahjong

Liam O'Sullivan
Written byLiam O'SullivanWriter

Mahjong is not a difficult game, but the information to remember can be a little too much sometimes. So that’s why some people aren’t aware of how to score in mahjong. There are just some things to remember if players want to play only one variation.

Players looking for how to score in mahjong have come to the right place. In this guide, we will explain everything related to mahjong scoring. So, let’s start right away.

Scoring in Mahjong

Criteria for Scoring In Mahjong

The criteria can consist of certain mahjong tile melds or other holdings, the way the hand was played, the presence of particular unique combination sets, etc. Only the criteria with the stricter requirements are scored when some of these criteria are subsets of others, such as having a meld of one dragon as opposed to a meld of all the dragons.

The acquired points can be converted into individual player scores by applying some code. These scores are generally immediately converted into payments made between players while playing mahjong as a form of gambling.

Both points and score refer to different ideas; participants exchange money based on the points they have earned throughout a round and other considerations. In its place, players may utilize chips or other such tokens.

In many situations, only the winner receives payment, with the three losers' scores being reduced by the winner's gain. But, there are various ways to set up payment between participants. They are the following:

  • The player who conducts the discard pays twice if a player wins via discard.
  • Every losing player must pay twice if a player wins by a tie.
  • The player who executes the discard pays for the other two losing players in the event that the player wins from a high-risk situation.

Scoring Rules

Chinese Mahjong Scoring

Rules for scoring in mahjong are the following:

  • Based on the presence of specific melds, pairings, and bonus tiles, each player adds up the fundamental points for his hand.
  • Each player doubles his basic points one or more times based on ownership of specific uncommon melds or combinations of melds. The winner adds additional basic points for gaining mahjong and maybe for finishing his hand in several unique ways.
  • Depending on his hand's formation of uncommon patterns, such as those made completely of honor tiles, or being finished uniquely, such as stealing an exposed kong, the winner doubles his basic points once or more.
  • Each of the three losers pays the winner his entire points.
  • The losers split the difference into points among themselves.
  • In his dealings, East makes duplicate payments or receipts.
  • There are many Special Limit hands that, if acquired, provide the possessor with the most points assigned to his hand.

American Scoring

In the American version, players utilize a card with a point value for each hand that specifies a narrow number of hands as the only legitimate winning hands. Two main Mahjong regulatory organizations in the United States, the National Mahjong League and the American Mahjong Association, employ this method, with new cards that specify the legal winning hands being produced every year. Each card often includes scoring requirements that make mention the year the scorecards are published.

Shanghai Scoring

The Shanghai variant's scoring system is complex, with a wide range of requirements and exaggerated ratings for more uncommon hands like the thirteen terminals. There is typically a minimum point value in the Shanghai variation due to the inflated point values.

Singaporean Scoring

While using a different set of tiles, Singaporean scoring is comparable to the Chinese scoring method. Here, regular payment variations apply. But, there are those in which the dealer is also required to pay and receive twice.

Hong Kong Scoring

Due to the limited number of factors employed in the conventional Hong Kong grading method, the score is frequently poor. The point translation function is a piecewise function, and the general scoring modifiers are in effect.

Scoreless hands are awarded a fixed sum, and each point doubles the score. Players sometimes play with the extra constraint that a winning hand must be of some point value, often ranging between one and five points, with three being the most frequent. This is because zero-point hands are common.

Japanese Scoring

Each player starts with a score. This amount is often between 25,000 and 30,000. It may be an agreed-upon initial value. In current tile settings, this is often represented by a row of bars with the following four denominations: 10,000, 5,000, 1,000, and 100. The bars resemble long Chinese dominoes. If not, all that is represented online are the point totals.

Limits in Mahjong Scoring

A score limit is imposed by some variants. The usual point translation function, which assigns a constant score to points up to the first restriction, works in many situations where there are limitations. Once further limitations are achieved, the score rises.

A scoring restriction may serve as more of a gambling motivation. If the scoring limitations were six and nine points, a hand with seven or eight points would be valued the same as one with six points, which may encourage players to aim for nine-point hands.

High-risk discards

As the size of the wall shrinks, several versions may additionally apply fines for discards that are deemed to be high-risk. The players who made the high-risk discards are responsible for covering the winner's points if a player wins or goes out self-drawn after making a high-risk discard. A discard is deemed dangerous if there are enough open melds to show that, before it was claimed, it would very certainly have allowed for the completion of a limited hand.


Some complications occur when players are trying to play different mahjong variations at once. So, it’s better to stick with one variety and master it first.

In this guide, different rules for different variations are discussed so that players can choose the one they prefer. We have discussed Chinese, American, Japanese, Shanghai, Singaporean, and Hong Kong Scoring. Hope that it will be enough for an enjoyable experience.

About the author
Liam O'Sullivan
Liam O'Sullivan

Liam O'Sullivan, an Irish digital maestro, seamlessly fuses his impeccable command of English with an enthusiastic penchant for online gaming. Highly regarded for his localization expertise, Liam fine-tunes online casino guides, ensuring they resonate profoundly with the diverse English-speaking populace.

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