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A hand is considered a winning hand when it has 4 melds and a pair or is considered a special hand.
Points are obtained by matching the winning hand and the winning condition with a specific set of criteria, with different criteria scoring different values. Some of these criteria may be subsets of other criteria (for example, having a meld of one dragon versus having a meld of all of them), and in these cases, only the criteria with the tighter requirements are scored. The points obtained may be translated into scores for each player using some (typically exponential) function. When gambling with mahjong, these scores are typically directly translated into sums of money. Some criteria may also be in terms of both points and score.
The terminology of point differs from variation to variation. A common English term is double, as the point-to-score translation is typically exponential with a base of 2. Cantonese variants will use the term 番 (pinyin: fān / jyutping: faan1).
Because points and score are two distinct concepts, this article will adopt the use of the term score unit to refer to a point in a player's score.
At the beginning of each game, each player is given a fixed score, usually in the form of scoring chips. In many cases, only the winner scores, with the winner's gain being deducted from the three losers' scores (that is, the losers pay the winner). In many cases, there exist other modifiers to the score. A common set of modifiers (for which this article will call the standard payment variations) include:
There is no general rule for when a player runs out of score units. In some circles, the match is immediately aborted, with the player furthest ahead in score declared the winner, while in others, a player out of scoring chips continues to play without risk of further losses.
Mahjong is sometimes played in a gambling setting. Poker chips are used for keeping score only. Since Mahjong is a zero-sum game, when one player loses all his chips, his chips are distributed among the other winners. In this case, the loser pays cash to buy back the chips from the winners and the game continues. Before the game starts, all players must agree upon how much one set of chips (100 unit) is worth. Some gamblers do away with chips and pay cash after each round depending on local laws regarding legality of gambling.
The criteria mentioned below are by no means exhaustive or common to every variation, but are common to many 13-tile and 16-tile variations.
The following is a list of the different terms describing the progress of one's hand:
These hands are not standard hands, but can be used to win nonetheless. Because they diverge from the criteria for a normal winning hand, it is inherently risky to attempt these hands: effectively all pieces need to be self-drawn since melds are not useful to these hands
The largest group of criteria concern the contents of the winning hand. Typically, a hand that is more improbable will score higher than one that is more common, but this may not be the case. In variations with scoring minimums, it is generally accepted that, barring improbable high-scoring hands (such as the heavenly victory above, even if the winning hand is otherwise scoreless), at least one point must be from this set of criteria.
|Sequence Hand||平糊 (ping4 wu4*2||1||Every meld is a Chow|
|Triplets Hand||對對糊 (deoi3 deoi3 wu4*2)||3||Every meld is either a Pong or Kong|
|Mix Pure Hand||混一色 (wan6 jat1 sik1)||3||Only honor tiles and tiles from one suit|
|Pure Hand||清一色 (cing1 jat1 sik1)||6||All tiles from one suit|
|Pure Honor Hand||字一色 (zi6 jat1 sik1)||Limit||All honor tiles|
|Seven Pairs||七對子 (cat1 deoi3 zi2) / 七姊妹||4||Hand consisting of only pairs|
|Three Lesser Scholars||小三元 (siu2 saam1 jyun4)||3||Melds of 2 dragons and a pair of the 3rd dragon|
|Three Great Scholars||大三元 (daai6 saam1 jyun4)||6||Melds of all 3 dragons|
|Four Small Blessings||小四喜 (siu2 sei3 hei2)||8||Melds of 3 winds and a pair of the 4th wind|
|Four Large Blessings||大四喜 (daai6 sei3 hei2)||10||Melds of all 4 winds|
|All Kongs||十八羅漢 / 四槓子 / 槓槓和||Limit||Hand containing four Kongs|
|Hidden Treasure||四暗刻||Limit||Hand containing four concealed (unmelded) Pongs, won by Self-Pick|
|Jade Dragon||翡翠龍||Limit||Hand containing Pongs/Kongs of the Stick suit only and Pong/Kong of the Green Dragon|
|Ruby Dragon||紅寶龍||Limit||Hand containing Pongs/Kongs of the Characters suit only and Pong/Kong of the Red Dragon|
|Pearl Dragon||珍珠龍||Limit||Hand containing Pongs/Kongs of the Dots suit only and Pong/Kong of the White Dragon|
|All Terminal||清么九||Limit||Hand containing Pongs/Kongs of Ones and Nines only|
|Nine Gates Hand||九子連環||Limit||Hand in any one suit consisting of 1112345678999|
Note: For Four Small Blessings, some variations have a further restriction with the prevailing wind or the seat wind disallowed as the pair.
Note: A Nine Gates Hand. It is called nine gates because there are 9 tiles that the player can win with. In some games it is required that the hand be totally concealed (i.e. the three 1s and 9s must be drawn from the wall and not taken from a discard).
|Seat Wind||門風 (mun4 fung1)||1||A meld of the winner's seat wind||/ / /|
|Prevailing Wind||圈風 (gyun6 fung1)||1||A meld of the prevailing wind||/ / /|
|Red Dragon||紅中 (hung4 zung1)||1||A meld of the red dragon|
|Green Dragon||發財 (faat3 coi4)||1||A meld of the green dragon|
|White Dragon||白板 (baak6 baan2)||1||A meld of the white dragon|
|Self-Draw||自摸 (zi6 mo2)||1||The winning tile is from the wall|
|Concealed Hand||門前清 (mun4 cin4 cing1)||1||The winner did not form a meld by discard|
|Robbing the Kong||搶槓 (coeng2 gong3)||1||The winning tile is obtained from someone calling a Kong|
|Win on Last Tile||海底撈月 (hoi2 dai2 lou4 jyut6)||1||The winning tile is either the last tile from the wall or the last discard|
|Win on Replacement Tile||槓上開花 (gong3 soeng5 hoi1faa1)||1||The winning tile is from a replacement tile due to a Kong or a Bonus Tile|
|Win on double Replacement Tile||槓上槓 (gong3 soeng5 gong3)||1||Similar to 'Win on Replacement Tile', except that the tile used to make the Kong was itself an extra tile from declaring a Kong|
|Heavenly Hand||天糊 (tin1 wu4*2)||Limit||East wins with initial hand|
|Earthly Hand||地糊 (dei6 wu4*2)||Limit||Non-East player wins on East's first discard|
The point translation function is, as stated above, typically an exponential function. The function itself is subject to variation, typically to set an upper bound:
|Fān||Chips||By Discard||By Self-Draw|
|9 Pieces Penalty||九張包||Discarder pays all losses for enabling winner to go out with Pure Hand after winner had already melded 3 sets (9 tiles) of the same suit|
|12 Pieces Penalty||十二張包自摸||Winner goes out with Self-Picked Pure Hand after discarder has allowed them to meld a 4th set of the same suit; Discarder pays all losses|
|Fifth Tile Penalty||五子包生||Discarder pays all losses for discarding a "fresh" (previously unseen anywhere on the table) tile when there are 5 or less tiles left in the wall, allowing winner to go out|