101 Tips on How to NOT Lose in Riichi Mahjong

Some friendly advice from a friendly neighbourhood riichi player. Some of these tips on how to not lose in riichi mahjong are all based on mistakes or remarks I’ve done or heard or seen someone else do or thought up of. Of course, I can’t guarantee a win (and I can’t guarantee you won’t lose based on skill).

  1. Don’t deal into yakuman.

    Defence 101 - Yakuman
    Don’t even think about it….
  2. Tenpai doesn’t matter if you deal in.
  3. Be sure you can read all the man/character tiles properly.
  4. Make sure that yakuhai is actually your own/round wind.
  5. Make sure you aren’t in furiten.
  6. If you have a good hand, don’t deal the fourth wind and cause an abortive draw.
  7. Don’t discard a yakuman hand if you don’t need to.
  8. Don’t play with cheaters.
  9. Make sure you go to the washroom/won’t be busy before you play.
  10. Don’t deal the houtei dora unless you know a triple ron will happen (to abort the hand).

    (Image courtesy of arcturus.su)
  11. Make sure your ruleset allows kokushi ankan chankan before you call ron.
  12. Don’t go for a yaku that isn’t used in your ruleset.
  13. Don’t decide to go for nagashi mangan based on your haipai.
  14. Know all your waits when you have a chinitsu.
  15. If you are playing with sticks, know the values of the point sticks.
  16. If you are playing offline, remember to check the ura dora if you win with riichi.
  17. Make sure you have a way of telling if a dora is red if you are colour-blind.
  18. Don’t go tsumogiri just because you’re in tenpai.
  19. Keep your winning tile separate from your hand.
  20. Remember to turn your next discard sideways if your riichi tile was claimed.
  21. When calculating points, make sure you remember the honba.
  22. If you are in last place in oorasu, don’t try to win a hand that would keep you in last.

    101 Tips - Useless Oorasu.png
    East 4 in tonpuusen, stayed last even after winning a hand.
  23. Make sure you have 1000 points before you choose riichi as your yaku (unless your ruleset allows otherwise).
  24. Remember that “menzen tsumo” the yaku is different than “tsumo” the call.
  25. Just because a tile isn’t in your discard pile doesn’t mean you didn’t discard it.
  26. Know how to calculate points so you can calculate how much you need to get into a better placement (whether out of last or into first).
  27. Don’t go for daisuushii if you already have shousuushii and both are worth the same.
  28. Don’t try to go for a standard yakuman if you already have a kazoe yakuman.
  29. Make sure you have the right number of tiles in hand.
  30. Don’t riichi a yakuman hand if it causes an abortive draw.

    Fine, the yakuman riichi was actually the second riichi, but you get the point. (Image courtesy of arcturus.su)
  31. Make sure you remember the order of winds and dragons.
  32. Just because there is an order of winds and dragons doesn’t mean you can chii them.
  33. Don’t go for suukantsu if someone else has already called kan.
  34. Don’t try to use the white dragon as a wild card/joker.
  35. Don’t give up a potential yakuman if renhou is worth nothing.
  36. Make sure you don’t call kyuushuu kyuuhai on a tenhou/chihou kokushi musou.
  37. Make sure you draw from the correct side of the wall.
  38. Even though it may look like a yakuman, it doesn’t mean you aren’t in furiten.

    Furiten Suuankou Tanki.png
    I almost cried when I got this…
  39. As much as you think it is, the riichi button on Tenhou is not meant to be a tenpai indicator.
  40. If playing against people online, make sure there isn’t going to be server maintenance while you play.
  41. Remember that chiitoi must be 7 distinct pairs.
  42. If you aren’t going to be in tenpai, discard the safest possible tile for your last discard.
  43. If you are in a tournament, know when your game time is.
  44. Make sure you organize your hand to get the highest possible score.

    I won’t explain this one…
  45. The tile with the bird is not a flower, but the 1 sou/bamboo.
  46. Make sure your laptop is charged before you play online.
  47. Don’t click a button just because it pops up.
  48. Be able to read the buttons that pop up.
  49. Don’t start a hand and aim for haitei as your yaku.
  50. Don’t try to claim norths as kita dora in 4-player mahjong.
  51. Don’t aim for sanshoku doujun in sanma (3-player) mahjong.
  52. Open pinfu does not mean you can get the yaku pinfu with an open hand.
  53. Remember that can’t open riichi when your hand is open.
  54. Don’t make your emotions too obvious when playing in real life.
  55. If you have a ready hand, make sure your waits are still available.

    101 Tips - Waits.png
    Mesmerizing dora….
  56. Don’t flinch when a tile of the same suit as your wait comes out.
  57. Make sure your kans during riichi are legal.
  58. Don’t try to change your hand after you riichi.
  59. Remember that you can only draw until the end of the live wall.
  60. Don’t try to take a tile from your opponent’s hand thinking it’s the wall.
  61. Don’t forget to pick your rinshanpai after you kan.
  62. Make sure the kan dora is flipped after your kan/kan discard.
  63. Make sure the mahjong software you’re using isn’t buggy.

    (Image courtesy of reddit user THL22NL)
  64. Make sure you are using a complete mahjong set.
  65. Don’t go for a certain yaku “for the meme”/”just because it’s cool”.
  66. Make sure that a regular five is taken out for every red five put in.
  67. Don’t discard a winning tile because “it gets you closer to iishanten”.
  68. Don’t be too picky about your tiles being in the proper orientation.
  69. Don’t forget about the potential to make an open pon into an added kan.
  70. Remeber that a closed hand won by ron is still a closed hand.
  71. Make sure you are in tenpai before you riichi.
  72. If you accidentally noten riichi, keep quiet.
  73. Always watch for chankan opportunities.
  74. Be open to accepting more dora.
  75. If someone calls double riichi, don’t hesitate to abort the hand

    File:Double riichi denied.png
    (Image courtesy of arcturus.su)
  76. You can’t have chiitoi and ryanpeikou at the same time.
  77. Don’t rage quit.
  78. Don’t try to turn your suuankou tanki tenpai into an open suukantsu
  79. Remember that the 25 fu of chiitoi cannot be rounded up to 30.
  80. Don’t wear highly reflective glasses to a game. (Courtesy of @kendra_mahjong)
  81. Remember which yaku are closed only.
  82. Before you double riichi, make sure you haven’t already won.

    (Image courtesy of osamuko.com)
  83. Remember that pinfu tsumo is worth 20 fu.
  84. Look at your drawn tile before discarding.
  85. Don’t play when you’re sick/tired/can’t think straight.
  86. Shousangen is either worth 2+2 han or 4 han, never 4+2 han.
  87. Don’t immediately show your tiles when you call chii. Wait to make sure no one calls pon (unless rulesets specify otherwise).
  88. Being in first doesn’t mean you “have points to burn”.
  89. Don’t spend extra turns increasing your hand’s han value if the point value is the same (eg. going from 6 to 7 han, 8 to 9 han)
  90. Remember that having all sequences does not mean you have pinfu.101 Tips - All Sequences.png
  91. Know which yaku are affected by kuisagari (yaku which decrease in value when open).
  92. If placement is the most important thing, don’t take big risks to get high scoring hands if you are first.
  93. As much as you want to, don’t aim for ±0.
  94. Don’t aim for a comeback win in East 1 (bonus 0).
  95. Just because a person doesn’t riichi doesn’t mean they aren’t in tenpai.
  96. Make sure you take the tile you called on (besides a ron call).
  97. Know your opponent’s waits if they have called open riichi.
  98. You can’t call “tsumo” on a tile discarded by someone else to get around the furiten rule.
  99. If you are trying to show off your tile handling skills, don’t knock down your tiles by accident.
  100. If you’re snacking, make sure you don’t eat the tile by accident



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Riichi Mahjong Player, Creator of Jellicode's Jansou and M-League Watch, Maintainer of the World Riichi Map

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