Watching other players

 OVERVIEW:  Watching how other players organise the tiles in their rackWatching others’ bonus tiles ⇒ Watching the discards and exposed setsWatching later discardsConcealed handsKeeping a check on the exposed value of an opponent’s handWatching the reactions of other playersLearning other players’ dispositionsGuessing other players’ hands


Try to keep an eye on what other players are doing, beyond the obvious need to watch their discards. You may be able to detect what they are collecting and how close they are to a MJ. Watch their faces.


Watching how other players organise the tiles in their rack

Players often leave gaps between pungs and pairs (to make it easier to see them) so this would give you an idea of how advanced their hand is.

Players sometimes move tiles around in their racks depending on what has been discarded. For example, a player may have a special place for tiles he does not want – maybe at the end of the rack.

If you see him move a tile after a discard it may indicate that:

  • He has the same tile in his hand but no longer wants it – but perhaps you do!
  • He is saving that suit for a clean hand


Watching others’ bonus tiles

As other players acquire Flower and Season tiles, check if they have their own [d] – or yours, which will deprive you of a double.


Watching the discards and exposed sets

Pay attention to other players’ discards and exposed pungs/kongs so that you know which tiles are safer for you to discard and also to make sure that your own plans are not being spoilt because some tiles are no longer available. Are any other players trying to save the same suit as you? If they are, consider saving a different suit.

If a tile you want is discarded before you can claim it (say by a pung) re-assess your chances of getting the same tile.

Try to remember what others have discarded previously. This might give you an idea of what they are collecting so that you can then be careful about what you discard later. You may even decide to discard tiles you might otherwise have kept. Try to work out if others are saving special hands.


Some examples:

 Event  Deduction
 Player discards a Bamboo  Maybe saving Characters or Circles
 Same player then discards a Circle  Maybe saving Characters
 Player discards more than one honour tile  Probably going for “Knitting”/”Triple knitting”


Watching later discards

Later discards are more indicative of another player’s hand, than are early discards.

If someone is collecting a clean hand he may later discard stragglers from the suit – tiles that he hasn’t been able to form a set or a pair from. So beware of discarding tiles of that set, should he be fishing.


Concealed hands

Be careful of concealed hands – experienced players, who are going for a high score, are more cautious about punging. It can mean a special hand is being collected or, nearer the end of a game, it could mean someone has a high-scoring hand. Concealed sets are worth twice as much as the exposed equivalent. A concealed hand earns another double.


Keeping a check on the exposed value of an opponent’s hand

Work out the score that other players have already accumulated in their exposed hand.

Make a note of the number of doubles already evident in exposed pungs/kongs and in your opponents’ bonus tiles (their own bonus tile earns them a double).

Bear in mind that a kong is worth four times the value of its pung equivalent. An exposed major kong is worth 16 points. And a (declared) concealed major kong is worth 32 points.


Watching the reactions of other players

It’s worth carefully watching how others react to, or look at, tiles that have been discarded, punged or drawn from the wall as you may thereby be able to deduce what tiles they require or how close they are to a MJ.

If you discard a tile that is similar to one that another player is looking to pung he may reveal his ambitions. For example, you discard a 9 Circles and someone flinches, indicating that he may be looking for a 9 of another suit.

If another player is discarding tiles from the wall with little attention (or thought about retaining them) it may indicate that he is close to a MJ. If he is hesitant about discarding a tile, it is likely to be close to one he wants. But be careful of experienced players who may be trying to deceive you!


Learning other players’ dispositions

Other players often play in a particular fashion or have favourite hands that they like to collect. If you are aware of this you may be able to use it to your advantage.


Guessing other players’ hands

Near the end of the game – if you haven’t done this before then – try to guess what each of your opponents has saved. Then see if you are right!



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