Use code 'PAIR' for 10% off 2 decks, 'PUNG' for 15% off 3 decks, and 'KONG' for 20% off 4 decks!

How To Play - Traditional American Mahjong

How To Play - Traditional American Mahjong

Play Away Mahjong Cards are designed for beginners and on-the-go enthusiasts alike!

Each deck comes with a full set of instructions for both Traditional American Mahjong and Quick Play formats.

Traditional American Mahjong Play


Be the first player to build a complete "Line" pattern of cards. You'll play with 13 cards throughout the game and need 14 to win - Draw or Call to get "Mahjong!".


No tile rack or playing mat needed to Play Away! The one think you'll want to keep handy is your Mahjong League line card (or see Quick Play instructions to play without!).

Select a Dealer to shuffle and deal until each player has 13 cards, with the Dealer getting 1 additional card (for a total of 14 cards). The Dealer will discard this 14th card to begin play - enjoy it while you have it!


Get to know our Classic Edition cards below!

A few rules to note:

      • Colors on your line card do not indicate specific Suits, but show how many Suits are needed to complete the hand.
      • Jokers cannot be used in a single or a pair.
      • Winds and Flowers are not coordinated with any of the Suits.


Players pick 3 cards to pass. These are cards you do not want. Pass to the Right before adding the cards you receive into your hand. Now do it again! But this time swap 3 cards with the player across ("Over") the table. And once more! This time to the Left.

After the third pass, any player may stop The Charleston. Or, continue passing in the opposite direction (use R-O-L-L-O-R to remember passing order) for a total of 6 passes of 3 cards. A 7th pass is optional. If mutually agreed upon, trade up to 3 cards "Over".


Dealer begins play by discarding 1 card face up in the middle of the table, calling out the card by name as they do so. Moving counterclockwise, players take turns drawing a card from the deck and discarding. NOTE: do not stack discards, but instead spread the cards out so all are shown during play. Cards can overlap, but should be showing!

If a player discards a card you need, you can "Call" for it and pick it up. In order to do so, the card must complete a Pung, Kong, or Quint in your line (set of 3/4/5 cards, respectively) and you must lay down the completed grouping from your hand to "Expose" it. You may use a Joker(s) to help Call for the card but beware - Exposed Jokers are up for grabs if anyone has or draws the card you needed! One last note - if no one Calls for the discard before the next player draws, the card is considered Dead and can no longer be used... UNLESS your house rules permit a Blank swap (we've included 6 in the deck!) - in which case any player at any point may use their Blank to retrieve a long lost discard.

Remember: the only time you can Call for a Single or a Pair is to win!


The first player to complete their line declares "Mahjong!". The next Dealer (rotating counterclockwise) shuffles and deals and the rest is history!