The basic rules of American Mahjong are recommended for beginners. The American rules are a simplified version of the traditional Chinese game and use a less cumbersome scoring system.
In the American version of Mahjong, 136 tiles are used among four players. The objective for each player in the game is to achieve a Mahjong hand of 14 tiles, which contains four distinct sets plus one pair. A set is either three identical tiles, which is called a Pung, or it is three consecutive numbers, which is called a Chow.
The American rules determine a starting dealer with the roll of a pair of dice. Each player is dealt 13 tiles, with the extra tile going to the dealer. The remaining tiles are stacked in square wall that is 17 tiles long. The dealer begins the game by discarding one tile, indicating the turn of the player at his left.
A player is allowed to claim the extra tile if it allows him to achieve a Mahjong hand, a Pung or a Chow. If the tile does not allow this, the player must take a tile from the wall. Either the new tile must achieve a Mahjong hand for the player, or he must discard a tile to continue play.
In the American version of the game, points are assigned only when a Mahjong hand is achieved. Play continues until players reach a certain number of points or until they agree that the game is done.