RMC Originals - Know When to Push and When to Pull

Until we go with the next series, we’d like to take some time to explain some mental/phsycological strategy for a change.

Some of us have been in tournaments or have played in games where you keep dealing into people. Some may tell themselevs that “it just wasn’t my day”, and say that they weren’t lucky.

Of course, Mahjong definitely involves some luck. But there are somethings that you can cover with skills and mindsets. We’ve gone over several strategy theories. Wether you choose to utilize them is up to you, as not all strategies are created equal. There is a time and place for each one.

But how would you determine when to do so? When would you be “aggressive” and when would you be “conservative”? When should you push and when should you pull?

This is another subjective topic, but we’d like to share somethings we heard from several players.

1) When to Push
Well, when you’re behind points for starters, right? But this will depend on what you’re goal is. Are you aiming for 1st place? If so, why? Is it a one day tournament? Do you really have to be 1st place this round? Maybe this is a league game, and you don’t have to be 1st. Maybe there is placement points and all you have to do is avoid 4th place. There are different factors that would take place in such thinking.

So first thing to do is understand the rules of that specific game you’re playing. Think of your final goal and think of each game as a step towards that goal.

Just because you have a great hand, doesn’t mean that you “should” go for it. If you’re up by 30K points, you may not have to be as aggressive and aim for a Chin-Itsu. Being able to take a step back and be ok with not winning/aiming a hand is a legitimate strategy, again, depending on the rules and circumstances!

2) When to Pull
This kind of ties in to the previous topic. Being conservative is ok. If your points aren’t moving up or down because you’re conservitave, you might be better off than someone being too aggressive and dealing into Mangans left and right!

If your hand is only a 1 Han hand (Riichi-Nomi for example), is it worth pushing against a dealer Riichi? If it’s a Kan-Chan wait, should you push against a hand that looks like a Hon-Itsu?

There’s a time and place for that, of course, but try to see if your hand is “worth” the push. If not, it may be wiser to pull out and fight harder the next round.


We can go into more details with more examples if desired, but for now, this might be a good thing to start thinking about if you haven’t already.

There is no right or wrong in Mahjong, but there is a “smarter” and efficient way to play. If you can balance out the luck, skill and mental part of the game, you are at a very good start!

Riichi Mahjong Central