Betting and Mah Jongg have always gone Hand in Hand…no pun intended!
When Mah Jongg is “five-handed,” the fifth player can become a Bettor.
This fifth player can rotate in to play games, and, when sitting out, can act as a Bettor and participate by choosing the player they think will win the upcoming game.
Having a Bettor adds another dimension and extra excitement to the game of Mah Jongg. Betting allows the fifth player to be a part of the game, albeit a silent observer.
The Bettor, without any comments or indication of whether a Hand looks strong or weak, may survey each player’s tiles and determine whom they think will win that game. The Bettor may examine all players’ Hands during the Charleston including the last pass of Optional Across. They will then record the bet by either writing their choice down on a piece of paper, or using a “Bettor” game accessory.
Bettor Do’s and Don’ts:
~ The Bettor must complete & record their decision BEFORE East discards their tile to begin game play.
~ The Bettor may guess that a “Wall Game” will transpire.
~ The Bettor must remain SILENT and should not hover over any player during game play.
~ The Bettor may NOT change their bet at any time once play has commenced.
~ During play, the Bettor may NOT comment if an error or illegal exposure has been made.
~ The Bettor may NOT remark if they recognize a Dead Hand (this type of challenge may ONLY come from the four active players).
Note: According to the NMJL rules of play, if a Bettor discusses a Hand
during game play, the bet is then cancelled along with any benefit
from the bet and Bettor must still pay the amount due to the game
~ The Bettor may NOT reveal the bet until the game has ended and Mah Jongg has been declared and verified.
~ Once the game has been completed, the Bettor may disclose who they Bet on and will receive the SAME money as the Bet-On player.
~ The Bettor will PAY the same money or penalties owed to others as the Bet-On player pays.
~ If the Bet-on player did NOT win, the Bettor must pay exactly the same as the Bet-on player to the game winner including the full value of the penalty score. For example, if the active player throws the winning Mah Jongg tile to an opponent, both that active player and the Bettor must pay the same to the winning player.
~ The Bettor can bet on East to win and…
If East claims Mah Jongg BEFORE game play starts the Bettor receives the same Hand value as East for the win. This is a rarity and is called an Earthly Hand. Hopefully, the Bettor will recognize that East (the only player who has 14 tiles during the Charleston) does indeed have Mah Jongg and places their bet with greatest of delight upon East!
If the Bettor predicts a “Wall Game” and a game with no winner occurs, players must each pay the Bettor the value of the lowest scoring Hand on the playing card used (current card would score .25 as the lowest Hand value).
Bettors should be looking for which players’ Hands are strong and have winning tile combinations. They may also determine opponents, whose Hand choices may hinder each other another, which will decrease their possibility of winning. A Bettor will use critical thinking when comparing Hands and deciphering the active players' strategies of focusing their tiles to form Hands.
Rules for Active Players when a Bettor is present:
~ Players should also not discuss their Hands with the Bettor during the Charleston nor game play.
~ The four active players will actually prefer it if the Bettor bets AGAINST their Hand, thus allowing them to collect additional winnings from the Bettor if they win the game.
~ During play, the active players may NOT discuss their strategy or
particulars of their Hand with the Bettor.
“Bettor Device” “Direction Indicator” “Wind Indicator” “Wind Marker”
Many Mah Jongg sets come with a game accessory or Bettor device also known as a Wind Indicator or Wind Marker. The Wind Indicator was originally designed to keep track of the ‘prevailing wind” in many styles of Mah Jongg play.
The Wind Indicator” will have either the letters N E W S (meaning North, East, West, and South) or the numbers 1 2 3 4 or E 2 3 4 on the device to stand for the seating position of each of the players.
East refers to the player who will roll the dice, cut the wall and is the first player to take a stack of four tiles. East is the player who kicks off the game by discarding a tile from their 14 tiles. Reminder: East does not pick a tile from the wall until their second turn.
East E (or may have a 1 on the device)
North 2 (player seated to the Right of East)
West 3 (player seated Across from East)
South 4 (player seated to the LEFT of East)
If a Bettor device has a fifth Chinese symbol or design on it, that emblem would symbolize a WALL game bet (center photo above). The Bettor will rotate the betting disk to their choice of winner or choose that a Wall game will ensue.
If your group does NOT have a Bettor device, keep a small pad of paper or post-it note pad and a pen handy for the Bettor to write down their choice of winner (right photo above- example choosing player 3 to win). The Betting device or paper pad should then be placed upside down on a side of the playing table.
What an enjoyable and stimulating way to keep your fifth player involved while they wait their turn to get in the game as an active player!
How exhilarating to be a Bettor who has the foresight and good fortune to choose the upcoming game winner from what they observe from the 53 total visible tiles in the four racks!!