An interesting question came up in a game the other day about whether it was a good idea to always exchange a Joker for a missing tile.
Mostly, capturing another’s Joker is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But it’s not always a good strategic move, because it has the potential to help your opponent. Circumstances define when it helps you and when it helps your opponent.
So let’s talk about when you can make the exchange.
In most cases, making the Joker exchange is good for you—for sure, if there is more than one Joker exposed by your opponent.
So when should you not make the exchange? When it can lead to giving your opponent a Jokerless hand.
Here is a situation that requires your caution. The game is more than half over and at this point usually, players have made Exposures. One player has made two Exposures, using only one Joker . You have come to the conclusion that the rest of her hand requires a Pair(s) for Mahj. (There should be no doubt in your mind about the hand if three Exposures have been made.) This is particularly true for this year’s card because so many hands require at least one or two Pairs. If you make the exchange, you have effectively provided your opponent with a Jokerless hand, if she wins. Not good….. It can be a sign of your inexperience or carelessness or both. And it is costly.
And don’t make the exchange when all you need to declare Mah Jongg is a tile for a Pair. Since you can’t use the Joker, it’s of no use to you, but may prove to be of value to your opponent’s hand.
Don’t be tempted to grab an exposed Joker until you are fairly sure the exchange helps you and not an opponent.
So ‘Til the Next Time…..
MAY THE TILES BE WITH YOU!