Although doramahjong.com has been in operation since 2011, the website has recently expanded its reach into Japan. Based in the Isle of Man, it was the first-ever site to provide a venue to play the game of mahjong for real cash winnings. They utilize Mahjong Logic software and deliver a true online casino experience with an Asian flair. The Many Faces of Mahjong Not to be confused with the solitaire game, which is often referred to by the same name, mahjong is actually a multi-player game of skill. Although it’s traditionally played with tiles, rather than cards, there are many similarities between it and the Western game of poker, so it’s sometimes called “Asian Poker.” Originally called, 麻雀, which means máquè, or sparrow, it now goes by many other names and spellings, including: Ma Cheuk Ma Diao Ma Jong Mah Cheuck Mah Jong Mah Jongg Majiang Pe-Ling Pung Chow Mahjong’s Rise to Popularity There is no consensus as to when mahjong was created. Some stories trace it back to Confucius, while others claim it was played on Noah’s ark. There are many Chinese games played with tiles made of wood or bone, some of which date back to the Sung Dynasty, which is also referred to as the Song Dynasty and encompasses a period of time from 960 to 1279 AD. It’s more likely that today’s game is a variant of the original, or the natural evolution of games played around 1,000 years ago. Although it remained a staple in Chinese culture, and it seeped into most of Asia as time passed, it didn’t become a game of interest in the UK and US until the early 1900s. Stanford University published a paper which highlights the social aspects of the game as part of its rise in popularity. It’s also a game of strategy, akin to chess in that respect, which may explain its prevalence in Asian culture. If you play the Dora Mahjong variant, you’ll note that they use more traditional rules, yet they also include a chat feature, so people can converse throughout gameplay. Moreover, it’s a true-chat, so players can speak freely, without having to select “canned” phrases from a menu. How Gameplay Works Dora Mahjong offers three different games. The first one is called “Single Hand” and anywhere from 1-4 players can compete. The second game variant is referred to as “East Only,” and it’s designed to be a fast-play option for four players at once. The final option provides a traditional, four-player “Full Game.” Any of them play out very much like rummy, and your goal is to build a winning hand, which is also called a” mahjonghand,” or simply “mahjong.” To do this, you’ll need to be the first to collect four melds, plus a pair. Melds Chow/ Chii- Three sequential tiles, like a straight Eyes/Pair- Two identical tiles Pong/Pon- Three identical tiles Kong/ Kan- Four identical tiles Dora Mahjong Software Mahjong Logic’s software is top-notch. It does require download to play, but with a decent Internet connection, you can be up in running within a few minutes. Because they utilize a global room, players may eventually be able to compete against people on other websites. Right now, Dora Mahjong is the only place offering the suite put together by Mahjong Logic, but it is possible that other sites may also add their games in later, which will provide an even greater pool of players. The software is very comprehensive. There is a detailed guide, plus the option of playing for free while you learn. There are multiple tables in play, so you can choose which one suits you, and you can even “friend” people on the site, and either join them in gameplay or just watch. As noted earlier, there’s also a chat feature, so it’s an incredibly social platform, and the people online tend to be very friendly and helpful. The graphics and animations are done well and controls are all intuitive. Before You Play Be sure to read all the rules before you play. Even if you’re in a restricted country, they will still allow you to register, but it’s not likely you’ll be able to withdraw any winnings. They offer a 100-percent match bonus for signing up, which pays out in increments as you accrue player points. You’ll also have to enter “DORA” as your bonus code when you make your initial deposit to get it. They accept almost every possible form of payment, including Visa, Master Card, NeTeller, and Skrill. Additionally, they are licensed through the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and use a random-number generator, which is third-party verified, to determine which tiles are drawn, so they follow fair-play and safe gaming guidelines. Even if you’re new to the game, Dora Mahjong is a fun and engaging website. You can play free games until you feel ready to play for cash, but either way, you’ll be able to take advantage of their social features. They also provide tournaments and sometimes several can occur on one day, each with a different buy-in and pot. Obviously, they specialize in just one thing, but they do it so well that it’s an ideal place to play whether you’re learning or have perfected your skills.