Though a relatively modern game—it emerged in the 19th century in China—Mahjong's popularity has spread all over the planet. It's one of the table games of choice in many Asian households and currently, there is an increasing number of online casinos that offer the game.
In addition to being a fun activity, Mahjong confers significant mental health benefits. So, whether one plays Mahjong online or uses a physical set to play with family members or friends, they can expect numerous positive effects on how the brain functions.
When playing Mahjong, the participants need to maintain their focus in order to block any interference and thus win the game faster. As they go along, they are training their brain to concentrate better and to keep their attention focused on one subject at a time.
Mahjong also helps keep a player's memory sharp in several ways. Memorization is triggered, for example, when familiarizing oneself with the distinguishing features of Mahjong tiles. Remembering each tile's position on the board in order to make tile pairs more quickly and efficiently also plays a role in sharpening one's memory.
Regardless of how frequently the game is played, it has been shown that Mahjong has significant positive effects on verbal memory and digit forward memory.
Making the brain work through mental exercise activities such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and Mahjong can bring down the risk of getting degenerative brain disorders such as dementia, or at least delay its onset.
People who have already been diagnosed with dementia also stand to benefit from playing Mahjong. One study, conducted in 2006, reported that dementia patients who were also Mahjong players saw a significant improvement in their cognitive function.
Another study, meanwhile, showed that playing Mahjong even outperformed tai chi exercise when it came to improving elderly people's cognitive abilities.
Playing the game three times a week on average could reduce symptoms of depression in senior citizens with mild dementia. Similar outcomes were observed in middle-aged individuals, without dementia, who had been playing Mahjong for less than a month.
Mahjong's social component is a major factor in its ability to alleviate depression in players. The game is traditionally played among four people, though this can change depending on the game variation, and it is this act of gathering for a common activity that helps reduce feelings of isolation. Thus, Mahjong can play a major role in improving mental health.
Because of social distancing restrictions in many regions of the world, going to a land-based casino to play real Mahjong may not be advisable. However, there are plenty of Internet-based options that allow Mahjong enthusiasts to play the game from the comfort of their own homes.
There are many variations of the game available online. Those who would like to play solo to learn how to play Mahjong and familiarize themselves with Mahjong rules can opt for the solitaire version. Mahjong-themed video slot games are likewise plentiful. Although slots are a different type of gambling game altogether, those inspired by Mahjong offer lots of fun and opportunities to win big as well.
Players can also choose to join a live Mahjong game online that's headed by a human dealer. These types of games, streamed in real-time, provide a social component since they allow players to interact with the dealer and other players at the Mahjong table.