Dominoes are typically made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips. They are usually double-sided, and one side has a number of dots, while the other is blank or identically patterned.

The player who wins a round scores by subtracting the value of each opposing player’s remaining domino tiles. Typical scores are 100 or 200 points per round.


Domino, which requires calculation and strategy, is one of the oldest games in history. Its cousin, the card game of poker, has a similar history.

Dominoes are small, oblong pieces with a number of pips on each face. The pips were originally meant to represent the results of two thrown dice. The European domino set has 28 pieces, compared to seven in Chinese sets.

The word “domino” probably derives from the appearance of black dots on a white background, which reminded some people of a hood worn by priests. The word may also have been influenced by the Latin dominus, meaning lord or master.


There are many different rules for domino games. Some are blocking games, while others involve scoring. A player wins by placing all of his or her tiles on the table before the opponent does. The game begins by shuffling and distributing the domino pieces to each player. The player with the highest double tile, such as a double six, starts the first hand.

Dominoes are played lengthwise across the line of play or crosswise, depending on the rules of the game. In some games, the number of pips on the losing players’ hands is added to the winner’s score.

If all players still have dominoes but no one can make a play, the game is closed. The winning player scores the total number of points of all the opponents’ unplayed dominoes.


There are many variations of domino. Usually, the objective is to be the first player to shed all of your dominoes or minimize the number you have unplayed when the play ends. Some games, such as matador and muggins, involve scoring for particular configurations of the layout. Matador involves playing a double with an end that totals seven and muggins scores when the open-end pips of the layout are a multiple of five.

Most domino games use a standard set of 28 tiles. However, it is possible to extend a domino set by adding additional dominoes with different values on each half of their face. A ‘double’ domino with the same value on each side can become a’spinner’ that allows new chains to start from it.


A domino table is usually covered in a felt surface, which helps to keep the faces of the tiles from getting scratched. Many dominoes are a little bit longer than wide, making them easier to stack and rearrange after use.

Each domino has an identity-bearing side that is marked with an arrangement of dots, called pips. The other side is blank or identically patterned. The difference in pips between the two sides of a domino is its rank or weight.

Keeping track of the rank or weight of each domino is important in many games. This information is especially valuable if the player is trying to maintain an initiative, or avoid allowing their opponent to rescore after they have scored. Most standard non-double dominoes have a different rank on each end.


Dominoes have a line in the center to divide them visually into two squares, each of which bears an arrangement of spots (known as pips) that is different from the other. These dots indicate the value of a domino in terms of points, and the more pips on a domino, the higher its rank.

Each player must play a domino into the chain so that its ends match (except for doubles, which may be played on their ends or across the lines of play). Those end tiles which are still open count as scoring positions.

The goal is to score the highest number of points possible by occupying scoring positions with dominoes and limiting your opponent’s options. Most games are played until 100, 150 or 200 points.

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