How to Play Dominoes

There are a wide variety of domino games. Some are blocking or drawing games, while others are scoring games. In scoring games, players earn points during play and at the end of a round.

A domino has a number of pips on each open end. These pips determine how the tile can be joined to the line of play.


There are a number of different domino games that can be played. Some are blocking games, while others are scoring games. Generally, the winner of a game is the player who has the lowest number of pips in his opponents’ hands at the end of a hand or the entire game. In some games, the number of pips remaining on doubles is counted for scoring purposes.

Players begin the game by drawing a domino from the stock. The player who draws the heaviest tile (determined either by lot or by who holds the heaviest double, depending on the rules of the game) plays first.

When a tile is played, it must match an open end on the layout. This arrangement of dominoes is called the line of play or string of play. If a player cannot place his own domino, he may mark it with a marker to make it public and stop other players from adding to it.


Dominoes are small rectangular wooden blocks with one side blank or marked with an arrangement of spots resembling those on dice. They belong to one of four suits, numbered 1 through 6, or to the suit of blanks (indicated by a zero). Each domino is divided visually into two square halves by a line or ridge that divides it into a number of areas referred to as ends. Each end bears a value indicated by the number of dots, or pips, which identify it as a member of the suit it belongs to.

Dominoes are currently manufactured in a wide variety of materials. The most common types are Plastics, Metals, and Stone. In addition, many makers create high end wood dominoes that are considered works of art and often command a price tag to reflect the craftsmanship involved in their production.


Many different domino games can be played with the same basic rules. Some examples include basic train, Mexican train, chicken foot, bendomino, Cyprus, and the spinner. These variations have specific rules for how tiles are placed, or what types of matches are made, but all begin with the same basic model. Players draw a number of domino halves, typically seven, from the boneyard (face-down stock) and take turns extending the line of play by placing matching tiles in such a way that other players cannot see their tile faces.

When a player lays a tile touching another domino that has exposed ends of the same value, they score points. If the ends of the dominos total any multiple of five, the player is awarded that amount. New dominoes can be added to the ends of the line using a double, called a spinner, which is played at right angles to the rest of the line and has open sides for adding new pieces.


There are several ways to assign points in domino. Typically, each player scores the value of his opponents’ remaining dominoes (rounded to the nearest multiple of five) at the end of a hand or game. A winner is then declared based on who has the highest score.

In the case of a tie, a special scoring rule may be used. In this case, the players count the total of all the exposed ends of their own dominoes and add that number to the value of each other’s remaining tiles. This number is then divided by the total of all other players’ exposed ends to determine a winning score.

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