The Basics of Dominoes

Like playing cards, dominoes bear a pattern of dots (also called spots or pips) on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. They are normally twice as long as they are wide.

If a player cannot play a tile when it is his turn, he or she “knocks” and passes to the next player.


Players draw dominoes from the boneyard until they find one that matches a tile played by an opponent. Dominoes that are not matching are marked as a “Mexican train” and may be added to during a player’s turn. The way that domino chains develop into a snake-line provides part of the game’s entertainment.

The first player to lay a domino begins the hand. This is determined either by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand. The starting player typically plays a double.

The rest of the rules are standard across most variations. The winner scores the number of pips on opposing player’s tiles that remain unplayed. Some games do not use a double zero piece, and some only count the two ends of each domino (one or two) rather than both sides. These rule variations must be agreed upon by the players before the game begins. Players must thoroughly shuffle their tiles before each hand.


There are many different materials used to make dominoes. Some are made from wood while others are made of plastic. There are even specialty materials such as stone and foam that are used in some sets. The most common are made from cheap, lightweight wood. This material is inexpensive and suitable for kids, but it might not be durable enough for adults to use.

The standard set of dominoes has twenty-four pips on each end, but it is possible to extend the number of unique combinations by adding more pips. Typically, larger dominoes have more pips on each end, but the maximum is double-nine.

This is a game that requires skill, and it is often played in British pubs. The players place dominoes edge to edge in a grid, and they score points whenever the total of open ends adds up to a multiple of five or three. One player who wins the entire round scores all of the remaining tiles in the other players’ hands.


A domino is a small, thumbsized rectangular block that is marked on one face with an arrangement of spots or dots, and blank or identically patterned on the other. A domino is normally divided visually into two square halves, and the number of spots on each half may vary from six to zero (or none).

In a typical European-style set, the upper thickness of the bone or ivory piece is inlaid with a black material such as ebony. The lower thickness is inlaid with a white material such as a paint or porcelain.

Modern mass-produced dominoes are usually made of plastic, although specialty sets may be made from stone, foam, or even stainless steel. Each type of material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the plastic dominoes from Bulk Dominoes are smoother and more consistent than those from Maria Lamping. However, the plastic dominoes from Bulk do not come with a debossed logo and can reflect light differently when viewed from different angles.


Dominos have a line in the middle that divides them visually into two square ends, each having a number of points (known as spots or pips) from one to six. They also contain blanks that may count as either zero or a higher value, depending on the specific domino game variant.

The value of each end is determined by counting the dots in each square and adding them up – for example, a double with one six and two twos counts as eight points. Similarly, a double-blank may count as 0 or 14 points, depending on the rules of the game.

A hand is won by the player or team with the most points accumulated after all of the tiles have been played. During the game, players can add to their train, though there is usually a limit of only one piece per turn. If a player cannot play any piece, they must pass and the remaining unplayed dominoes are placed in a separate pile, known as the boneyard.

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