The Basics of Domino


Domino is a game played with rectangular tiles that feature a line down the center. Each end of the tile bears a number of dots or “pips.”

Players score points by laying dominoes side-by-side, touching and producing matching numbers on their exposed ends (for example, a double-6 touching another 6-6). Most games use a set that extends to double-12.


There are many variations of domino but the basic rules are similar. The first player to get all of their dominoes out on the table wins and earns points equal to the total value of the opponents’ remaining tiles.

Players draw a set number of dominoes, usually seven pieces but this can vary by game-type or setting. Each piece has a value that is determined by the number of squares it has on both sides. When a player draws a double, this must be placed perpendicular to the end of the chain it is joining, and the pips on both ends must match.

Players then take turns playing their dominoes on the table, aiming to join them together in a line. Some games require the joining of dominoes with matching numbers (e.g., a 6 touching a 4). Doubles are usually joined to the end of a line rather than in the middle. A game can be played to a predetermined number of rounds or until a certain point limit is reached.


Players often customize domino game rules to match their preferences. For example, they may change the rules of scoring by allowing doubles to count as one or two, or they may add a rule requiring all players to play a certain number of dominoes in a round. Some games also have different rules for adding up the scores of opponents.

The word “domino” was once used to describe a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season and at masquerade balls. It may have been derived from the name of an earlier garment, a cape with blacks and ivory faces, that was sometimes worn by French priests over their surplices.

A typical domino is a rectangular tile with a line in the middle to divide it visually into two sides called ends, each displaying a number of spots or pips. Dominoes come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some are made of cheaper materials while others are more expensive and crafted by artisans.


Dominoes are made of a variety of materials, but most modern sets are made of plastic. There are also some sets that are made of metal, but these tend to be more expensive. The most popular set is the double-six domino, which contains 28 unique tiles. These are rectangular in shape, with a line down the center and a number of spots, called pips, on each end. A blank spot, called a zero, is also included in most sets.

Each domino represents one of the twenty-one possible results of two thrown dice (2d6). In addition, the domino pieces are usually twice as long as they are wide, so that they can stand upright on their edges. The most common materials for dominoes include bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and a dark hardwood such as ebony, with black or white inlaid or painted dots. Occasionally, marble is used for very expensive sets.


In a standard set of domino, points are scored when a player is able to connect one end of one of their own tiles with the exposed ends of the domino they have just played. This is done by matching a side of the tile to part of the line of already played dominoes, such as two three’s touching. If the total of the pips on the exposed ends is divisible by five, then a point is scored. Some variants only allow scores that are divisible by three, or make no restrictions at all.

Before a hand or game begins, the dominoes are shuffled. This is usually done by placing the tiles face down on a table and moving them around randomly. The unused dominoes form a collection called the boneyard.

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