The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are rectangular tiles with a number of spots or pips on one side. They are blank or identically patterned on the other side.

To play a domino game, players draw their hands and begin playing. When a player runs out of dominoes to play, the loser scores. The winner counts the values of the remaining dominoes in the losing player’s hand and adds that total to his or her score.


The basic rules of domino are that the tiles are shuffled and each player draws a tile from the stock to establish who will play first. This player may be referred to as the setter or downer. The winner of the previous hand then places a domino of their choice face up on the table and begins playing. The players may then seat themselves in accordance with the rules of the game. In partnership games, the partners sit opposite each other. Depending on the game, the winning score is determined by counting the number of spots (or pips) left in opponents’ hands at the end of a hand or game.

As the domino chain develops, each player in turn plays a new tile on the table positioning it so that the matching ends of the tile are adjacent to each other. Unless the domino is a spinner, the domino played must touch both ends of the line of play.


Dominoes are a game of skill that requires attention to detail. The standard domino set has 28 tiles, which are shuffled and formed into a stock or boneyard, from which players draw tiles to play. The number of tiles drawn determines the amount of points a player scores at the end of the hand or game. Each tile has two matching ends and may be numbered from one to six pips. Some of the variations of the game use different rules for scoring, but the basic rules remain the same.

In a team game, the winning teams are those whose combined total of pips in their remaining dominoes is the lowest. Some teams also employ the use of a puck or special marker to identify an empty train that cannot be played on and the last double that has been played. In addition, some games include a timer that a player cannot exceed per turn.


Dominoes are made of a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and foam. They are also available in different colors and accessories. Generally, they are twice as long as they are wide and have a smooth surface that allows them to stand upright. They are also marked with a number of dots, or pip spots, that match the markings on dice.

There are many different types of dominoes, including standard plastic dominoes that are widely available at department stores. These are great for beginners trying to decide if dominoes are fun for them, but their quality tends to degrade over time. Their light weight also adds a risk of tumbling before they are fully set up.

Traditionally, dominoes were made of ivory inlaid with ebony, but this type of domino is now illegal due to the slaughter of elephants. Nowadays, domino sets are usually made from wood or synthetic materials. Some are even made from metal or stone.


Domino scoring depends on the type of game played. Some games, such as muggins or bergen, determine points by counting the pips in opponents’ hands. Others, such as Mexican train, allow players to add to other players’ trains. In these games, the player with the lowest total score wins.

To begin the game, players must mix up their tiles in a random manner (by shaking them or moving them around). The player who draws the highest double goes first. The players then draw a hand of seven tiles and play their turn.

In muggins, a player scores when the sum of all open-end pips on the layout is a multiple of five. For example, if a player plays a 5-5, 6-4, or 5-0, the player scores nine points (2 + 3 + 5). If a player cannot make a play, he or she simply passes. If both players have the same score, the game ends in a tie.