The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are a tile-laying game where players try to score the most points. It is a strategy game that requires skill and is very difficult to lose.

The tiles are commonly made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips.

Line of play

The line of play is the way that dominoes are laid down on a table. Singles dominoes are played lengthwise, while doubles are usually played crosswise.

The first player draws a domino, and may play it against one of the ends or the sniff (see below). A domino must either be played against one of the ends or against the sniff to be valid.

Counting the pips on each end of the line of play is one of the ways to score in dominoes. If a player has a 63 domino and a 34 domino, the pips on both dominoes add up to 8.

In games with multiple players, the heaviest tile is drawn before each game. This is usually referred to as the “highest double” or the “heaviest single.” The highest tile is played at the start of each new game.


There are many variations of dominoes. They range from games that are based on the block game to others that are more complex, such as solitaire and trick-taking games.

The basic gameplay in dominoes is simple: each player in turn lays down a single domino, and play proceeds clockwise around the table. However, there are some variants that are more complex and involve special rules or additions.

For example, matador uses curved tiles, and muggins has a rule that allows players to extend an end with a double. This causes the line of play to branch.

Another variation is straight dominoes, which is played much like a block game but with exposed ends. It is played by two to four players, starting with a stock of seven dominoes and taking it in turns to lay matching domino halves end to end.

Typically, the player with the fewest pips wins after three rounds of play. But that depends on the version of the game, and how many pips are on your last domino.


A domino is a piece of wooden or plastic domino-shaped tile. Its main purpose is to score points by laying it end to end.

It has a line in the center to divide it visually into two squares, called ends. Each end has a different value, from six pips down to none or blank.

In many games, a tile’s total pips count is used to measure its score. For example, in a game of muggins, the player who can play a piece that makes the sum of open-end pips on the layout a multiple of five scores that number.

In other domino variants, the scoring system is more complex. For example, a version of the Mexican Train uses a spinner domino and requires that a double be placed to initiate play. It also allows players to add tiles to their own trains on subsequent turns. The running score is recorded on a counter or cribbage board.


A set of dominoes consists of 28 tiles (21 singles and 7 doubles). Players can play a variety of games with dominoes, and the rules vary based on the game.

To start a game, each player draws one domino from a pool of shuffled tiles. A player’s seat in a three- or four-player game is determined by lot.

The first player in each hand puts a double domino in the middle of the table, or if he doesn’t have one, draws from the boneyard until he has a double. The second and third players must match one end of the double to a domino in their hands.

The open ends of the dominoes in a line are scored by adding the number of pips on the exposed ends. For straight dominoes, the number of pips is divisible by five, but for other versions it may be limited to one or two numbers.