What is Domino?


Domino is a game played with dominoes, a set of flat thumb-sized blocks bearing identifying marks on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Traditionally, a domino has from one to six spots, or pips, on each end; 28 such tiles form a full set.

When play stops, the winner is determined by the number of matching pips in each player’s remaining dominoes. Rules vary, but most games are divided into blocking games and scoring games.


Players take turns placing dominoes on the game board, attempting to link them in a chain. Each domino must show one end with a value that matches the value of the chain’s end. If a player can’t play a domino, they must mark it as private with the marker and continue to draw until they find a playable one.

The first player to score a hand wins the game. This is determined either by lot, or by whoever had the highest double in their previous hand. Occasionally, the highest bone is forced (by default) to start the hand.

Once the dominoes are shuffled, each player draws a tile from the stock. The player who draws the highest domino plays first in that hand. In subsequent hands, the lead can be any tile. Doubles are played crosswise, while singles are played lengthwise. Players may also remove obstacles from the layout. These obstacles include dominoes that are blocking other dominoes, and ones that have two matching ends.


There are several variations to the game of domino. Some of these are simply changes in how to play the game or other details of the rules. Some are differences in the objective of the game or how it is scored. Other variations include how to remove obstacles, which are placed on the board by opponents to hinder progress.

For example, in the game of muggins (also known as all fives), players score whenever they can play a tile that makes the sum of the open ends on the layout a multiple of five. This is a common variant that can be played with either single or double tiles.

Normally, play stops when one player cannot lay another domino, but in muggins, each turn the players add up their spots and the winner is the player with the lowest total. In team games, each member of a winning team subtracts their spot total, rounded to the nearest multiple of five, from their partner’s total to calculate their own score.


Over the years domino has been made from many different materials. The most common dominoes today are plastic but they have also been made from stone, bone and ivory. They are generally twice as long as they are wide, and the open end of each one is marked with a sequence of numbers from one to six. They are called a Domino Tile, or a Domino Piece.

Each domino has a face with a design or an arrangement of dots, or pips, and a back side that is blank or identically patterned. The pips on the dominoes represent the values of numbers from 1 to 6 when matched together, or zero when they are not.

Most domino sets have 28 tiles but larger sets can be used for games requiring longer trains of dominoes. The traditional Chinese set, for example, has 32 dominoes and each one of them represents every possible combination of two thrown dice.


Dominoes can be used to play a variety of games, and scoring systems vary between games. Some use a point system, while others use a tally system. The tally system is more popular in some areas than the point system.

In a game called 5s-and-3s, players score one point for each time the sum of the ends of two played dominoes is divisible by three or five. This game is a common feature in British pubs, with many teams competing in “Darts and Dominoes” leagues across the country.

Another way to score domino is by counting the number of pips on each player’s tiles. This method is often used in a game called Mexican Train, which is a variation of the basic domino set. The idiom domino effect comes from the idea that a single small trigger can cause a chain reaction of events. This theory was used by President Eisenhower to explain America’s policy toward South Vietnam, and it became a catchphrase for the Cold War.