How to Play Dominoes


Dominoes are usually twice as long as they are wide and may have a number of spots or pips on either end. They can also be blank.

After the tiles are shuffled, each player draws a domino from the stock. This domino determines who makes the first play. The player who draws the heaviest tile goes first.


There are many games that can be played with dominoes, and there are also a wide variety of rules. In general, each domino has a set of identifying marks (called “pips”) on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. The most common domino sets have 28 pieces but larger sets can be purchased as well.

In most games the player who can match a domino on both ends wins that hand or game. The winner may announce “I win!” or similar and claim his/her victory. Alternatively, the losing players may count the total number of pips in the remaining tiles left in their hands and add this to their score.

If a player draws more dominoes for his/her hand than he or she can use, he or she must knock, bang the edge of the tile on the table, or otherwise signal that he/she cannot make another play and forfeits his turn. The extra dominoes must be returned to the stock and reshuffled before anyone else draws their hand.


The domino effect is often used in demonstrations of how sound travels through different materials. It can also be used to illustrate how spacing affects the speed of a wave.

Dominoes are made from various materials, including wood and plastic. They are usually twice as long as they are wide, and each face is marked with a pattern of spots or pips. These dots identify the domino as being part of a set. They are normally arranged in rows of five.

In the past, dominoes were made from animal bone and ivory. However, the harvesting of elephants and other large mammals led to the banning of ivory in 1990. Modern dominoes are usually manufactured from a mixture of materials, including cheap wood and common plastic. They are usually stamped with the name of the manufacturer and a logo, and may come in special-effect finishes or with accessories. They are often sold in corrugated cardboard boxes.


Some domino games have unusual rules that change how the line of play develops. Matador, for example, uses curved tiles and requires players to match two adjacent sides of a domino. Another variant, Bendomino, combines this with a spinner that can be played from all four sides.

Dominoes are typically arranged on the table face down, with one set used for each player. A standard double-six set has 28 unique pieces. Each player draws seven from the stock, and then starts a line of play by placing a tile that has a matching end with an existing domino on the board.

The game continues until a player cannot play, or block play stops for all players. Normally, the winner is the player who has the lowest total of pips on their remaining dominoes. However, some variations of domino keep score with houses rather than points. This is a good way to make the game more interesting and challenging.


In some domino games, scoring is based on counting the total number of pips in the losing players’ hands. This method can affect the strategy of a player and may make certain tiles more valuable than others. For example, a double tile with one end showing a value of four and the other end showing a zero makes it “heavy”.

Another scoring method involves dividing a domino’s open ends by five or three. This score is then multiplied by the number of times that the domino is divided by five or three. This score can also be used to determine the winner of a hand or game. The most common scoring system is to award one point for every time a domino’s open ends add up to a multiple of three. This type of scoring is often used in domino games with trains, such as Mexican Train. It is also used in some games where a domino can be added to another’s train.