The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game in which players compete to build a line of dominoes from their hands. The first player to complete a train wins the hand. A train is a row of dominoes with matching values on both ends.

At the end of a hand or a game, each player turns up their remaining dominoes and counts the number of dots. The winner of the hand receives a score equal to the total number of points of his opponents.


Many domino games have a set of rules that must be followed. A basic rule is that a player cannot play a domino on their opponent’s train, unless it is a double tile. This is done to block the opponent’s play. The game usually ends when one player dominoes or when the game becomes blocked. A score is then determined by counting the total number of pips in the losing players’ hands.

When a domino is played onto the layout, it must make the open ends of the tiles match (one’s touching one’s and two’s touching two’s). This makes a chain of tiles that can be joined on all four sides. Normally only one end of a double is used, but if the other side is exposed it can also be used.

The tiles are shuffled before the players draw their hand and the player who draws the highest double goes first. A domino that is unable to be played may be placed in the boneyard, where it stays until it can be played.


Dominoes can be made of a variety of materials. You are most likely to find mass-produced dominoes made of plastics, metals and stone. But, there are also high-end wood dominoes that have a very unique look and can often have hefty price tags due to the amount of work and artistry that goes into making them.

In the 19th century, basic aluminum and tinplate became popular materials for domino manufacture. These types of dominoes have uniformly molded or drilled dots (or pips) and are often painted.

European-style dominoes are typically made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or dark hardwood such as ebony and have contrasting black or white pips. These sets are usually thicker than modern polymer dominoes and have a more substantial feel to them. They are also much more expensive than plastic dominoes. These type of dominoes are meant to represent each of the 21 possible results of two thrown dice.


The basic rules of domino are simple enough, but the variety of ways they can be played is huge. There are games that involve blocking other players, and others in which the goal is to score the most points. A typical set of dominoes has 28 tiles. They are double-sided with different values ranging from blank or 0 to 6.

Many domino games use a stock that contains all the unplayed pieces. Some require that all the tiles are drawn, while others allow players to purchase some of their opponents’ unplayed tiles. When one player runs out of pieces, the game is over and that player scores the difference between his own and opponent’s points in the remaining unplaced tiles.

The most common domino set is the double-six. However, larger sets are available, and these are popular for some of the more complex games. The most common extended-size sets are double-nine (with 55 tiles), double-twelve (91 tiles), and double-fifteen (136 tiles). These larger sets also come in several different colors to make them easier to identify.


Domino scoring is based on the number of pips in each domino. The total number of pips in each domino is determined by adding the two boxed ends together (totaling seven possible combinations because each domino has two sections). Each player then subtracts their own domino values from each of their opponents’, and scores that amount rounded to the nearest multiple of five.

Generally, players play single dominoes in a line by matching the value on one side of their tile to that of the domino played on the other end. The exception is a ’spinner’, which may be played at a right angle to the rest of the line and be used to play new dominoes on all open sides.

When all the dominoes are blocked, or nobody can play a tile, the game ends. The winning player then scores based on the total number of pips left in their opponents’ hands. A running total score is usually kept on a cribbage board.