The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes (also known as bones, cards, men, or pieces) are a type of game board that can be stacked on end in long lines. Each domino has a number of spots, or pips, on one side and blanks on the other.

Each domino originally represented the 21 possible outcomes of two thrown dice. European sets typically contain 28 dominoes. Larger extended sets exist for games with greater player counts.


There are many different domino games that can be played. Some are blocking games while others involve scoring points. Typically, the game ends when a player runs out of tiles. The player who runs out is awarded points based on the value of the other players’ remaining tiles rounded up to the nearest multiple of five.

Before each game, a player must shuffle the tiles face down on a flat playing surface and thoroughly mix them by moving them with his hands. Then he draws a hand for the game according to the rules of the particular game being played. If the game involves more than one player, seating arrangements must be determined. This may be done by drawing lots or by placing the heaviest double, whichever is appropriate for that game. The winner of the previous hand usually starts the next one. The player who begins play is referred to as the setter, downer, or lead.


There are many variations of domino games. Some are block games, while others are scoring games. Each variant has its own rules, but most of them fall into one of four categories: bidding games, blocking games, and scoring games. In addition to these, there are also other types of games, such as solitaire and trick-taking games. These are popular in some countries to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

The most common domino games require a double-six set, although players can use larger sets to play more complex games. Some variants include additional rules, such as a requirement that the starting player must play a double to start the game or a rule that requires players to count revealed tiles in their boneyard and in their own hand. This helps them to make more informed decisions about their moves. These rules are meant to ensure that the game is fair and prevent cheating occurrences.


Over the centuries, domino has been made in a variety of materials. The most common are a variety of polymers, although metals and wood are also used. Some sets even feature frosted glass or crystal.

Dominoes are small, flat rectangular-shaped game pieces. They are usually twice as long as they are wide. Each piece has one side with a number of spots, or pips, and is blank on the other. The pips are normally molded or drilled and painted.

In the 19th century, Bakelite, a synthetic plastic invented by Leo Baekeland, became the material of choice for domino racks and tiles. It was eventually replaced by the much more durable plastic derived from petroleum, which dominates modern domino sets. There are some high-end sets that are made from natural materials, such as bone and silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), but these are rare and expensive. They often have a more unique design and feel, and are generally considered to be works of art.


Depending on the game variant, scoring may be done by counting the number of points left in an opponent’s hands or based on a total score kept on a cribbage board. In the British domino game 5s-and-3s, for example, one point is scored each time the end of a played tile is divisible by five or three.

Some games award a player’s winning hand points based on the value of the other players’ remaining tiles (rounded to the nearest multiple of five). This system is not ideal for determining which player has a lead because the counted values are not always clear or easy to see.

As a result, many larger domino sets use Arabic numerals instead of dots to make the numbers more easily visible, especially when stacked. This is also more practical for the purposes of scoring because the Arabic numerals are easier to read on a cribbage board. The first player to reach an agreed upon amount, such as 150 points, wins the game.