The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are small tile-like pieces that can be stacked on end in long lines. They can also be used to create 3D structures and even elaborate artwork.

Each domino has an identifying mark on one side and a blank or identically-patterned other side. The identifying mark, usually a number, ranges from six pips to none or blank. Standing a domino upright gives it potential energy, which, when released, is converted to the kinetic energy that causes it to fall.


Dominoes are popular in Latin America, where people often play for fun as a substitute for more expensive forms of entertainment such as going to movies. They are also commonly used for gambling.

The dominoes we know today first appeared in Europe in the early 18th century. Unlike traditional Chinese dominoes, European sets included seven extra dominoes – six of which represented the values attained by throwing one die with the other half left blank (the “blank” or 0-0 combination). The word “domino” derives from the Italian dominus, meaning master. The contrasting black spots on white background of the dominoes originally resembled a kind of hood worn by Christian priests in France and later became associated with a type of mask used in Venetian carnivals.


There are many different ways to play domino. The most common are blocking games, in which players try to empty their opponents’ hands. These games often have a set score, which is determined by counting the number of remaining spots in the opponent’s dominoes.

Dominoes must be clearly visible to all players at all times; players cannot hide dominoes. If a player exposes a domino without intending to use it, they must “knock,” or bang the edge of the domino on the table, to signal that they are not ready to play. Play passes to the next player.

The standard double-six set contains 28 unique dominoes, with each end having one to six spots. The game can be played with progressively larger sets, increasing the maximum number of possible combinations of ends by three each time.


Many variations of domino are played, some with more complexity than others. For instance, Draw Dominoes starts with a block domino game but then adds a scoring element based on the exposed ends of tiles. To do this, the players draw tiles from a boneyard on-edge and then count revealed tiles and those in their hand during gameplay.

This allows for a better assessment of what is in the opponent’s hands and a better calculation of how much a player can potentially score in a round. Other scoring variations include adding doubles to the set (which create a “branched” line of play) and allowing players to add tiles to existing trains during their turn. This helps them speed up the game since it’s less dependent on luck.


While it might not matter to casual domino players, the materials that a set of dominoes is made from is important for more experienced players. Most modern mass produced dominoes are made from plastics, metals, and stone.

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular tile that bears an identifying mark on one side and blank or zero on the other. The most popular domino variant has a line down the center that divides it visually into two square halves, each bearing an arrangement of dots (known as pips) ranging from six to none.

A quality domino table is usually covered in green baize, which provides a pleasant feel to the hand and helps prevent slippage of pieces across the surface. In addition, it mutes and dampens sound.


In most domino games, a player’s score is determined by adding up all the pips on their opponents’ tiles. Each tile has either one or two pips, and doubles count as one or two (a 6-6 counts as six or twelve depending on the rules).

When a domino is played so that its matching end touches another domino, a chain develops. These chains may grow in a lengthwise or angular manner.

The winner of a domino match is the first player/team to reach an agreed-in-advance score. A typical match score is 100 or 200 points (“Doscientos”). In team play, a player’s partner’s spots are added to their own total. The player who wins the most rounds is declared the champion. A timer is used to monitor turn times in many games.