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How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Classic Tabletop Game

Dominoes is a timeless game that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for centuries. With its simple rules, strategic gameplay, and endless possibilities, Dominoes is the perfect pastime for family gatherings, social events, or quiet evenings at home. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to become a master of Dominoes and elevate your gameplay to new heights.

Game Objective:

The objective of Dominoes is to be the first player to empty your hand of dominoes by matching them with the dominoes on the table. Players strategically play dominoes, forming chains of matching numbers and blocking opponents from making moves, to achieve victory.

Game Setup:

Setting up a game of Dominoes is quick and easy, requiring only a standard set of dominoes and a flat surface to play on. After shuffling the dominoes face down, each player draws a specific number of dominoes to form their hand, leaving the remaining dominoes in a draw pile.

How to Play Dominoes:

  1. Starting the Game:
    • The game begins with one player placing a domino from their hand onto the table, creating the starting chain.
    • Players take turns adding dominoes to the chain, matching the numbers on their dominoes to the ends of the chain.
  2. Matching Dominoes:
    • Dominoes are matched by placing a domino with a matching number to one end of the chain.
    • Doubles (dominoes with the same number on both ends) are placed perpendicular to the chain, allowing players to build branches off the main chain.
  3. Drawing and Passing:
    • If a player cannot make a move, they must draw dominoes from the draw pile until they can make a move.
    • If there are no more dominoes in the draw pile and a player still cannot make a move, they must pass their turn.
  4. Scoring Points:
    • Depending on the variation being played, points may be scored based on the number of pips (dots) on the dominoes remaining in players’ hands at the end of each round.
    • Some variations also award points for specific achievements, such as making a “domino” (playing the last domino in your hand) or blocking opponents from making moves.

Alternate Ways to Play:

  1. Block Dominoes:
    • In Block Dominoes, players must draw dominoes from the draw pile until they can make a move, with no passing allowed.
    • Block Dominoes emphasizes strategic positioning and careful planning to outmaneuver opponents and achieve victory.
  2. Mexican Train:
    • Mexican Train is a popular variation of Dominoes that involves building individual “trains” of dominoes and a central “Mexican Train” that all players can contribute to.
    • Mexican Train encourages collaboration and competition as players work to complete their trains and derail opponents’ trains.

Scoring in Dominoes:

In the game of dominoes, scoring can vary depending on the specific variant being played. However, there are some common scoring methods used in many dominoes games:

  1. Scoring by Points (5’s):
    • One common method of scoring in dominoes involves counting the total number of pips (dots) on the dominoes played by each player.
    • Players tally the total number of pips on the dominoes they have played during a round or game.
    • Special attention is often given to dominoes with a total number of pips that is a multiple of five (commonly referred to as “5’s”). For example, a domino with 5 pips on one end and 3 pips on the other would be worth 8 points. However, if a player played a domino with 5 pips on one end and 0 pips on the other, it would be worth 5 points because it is a multiple of five.
    • The player or team with the highest total number of pips at the end of the round or game wins.
  2. Scoring by Rounds:
    • In some variations of dominoes, scoring may be based on winning individual rounds rather than cumulative points.
    • Players earn points by winning rounds, which typically involves being the first to play all of their dominoes or being the player with the fewest remaining dominoes when the game ends.
    • The player or team with the most round victories at the end of the game is declared the overall winner.
  3. Scoring Special Hands:
    • In certain dominoes games, players may earn bonus points for achieving specific combinations or hands.
    • For example, in the game of Mexican Train, players may score points for playing a double domino (a tile with the same number of pips on both ends), for playing a domino that matches the central “station” piece, or for playing a domino that ends a round.
  4. Penalties:
    • In addition to earning points, players may also incur penalties for certain actions, such as failing to play a valid domino when required or making an illegal move.
    • Penalties can result in subtracted points from a player’s total score, which can impact their standing in the game.

Quick Play Tips:

  1. Plan Ahead: Anticipate your opponents’ moves and plan your strategy accordingly to block them from making moves and create opportunities for yourself.
  2. Watch the Board: Keep a close eye on the dominoes on the table and identify patterns or opportunities to play strategically.
  3. Manage Your Hand: Balance playing dominoes from your hand with drawing from the draw pile to maintain control of the game and avoid getting stuck with unplayable dominoes.


Dominoes is a classic tabletop game that offers endless opportunities for strategic thinking, skillful play, and friendly competition. Whether you’re playing with friends, family, or fellow enthusiasts, Dominoes promises hours of entertainment and excitement. So gather your dominoes, set up the table, and get ready for a thrilling journey into the world of Dominoes!

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