How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are small, flat blocks used as gaming objects. The most common dominoes are made of wood, although they can be made of plastic or other materials. Like playing cards, of which they are a variant, dominoes have one side bearing identifying marks and the other blank or identically patterned. The identifying marks, called pips, are an arrangement of spots, similar to those on a die, except that some of the squares are blank (indicated in a listing below by a zero). Each face of the domino is divided into two equal sections by a line or ridge.

When a domino is tipped ever-so-slightly, it sets off a chain reaction of rhythmic movements. The word domino evokes this visual image and is also a metaphor for any action that can influence others in a similar way, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or an election result.

It’s possible to make domino art — for example, by drawing a grid that the dominoes will form when they fall, or by constructing a pyramid or other 3D structure. The artwork can be as simple or as elaborate as the player wishes. Creating this art can be a great way to improve hand-eye coordination and to exercise creative problem solving.

The rules of domino vary from game to game. However, most of the games on this website fit into one of four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games, and round games. Each category has many sub-categories.

In the early stages of a domino game, players may draw a number of tiles from the stock and place them in front of themselves. The number of matching sides on each tile determines its position in the line of play. If a player draws a double, it must be played perpendicular to the existing doubles on the line of play.

After all of the hands have been drawn, there may be a surplus of tiles in the stock. Depending on the rules of the particular game being played, these tiles can be bought from the other players. The number of pips on the bought tiles is added to the winner’s score.

In some domino games, the number of pips on the winning players’ tiles is counted after each hand or game and added to the winner’s score. This method of scoring can be easier to understand for younger players and those who find it difficult to recognize the pips on the dominoes.

After the players have chosen their seats, the first player begins play by drawing a domino from the stock and placing it on the table. If no player holds a double, the player holding the heaviest single begins play. Otherwise, if a tie exists, the player who won the last game plays the first tile in the next game. In the case of a tie, the players draw new hands and continue play.