How to Play Dominoes

Before players draw their hands, the dominoes are shuffled. The player drawing the highest double goes first. The tiles are then reshuffled and drawn again to determine seating arrangements.

A line of play is joined lengthwise by matching pips, and crosswise by dominoes with the same number (as shown). The open ends of each tile are called points.


Before starting the game, players shuffle and draw domino tiles (also called bones). Each player draws several hands of dominoes that they play for the duration of the round. The first player to reach an agreed number, usually a multiple of five, wins the game.

If a player can’t play a domino, they must mark their train with a marker and make it public, stopping other players from adding to the train. If they can’t play again, they must draw a domino from the boneyard until they have one they can play.

The player who begins the game lays down his or her heaviest double in front of him. The next player may add an end to the open side of this tile to create a new train, increasing the number of possible matches. Doubles that are laid perpendicular to the line of play are known as spinners. Depending on the rules of the particular game being played, each spinner counts as an end to the chain.


There are many variations of domino. The most common is the block game which uses a double-six set (28 tiles). Each player draws seven tiles for their hand and the rest form the boneyard, or stock. Each time a tile cannot be played, the player must draw a new tile from the stock until they can make a play.

If a player makes a chain that has the same number showing at both ends of the line, that chain is called a “chicken foot” and the winning player gains points equal to the total number of dots in the opponent’s hand. This game requires strategic planning to prevent the other players from blocking your line of play.

There are several ways to determine the starting player, but generally it is the person holding the highest double. The double may also be used as a spinner, allowing the line to branch. This is useful when the player can’t make a play, but wants to avoid giving their opponents a chance to block them.


Like playing cards, dominoes are rectangular blocks with a single side bearing an arrangement of dots that can be either blank or have numbers. Traditionally, dominoes have been made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory and dark hardwoods such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them.

Modern dominoes are manufactured from a variety of materials including plastic, metals and stones. During the 19th century, basic aluminum and tinplate were popular. Bakelite, a compound created by Leo Baekeland, became the dominant material in the early 20th century. Plastic derived from petroleum replaced bakelite in the latter part of the century.

There are two types of wood dominoes; those made inexpensively for applications where quantity is more important than quality and those that are hand crafted to the highest standards. The high end wood dominoes are often considered works of art and command a hefty price tag as a result.


Dominoes are rectangular tiles with a line across the center that divides it visually into two square ends. Each end has a number from zero to six pips, which determine the domino’s value and rank. A higher pips count means the tile is more valuable than a lower one.

The game is played until one player runs out of dominoes or until a predetermined point limit has been reached. The winner is determined by counting the total value of all opponents’ remaining dominoes. Normally, the player with the highest value hand wins.

A player scores points when he or she lays a domino that touches the exposed ends of other dominoes in a chain (i.e., a one’s touch the two’s or a three’s touch the five). Players also score when they play a double and the exposed ends match, such as the first double of a spinner. A player can also win points by scoring off the exposed ends of an opponent’s dominoes.