Domino game

Dominoes Rules

Dominoes is a tile-based game containing 28 rectangular pieces (called dominoes and often referred to as tiles) with two sets of pips on the face of each piece divided by a line separating it into two squares. The number of pips on the faces ranges from 0 to 6. 0 is represented by an absence of pips (called a blank). The backside of the dominoes is entirely blank, which prevents players from distinguishing one piece from another.

Rules of a Classic Game Without a Draw Pile

The classic version is played with 2 to 4 players.

To start, shuffle the facedown dominoes on the table. Each player draws 7 dominoes in a 2 player game and 6 dominoes in a 3 or 4 player game. The remaining dominoes won’t be used.

Who Starts?

The player with the highest double domino starts the game. If no player has a double, then the person with the heaviest tile (the domino with the most pips) starts.

You have to ask “Who has a double 6?” “Who has a double 5?” until a player signals themselves, shows their tile, and starts the game.

The Course of the Game

It should be pointed out that the player who starts doesn’t need to place their strongest domino right away. It might be smarter for them to place the tile they have shown the other players before the game started (the tile that enabled them to go first) since all the opponents are now aware the starting player has it. Their neighbor then places a domino with a square that matches a square of the domino on the table, allowing the two neighboring squares to be identical (e.g. 1 next to 1, 2 next to 2, etc.).

For example, if you play a 6 and 5 tile, the next player must place a tile with either a 6 or a 5 on one side. Or, of course, a double 6 or a double 5. Each player takes a turn. A double tile could be placed parallel or perpendicular to the others.

Turns are taken counter-clockwise. If a player cannot play, they knock on the table to make their neighbor understand that they’re passing their turn.

How to Win?

Whoever places all of their tiles first wins the round. Their score is equal to the total number of pips on the remaining dominoes other players still have.

If the game reaches a block, meaning no one can place a domino on the table (e.g. 5 on each open end, and none of the players has a 5), all the players reveal their tiles and the player with the lowest number of pips on their tiles wins the round.

The player who reaches 100 points first wins the game.

A Classic Game With a Draw Pile

Played with 2 to 4 players.

After having shuffled the dominoes, each player draws 7 tiles if it’s a game with 2 players and 6 if it’s a game with 3 or 4 players. The remaining dominoes will serve as the draw pile. As with the previous variation, the player must place a matching tile at either open end of the line.

The players take turns placing tiles at one of the two ends. If a player doesn’t have a tile that they could place, they draw one from the draw pile (the unused dominoes) until they find a tile that matches either end, then they play it. If the draw pile is empty, they have to pass.

How to Win a Game With a Draw Pile?

The first player who succeeds in placing all their dominoes wins the game and adds up the total points of other players’ tiles.

If no player is able to place all of their dominoes on the table then the game is blocked, the player with the fewest pips wins the game. The first player to reach 100 points is declared the winner.

It’s possible to play a game with only one round, the player who places all their dominoes first wins. If no one has been able to place all of their dominoes, the one with the lowest total of pips wins (as in the classic version). Nevertheless, it is preferable to play a game with several rounds (whoever reaches 100 points first wins). It’s usually more fun and gives other players a chance to catch up.

What Is the Blank Domino For?

The blank domino represents a zero domino (zero points on each end).

It should be noted that if you save the blank domino until the end of a round but another player succeeds in placing all of their dominoes, it is the latter who wins the game (according to the classic rules).

Needless to say, a blank domino has to be placed next to another blank domino.

Other Rules Variations

Here are some alternative rules to improve and spice up the game:

  • In some variations, a player who cannot place a tile draws from the draw pile and then decides whether to pass or play.

  • A player who has to draw could be prohibited from playing during that turn and is forced to wait until the next one.

  • 50 point games. This allows you to play quick games (ideal when there are too many people who want to play).

  • If a player draws 5 doubles, the round is restarted (the dominoes are shuffled and drawn again).

  • A 15 point minimum to start tallying your score: this means you would need at least 15 points to start adding points to your score. It is therefore possible that your score will remain zero even after winning several rounds because the total points in other players’ hands were less than 15.

  • Play with more dominoes by combining several sets. You could also play with fewer dominoes.

  • In addition to playing a wide variety of games, you could use your dominoes to build towers or line them up and bring them all down in one go, creating your own domino show.

Official rules in PDF

Discover the official Dominoes rules in PDF