Dominoes are flat thumbsized blocks that bear an arrangement of dots or pips on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. They may be used to play many games.

A player begins to play a game by drawing a domino from the stock. The heaviest double is considered to be the lead.


There are many different types of domino sets and a great number of games that can be played with them. However, the rules for the two most common games in the West – the Standard or Block game and the Draw game – apply to most sets.

Each player draws seven dominoes from the stock and plays them in turn, positioning each to touch one end of a domino chain that gradually builds up into a snake-line on the table. Dominoes are joined together only when their numbers match ie: 6 touching 6.

Play passes around the table and stops only when a player cannot play any more dominoes or when a certain number of rounds have been played. The players then add up the total number of spots on their remaining dominoes and the player with the lowest total wins. Sometimes a player may “chip out” and leave their tiles on the table, in which case they are given points equivalent to their total spot count.


Dominos can be made from a variety of materials. Today, most sets are mass-produced from cheap wood and common plastics. However, more expensive dominoes are often carved from ebony or rosewood and have a beautiful, intricate design that some consider works of art.

These dominoes are ideal for teaching children the commutative property of addition. The teacher can show the domino to the class and have them count the number of dots on each side. Then the class can name an addition equation that represents the relation between the total number of dots and the number of dots on each end of the domino.

To make a domino pendant, first apply a thin coat of decoupage medium to the plain side of the domino. Allow the paper to dry for several hours or overnight. When it’s dry, flip the domino over and decorate with images or snippets of paper. Be careful not to cover the numbered side of the domino; the indentations will give it a “punched” look.


Domino games come in many varieties, with different layouts and scoring systems. Some are designed to be played with partners, while others are solo. Examples include Mexican Train, Matador, and Spinner. Each player is given a domino train that grows each turn, and they can add to other players’ trains under certain circumstances.

The traditional set contains one unique piece for each possible combination of ends numbered from zero to six, but blank ends can also be included, allowing 28 distinct pieces. Additional sets can be extended by adding more tiles with a combination of spots from two to seven, creating more unique ends and more distinct pieces.

At the start of each game, a pool of shuffled dominoes is used to draw the right number of tiles for the particular game. Any extra tiles are placed in a pool known as the boneyard and are drawn later. Each player has a hand of six or more dominoes, and their score is calculated by counting the total number of pips left in their hands after winning a hand or a game.


Dominoes are marked with numbers on both sides and a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares. The values of each side are counted, rounded to the nearest five, and a player is awarded points for a chain that touches either end of this line, i.e. one’s touch ones and two’s touch two’s, or in some cases both ends (see domino sizing).

A number of games allow players to reduce the board count of their opponents by hooking their own tiles into standard doubles. This prevents the opponent from scoring immediately and allows the player to regain the initiative.

If a player is unable to play a tile, or the game becomes blocked (a situation where no player can lay a piece) they are given the score of their opponent’s hand at that time – usually rounded to the nearest five. Some games also use a system that subtracts the total number of pips left in the losers’ hands at the end of a hand or game.