How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are a great way to teach children basic numbers and colours. They also help develop spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination.

The game begins when the dominoes are shuffled and each player draws one tile from the stock. The player with the highest double plays first.

Sometimes play becomes blocked, and no player can make another play. In this case, the game ends.


There are many different types of domino games, but most of them fall into one of four categories: blocking games, drawing games, scoring games, and round games. Each of these categories has different rules regarding how to score and play.

Before a game starts, the players must determine how seating arrangements will be decided. One way to do this is to draw lots. The player who draws the heaviest tile goes first. Another way is to start the game by setting a domino (also known as putting it down or leading) on the first double that is played.

Regardless of how you decide to seat yourself, each turn means that you can place a new domino on the table. The new tile must match dots with an open end on at least one side of the previous domino, forming a line. If the new domino is a double, it must be laid perpendicular to the previous domino so that both matching ends touch fully.


Dominoes are made of a variety of materials. Some are crafted out of wood, while others are plastic or metal. The type of material a domino is made from determines the quality and price. The lower-quality wooden dominoes are inexpensive, while the higher-quality ones are expensive.

At one time dominoes were carved from two discrete materials: white ivory and dark ebony. The ebony side was glued to the ivory, using a small pin called a spinner that was used to keep the white domino face from slipping. The spinner is still used in some sets, although the function is now ceremonial rather than mechanical.

Modern commercial dominoes are typically made from synthetic materials such as polystyrene plastics, Bakelite and other phenolic resins. Some are designed to approximate the look of ivory while others use colored or even translucent plastics to achieve a more contemporary look. Some sets also distinguish different end values by using a different color for the dots (one-spot dominoes might have black pips, while three-spot dominoes might be green). These are the types of dominoes you can buy from Mr. Domino, Bulk Dominoes and H5 Domino Creations.


Dominos (also known as bones, cards, men, pieces or tiles) are usually twice as long as they are wide and have a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares. Each side of the domino has a value, which is the number of spots or pips, and this sum may be referred to as the rank or weight of the tile. The higher the rank, the more valuable the domino.

Most domino games are blocking or scoring games, in which the object is to empty one’s hand and block the opponent’s. A score is determined by counting the remaining pips in the losing player’s hand.

The rules for the line of play often differ from game to game. In some games such as Five-Up, the doubles serve as spinners, allowing the line of play to branch. Other games such as Matador and Bendomino use curved tiles, so one side or both of the line of play may be blocked for geometrical reasons.


When playing domino it is important to understand the scoring system. The goal is to keep the board count low by forcing your opponent to score misses when connecting with standard ends.

All non-double Dominoes have one end that is bigger (has more pips) than the other. The difference between these two ends is what determines the value of a domino. The number of pips on the bigger end is called its suit.

Each time a player connects an open-scoring end with another domino, the current board count must be added up. The value of the total is then scored. For example, if you play a 3-6 tile to an existing 4-6 Domino, the new board count will be fifteen points. This is because the 3-6 and 4-6 tiles both have a suit of five. This is called an immediate scoring move.