The Basics of Domino


Domino is a game that involves laying tiles in a line and letting them fall according to the laws of physics. Its popularity has led to the development of many different games. Some are blocking games while others have a scoring system.

Some players prefer to count only one end of the dominoes for scoring purposes. This is an optional rule that players may agree upon.


Domino games are played all over the world. The game is thought to have originated in China but the exact origin is unknown. The game arrived in Britain in the late 18th Century, possibly via French prisoners of war and became a popular pastime in traditional inns and taverns.

The earliest domino sets were a little different from the ones we know today. These had no blanks and represented all the possible combinations of two thrown dice. The contrasting black markings were reminiscent of a type of hood worn by European Christian priests and the name “domino” may have come from this. It may also be a corruption of the Latin word dominus which means lord or master. Alternatively, the contrasting colours were reminiscent of a black mask worn at a masquerade ball.


The rules of domino vary slightly between games, but most involve players making a line of dominoes with matching ends touching (one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s, etc.). Points are scored when the pips on the exposed ends of the dominoes total a multiple of five. The player with the highest total score is declared the winner.

Before each game, the tiles are shuffled by one player. The resulting stack is then thoroughly mixed by moving the pieces around without maintaining contact with specific tiles. The player who shuffles is the last to draw his hand for the game. The players then draw a domino each to determine who plays first. If there is a tie, the players draw new dominoes from the stock to break it.


Dominoes are round or rectangular pieces with one to six pips, or dots. There are many different games played with these tiles, which may be arranged in straight lines or angular patterns. Each domino has an end that can be matched to another, and the number of matching ends is known as its rank or value. A tile with more pips than an opponent’s tile is called a heavier tile.

The most basic domino variant is Block, in which players start with seven domino halves drawn from a face-down boneyard and take turns placing them. The winner scores whenever all open ended dominos in a player’s hand add up to a multiple of five. Blocking is also used in other games such as Chicken Foot and Matador, and in some cases, scoring is based on counting the pips in a losing player’s hand at the end of a game.


Dominoes are small, thumb-sized rectangular blocks made of rigid material. They have a front that is blank or identically patterned and a back that is either blank or carries an arrangement of dots, called pips. The pips are usually in the shape of a circle, but they can also be squares or rectangles. They are typically twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easier to stack together.

Modern mass-produced domino sets are usually made from plastics, metals, stone or wood. However, there are a number of other materials that can be used to make dominoes, and many people still make them from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, ivory or ebony. These dominoes are often more expensive than those made from polymer materials.


Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide, and each side features a number of spots or pips. These numbers range from six pips down to blank, which is known as the zero suit. Each domino belongs to one of two suits, and the value on each end is referred to as its rank or weight.

Each hand consists of a series of plays with dominoes, and the score accumulated for each is called a total. Depending on the game, scoring may be done after each play or at the end of the hand.

The winner subtracts the total of his or her opponents’ dominoes from each of their scores and adds it to their own total. The winning player then begins the next hand by drawing from the boneyard.