The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are small rectangular blocks that are used as gaming objects. They are also called bones, men, or pieces. Each domino has a value based on the number of spots or pips on each end.

When a domino is played, it joins a line of tiles that develops into a snake-like pattern according to the players’ whims and limitations on the playing surface. This configuration of dominoes is called a layout, string, or line of play.


The rules of domino vary slightly depending on the variant being played. However, most of the basic rules are the same across all games. These rules help ensure that the game runs smoothly and prevents cheating occurrences.

After the tiles are shuffled, each player draws one domino from the stock and makes the first play. Some games determine seating arrangements by drawing lots, while others have players seat themselves based on the heaviest tile they hold in their hand.

When playing a game that involves a spinner (a double that can be played on all four sides), the starting player chooses whether to use it as the first or last piece. Once the line of play has been established, each player scores by counting the pips on the exposed ends of their own tiles.


A domino is a small, thumb-sized rectangular block with one side blank or marked by an arrangement of dots resembling those on dice. A domino set contains 28 such blocks. Also known as bones, men, or pieces, dominoes are the gaming object used in a wide variety of games that fall into two broad categories, blocking games and scoring games.

The game begins with each player placing a domino tile edge to edge against another so that one end matches the other. This is called the line of play.

Once the players have made all of their possible first moves, normal play resumes. Players should always be careful to maintain the initiative, avoiding playing a double before your opponent can cover it with a standard end.


In most domino games, the winner of a hand or game is determined by scoring. The score is based on the number of tiles that the losing player has left in their hand at the end of the hand. Any doubles count as the total of both ends of the tile.

To get the most points, a player must play a domino on the layout that makes all the open ends of the layout a multiple of 5. For every multiple of 5, the player scores five points. This scoring system works well for most games played by two or more players. However, it’s important to avoid misplays when playing a domino. This can cause a player to lose a round or even the entire game.


If a player is unable to make a play, they must announce “I pass.” This can be done by touching the tile with one hand or saying the words “pass” or “renouncing.” The other players will then take their turn. If you can avoid misplays, the game will be more fun and exciting.

Misplays can include playing out of turn, leading out of turn, and pre-playing. These should be called as warnings on the first occurrence and as violations if they occur repeatedly.

In addition, slow play is not tolerated. Each player is allowed 15 seconds from the time they pull from the boneyard to play a domino. If they exceed this time, they must call a UDL Official to resolve the issue. The player who is found to have played slowly must pay 20 points to the other team.


Dominoes are a versatile game, with many variations available to players. Some of these games differ from the basic rules discussed here, but most use a line of play to form a chain of tiles on the table. These chains grow in length as each player plays a tile on its side of the line of play. If a player cannot place a domino and the line of play is blocked (as indicated by two matching ends showing a number, normally zero to six) then all players reveal their tiles and the player with the lowest total points wins the round.

Some players add to the basic rules by calculating their winnings at the end of each hand, subtracting the total value of outstanding tiles from their running total. However, this can be difficult for beginners to do in their heads.