# The Basics of Dominoes

A domino is a flat, thumbsized rectangular block with either one or six pips (or spots) on each end. A complete set of dominoes contains 28 such tiles. Dominoes may be used to play games of chance or skill. They can also be arranged to form 3-D structures.

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## Rules

There are many different domino games and variations that can be played. In general, dominoes have a set of identifying marks on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. These are called spots, or pips.

Normally, each player draws seven tiles for their hand, but the number can vary. Once the players have their hands, they begin playing dominoes on the table. Each time a domino is placed, it must touch the end of a previously played tile (or chain).

The winner is determined by adding the value of all of the other players’ dominoes left in their hands rounded to the nearest multiple of five. The winner earns points based on this total and becomes the next game’s starter.

In some games, the winner is awarded a predetermined amount of points and then must reach the agreed upon target score to win. When this happens, the game is over. In other cases, the round ends when no player is able to play any more.

## Materials

Many different materials have been used to make domino over the centuries. Some of the most common are wood and plastic. Wood is cheaper, but it doesn’t offer the best results for most domino constructions. Stable domino structures require a certain weight, and wooden blocks are too light to achieve this.

Traditionally, dominoes are made of ivory and bone but are now commonly produced from polypropylene or other plastics. They are usually twice as long as they are wide and have a line in the middle to divide them visually into two parts, each bearing from one to six dots or marks, also called pips.

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## Variations

Dominoes are a type of game that can be played with many different rules. Typically, each domino has a set of identifying marks on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. These marks, called pips, are used to determine the value of each domino in any given round.

Often, players use the first domino played to create a line or train of matching tiles that can be added to on subsequent turns. Some variants such as Matador and muggins have special rules for adding to trains. In other cases, players must place a marker on a domino that has already been added to a train to prevent other players from adding to it.

Some games are based on the number of dominoes a player has in his or her hand at the end of the round. A common scoring method is to count the pips on all revealed dominoes and add them up. This gives an idea of the total score that the winner will receive.

## Scoring

Players score points by completing chains of dominoes with one or more of their tiles. Normally, a player may only play a tile with pips matching an end of the chain. The open ends of the chain must then touch (a one’s touching a two, for example).

Each time the sum of a pair of adjacent end tiles is divisible by five or three a point is scored. When a player’s tiles form a line that is parallel to the chain, the points are doubled.

The game is usually ended when a player has no more tiles to play and cannot continue in turn. The player with the lowest total score receives the opponent’s remaining tiles, rounded up to the nearest five. A variant of this scoring system, used in Muggins and All Fives, is the use of a first double known as a “sniff”; this tile may be played either endwise or sidewise at the holder’s option.