The Basics of Dominoes


Dominoes are a type of domino game in which players place tiles on the table, positioning them so that one end touches an open end of another tile. The result is a line of dominoes, called the line of play or string, that gradually grows in length as more tiles are played on it. Each tile bears a number, called its pip count, or an arrangement of dots, like those on a die. Each domino belongs to a suit, with each tile bearing either the suit’s numerals or a blank (indicated by a zero).

Most common domino sets include double six and double nine tiles; larger sets are available for use in games involving more than four people. A player may also choose to extend the size of a set by adding new ends with more than three pip marks. Such extended sets are referred to as deluxe.

The most popular kinds of domino games fall into two broad categories, blocking games and scoring games. Most of these games involve placing one tile on top of an adjacent open end of a previous tile, and the next player then plays a matching tile on the open end of the first tile played.

These resulting chains of dominoes are known as the line of play or string, and they form the basis for many of the most common rules and strategies. For example, a player cannot add a tile to a line of play that already has two identical ends, because doing so would make the chain unplayable; each subsequent tile added must have an open end.

The physics of the line of play is explained by the principle of the Domino Effect, which states that any change in one behavior will trigger a similar change in other behaviors. For example, when someone begins exercising more frequently, he or she will likely eat less fat as a natural side effect.

In some games, the winner is determined by counting the pips on all of the losing players’ remaining dominoes. In other cases, a player who places the last domino in the line of play is awarded a specified amount of points.

After the tiles are arranged on the table and a player draws his or her hands, it is time to start playing. Seating arrangements are usually determined by lot. The player holding the highest domino drawn has first choice of seats, or, if no double is present, the player who holds the heaviest single begins play.

In some games, players can buy additional tiles from the stock, depending on the rules of the game being played. These additional tiles are known as byes, and they are added to a player’s hand or set. Depending on the rules of the game, these byes may be used at some point in the line of play, or they may remain in the player’s hand to be used later as part of a different game.