It is a common misconception that “dominoes” is the name of a specific game, but dominoes are a type of medium that many different games can be played with. Just as there is not actually a card game specifically referred to as “cards,” there is no game of “dominoes.”

Number of Players

Varies by game. Some games are for only 2, some for 2-4, others for larger numbers.


1 set of dominoes per game. Standard set includes 28 pieces. Larger sets come with 55 tiles or 91 tiles. Dominoes are small rectangular tiles divided into two halves, each containing a number of dots or “pips” (as on dice). The number of pips on each half ranges from 0 (blank) to 6. No two dominoes in a typical 28 piece set are alike, and they represent the total number of possible combinations that can be rolled on two dice. The numbers (0-6) are referred to as “suits,” with each individual domino (or “bone” as they are sometimes called) being a part of two different suits simultaneously. The exceptions to this are the “doublet” pieces where both halves have the same number of pips.


Generally, each game begins with all the dominoes being placed face down on the playing surface and carefully randomized so as not to inadvertently expose any of them. The resulting pile of dominoes in the center is called the “boneyard.” The players each draw a pre-determined number of tiles from the boneyard at random (usually 7 or 5) to form a “hand.”


Play usually begins with one player laying down a single opening tile face-up. Players then attempt to play tiles from their hand by matching it to the ones already on the table (usually by matching numbers). Other rules that remain fairly consistent in domino games include players drawing a tile from the boneyard to start their turn, and “knocking” or passing the turn when they cannot play.


This of course varies from game to game, but typically a game ends when one player manages to play all of the dominoes in his or her hand. Games also usually come to an end when no player can make a play, or in drawing games when the boneyard runs dry. Scoring a game can also be different, but usually consists of the player who went out scoring 1 point for each pip on each opponents’ leftover tiles. In games that ended with no one being able to make a play, the player with the fewest remaining dominoes usually scores the number of pips on the opponents’ tiles minus his or her own.

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