How to Play Dominoes

The domino is a flat rectangular block, thumb-sized and shaped like a tile, with either blank or marked sides bearing from one to six pips (or dots): 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are used in games to build lines and angular structures, to stack or “build” other structures, and as the basis for scoring games of skill or chance. Several variations of these games exist. Some, such as bergen and muggins, involve blocking opponents’ play; others, such as matador, chicken foot, and Mexican train, score points by counting the number of pips in a losing player’s hand. There are also many other forms of domino gaming, such as solitaire and trick-taking games, which were once popular to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.

As the entrepreneur who founded Domino’s Pizza, Tom Schnatter understood, building a successful company requires a clear vision and consistent execution. To keep the Domino’s team focused, he instilled a core set of values, including the importance of listening to customers and championing employees. As a result, the company has thrived for more than a decade.

When Lily Hevesh was 9, her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack of dominoes, and she became obsessed with setting up the tiles in straight or curved lines and flicking them over to see the chain reaction. Now, Hevesh is a professional domino artist who designs spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events—including an album launch for Katy Perry. She has built a large following on her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, and she even creates 3-D structures out of dominoes.

To create a domino chain, players begin by placing a single tile onto the table. Each subsequent tile must be matched to that first tile with its adjacent end, so that the domino chain develops into a snake-like shape. The matching ends must touch completely, and if a tile has a blank side, it must be played next to another tile with its corresponding end showing a number. Otherwise, the player must wait until a matching end is laid down by an opponent.

The size of a domino can vary by game, with larger sets containing fewer pieces and smaller ones containing more. Each game also has its own rules, which dictate how a player must move and when.

In most Western domino games, a player must have at least seven tiles in order to make a turn. This limit is not necessarily the maximum amount that can be affixed to each tile, however, as some games have “extended sets,” which allow for more unique combinations of ends by increasing the maximum number of pips on an end from six to nine or more. These extended sets are usually referred to as double-nine, double-12, and double-18. A player may also play a special type of domino known as a double-six, which can be played with only six tiles in a standard set. This variant allows for more complicated games with more complex chains and rules.