How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes are small, flat blocks used as gaming objects. They may be made of wood, bone, plastic or other rigid material. The pips on dominoes represent values of numbers or other symbols, depending on the game. Often, one domino will trigger the fall of all other dominoes that surround it. Dominoes can be arranged in straight lines, curved lines that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids.

The most common domino games fit into four categories. These include bidding games, blocking games, scoring games and round games. In positional games, each player in turn places a domino edge to edge against another. If the resulting chain shows a value useful to the player or forms some other specified total, that player scores.

To decide who will make the first play of a game, players may choose to draw lots, use the heaviest tile or determine order by seating arrangement. In addition, some games allow the winner of a previous game to open the next game. Usually, the player who has the highest double begins play.

A player may not play a domino out of turn or in a manner that will result in an improper score. He must also remember that a misplay could cause the entire line to collapse, and in such cases, he must recall his tile. Depending on the situation, he may also have to forfeit the current game.

Each player starts the game with a certain number of dominoes. The player with the most dominoes plays first. If two or more players have the same number of dominoes, a tie is declared and the tied players must draw new hands.

In the case of a tie, players should also agree how to proceed when they are unable to continue playing the current game. For example, one popular option is to pass a turn when the player cannot play a new domino.

The dominoes that remain on the table are called the “stock.” Each player draws as many dominoes from the stock as permitted by the rules of the game. These are placed in front of the player so that the other players cannot see their pips.

The number of tiles that are in the stock is called the “pip count.” A set of dominoes with matching pips has been described as being a “domino set.” For instance, a set consisting of seven doubles and five singles is considered a domino set. This is an extremely rare domino set, however, because most people prefer to play with larger sets that have more pips. Increasing the number of pips on a domino end increases the maximum number of unique combinations of ends. Currently, dominoes are available with as few as 12 pips and as many as 13 pips on an end.