The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game played with small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, each with one or more sides displaying numbers resembling those on dice. The game is popular worldwide and variations of the rules are published for many different games. The basic rule is that a player must play a domino in turn until all of the players have completed their plays.

Dominoes are typically played on a flat surface, such as a table or the floor. Each player places his or her dominoes in front of him on the table. Some players may choose to place their dominoes so that they cannot be seen by other players. If this is done, the player must be careful not to knock or rap over his or her own dominoes when it is their turn to play.

The dominoes are laid edge to edge on the table and each player must try to match his or her tile to adjacent dominoes. The number of pips in each adjacent domino must match and, if the tiles are doubles, the open ends must be joined together. This configuration of dominoes is called the line of play or, more often, the string or layout of the dominoes. Some games have specific rules for how the line of play should be arranged.

Most domino games are bidding or blocking games, and some involve scoring by counting the number of pips in the losing player’s hand. Blocking games such as bergen and muggins require the player to empty his or her hand before attempting to play a domino. Some scoring games are based on the number of matching halves (either identical or forming a total) in each of two adjacent dominoes.

When a player is unable to make a play, he or she passes the turn to another player. If the player has a pair of matching doubles, he or she may play them together. If there are no matching doubles, the player must draw a new hand and continue play in turn order until each player has played all of his or her dominoes.

Some players prefer to start the game with more dominoes and must pass their turns when they are unable to play. This variant of the game is known as the Draw game.

Some domino sets are made of natural materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), bone, ivory or dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted. Such sets are more expensive than polymer or ceramic clay sets, but offer a unique and attractive look to the table. They also usually weigh more, which gives them a satisfying feel in the hand. A set of dominoes made of natural material may also be more durable than a polymer or ceramic set. Dominoes can be purchased in a wide variety of colors and are often etched with designs or patterns that add to their visual appeal.