The Basics of Dominoes

Gambling Blog Jun 16, 2024

A domino is a tile or other object that bears an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. It is used for scoring in a variety of games played with it. The term derives from the Latin dominum, meaning “heavy” or “dominant.” It is also known as a chintz.

Dominoes are often played by two or more people. A player’s seat is determined by chance or agreement. A player may be assigned a seat by drawing a domino from the stock before the game begins, or the players may decide to sit in a certain order by agreement. Occasionally a game can become blocked, which means that no player is able to make another play; if this happens, the game ends.

In most domino games, each player places a domino edge to edge with an adjacent domino, either in a line of lengthwise play, or across the lines of play (crosswise). Normally, doubles are played first, then singles. In some cases a single can be played before a double, but the rules of the specific game determine whether this is permitted or not.

Some domino sets are designed to be used in different games, so the pips on one side of the domino differ from those on the other. In some cases, the pips are painted or inlaid, but in other instances they are etched into the surface of the domino. The most common type of domino is made of clay or polymer, but some sets are made of stone or other natural materials.

The pips on a domino are usually in the form of squares, rectangles, diamonds or circles. Some have only black or white pips, while others have a combination of colors or a mosaic design. In the past, dominoes were often made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them.

A domino that has a blank side can be matched with any other piece of the same color, if it has the same number of matching pips. A domino with a matching pips on both sides is called a double.

When a game of domino is begun, the players draw tiles from the stock to fill their hands. The player who draws the highest-numbered tile makes the first play, and then the other players take turns making plays. Sometimes a player will draw more dominoes for his hand than he is allowed to, in which case he will be said to have overdrawn. In such a case, the extra dominoes should be taken away from his hand without being seen by any of the other players and returned to the stock for reshuffle before anyone else draws again.

Some domino games require that the player who draws the heaviest hand make the first play. This is called being the setter, setting down, or leading. Alternatively, the first player to play can draw a domino from the stock and place it on the table according to the rules of the particular game being played.