The Basics of Domino

Domino is a game of chance or skill in which players arrange dominoes on a table to form a line that matches the specified number or total. The dominoes, also known as bones, cards or men, have a value based on the number of dots or pips on them. The most common set has a total of 12 pips on each of its two sides. Each side of a domino has a different value, from the highest double, to none or blank, which is called a zero. The sum of the values on both sides of a domino, or the domino’s rank, is called its weight.

Dominos are traditionally made of wood or a durable material such as plastic or ceramic. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, so that they can be stacked easily on top of one another. Dominoes can be played with any number of players, but only two or more people may play in a game. A domino game with only one player is usually referred to as a solitaire game. Most domino games fall into one of four categories: bidding games, blocking games, scoring games and round games. Blocking and scoring games are adaptations of card games, while the rest are games of a more general nature that were once popular to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

The most basic domino set consists of 28 tiles, shuffled together to form the stock or boneyard, from which each player draws seven for his hand. The player who draws the heaviest tile makes the first play of his turn, and then plays one of his dominoes on the table in such a way that its end matches the number shown on an opponent’s open or closed end of the adjacent domino. This creates a chain of play that gradually increases in length and, depending on the rules of the game, can result in points for the winner.

Some games allow players to buy extra tiles from the stock, while others require the winner of the previous hand or game to draw new hands from the stock before making a play. When a player draws more tiles than he is permitted to have, he must return the excess to the stock without looking at them.

Many of the more popular domino games involve the formation of a line of tiles, called a string or a line of play, in which each tile is placed edge to edge against another, matching either its own number or the value of the other dominoes in its row. When this arrangement is complete, the players score based on their position on the line of play and, for some games, the number of pips left in losing players’ hands at the end of the game. This method of scoring can be complicated by the fact that doubles count as two pips instead of one.