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Dominoes for Beginners: The Quick & Easy Guide for Party Nights

how to play dominos

Dominoes are a metaphor for life. Don’t spend too much time worrying about your moves because no matter what you do, the dominoes will fall as they may.
- Anonymous

Think dominoes and images of sun-drenched porches and leisurely afternoons might spring to mind. But this seemingly simple tile game boasts a surprisingly rich history and competitive depth, captivating audiences worldwide. Could Dominoes be the next online game sensation? Let's delve into the world of dominoes, exploring its rules, variations, and potential for competitive glory.

How to Play Dominoes

Dominoes come in various sets, with the most common being "Double Six" and "Double Nine." Each domino features two ends adorned with pips, like miniature dice. The core gameplay revolves around matching numbers:


Shuffle the dominoes face down and deal a set number to each player (depending on the variation).
Opening Move The player with the highest double domino (e.g., double six in Double Six) starts by placing it in the center. If no doubles exist, reshuffle.
Taking Turns Players take turns trying to match a domino in their hand to an open end on the table (number matching number). Doubles can be played perpendicularly, creating branches.
Drawing If a player has no matching domino, they draw from the remaining pile until they find one. If the pile is empty, they pass their turn.
Winning The first player to empty their hand wins the round, often scoring points based on the unplayed dominoes held by opponents.

Variations of Dominoes Games: Exploring Different Styles

Dominoes isn't a monolith. Countless variations exist, each with unique twists and scoring systems. Popular options include:

  • All Fives/Threes: Points are scored when the exposed domino ends add up to multiples of five or three, respectively.
  • Cutthroat: Play aggressively, blocking opponents from making plays.
  • Bergen: A fast-paced bidding game where players compete to score based on their bids and domino plays.

Taking Dominoes Online: From Humble Tiles to Digital Arenas

While not currently a mainstream game, dominoes possesses intriguing potential for competitive online play. Consider these factors:

  • Accessibility: The easy-to-learn rules and readily available online platforms make dominoes approachable to a wide audience.
  • Strategic Depth: Despite its simple facade, dominoes offers surprising strategic complexity, rewarding skilled players with calculated placements and clever blocking tactics.
  • Spectator Potential: Watching high-level domino matches can be surprisingly intense, as players grapple with hand management, risk assessment, and critical decision-making.

Reviewing the Best: Top-Ranked Dominoes Mobile Games

There's no denying the surge in popularity of mobile gaming, and Domino is no exception. The global mobile gaming market is projected to reach about $165.9 billion in 2020 alone, according to a market report. As a part of this rise, domino games have transformed from a physical tabletop experience to a virtual gameplay that's right at your fingertips anywhere, anytime. 

Year Global Mobile Gaming Market Size (in billions) Estimated Number of Mobile Gamers (in billions)
2016 $37.6 2.2
2017 $48.3 2.4
2018 $63.2 2.6
2019 $86.3 2.8
2020 $165.9 3.1

The dynamic dominos arena has plenty of notable contenders that provide a great gameplay experience. Among these, Dominos Party - Classic Domino Board Game and Dominos - Best Dominoes Game are two of the most downloaded games on both iOS and Android platforms. Let’s delve deeper into what makes them such crowd-favorites. 

Dominos Party - Classic Domino Board Game

When it comes to choosing your preferred style of dominoes, the possibilities are as numerous and varied as the tiles themselves. From versions like Draw and Block, which are well-suited for beginners, to more complex varieties like Matador and Cypress, there's a domino game out there to suit every taste and skill level. Understanding the key differences among some of the most popular domino games can help you find the one best suited for you. 

On that note, if you're starting, Draw and Block Dominoes can be the perfect gateway into the larger world of dominos. Their simple rules and straightforward gameplay make them very approachable for beginners. 

  • Draw Dominoes: Here, players draw tiles from a common pool to begin the game. If a player can't make a move, they keep drawing tiles until they can.
  • Block Dominoes: In this version, players can't draw any new tiles. When no player can make a move, the game ends, and the player with the lightest hand wins.

Once you've mastered these, you might want to try your hand at Matador, a game that requires strategic foresight. The twist in Matador is that the ends of the line must add up to 7, not the standard total of the double-end tile as seen in other varieties. 

Similarly, Cyprus dominoes incorporate a larger set of double-double tiles, offering a host of strategic opportunities for experienced players. As you navigate the world of dominos, you'll find the game is as much about challenging your mind as it is about having fun.

recreates the traditional game experience in a digital format. Its simplistic design and easy-to-understand rules make it the perfect choice for beginners. Moreover, this game takes things up a notch by offering multiplayer mode where you can play with friends or compete with domino enthusiasts worldwide.

Dominos - Best Dominoes Game

This game variation is exploding in popularity, thanks to its simplistic design and authentic gameplay mechanics that are unmatched by any other app. Carl Kood, the developer, has done a phenomenal job of replicating the real-life experience, from the unmistakable sound of tiles clacking together to a scoring system that is as genuine as it gets.

Both of these games are part of a substantial surge in mobile game popularity. According to Statista, as of 2020, mobile games accounted for over 50% of the global gaming market—quite a leap since 2015 when mobile gaming only represented 39%. 

The Future of Dominoes: Clicks and Clacks Collide?

Whether dominoes will fully transition into the esports realm remains to be seen. However, its rich history, diverse variations, and strategic depth offer fertile ground for exploration. As online platforms evolve and audiences seek new forms of competitive entertainment, dominoes might just surprise us with its click-clacking rise to digital fame.

Ready to join the dominoes revolution? Gather your friends, dust off those tiles, and discover the hidden depths of this timeless game. Who knows, you might just be the next Domino champion!

About the author

Marijn Laros

Spirited, 19-year-old guy hailing from the glorious tulip lands of the Netherlands. I've always been one for adventures, and my current one has taken me across borders where I've been enjoying living abroad for the past month, soaking up new experiences and cultures.

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