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How Dominoes Works

Dominoes Strategy

Some people see dominoes as a game of blind luck that depends on what tiles you draw and what tiles other players lay down. This isn't really the case: Dominoes is actually a game in which skill and strategy are important, and so one of the more important factors in playing dominoes is keeping your tiles close at hand.

In the pubs of Britain, tiles are kept in two rows of three, one above the other. This allows the player to keep his tiles in one hand without showing others what he has. This leaves the other hand open to take a sip from his pint, so the story goes [source: Masters Games].

Whether you're sipping a pint or not during a game, it's important to keep your tiles face down so only you know the combinations you have. This is important because, based on the set you use to play, there are a finite number of pip combinations. For example, in a standard 28-piece set (also called a 6-6 set, because the six is the highest double tile), there are eight tile ends with four pips on them. A good player can quickly survey the table to see what tiles have already been played, which will give her an idea of what the other players have in their hands. If that player has a four-pip tile and sees that the other seven have already been played, playing the tile with the four-pip end out will guarantee no one else can play off of the tile. This leaves the player with one less tile, while confounding the other players.

Bluffing is a part of any non-scoring dominoes game. With scoring games, the stakes are even higher. We'll discuss those on the next page.