# dominoes - wheres the skill?

I have often seem down at the pub people playing dominoes. I have a rough idea of the game, but there doesn’t seem to be much skill, just luck if you have the right pieces? Any dominoers out there?

I’ve played a few times, and there is skill to be used. Some of it is luck, but you also have to guess what pieces your opponent has so that you can screw him over or so that you don’t set him up to screw you over. You also have to plan out what you are going to be doing, otherwise you will be stuck with an unplayable piece at the end.

I’m fairly good at dominoes, and it’s all about strategy, just like many card games. Sure, luck-of-the-draw does make a difference (just as in cards), but it’s also about probabilities of what one’s opponent may be holding. And key to my game is anticipating the opponent’s hand and blocking plays, or setting him up so I can score more.

Also, I usually play double-12’s, rather than double-6’s or double-9’s. For me, at least, that requires some pretty amazing feats of addition.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Like others have said, you want to know what each player is holding. With four people you have a partner, so you need to be able to help out and set up your partner while blocking the opponents.

As gypsygirl31 mentioned, it is harder to keep track when playing double 9 or double 12.

Double 12’s and I usually play the variant where if you play a piece that leaves all playable ends at a multiple of 5 you score that many points…I do not recomend this variant at the pub, basic math skills are the first thing to go out the window after a beer or 3

Ok, in cards I know how to play probabilities about what the opponent might have, because I’m familiar with the make up of a deck. Can someone explain how you can predict what your opponent might have in dominoes? What is the make up of the dominoes? (What’s the name for a group of dominoes for a game?)

According to the way we play, the amount you have at the end of each round is tallied (each dot counts). The player with the lowest number at the end of the night wins. People try to get rid of the highest numbered dominoes first.

The first domino played is the highest (6:6, 9:9, or 12:12). The person that has it goes first. Let’s say 12:12 is played.

The second player plays the highest domino with base 12 in his hand (say 2:12). Your opponents can guess that you do not have 3:12 - 11:12 because you would have probably played it. (If they do not have a domino with a 12, the person passes.)

The third player has the choice of playing a 2 or a 12. A 2:8 is played. It is likely that this player does not have any 12s or any 2:9 - 2:12.

You know what players have based on what the dominoes they play.
A double 6 domino set looks like this: http://www.nrich.maths.org.uk/mathsf/journalf/apr99/images/dominoes.gif

Everyone’s assuming that the other people are talking about the same game they are. There are actually quite a few domino games. In the UK, I think they play where they score by fives and threes. In much of Latin America, they don’t score at all until the end of a hand, when they add up the spots in their opponents’ hands.

Here in the US, we usually play where you score by making multiples of five, but there are many variations that are mostly regional, such as who plays first. And in San Fransisco they have their own game called Five-Up. Here in Texas, we have 42 and Moon, which are bidding, trick-taking games.

Then there are more recent party games such as Chickenfoot and Mexican Train.

I had to learn about all the variations to create a commercial set of computer dominoes games, which I sell, but I won’t link to here.

I play the multiples of five on the playable ends version, too. It has a few rules I have learned are not universal. We play that the person who holds the double six goes first, but doesn’t have to play it, and can play any tile. The first double must go endways when it is played, and only the open end is scored. When that first double is played on, it gets turned to open up its ends, but they are not scored until a tile is played off the new ends, or another double is played. After the first double is played, double tiles are played cross wise, and count as a total of both values. (You can’t play off them, though, only the first double)

I like it as a two-player game. Since every combination exists once, it is not hard to get a good feel for what the other player has, and you can set yourself up for a score, by anticipating his moves. The three player game is less fun, to me, since you can’t control what happens between them.

I also like the scoring system we use. Each five point score is marked down as one slash of an X. The first is a large central X, and then one X in each open quadrant of the original X. Five X’s is fifty points, that’s game.

So, here’s a game:

I draw seven tiles. One of them is the double six, so I go first. I lay down the six/four. It has a total of ten at the “ends” so I get ten points, and draw my big X. My opponent plays the double four, laying it down endways to the six/four. It still has a scoring total of ten, so he scores. He made a mistake. I play my double six, laying it down crossways, and since it is the second double, I now turn the first double, his fours crossways too! Now the total of the ends is twenty. I draw two more x’s in my figure. He plays the four/three. The total is now fifteen, which scores. He draws one x, and one slash. I play the six/two, and the total is now five. He plays the four/five on the turned ends of the four/four. The figure now has three scoring ends, and a total of ten. I play the four/blank on the other end of the double fours, and the total is still ten. He plays the double fives, across the four five, scoring fifteen, and wins the game.

Of course, it ususally doesn’t go quite that quickly. If you can’t move, you pass, and must exchange one tile with the boneyard.

I have played to a hundred, and once to two hundred. I don’t care for it as much.

## Tris

“It was a woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.” ~ W.C. Fields ~

thanks I can see what I was not doing before. But this must be a big game for misleading plays - e.g. deliberatey not putting your biggest down to fool the opponents

Here’s an interesting site for those interested in Dominoes:

Domino Plaza

You can also play dominoes in teams. Your team mate does not see your pieces, nor you his/hers. You have to guess what pieces he/she has, and help him/her if he/she goes before you.

Example: Your mate played a 4:5 at one end of the game. The person right after that blocked that number with a 4:6. The piece in the place is a 2:3. Besides the guess that the person does not have a 3, you play the 3:4 instead of the 3:6 you had because you guess your mate has a 4 to play.

Oh, and people don’t play their highest pieces always. When the person has some pieces that he/she knows can screw the opponent or create a safeway, the person will play another piece.