Unlike playing cards, dominos are usually marked with an arrangement of spots. In most domino sets, each tile has a line in the middle dividing it into two squares. Sometimes, large sets use Arabic numerals instead of pips. They are typically two to four inches wide and twice as long as their width. Most domino tiles have a number or identifying mark on one side. They can be played vertically or horizontally, but they must be laid perpendicular to the line dividing them.
Dominoes are most often used for positional games. A player’s score is usually awarded based on the number of pips remaining on an opponent’s tile. The player with the least number of spots wins. The game can be played for several rounds until the specified number of points is reached. However, some variations have a limit on the number of rounds played.
To play the game, each player draws seven tiles from a set. The set used for most games is a double-six set, which has 28 tiles. For games with more than three players, double-nine or double-twelve sets are recommended.
Before the game begins, each player decides how many pips he or she wants to receive. This is done by drawing lots. Each player then takes turns picking dominoes from stock. The first player to pick chooses a domino and places it face up in the middle of the table. The next player matches one end of the domino to a part of the first tile. After that, play continues clockwise.
Once the game begins, the first player’s goal is to establish a stable tower. Players take turns adding dominoes to the tower, moving them up or down and alternately adding tiles to each line. The tower is unstable if it is not balanced, and it will fall if one player cannot go any further. If the tower falls, the player is eliminated from the game. If the tower cannot fall, the player can chip out the domino and place it face down for another player to play.
A basic match using a pair of 2s is not usually recommended, as it increases the likelihood that a player will lose. A larger numbered domino should be played quickly. The first tile should be a high double. Generally, the player with the highest double leads with a double-four or a double-six.
If the first tile is not a high double, the player plays another tile, usually to the right of the first one. For example, if the first tile is a six, the second tile played is a five. The third tile is a four, the fourth tile is a five, the fifth is a five, and the sixth is a six.
In a basic match, each player plays one tile at a time. In some variations, the first player must play the first bone of the hand. This is often called leading the first bone. Other names for leading the first bone are playing the first bone and downing the first bone.