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Skill Games > Dominoes > Dominoes Tips and Strategy

Dominoes Tips and Strategy

Many people tend to dismiss Dominoes as a childhood game based largely on luck instead of skill. Dominoes, however, is the opposite – it is a game centered on skill, much like Backgammon and Chess. By employing various tips and strategies, players can influence the game to help them win a greater amount of points.

Bank Early Points

In a game like Dominoes where both players are racing toward a point total goal, players must attempt to score points as early as they can in each game. Players can start with ten points right off the bat by placing a 4-6 or 5-5 tile on their first turn. If players don’t have this option, a double tile is a great alternative to starting a game because it gives a player control over the tile layout from the start to the finish of the game.

Maintain a Variety

To be prepared for any situation that may arise during the Dominoes game, keep as many different tile values in your hand as you can. This way, you can avoid having to draw from the "boneyard."

Know Your 5 Times Table

Many new players have trouble calculating multiples of five during play. The 5 times table is the magical formula in this game, so it’s worthwhile to make a quick study of the numbers. Don’t forget that multiples of five extend to the options of 10 and 15 as well. Players should also keep in mind that previous totals can be minimized to a multiple of five.

Study Your Opponent

Keep your eyes peeled for weaknesses in your opponent’s game. The easiest way to mark what your opponent is lacking is by watching when they have to dip into the “boneyard” to draw additional tiles. This observation reveals exactly which tile your opponent is missing in his hand. Apply this knowledge by deliberately playing the tiles that you know your opponent cannot match in order to force him to continue to draw additional tiles.

For players with great memories, there’s another way to know exactly which tiles your opponent is holding in his hand. Keep a tally of which tiles have already been played, pair this knowledge with the tiles from your own hand, and then use this calculation to figure out your opponent’s tiles. Prevent your opponent from playing his tiles by creating ends with values that you know your opponent lacks. This strategy is especially effective at the end of the game.

Keep a Small Pip Total

Don’t forget that at the end of the game your opponent is going to benefit from the remaining pips on your in-hand tiles. The more pips you have, the more points you have, and the more points you donate to your opponent. Try applying a strategy of keeping small tile values in hand so as not to contribute to your opponent’s potential victory. Generally, players are recommended to keep 20 or less pips in hand.

Counting and Blocking

Sometimes players manipulate the game to create a block. Players employ this strategy when they have been counting the suits of the tiles laid out in the chain. When all of the suit’s tiles have already been played in the domino chain layout, players will block to ensure that they will have the lowest negative score.

Playing to Domino Strategy

This strategy, a type of blocking strategy, ensures that a player will score a zero, the lowest negative score possible in the game.

Simply Scoring

The most direct of all the Dominoes strategies, this path is adopted by players at the game’s beginning. Players who use this strategy focus solely on the goal of scoring the highest number of points without giving thought to any other strategic considerations.