domino-play How to play...  



Five-Up is a Point-type domino game, played with a Double-Six domino set and a cribbage board or score sheet, by two to four players. It is often played with a cribbage board for scoring and is considered best played as a partnership of two teams of two, with teams scoring combined totals for each player. This game is closely related to the similar game of Fives, but, although often confused with the same game, is a different game in its own right. It was made made popular in California and the Southwest of the USA by Dominic C. Armanino through a series of tournaments and books based on the game. Five-Up is considered a very good game because of the complex strategy involved due to the number of scoring possibilities and also because of its fast gameplay. In this game, all doubles are played as spinners, unlike Fives in which only the first double played is a spinner, which makes working out scoring turns much more difficult.


In the first hand of a game, the lead player is decided by drawing lots from the shuffled boneyard with the highest tile drawn playing first.

The dominoes are then shuffled, facedown, then each player draws five tiles that only they can look at.  Any remaining tiles are used as the boneyard and may be drawn upon by players during the course of play.

The lead player sets down the first domino which may be any tile he chooses, and then players in turn lay tiles onto the open ends of the domino layout with same-number adjacent to same-number (doubles placed horizontally onto ends, allowing play to branch four ways, and known as a spinner).  Should a player be unable to play a domino from their hand onto the layout, they must continue drawing tiles from the boneyard until they are able to play one or the boneyard is exhausted.

Players score points every time they play a tile onto the layout and the pips on the open ends total a multiple of 5 (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc.).  The player who makes such a play scores 1 point for each multiple of five open on the layout. Unlike in the related game of Fives, there may be many open ends of the layout which makes working out multiples of five more complicated. Although doubles are played as spinners, players must play onto the horizontal side of a spinner first and then the vertical ends of a spinner are not counted towards the multiples of five total until a tile has been played onto it. So doubles count as the pip total on both ends of the tile until another tile has been played on its horizontal side.

Once a player has dominoed by setting their last tile, or the game is blocked with no player able to set a tile, the round is over and the player who dominoed or has the lowest total of pips left in their hand, is the winner of that round.  Players then subtract from their score the total number of pips on any remaining dominoes in their hand, rounded to the nearest five and then divided by five. So a player left with a 1-2 would subtract 1, and a player left with a 1-1 would subtract 0 from their score.

The lead player for each subsequent round is the winner of the last, unless the last game was blocked, in which case players draw lots again to determine who plays first.

A number of rounds are played and the first player to score a set total of 61 points, wins the game.


There are many different minor variations to the rules in common use, like how to decide the lead player, and lead tile, but the game is generally played according to the basic rules given above. Dominic C. Armanino, who popularised the game, gives the following different rules for scoring:

The winning player or team adds their opponents' remaining pip count rounded to the nearest multiple of five and then divided by five, to their score at the end of a round, instead of subtracting it from their own.

In a game played by two players or two teams, should the game be blocked, then the winning player or team scores the pip total held in their opponents remaining tiles, not the point difference. If there is a tie for the lowest pip total, then no one scores any points.

In a three-player game, should a player domino, then the player of the other two, who holds the lowest pip total in their remaining tiles, scores the difference between their pip total and the other player's remaining tiles' pip total, rounded to the nearest five and then divided by five.

In a three-player game, should the game be blocked, then the only the winning player with the fewest pip total, scores points. The winner of the round scores the difference between their opponent's pip total and their own, rounded to the nearest five and then divided by five. If more than one player ties for the lowest pip total, then no one scores any points.




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