domino-play How to play...  



A card-type domino game which is a domino version of the playing-card game Loo.  This game is played by two to four players using a Double-Six domino set, and stakes or chips or counters for the pot. Players can alternatively play for points recorded on a score sheet if they choose.

The original Loo playing-card gambling game was commonly played by the upper class in the 17th-century, but had become more popular with the lower class by the 19th-century.


One player is designated as the dealer for the first hand either by agreement or by drawing lots.

If players are playing for a pot (or pool) then they must put in a set amount of stake units or chips before a hand is dealt (explained below).

The dominoes are shuffled, facedown, to form the boneyard and then the dealer deals each player five tiles which only they can look at. Then the dealer draws one more tile (known as the "turn-up") from the boneyard and turns it face-up, with the highest suit on either end becoming the trump suit for the hand. The "turn-up" is left face up on the playing area for the rest of the hand, so players can easily see which suit is trumps.

Once the players have looked at their hands, they may be able to change them if they don't like the hand they have been dealt. This is known as taking the "miss". Starting with the first player (the one next to the dealer) and then in turn, players may do this according to the following rules:

  • If two or three players are playing the game, then if a player wants to change their hand, they discard their tiles facedown and separate from the boneyard and then draws six new tiles from the boneyard. Once they have looked at their new hand, they discard one tile facedown and separate from the boneyard again. If a second player wants to take the "miss", then they would draw six tiles from the boneyard and not from any tiles previously discarded. Only two players may take the "miss" if they choose, in a three player game.
  • If four players are playing, then if a player wants to take the "miss", then the player discards their tiles facedown and draws the seven remaining tiles in the boneyard, discarding two of them. Only one player may take the "miss" if he chooses, in a four player game.

If three or four players are playing and a player doesn't like their hand, then he may discard his tiles and take no further part in the play of the hand. In this case, the player cannot win anything from the pot or score any points, but they cannot be "looed" (penalised for not winning any tricks) either. A player who has taken the "miss" may not drop out of the hand, discarding their tiles, and must play the hand out.

So, starting with the next player to the dealer, players must in turn decide to do one of the following:

  • Play the hand they were dealt.
  • Take the "miss" and swap their hand.
  • In the case of three or four players playing, discard their tiles and drop out of playing the hand.

When the dealer's turn comes around to decide, he may choose to take the "turn-up" tile that was used to determine the trump suit and discard another from his hand if he decides to keep his original hand. However, he may not do this if he decides to take the "miss".

In the case of all the other players dropping out of play, the dealer wins the hand and collects the pool with no further play.

Players try to win tricks of tiles by in turn playing a single tile to the playing area, with the highest ranked tile taking the trick. The winner of each trick collects and places the played tiles next to himself in groups to indicate how many tricks he has won.

The tiles' suits rank from low to high as blank (0) up to 6, with the double of the suit ranked as highest. The trump suit tiles beat the other suits and must be played as trumps and not the suit on the other end of the tile. Tiles of the same suit rank according to the suit on the other end, so if a player plays 2-5 and 5 is the declared suit, then a tile bearing a 5 on one end with any suit higher than 2 on the other, would beat it, and a double-5 would beat all other tiles bearing the 5 suit, including the 6-5. So tiles in the suit of 5 rank in descending order as: 5-5, 5-6, 5-4, 5-3, 5-2, 5-1, 5-0 (blank).

The lead player for the first lead of a hand is decided as the player next in turn to the dealer.

Players in turn play a tile to the centre of the playing area and much of the play is predetermined by the rules for playing tiles, which are as follows:

  • The lead player plays a tile to the centre of the playing area and announces which suit on either end he is declaring as the suit it belongs to. If he holds two or more trump tiles in their hand, he must lead with a trump suit.
  • The lead player must play a trump suit tile if they previously won the last trick and they hold one in their hand.
  • Subsequent players after the lead player, must follow suit by playing a tile bearing the lead suit if they hold one in their hand.
  • A player who doesn't hold a tile of the same suit as the lead suit, must play a trump suit if he holds one in their hand.
  • A player who doesn't hold either a tile bearing the lead suit or a trump suit, may play any tile he wishes.
  • Unlike the playing-card game of Loo, players are not obligated to win a trick even if they hold a trick-winning tile in their hand.

Play continues until the five tricks of a hand have been won. Once all the players' tiles have been played, a new hand is played as before, with the next player in turn becoming the dealer for the new hand.

As mentioned before, if players are playing for stakes or chips, then they must each put five units of the stake amount or five chips into the pot before the hand is dealt. The dealer must put in an additional five units as well as their original five.

At the end of a hand, players each take one-fifth of the units in the pot, for every trick they have won (the amount in the pot is always a multiple of five). However, if a player has won no tricks at all during a hand, then he is said to have "looed" and must put in the same number of units of chips or stakes that were originally put into the last hand's pot, into the pot for the next hand played. The players who won at least one trick don't put five units into the pot for the new hand, but the dealer must put in an additional five units as before.

The above rule can cause the pot's total to grow exponentially, making it a very cruel gambling game, with players able to win or lose large amounts. Some players agree to limit the maximum number of units that a "looed" player must put into the pot to 5, 10 or 20 times the number of players playing.

If players are playing for points, then players score one point for each trick they take, unless a player wins no tricks in a hand (he is "looed"), in which case he scores minus five points. A number of hands are played as before and the first player to score 15 points, wins the game.




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