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Domino Game Strategy

If you're interested in learning the skills and tactics involved in winning domino games, then you can find allsorts of tips and strategies explained here.

Some domino games are pretty much just luck, involving fairly mechanical gameplay, but there are also many where skill and judgement will tend to make the difference between winning and losing a domino game.  Of course, the tiles you draw or are dealt is purely down to luck, but how you play them can make a difference in the game's outcome.  A skilful domino player will win more games in general than unskilled players.

General Domino Gameplay Tips

Make sure you know the type of domino game and the specific rules of the the domino game you are playing.  You'll soon have a basic idea, after a few rounds of domino play, of which kind of moves or gameplay are the most beneficial.  Familiarise yourself with the tiles and type of domino set you are using.  Knowing the number of tiles in a particular suit will help you judge the right tile to play and help you work out the possible tiles in other players' hands. (See types of domino sets for a full description.) 

Block and Draw Domino Game Tips

Here are some useful tips for playing Block and Draw-type domino games.  They are not in-depth strategies but if you follow the tips listed below you will have an advantage over other players who aren't using any real strategy at all.

  • Set down doubles early.  Because doubles have the same suit value on either end, you will have fewer opportunities to set them down on the layout, so it is a good idea to play them whenever you have the opportunity.  It's only too easy to get stuck with doubles.
  • Set down your heavier tiles early.  Because you don't know for sure who will win a round of dominoes, it is a good idea to play your heavier spotted tiles early so whoever wins a round or whether the round is blocked you won't be caught with a high score of points for your opponent.
  • Hold on to a variety of suits.  Try to keep as many different suits as you can in your hand as long as you can.  This will give you a range of options when it comes to the tiles you can set down and prevent you from being unable to make a play at all and having to pass on your play.
  • Note your opponents weak suits.  Whenever an opponent passes on their play or draws from the boneyard, remember which suit values they don't have.  This allows you to be more able to block them in later game-play.
  • Work out your opponent's hand.  If you study the layout of already played tiles and the tiles in your own hand you will often be able to guess what your opponents are holding in their hands.  This becomes easier the more tiles are played onto the layout.  You'll soon learn which tiles in your own hand to play to block your opponents.

Point Domino Game Tips

Here are some tips for playing :Point-type domino games.  Learn these and you'll improve your game play considerably.

  • Always be aware of the board count. This is the total of all open ends on the layout.  In games like Fives players score points when the board count is a multiple of five.
  • Evaluate the tiles in your hand and how they can change the board count.  Determine the difference between suit values on either end of a tile so you quickly know how they will change the board count.  For example, 5 and 3 on each end will change the board count by 2.  Connecting the lower end to the open ends of the layout will raise the board count, while connecting the higher suit will lower the board count.
  • Use blocking strategies near the end of a point game, when the opportunities for scoring points diminish.
  • Control and manipulate the board count.  In a game of Fives, where you score points for board counts that are a multiple of five, note the tiles in your hand that will change it by a multiple of five and play those when an opponent has just made a scoring play.  Push the board count up when you can set down scoring tiles, and down when you can't.  Knowing the suits your opponent does and doesn't hold will enable you to alter the board count accordingly, allowing you to prevent opponents from setting down scoring tiles.
  • In games like Fives and Five-Up, where you score points when open ends of the layout are a multiple of five, remember you can play a tile to lower the board count to a multiple of five, and not just raise it.

Be warned that blocking strategies can backfire on you in games where players must draw extra tiles from the boneyard when they can't make a play.  It could equip your opponents with tiles that can work against you, and not increase your score at the end of a round/hand, if you use blocking too early in game play.

Advanced Domino Strategy

There is a more advanced domino strategy you can use that involves some quite complex mental arithmetic and calculation.  Check back to this page in the future for more details.

  • Advanced Domino Game Strategy

Chinese Domino Strategy

For tips and hints on Chinese domino games, try clicking on the link below, and get some helpful information on winning, and improving your Chinese domino gameplay.


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