Montana Domino Rummy

Created by Robert Kalin - formerly known as Four Pack and before that as Stonehenge.

Introduction

This is a 2 to 4 player rummy like game.

Equipment

  • Four identical double-six sets of dominoes (with no nails in the domino's face. aka 'spinner')
  • One 6-sided die
  • Domino racks -or- thick dominos -or- privacy screens for individual hands
  • poker chips (880 minimum points total)

NOTE: To keep track of points a large number of poker chips will be required. You can use specialty poker chips if you desire. If you choose to use 'standard' store bought poker chips then please note that many stores tend to sell poker chips in small sets. These small sets usually have 50 White chips, 25 red chips and 25 blue chips. They are normally assigned the values of 1, 5 and 10 respectively. Unfortunately this would require you to use 3 of those sets.

You can however use a different assignment of values to the chips and require considerably fewer sets. For one set of chips use the values below. It should be noted that with these values you are left with very few extra chips. It is stongly recommended that you use at least two sets with these values so that you have chips to spare.

  • White = 1 point
  • Red = 10 point
  • Blue = 50 point

Game Play Alternatives

Two modes of play.

  • A. Shootout.
    Playing for who 'goes out' first, or most often. In this version there is no scoring.
  • B. Dealer game.
    Playing for highest score.

Setup

All the dominoes from all four sets are placed face down and thoroughly shuffled. If any domino is flipped over during shuffling, simply flip the domino face down and continue shuffling. Once all the dominoes are shuffled, a stacked structure of face down dominoes is made near the center of the play area. This is done to save space as an exposed boneyard of 112 dominoes becomes too large to play with. Making this structure also makes it easier for each player to reach the structure during the game. This structure will be called the "woodpile".

Once all the dominoes have been shuffled and stacked together (still face down) then each player is given 220 points in poker chips.

For 1, 5, 10 values give each player 20 white, 12 red, 14 blue.
For 1, 10, 50 values give each player 10 white, 11 red, 2 blue.

NOTE: WoodPile: It is suggested to make this structure with 3 long sides by 6 short ends. Each layer of dominoes lay at right angles to the last. This prevents the dominoes from sliding haphazardly when pulled.

The deal

One of the players, chosen at random, takes a die and rolls it. Starting with himself he counts around the players clockwise. Whichever player corresponds to the last number counted (matching the die roll) starts the deal. This person is also the first dealer in the game.

The dealer gives two dominoes at a time to each player going clockwise untill each player has 10 dominoes. During this time all dominoes are kept face down so that the players can not see them until the game starts.

The dealer then pulls an additional domino from the woodpile: this starts the game.

NOTE: Games with fewer than 4 players: When there are fewer than 4 players in the game, 10 dominoes are still dealt for all 4 players. The one or two "Dead Hands" are kept face down and not touched during the game. These 'unkown dominoes' prevent a two player game from becoming a waiting game for whoever pulls the winning domino first. This means that there is always the possibility of neither player going out and the game would be considered a draw.

Game Goal

The goal of the game is to acquire the most points. This does not apply in 'shootout games', where there is no scoring. To gain points a player must 'go out'. To go out a player must use all the dominoes in their hand in 'sets' including one additional domino that the player either pulls from the woodpile, or from another player's discard. You can't go out if you have spare or unmatched dominoes that do not make sets.

After winning a hand, the winner is paid the value of his hand, in points, from all the other players.

The game is over once everyone has been the dealer once and the last person has lost the role of dealer.

The play

The turns go clockwise. Each turn a person pulls a domino from the woodpile. Then discards a domino. It does not necessarily need to be the same domino. The turn then goes to the next player clockwise. The exception to this is in 'Claiming'.

NOTE: For faster play please announce the domino that you are discarding. The highest number first and then the lower. When placing the domino in the discard area please make sure that they are always oriented with highest ends in the same direction. That way players can more easily tell what has been discarded previously.

Claiming

A player can 'Claim' a domino that was just discarded to create a 'set'. He can claim any of the other players' discards but only when they make that discard. If the next player after the discarder has already pulled his new domino from the woodpile then that discard is no longer available to claim.

Once a domino is claimed the person claiming it must show the combination he created using the claimed domino. They keep this combination exposed for the rest of the game as this will affect scoring. The turn THEN goes to the left (i.e. clockwise) from the person who JUST claimed the domino. In other words you may have just skipped other players' turns. This is a normal part of gameplay.

Once a set is exposed it can not be changed.

The only exception is when pulling a fourth matching domino from the woodpile and adding it to an exposed "Triple". As with making any 'quad' you pull an additional domino from the woodpile and then discard only one domino as in a normal turn. (see QUAD EXTRAS)

You can never claim to make a 'pair'. The only exception is if it is the last domino necessary to win a game.

For example you have 9 dominoes in 3 'Triples' and have one domino left. To finish this game you need a pair, so you can claim for it.

When you claim for a 'Run' aka a sequence of 3 dominoes in the same suit you can only claim from the person on your right. As with pairs if it is the last domino that you need to win the game, then you can claim for it irresepctive of position.

The downside of claiming another player's discard is that you get half as many points for that set as if you made the set yourself. Sets that you make yourself do not need to be exposed. In fact keep them hidden from other players. For example if you make a triple yourself you get 2 points, but if you claim for a triple you only get 1 point.

In two-player games you can never claim for Runs, not even to go out.

Contested Claim

When more than one person call to claim a domino there is an order of claim priority. Claim's goto those making a Quad first, A triple second, a Pair third, and a Run fourth. If the set being made by both players is the same kind then it goes to whomever called for it first.

SETS

Sets are the smaller groupings of dominoes that you need to build to play the game. There are only 4 kinds of sets used in the game.

  • Run - a run is 3 dominoes of the same suit, but in numerical order. example - [4:1] - [4:2] - [4:3]
  • Pair - a pair is two of the exact same domino.
  • Triple - a Triple is three of the exact same domino.
  • Quad - a Quad is four of the exact same domino.

Quad Extras

When you make a quad in hand without claiming you must expose it. You can display it with its two inner dominos face down so that everyone can tell during scoreing that you made it concealed.

When you make a quad wether it is concealed or claimed you must pull an extra domino from the woodpile. When you discard after making the combination you only discard one domion like normal. This means that each time you make a Quad you have to adjust your hand to be slightly larger with the new domino in play. Several Quads will definitely increase your hand size but making even a single a quad is quite difficult.

If you have an exposed triple and pull a fourth matching domino from the woodpile you can add it. This would create an exposed Quad. This is the only time you can modify an exposed set. You can not claim a fourth matching domino and add it to an exposed triple. As with all quads you then have to pull an additional domino from the woodpile to add to your hand. Then as usual you discard only one domino.

The Suits

This game does not play in the traditional method in which [Western] dominoes are used. Instead it uses the dominoes as though they are a set of playing cards.

Since dominoes do not have suits like hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds a different method of suit identification is used. In the diagram below you will see a single domino set laid out with the zeroes to the left and the doubles to the right. Basically each row is a suit. That's right. Each suit is identified by the higher number on the domino. You may also notice that each suit has fewer tiles as you get to the lower suits. This is not as important as it would be in regular card games.

It's easiest to remember it this way. The higher number on ANY individual domino you pull is ALWAYS the suit number it belongs to. It also means that the higher number is the number of the double, which is the highest tile of that suit. A domino like [5-6] is not a part of the 'FIVES' suit but is a part of the 'SIX' suit.

(upper suits)
0-61-62-63-64-65-66-6
0-51-52-53-54-55-5
0-41-42-43-44-4
(lower suits)
0-31-32-33-3
0-21-22-2
0-11-1
0-0

Please remember that in this game you play with FOUR double-6 sets of dominoes. This means there are four of each exact domino in the set. There are four of, for example, the 6-5 domino, and so on.

Suit Division

Later, for point scoring you should be aware that the suits are divided into two types.
  • Upper Suits: Suits 6, 5, 4 score less
  • Lower Suits: Suits 3, 2, 1 and 0 score more

THE READY RULE

If a player is one domino away from winning the game then they can declare "ready" to the other players. They indicate this by placing a bet of 4 points on the table in front of their hand. If they lose this hand the bet of 4 points goes to the winner of the hand. But if they win then the 4 points are added to their hand's score thus increasing the payout from other players.

Example:
Player A declares ready and sets out 4 points.
On the next domino he pulls he goes out.
His hand is worth 16 points.
Add on the 4 from ready and his hand is now worth 20 points.
Each of the other players must pay him 20 points.

Remember if a person goes out on another's discard then only the discarder has to pay. This becomes even more damaging.

Example:
Player A declares ready and sets out 4 points.
On Player C's Discard he claims it and goes out.
His hand is worth 16 points.
Add on the 4 from ready and his hand is now worth 20 points.
Player C now has to pay Player A. [20x3]= 60 points.

Once ready is declared and the 4 points are on the table in front of his hand, the ready player can no longer change his hand. He can pull dominoes from the woodpile but must discard them imediately unless it completes his hand. He can still Claim a domino from another person's discard. This is extremely damaging to the discarder.

Dealer & End Game

The Dealer plays a special role in 'Four Pack'. In addition to the 'Ready' rule there are special rules reguarding the Dealer as well.

  1. ANYTHING involving the dealer doubles the score in payment. This means that all payments to the dealer are doubled and all payments from the dealer are doubled.
  2. If the dealer wins a hand then he plays as dealer again in another hand. When he loses, the role of the dealer passes onto the next person to his left. (that's clockwise)
  3. The game is over when the last person has lost the role of dealer.

Example:
Player A goes out with a 36 point hand after pulling from the woodpile.
Player B (DEALER) pays him [36x2]= 72 points.
Player C pays him 36 points.
Player D pays him 36 points.
Player A's total income is [72+36+36]=144
Player B has lost the Dealer role.
Player C is now dealer for the next hand.

Example:
Player A (now Dealer)goes out with a 36 point hand by claiming from player C.
Player B does not pay.
Player C pays him [36x3]= 108 - Dealer Doubled [108x2]= 216
Player D does not pay.
Player A's total income = 216 points.
Player A has kept Dealer status
Player A is now dealer for another hand.

SCORING

When a person goes out they are given points from the other players. There are two ways that a player can go out.

(self pulled win)
If a player goes out on a domino pulled from the woodpile then he receives the value of his hand in points from each of the players.
Example:
Player A goes out with a 36 point hand after pulling from the woodpile.
Player B pays him 36 points
Player C pays him 36 points
Player D pays him 36 points
(claimed domino win)
If a player goes out on a domino discarded by another player then he receives 3 times the value of his hand from only that player.
Example:
Player A goes out with a 36 point hand by claiming from player C.
Player B Does not pay him
Player C pays him [36x3]=108 points
Player D Does not pay him

Before receiving the points, the hand must be scored for the point value for each of the sets made depending on wether the sets are from a common (upper) suit, or a rare (lower) suit. (see chart below)

SCORECARD

Going out= 4 points
Upper Suit scoring (suits 6, 5 & 4)
run= 0 points no exceptions
pair= 0 points
triple exposed= 1
triple concealed= 2
quad exposed= 4
quad concealed= 8
Lower Suit scoring (suits 3, 2, 1, & 0)
Double the above scores for each combo made.

The Scorecard - Easy Memorization

1 for triples and 4 for fours
Double concealed
below 3 double more
4 to go out and 4 to be ready
dealer's double score

Combined Scoring example

  • Player A goes out (4 points)
  • He goes out on a self drawn domino.
  • He has 2 sets of 3 of upper suits, each exposed (2 points total)
  • He has one quad concealed of lower suits (16 points)
  • He has one pair (0 points)
  • He has declared ready (4 points)
  • He is not Dealer.
  • His total hand is worth (26 points)
  • Player B (dealer) pays him (26x2=52 points)
  • Player C pays him (26 points)
  • Player D pays him (26 points)
  • Player A's total take is (52+26+26=104 points)
  • Player B has lost Dealer's seat.
  • Player C is now dealer in the next game.

Development Note:

Sometime in 2007 I thought that I would create a 'new' domino game that would use dominoes like playing cards. I had gotten quite far in developing a game and was almost near the testing stage when I made a disapointing discovery. My so called 'original' idea was not. Dozens of games existed for dominoes that used them like playing cards for years. A failed concept but it stuck in my mind because of the effort i put into it.

During october of 2008 I was browsing the web and was contemplateing purchasing a minature Mahjong set for a coworker. It had to be small enough to be kept in a locker but the prices had gone up in the years since I myself had purchased one. Then on November 4th after the election I had an novel idea. It was to use 4 standard Double-6 Domino sets to play a modified version of Mahjong.

At first I thought that this idea was too good to be true. Mahjong had been around for a long time. It was even popular in the United States back in the 1920's. So for a few hours each night for the entire next week I searched the net. I read through dozens of rules for domino games and never found anything that played like the game I imagined. My final conclusion was simple. If there was ever a published set of rules to play Mahjong with dominoes then it's in some old 1920's magazine sitting on someone's shelf. As to this date I have seen no publication either on the net or in print that has this game in it. It is oddly enough original.

There is of course the fact that Mahjong is a public domain game. Nobody can copyright it and the same can be said of Dominoes. In the end this 'conversion' ruleset is in itself a public domain set of rules. It's not exactly original and I highly doubt that I could ever make any money off of it. All I can hope is that I will be remembered as the person who converted the current set of rules from one game to the other.

Then there are the added benefits to using dominoes to play Mahjong instead of Mahjong specific playing pieces.
  • 1 Availability: Double-6 domino sets can be found all over the world
  • 2 Universal imagery: Domino dots are not cultural specific, unlike Mahjong pieces.
  • 3 Scale compatiblity: The imagery on Mahjong sets becomes difficult to see when scaled down to small sizes. Domino dots on the other hand are very easy to see even on miniscule scales.

!!NOTICE!!
The rules you find here are NOT the same as Mahjong rules. They have been simplified to the point of keeping only the core elements of the game. This was done to make the game faster to learn and easier to play.

Version history

  • November 6 2008 (rough sketch rules)
  • Revision November 8 2008 (Fine Sketch Rules)
  • Revision November 20 2008 (rework of entire document for legibility)
  • HTML version and minor corrections November 24 2008
  • Revision 17th January 2009 (starting points & poker chips)
  • February 24 2009: name change from Stonehenge to Four Pack and addition of scorecard mnemonic verse.
  • Revision March 24 2009 (Page transfer, Title change, Minor notes.)
  • Revision September 24 2009 (Rewording & reorganization, Minor notes.)
  • November 12 2009: minor corrections [this page]
  • August 2010: name change to Montana Domino Rummy