Draw Dominoes

Introduction

This is one of the simplest and most common domino game, taking its name from the rule that allows players to draw new tiles from the boneyard. As a result, it is played in a dozen different ways by everyone. This is one set of rules, but some more common variations are given in the variations section. Any of the Block game variations can be converted to a Draw game by allowing the use of the tiles left in the boneyard.

Equipment

The game uses a double six domino set, but other sets can also be used when you have more players.

The Deal

The size of the hand varies with the number of players:

  • 2 players get 7 tiles each
  • 3 players get 7 tiles each
  • 4 players get 6 tiles each

The rest of the tiles stay in the boneyard.

The Play

The four handed game can be played in partnerships or as individuals. The players draw for lead (or set) and take turns placing tiles to form a single line. A tile can be placed on either end of the line. Doubles are played across the line, but are not spinners.

A player who cannot or does not wish to play a tile from hand must draw from the boneyard. The player continues to draw tiles until either he plays a tile or the boneyard is reduced to two tiles. The last two tiles of the boneyard are not drawn, and when the boneyard has only two tiles a player who cannot play simply passes his turn.

The hand stops when one player dominoes or when nobody can play. Note that if the layout is blocked, both ends of the line showing a number of which all tiles have already been played, the next player in turn will have to draw all the remaining tiles from the boneyard except for the last two.

It is legal to draw from the boneyard when able to play, or to continue drawing after a playable tile. A player may do this in the hope of finding a tile that can be used to block the game thereby forcing the next player to draw a large number of tiles.

After the hand is ended and scored, the tiles are shuffled again and the turn to lead passes to the player to the left of the previous leader.

Scoring

At the end of the hand, each player gets the total number of pips on the tiles in his hand. The lowest scoring player is the winner and is credited with the sum of the scores of the losers, minus his own total. If there is a tie for lowest score, then nobody gets a score.

The game is played for 100 points in a two player or partnership game, and for 61 points in a three or four handed game. This convention allows a cribbage board to be used for keeping scores.

Comments & Strategy

The best play is to set your strongest suit, preferably with a double, so that you will have more options for further plays when it is your turn again. The better control you have of a suit, the more you should try to leave that suit on the ends of the train.

In a partnership game, you can assume that your partner's lead is his strongest suit and play to it.

Regional variations

Dutch: According to the Domino Plaza web site, in this game a player draws one or two tiles from the boneyard, and passes his turn if this does not give him a playable tile. The [0-0] counts as 13 points.

The four-player game with partners, in which each player takes 7 tiles and there is no boneyard and therefore no draw, is described on the partnership dominoes page. This game is popular in Spain and Latin America.

In Puerto Rico when there are two or three players a draw game with seven tiles each is played. It is usual for the holder of the double six, or if it is not dealt the holder of the highest double dealt to start the game, and the player must begin with this double. Thereafter the winner of each game begins the next. A player who cannot play draws from the boneyard until he can, but it is illegal to draw when able to play. The winner scores the total number of pips left in the hands of all players and the other players score nothing. In the case of a blocked game the winner is the player with the least pips. In case of a tie some play that there is no winner and the highest double starts the next game; others play that the player who blocked the game is the winner. This game is described in detail on Jose Carillo's Puertorican Dominoes page.

In Austria the game is played using an [8-8] set without doubles (36 tiles) - at least this was the usual game there until the mid 20th century - see the Austrian Dominoes page.

Other variations

  1. Different numbers of tiles in the hands.
    1. South Americans will sometimes use the formula (8 - the number of players) = the number of tiles in the hands.
    2. Vietnamese start each player with a hand of one tile. The game must start with the [6-6], so players continue to draw until someone can set it on the table.
  2. Determining the lead, either initially or after a blocked hand is done by:
    1. Players can draw for the highest tile.
    2. The last player who led, leads again.
    3. The lead rotates clockwise around the table.
    4. All players draw a tile and exposed them at the same time. The pips are totaled and the total is divided by the number of players, then one is added to the quotient. The players are numbered from 1 to (n) and the player whose number matches the quotient leads.
      In a two handed game, the players can just call out "odd" or "even" as guess to what kind of number the total with be when they expose their tiles.
    5. Ukrainians and other central Asians lead with the highest double.
  3. The first tile played can be:
    1. The lead is the player's choice. This is common in France.
    2. The title is required to be the [6-6]. This is common in Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries
  4. The tiles in the boneyard are used until:
    1. The boneyard is emptied
    2. The last two tiles must remain in the boneyard. It is a good idea to stack these two dead tiles on top of each other after the deal.
    3. Players pay for each tile drawn from the boneyard in points or chips.
    4. A player continues to draw tiles in his turn until he can play or the boneyard is empty.
    5. A player draws one tile in his turn if he cannot play; if the drawn tile can play then he does so. If not, his turn is over and his hand is bigger.

Other Draw Dominoes WWW sites

Rules for Draw Dominoes can be found on the Domino Plaza site.

Draw dominoes software and online games

MoneyGaming offers Domino Duel, an online two-player game of Draw Dominoes, All Fives or Fives and Threes for fun or money.

Game Colony offers head to head Draw Dominoes games and multi-player tournaments, which can be played free or for cash prizes.

A Draw Dominoes game which can be played locally against the computer or online is included in the Favorite Games Ltd. package.

A version of Draw Dominoes can be played online under the name Domino at the turn-based servers Yourturnmyturn.com (English), Brettspielnetz.de (German) and Jijbent.nl (Dutch).

Rubl.com offers a two-player online draw domino game for prizes.

A version of Draw Dominoes known as Donkey (Osel) can be played online at meingames.de

Playpop.com includes an online Draw Dominoes game in which playing a double gives you an extra turn.