Playing Smart: Basic Strategies for Dominoes Beginners

Dominoes, a game that combines skill, strategy, and a dash of luck, is a timeless classic enjoyed by players of all ages. If you’re new to the world of dominoes, getting a handle on the basic strategies can significantly enhance your gameplay and give you an edge in your matches. In this guide, we’ll introduce simple yet effective strategies that beginners can employ to start playing smart. From blocking opponents to maintaining tile balance, these strategies will help you develop your skills and enjoy the game to the fullest.

Strategy 1: Block Your Opponents

Blocking is a fundamental strategy in dominoes that involves placing tiles strategically to impede your opponents’ progress. Here’s how to use this tactic effectively:

  • Observation is Key: Pay attention to the tiles your opponents play and the numbers on the open ends. Look for opportunities to place tiles that will disrupt their plans.
  • Blocking Doubles: Doubles, especially those with high pips like the double-six, can be powerful blocking tools. If an opponent needs a specific number to continue their chain, play a double with that number to thwart their progress.
  • Use Blanks Wisely: Tiles with no pips on one end, often called blanks, can serve as wildcards. You can use blanks to block your opponents by matching them with the numbers they need.
  • Be Strategic: Don’t block haphazardly. Think ahead and consider how your moves will impact the overall gameplay. Sometimes, it’s better to hold off on blocking until a more critical moment.

Strategy 2: Maintain Tile Balance

Tile balance is a crucial aspect of dominoes strategy. It involves managing the distribution of your tiles to maximize your options. Here’s how to maintain tile balance:

  • Plan Your Plays: Consider the numbers on your tiles and aim to maintain a balanced set. If you have an abundance of tiles with certain numbers, be mindful of how you use them.
  • Save High Doubles: High doubles, such as the double-six, are valuable for both blocking and scoring points. Holding onto them until the right moment can be a strategic move.
  • Empty Your Hand: The ultimate goal in many domino games is to be the first player to empty your hand. Aim to achieve this by making strategic plays that help you get rid of your tiles.
  • Watch for the Boneyard: The boneyard is a pile of unused tiles that you can draw from if you can’t make a play. Consider the boneyard as a potential source for balancing your tiles.

Strategy 3: Creating Chains

Creating chains is a fundamental strategy in dominoes that involves extending the sequence of matching tiles on the table. Here’s how to create chains effectively:

  • Connect Open Ends: Look for opportunities to connect open ends on the table with your tiles. Building longer chains can open up more play possibilities.
  • Use Doubles for Chains: Doubles can serve as the anchor points for chains. Playing a double tile can enable you to build chains in multiple directions.
  • Anticipate Chain Reactions: Be aware of how your plays can set off chain reactions. Sometimes, a single move can lead to several consecutive plays.
  • Think Ahead: As you create chains, think several moves ahead. Consider how your plays will affect the layout of the tiles and your opponents’ options.

Strategy 4: Strategic Use of Doubles

Doubles, with the same number of pips on both ends, are unique tiles in dominoes that can be used strategically in various ways:

  • Starting with a Double: In many variations, the player with the highest double (e.g., the double-six) goes first. Using a double as your opening move can set the tone for the game.
  • Blocking with Doubles: Doubles can be used to block opponents by matching the numbers they need to continue their chains.
  • Building Chains: Doubles can serve as the starting point for building chains of matching tiles. Playing a double can lead to extensive chains and open up more play options.
  • Strategic Timing: Consider the timing of when to play your doubles. Using them too early may limit your options later in the game, so plan their use carefully.

Strategy 5: Practice and Learn from Experience

The most valuable strategy for beginners is practice. The more you play, the more you’ll understand the nuances of dominoes and develop your own strategies. Here are some additional tips for learning from experience:

  • Play with Experienced Players: Playing with experienced players can help you pick up strategies and techniques.
  • Analyze Your Games: After each game, review your plays and consider what you could have done differently. Learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of improving.
  • Explore Different Variations: There are numerous domino variations with unique rules and strategies. Experiment with different versions to broaden your skills.
  • Stay Patient: Learning the art of dominoes takes time. Be patient with yourself as you build your skills and develop your strategies.


Dominoes is a game of skill, strategy, and observation, and these basic strategies can help beginners play smart and enjoy the game more effectively. Whether you’re blocking opponents, maintaining tile balance, creating chains, using doubles strategically, or simply learning from experience, you’ll find that mastering dominoes is an enjoyable journey filled with exciting gameplay and endless opportunities for improvement. So, gather your tiles, practice your strategies, and embark on your path to becoming a dominoes pro. Happy playing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *