The Art of Counting Tiles: Advanced Dominoes Probability


Dominoes, a classic game of strategy, is not merely about matching tiles. It’s also about making calculated decisions based on the probabilities and the tiles in play. In this article, we will explore advanced probability and tile-counting techniques that can empower experienced players to make more informed decisions and gain a significant edge in dominoes.

The Fundamentals of Dominoes Probability

Understanding probability in dominoes is the key to strategic decision-making. At its core, dominoes probability involves calculating the likelihood of drawing specific tiles from the boneyard or determining the chances of opponents holding particular tiles based on what has been played. The more advanced your understanding of probability, the better you can plan your moves and predict your opponents’ strategies.

Calculating the Probability of Drawing Specific Tiles

One of the primary applications of probability in dominoes is estimating the chances of drawing particular tiles from the boneyard. This calculation can influence your decisions, such as whether to pass, draw, or play a tile. To calculate the probability, follow these steps:

  1. Count the Tiles in Play: Start by counting the total number of tiles already in play. This includes those on the board and those held by players, including your own tiles.
  2. Determine the Number of Tiles in the Boneyard: Subtract the total number of tiles in play from the standard set of 28 dominoes to find the number of tiles in the boneyard.
  3. Count the Unseen Tiles: Now, count the number of tiles you want to draw from the boneyard. If you’re looking for specific doubles or a certain combination, determine how many of those tiles are still unplayed and unseen.
  4. Calculate the Probability: Divide the number of unseen tiles you need by the total number of tiles in the boneyard. This will give you the probability of drawing the desired tile or combination on your next draw.

Estimating Opponents’ Tiles Using Probability

In addition to calculating the probability of drawing tiles, experienced players often use probability to estimate the tiles held by their opponents. This estimation is based on the tiles played and the tiles they themselves hold. The process involves:

  1. Observing Played Tiles: Pay close attention to the tiles that have been played by your opponents and those on the board. This will provide clues about the types of tiles your opponents might be holding.
  2. Considering the Probabilities: Using the tiles played and those in your hand, calculate the probability of your opponents holding certain tiles. If a double six has been played, and you hold the other double six, it’s unlikely your opponents have it.
  3. Revising Estimates as the Game Progresses: As more tiles are played and you gain new information, revise your estimates accordingly. Your initial estimations may change as the game unfolds.

Advanced Probability Strategies

To take your dominoes probability skills to the next level, consider implementing advanced strategies:

  1. Position Your Tiles to Block Opponents’ Moves: If you estimate that an opponent needs a specific tile to make a play, consider positioning your tiles to block their move. This forces them to draw or skip their turn, potentially disrupting their strategy.
  2. Create Bait: Use your knowledge of probability to create “bait” moves. For example, if you know your opponent needs a certain tile, you can play a tile that suggests you have the desired tile. This might tempt your opponent to make a risky move that plays into your hands.
  3. Minimize the Chances of Opponents Blocking Your Moves: Conversely, you should be cautious about playing into your opponents’ hands. Consider the likelihood of your opponents having the tiles that would allow them to block your future plays.
  4. Combine Probability with Blocking and Scoring Strategies: Effective dominoes gameplay involves combining probability calculations with blocking and scoring strategies. By integrating these elements, you can create a formidable and well-rounded approach to the game.


In the world of dominoes, advanced probability and tile-counting techniques are the keys to making more informed and strategic decisions. By understanding the likelihood of drawing specific tiles, estimating your opponents’ holdings, and implementing advanced probability strategies, you can gain a significant advantage in the game. So, the next time you’re engaged in a game of dominoes, remember that the art of counting tiles is not just about chance—it’s about calculated strategy and skill.

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