If you’re looking for a game that is easy to pick up and play but still loaded with strategy, dominoes is worth a look. It takes all of five minute to get the hang of the basic idea, but that does not make it a shallow game. The funny thing about dominoes is that the more you play, the more you realize just how much you don’t know. There’s quite a bit of subtle strategy that only becomes apparent with experience.
Dominoes is most definitely not a game of chance like so many other betting games. Yes, the first “deal” of the bones comes down to luck, but what’s more important than what you get is what you do with what you get.
The only truly annoying thing about dominoes is the severe lack of people to play with. It may be different where you live, but where I live, nobody plays the game. That’s why basically all of my experience comes from playing games online with people around the world. Dominoes betting sites are a godsend for those of us who lack any serious competition.
One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the results that appear when you search for dominoes betting sites are junk. It’s hard to find a decent place to play online – especially if you have any intention of playing for real money. A lot of the sites that that come up in searches are badly outdated, void of active players and who knows what kind of security standards they keep.
Strangely, the best dominoes sites are hidden gems. My number one recommendation is a large betting site that has a little skill games section you rarely hear about. We previously also recommended a website called DominoChamp.com, but they have since closed for business.
A website called Games4Money.com is one of the first results you will find if you search online for real money dominoes. The site has been around since at least 2003 and is based out of Costa Rica. We have personally never played at Games4Money because the site appears on multiple blacklists according to other reviewers, so buyer beware.
The fact that they are headquartered in Costa Rica means they operate out of a jurisdiction that is known for lax regulatory controls. Not all gaming sites located in Costa Rica are rogue, but some most definitely are.
Again, we are not stating it is a 100% fact that Games4Money is a rogue operator. We are only reporting what we have read from other users on the internet. We just wanted to make sure to note this caveat in case you decide to go online and stumble across the site on your own. Proceed with caution.
How to Play Online Dominoes
The most common form of dominoes played online is called All Fives. This is the format in which points are earned both during gameplay and at the end of the round. The player with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner of the round. Multiple rounds are played until one person reaches the designated points total. Whoever reaches that number of points first wins the overall game and any money wagered.
Beginning the Game
Each game begins with each player drawing 7 dominoes at random from the pile. When played online, the computer automatically shuffles and deals dominoes to each player. The remaining dominoes are set aside facedown to form the boneyard.
The player with the highest double (called a “spinner”) plays that double and then the players take turns making their plays after that.
If nobody has a double, there are two ways to proceed. One option is to reshuffle all the dominoes and have the players draw new hands. The other option is to simply begin the game with the highest domino even if it’s not a double.
Players take turns playing one domino at a time. Each player may play one matching domino at either end of the line. The domino must match the end-piece to which it is attached. For example, if the end piece shows 3 dots (or “pips”), the domino attached to that end must also have 3 pips on at least one side.
Play continues alternating between players, with each player placing one domino at either end of the line. Dominoes are played horizontally, but you may notice sometimes that the line tends to play vertically in each direction. The only reason for that is to keep the line from stretching off the ends of the play area.
If a player cannot make a move during his turn due to a lack of matching dominoes, he or she must draw dominoes from the boneyard until a play becomes available. If the boneyard runs out, the player’s turn is skipped.
In All Fives, players earn points whenever they play dominoes such that the pips on the ends of the lines tally up to a multiple of 5. For example, if the end tile on one arm has 4 pips and you play a tile with 6 pips on the far end, the tally count becomes 10. You get 10 points for doing so. If you play a tile such that the pips add up to 15, you earn 15 points.
Dominoes sites keep a running track of the “board count” displayed at all times for your convenience. As you and your opponent lay dominoes, the board count is updated to reflect the new total. One of your goals when playing is to lay dominoes that result in the board count landing on a multiple of 5.
End of the Round
If both players are unable to play tiles and the boneyard is out, the game is considered “blocked” and the round comes to an end. The other way a round may come to an end is when one player plays his or her last tile. This person who plays his last domino is said to have “dominoed.”
If the round ends due to the game becoming blocked, the person with lowest pip total of remaining dominoes in his hand is declared the winner of the round. The other person would add up the total number of pips on his remaining dominoes and that amount would be added to the winner’s score, minus any pips remaining in the winner’s hand.
If the round ends due to someone playing his last tile, that person earns a total number of points equal to the number of pips remaining in the loser’s hand. For example, if the loser has 2 dominoes remaining that consist of 2-4 and 5-5, a total of 16 points would go to the winner.
About Those Spinners
Remember, spinners are the dominoes that have an equal number of pips on each side. Spinners are treated differently depending on where you play. Most betting sites allow you to build off the original spinner in 4 directions. Spinners that are played later in the game are only built upon horizontally.
For the purposes of tallying the board total, both ends of the original spinner are included in the points tally. The pips on the original spinner and all spinners played later are no longer included in the total once dominoes have been played on both sides of the spinner.
Winning the Game
Online dominoes is most often played to a certain points total such as 150 or 250 points. The game comes to an end as soon as one player reaches that total. The first player to reach the designated points total is declared the winner of the game.