Most people learn to play dominoes as kids, taught by relatives at cookouts, family reunions, and holiday parties. Others learn from friends on road trips or in the dull parts of backyard parties and friendly get-togethers. Here is All About Playing Dominoes for Money.
Dominoes is an informal game with a lot of variety. It’s also a great vehicle for wagers, with clear winners and losers and a skill element to keep things interesting over many rounds of play.
In this post you will learn types of games, how to play, and how to wager real money on your games.
Types of Dominoes Games
You can categorize every version of dominoes as one of three types of games, and these categories mostly have to do with how you score the points.
Here’s a look at each of the three categories of dominoes games:
1. Blocking Games
These games are the most basic form of dominoes and generally ask players to match their hand of tiles to a predetermined layout. The object is to get rid of your dominoes before your opponent. You get scores by getting rid of all of your playing tiles and earn points equal to the pips in your opponents’ remaining hand.
2. Drawing Games
Such games start out as blocking games but include a crucial rule difference that separates them. In a drawing game, players cannot pass until the boneyard is empty or very nearly empty.
3. Scoring Games
These games are all those in which players score points by performing certain configurations of pips or making specific types of moves. The purpose of these games isn’t to block your opponent or force them to draw a backbreaking number of pips; it’s to play tiles in such a way that you score points during gameplay.
Three Ways to Play Dominoes
As dominoes are just tiles games, props for various ways to play, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the game and consider it as a whole. That’s not great because that’s kind of the whole point of this blog.
1 – Block Dominoes
Often called bones or just plain old “dominoes,” is the dominant form of the game played informally at parties or other gatherings. This is generally the game you see being played in saloons and jails in the old movies, and it’s a kind of precursor to tons of other dominoes variations. Most variants of dominoes follow the template of the block.
Here’s how it works
The dominoes are shuffled facedown, and each player (up to four per game) draws seven tiles and keeps them hidden from the other players. If only two or three players are playing, the leftover dominoes turn into a pile known as the boneyard.
Lead starts with the double-six, and players take turns laying tiles onto the open ends of the layout, the same number to the same number. Doubles are often placed horizontally, and play can continue off these tiles in any open direction.
The purpose of most games of the block is to form combinations of pip totals in units of 5 – 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. Players score by creating pip totals in these five-pip chunks, and by being the first to relieve themselves of their stack – they then earn the pip total remaining in their opponents’ hand.
While scoring variations and house rules abound, this is the basic pattern for folk dominoes games and by far the most common way the game that people play in North America.
2 – Texas 42 Dominoes
This one’s nothing like block or fives and threes – the game it’s most similar to is whist. A trick-taking game, Texas 42 is the product of two young Texans.
Four players play Texas 42 in two teams of two. Partners sit across from one another. Your object is to be the first team to score seven marks (or less commonly 250 points). It’s a bidding game where one team attempts to win a specific number of tricks while the other team attempts to disrupt them.
Texas 42 is an insular game, loaded with tradition and jargon and beloved by Texans and people all over the American south. Check it out more in detail below.
Playing Dominoes for Money
As dominoes is a type of folk game of skill, played at family reunions or on long bus trips during your school days, the ways to play it for real money bets are as many and varied as you can imagine.
It’s easy to imagine someone playing a game of Texas 42 for $5 a mark, hoping to put a lot of distance between themselves and their opponent to increase the point differential and, therefore, the profit.
It’s also easy to imagine a simple game of street bones played along those same lines – say $1 per point, with payouts taking place after each round or after a set number of rounds.
Online dominoes for real money are a big deal these days, allowing for tournament play, individual head-to-head cash games, and even free play to try and hone your skills. In these formats, the most common way to play for cash is heads-up, in which each player pays an ante, and the winner takes all.
3 – Fives and Threes
This is by far the most common dominoes game in the UK and most of Europe.
Play moves a lot like a standard game of block dominoes, but points are scored a little differently. Instead of scoring in units of five, players can also score for combinations of three, and players can score for multiple combinations of the two. Games move fast because of additional scoring and tend to play to 31, 61, or 121 points.
Is Playing Dominoes for Money Legal?
In most cases, playing dominoes for money is legal.
Even in states where this kind of gambling may not be explicitly legal, if you set your game up properly and follow a few basic rules, no one can catch you, mostly because nobody outside of your game will even know what you’re doing.
Obviously, in those states, betting on dominoes means breaking the law, and if you do it in public, you run the risk of getting caught and prosecuted for illegal gambling.
However, in most parts of the United States, betting on the results of a private game of dominoes is legal, provided the game takes place in private, the host doesn’t profit from hosting the game, and everyone involved is of general legal gambling age.
Playing dominoes for money is an untraditional way to add an element of risk and thrill to that same-old boring family game of Texas 42.
In most cases, betting on the outcome of dominoes is totally legal. Even if you live in one of the two dozen or so US states that outlaws social gambling, you’re unlikely to get caught or prosecuted for betting $20 on the outcome of a game of dominoes between you and your awkward third cousin.