Gather round a game-in-progress at your local pub or community center and it’s easy to understand why many people see dominoes as exclusively a four-or-more player pursuit. Yet while it may be common to play it that way, the truth is that there are countless domino games for two people that provide all the fun of a doubles game, even when it’s just the two of you.
In today’s guide, we’ve rounded up 7 of the best domino games to play with 2 people, not only outlining why we think you’ll love them as much as we do, but also offering a quick step-by-step guide so that you can try each one out for yourself.
7 Domino Games to Play for 2 People
Ages: Teens and adults
Why it’s fun: All-Fives adds an extra challenge to the classic game of Draw Dominoes, helping to keep the game interesting for more experienced players.
Objective: Score points by making the open ends of the domino layout add up to 5 or multiples of 5 (10, 15, 20 etc.). The first player to score a pre-agreed number of points (usually 100 – 200) wins the game.
How to Play All-Fives:
Similar to other point-based games like Muggins and Sniff, All-Fives is an all-time classic that uses a Double-Six Dominoes Set. Though it can prove a little complicated for younger children, adults and more experienced players will find it fully engrossing.
- The player with the highest-scoring tile goes first, placing any tile of their choosing down.
- Both players then take turns to lay down a tile, matching the numbers as in almost all dominoes games.
- If a player can’t move, he draws another domino from the pile.
- Points are scored any time the open ends add up to a multiple of 5.
- The first player to reach the agreed number of points wins the game.
An alternative version of this game is ‘All-Threes.’ The same rules apply, except open ends should add up to 3 instead of 5.
Ages: All ages
Why it’s fun: A versatile game with multiple variations, this classic draw game can be easily adapted to suit players of different ages and abilities.
Objective: Score points by making the open ends of the layout match. First to 15 points wins.
How to Play Bergen:
If you liked the idea of All-Fives but aren’t so enamored with all the adding up, you might find Bergen much more to your liking. Rather than totaling up the open ends, your goal is to simply make them match.
- Any time a player makes the open ends of the layout match, they score two points.
- For example, if the open end on the right is a 5 and the player makes the left open end a 5 too, both ends are showing a 5 and thus points are scored.
- Matching the open end with a double (say a 5 on one end and a double 5 on the other) lands 3 points.
- First to 15 wins.
Why it’s fun: Combining all of the skill and cunning of a classic card game with the sheer enjoyment of dominoes, it’s a great quick-fire game to liven things up when you’re bored of regular dominoes.
Objective: Play the highest-scoring tile and win the game.
How to Play Bingo:
Based on the card game of the same name, Bingo is unique in that each hand consists of a single tile from each player. The trick is to out-wit your opponent by playing the highest scoring tile.
- One player turns over one of the remaining tiles. The highest number on that tile becomes the trump.
- Each player then plays a single tile each.
- A winner is determined as follows
- Playing a trump tile wins
- If both players play a trump tile, the highest one wins (ie: if the trump is 5 and Player 1 has 5 + 2 and Player 2 has 5 + 3, Player 2 wins).
- If no trumps are played, the highest-numbered tile wins
- A double-blank outranks everything else and is an automatic win.
4. THE DRAW GAME
Ages: All ages
Why it’s fun: One of the simplest and most popular domino games around, draw dominoes is the foundation from which countless other classics originated.
Objective: Score points by finishing each hand with the lowest number of pips on your tiles. First player to 100 wins.
How to play The Draw Game:
Though there are countless variations on the classic game of draw dominoes, the rules below are the easiest to learn, making it a great place to start when introducing children or newcomers to the world of dominoes.
- Each player takes turns to place a tile.
- If a player can’t move, they draw a tile from the remaining pile until they can.
- Play continues until a player has played all of their tiles or the game is blocked, meaning no player can move.
- At that point, both players add up the number of pips on their tiles, and the player with the lowest total wins.
- Their points are deducted from their opponent’s total and that number is the number of points awarded to the winner.
- First player to 100 points wins.
If you’re adapting this for more than two people, you might be better off with a larger dominoes set such as a 55-tile, double-nine set.
5. STRAIGHT DOMINOES
Ages: All ages.
Why it’s fun: It’s a great beginner-friendly alternative to The Draw Game while still offering enough of a challenge to keep skilled players engaged.
Objective: Finish the game with no tiles left or with the lowest number of pips on your remaining tiles. The lowest total pips wins.
How to Play Straight Dominoes
If you missed our recent comprehensive guide to playing straight dominoes, you’ll be pleased to discover that the rules to this one are pretty straight forward:
- Gameplay follows the same rules as draw dominoes
- Players take turns in laying dominoes end-to-end with matching numbers touching
- If a player manages to use all of their tiles, they win the game.
- If the game is blocked, each player adds up the pips on their tiles. Lowest pip-count wins.
6. MEXICAN TRAIN DOMINOES
Ages: All ages, but makes for a great child-friendly game.
Why it’s fun: One of the more unique domino variations out there, Mexican Train Dominoes’ locomotive theme and game pieces add a lot of appeal for kids, while adults will appreciate the level of strategy needed to win:
Objective: Be the first player to build your train by playing all of your dominoes
How to Play Straight Dominoes
While most of the best two-player domino games require a double-six set, Mexican Train uses double-12 dominoes, though you’ll have much more fun with this one if you buy a complete Mexican Train Dominoes set that also includes the central hub and train tokens.
- Place the Double-12 Domino in the middle of the game area to serve as the train engine
- Remaining dominoes are shuffled and distributed, with each player receiving 16 dominoes
- Both players start to build a train by matching a tile to the engine piece
- They then take turns to build their train until running out of all dominoes
- Each player’s first train can only be added to by that player
- However, if they can’t move on their turn, they can create a second train from the engine.
- This second train is known as the “Mexican Train” and can be added to by any player.
- First player to use all of their tiles wins.
Ages: Older children and adults
Why it’s fun: With its innovative design and a strategy that’s different from the norm, Trio-minoes is a great way to shake things up when your regular dominoes night starts getting a little stale.
Objective: Win the game by becoming the first player to reach 100 points.
Much like Mexican Train Dominoes, playing this game means leaving your double-sixes and nines aside and buying a special Triominoes set containing all of those triangular-shaped tiles.
- Once you have that set, the game follows the same rules as traditional dominoes, albeit with the added challenge that you have to match the two numbers on the open side of a tile.
- For example, if one tile features the numbers 1,2,3, then you’ll need a tile that has either 1,2 or 2,3 or 1,3 in order to match it.
- Each round ends when the game is blocked or a player uses up all of their tiles.
- The player with the lowest remaining total wins the round, with points awarded in the same way as draw dominoes.
For a more detailed explanation to the rules and gameplay, see our complete guide to Tri-Ominos.
More Fun Two-Player Games to Enjoy
From the simplicity of straight dominoes to the uniqueness of Tri-Ominos, we’ve aimed to give you what we feel are the seven best two-player domino games for all tastes, ages, and abilities, but if you find that none of them quite hit the spot, don’t worry, they’re far from the only games out there suitable for a duo.
If you and your playing partner like the tile aspect of dominoes, you might also enjoy similar games like Azul or Bananagrams. The latter is a kid-friendly tile game that has more in common with Scrabble or Boggle than dominoes and is a perfect choice for playing with your young ones, while the former is a fun, family game all about matching tiles to create the kind of beautiful patterns that will have you wanting to play time and again.
Prefer something completely different? Conquian is a good old fashioned card game that works best with two people, while air hockey and most darts games can also ensure hours of fun when it’s just the two of you.