Domino games


Bingo gets its name from the card game Bingo or Sixty-six, and has nothing to do with the popular lottery game played with cards that hold a grid of numbers. It is related to Bezique and was popular at the end of the 19th century. This is a trick taking card game adapted to dominoes, but it is fairly complex in itself.


The game uses a double six domino set, two players and a cribbage board, chips or pad for scoring.

The Deal

The lead for the first hand is picked by drawing a tile or other method. Afterwards, the lead alternates between the two players.

Each player gets a hand of seven tiles, and then the second player turns one tile in the bone yard face up. The high end of this tile determines the trump for this hand. This tile stays face up for the rest of the hand.

The Play

The game is played for tricks, like a card game. The first player leads and the second is under no obligation to follow suit until one of the players "closes the game", which will be explained shortly, or the boneyard is empty.

A trick is won by:

  1. Playing the [0-0] tile, which is called the Bingo. This tile always beats everything else.
  2. Any trump tile beats any non-trump tile. A higher trump beats a lower trump. The double of the trump suit is the highest tile in the deck.
  3. Playing a higher tile in the same suit. This rule also applies to playing a higher trump tile.
  4. If neither tile is a trump, then the tile with the highest number of pips wins the trick.
  5. If neither tile is a trump and both tiles have the same number of pips, then the first tile played wins the trick.

After each trick the winner draws a replacement tile from the boneyard and leads the next trick. You cannot draw the face up tile that determined trump. If the boneyard is reduced to two tiles (the face up tile and the last face down tile), the face up tile goes to the winner of the last trick in the game and the other player gets the face down tile.

Closing a game

When one player believes that he can score 70 or more points without drawing tiles from the boneyard, he announces that he is closing the game and turns the face tile in the boneyard face down. Neither player can draw from the boneyard at this point.

From this trick until the rest of the game, the players are obligated to follow fixed rules of play.

  1. If a trump is lead, then you must play a trump if possible.
  2. If a trump is lead and you have no trumps, you may play any tile you wish.
  3. If a non-trump is lead, then you must play a tile that matched the higher end of the tile which was lead.
  4. If a non-trump is lead and you cannot play a tile that matches the higher end of the tile which was lead, then you must play a tile that matched the lower end of the tile which was lead.
  5. If none of the preceding four rules applies, then you may play any tile in your hand.

If a player closes a game but fails to make 70 points for the rubber, both players get the points they made during the hand, but his opponent gets two rubbers in addition.


The game is played for rubbers (also called games points or sets in some sources). A player scores a rubber when he has made another 70 points, so there is no fixed number of hands needed to score a rubber. As an aside, in the card game Sixty-six, the numbers of points needed for a rubber was 66, and hence the name of that game. The game is played for seven rubbers. Points from tricks are scored at the end of each hand, but the other points are scored as they are called out by the player.

Authors are not clear on how to count points to make rubbers, so I will present a system based on the points of agreement found in several of the references.

Points are scored by taking tricks with (1) special tiles and (2) tiles in the trump suit. The special tiles are:

Generally speaking, the blank count 7 points each on the scoring tiles.

  1. The double of Trumps is always worth 28 points, no matter what the suit.
  2. Doubles which are not trump are worth the total of their pips.
  3. All other trumps are worth the total of their pips
  4. A tile is counted only once as a trump, double or special tile. For example, if one was the trump suit, then the non-trump doubles would be worth a total of 40 points and the Bingo would 14 points:
      [0-0] = 14
      [2-2] = 4
      [3-3] = 6
      [4-4] = 8
      [5-5] = 10
      [6-6] = 12

    The trumps would be worth a total of 61 points

      [1-0] = 8
      [1-1] = 28
      [1-2] = 3
      [1-3] = 4
      [1-4] = 5
      [1-5] = 6
      [1-6] = 7

    The special tiles would be 20 points, since they are not part of the trump suit.

      [0-3] = 10
      [4-6] = 10

Here is a table of the possible points for each trump suit:

You can also score points during play by showing doubles. To this the player must play one double on the trick and win the trick. If he does not win the trick, he cannot score for the doubles in his hand. He then collects the trick, announces the number of doubles he wishes to score, and expose the other double(s) in his hand. After the points are recorded, the unplayed double(s) are returned to his hand.

If one of the doubles is the Bingo, then add another 10 points to the score in the above table (this means that an invincible is always worth 210 points).

There is disagreement among the authors as to whether the Emperor and the Invincible give you rubbers directly or first give you points. Since these hands are very rare and the net effect is going to be the same, it is a minor point.

  1. If a player reaches 70 after his opponent has 30 or more points, he gets one rubber. Some authors say 20 points instead.
  2. If a player reaches 70 before his opponent reaches 30 points, he gets two rubbers. Some authors say 20 points instead.
  3. If a player reaches 70 before his opponent has any score, he gets three rubbers.
  4. If a player wins the double trump with the Bingo, he gets one rubber.
  5. If one player closes a game, but fails to make 70 points for the rubber, then both players get the points they made during the hand, but the opponent of the failed closer gets two rubbers in addition.


Gyles Brandreth's THE WORLD'S BEST INDOOR GAMES gives a set of rules which are the same as those given here.

Variant One

Another version of the game appeared in Fredrick Berndt's THE DOMINO BOOK (Bantam Books; ISBN 0-84-07601-4; 1975). It is simpler than the traditional scoring system, has fewer points per hand to score and tends to make the choice of trumps less important because the total scores possible are closer for all trumps.

Brendt's scoring system is simple, but not really good. The lack of special tiles is a radical departure from the original game. The zero trump game can occur only when the Bingo is drawn from the boneyard, making it both the rarest and the lowest scoring game, which is counter-intuitive. Berndt seems to be attempting to stay closer to the original card game of Sixty-six.

The Traditional system gives higher scores and thus can be played faster than Berndt's version of the game. But the scoring is so different that they are really two different games.

The play is the same, but the scoring is done with these rules:

  1. Special tiles: There are no points for the [4-6] or [0-3] tiles.
  2. Trumps: Trumps score only the number of pips on their non-trump end. This means that a suit trump is always worth the non-suit ends (0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6) = 21 plus the suit number.

    This leads to a table of possible point which looks like this:


  3. Doubles:
    1. You can only expose one double in play and you score 3 points for it. There are no points for Kings, Emperors or Invincible.
    2. The double of trumps counts the total of its pips.
    3. Non-trump doubles are 3 point each

Berndt also uses 66 points as the score to receive a rubber, instead of 70 points. He gives no bonuses for arriving at 70 points before your opponent.