What is Cuban Dominoes?
The Cuban Dominoes game is a classic pastime from Cuba, and it is a game with unique rules and strategy. Unlike most variants of dominoes, Cuban Dominoes is a game about teamwork and strategy.
How to play Cuban Dominoes?
Cuban Dominoes only requires a set of double-9 dominoes to play. This set consists of 55-pieces in total. In this guide, we will focus on the double-9 variant. However, double-six sets are also used in certain places.
This game is designed to be played by 4-players, in teams of 2.
Before starting the Cuban Dominoes game, all pieces are placed face-down and shuffled. Each player then draws 10 tiles each, leaving 15 tiles aside. The extra tiles will not be used for the rest of the game. Each player is only allowed to view their own hand of 10.
The turn order is determined using a draw from the extra pile. Each player draws a single tile, and the person getting the highest valued tile goes first. These 4 tiles are then set aside, and no longer used throughout the round.
The player who goes first can play any tile at the centre of the board. Due to the scoring system, it is natural to start with the tile of the highest value.
On the first round, every player draws a tile from the boneyard, revealing it to all other players. The player drawing the largest value goes first.
On each turn, players need to match tiles via the dots of each tile. Since each domino has 2 sides, matching requires 2 tiles to have a similar value on each side. In Cuban Dominoes, there are only 2 ends for each domino. Examples of matches are shown below.
This is an example of a match, both tiles share a side with a value of 2.
This is a match made using a double, and this is the preferred method of placement.
If a player is unable to make a match from his/her hand, that player passes their turn.
Turn order follows in a counter clockwise order.
Double tiles are tiles with 2 of the same value. Unlike other domino games, they do not have a special function. However, it is preferable to place doubles perpendicularly, making a shape similar to a “T”.
The round ends once a player is able to play all tiles from their hand. If all players are unable to make a match, indicated by all players making a pass, the round also ends. The scores are then calculated for each team.
The games generally end once a point threshold is reached. This can be set to be 100, 150 or 200, though 150 points is the most common.
The Cuban Dominoes rules are:
- All tiles are placed face-down and shuffled.
- Each player draws 10 tiles each, and the remaining tiles are set aside.
- To determine who goes first, each player draws one tile from the extras. The player with the highest value begins.
- Each player plays a tile to match with tiles on the board.
- The turns rotate counter clockwise.
- The round ends when one player clears all tiles from their hand.
- If no player can make plays, then the round ends.
The goal in Cuban Dominoes is to reach the score threshold as fast as possible. Cuban Dominoes scoring is done based on the remaining tiles once a round ends. Since Cuban Dominoes is a team-based game, scores are calculated per team. At the end of each round, scores are summed up based on the remaining dots in hand. An example hand and score is shown below.
This hand has a total of 15 dots, and hence counts as 15 points.
Scores are awarded to the opposing team. As such, it is natural for the winning team to give the opposing team less points.
The key in Cuban Dominoes is to lock out other players from making certain moves, though it should be noted that unlike other domino games, Cuban Dominoes is a team-based game, locking out might also affect your teammate. Hence, it is important to focus on counting tiles.
As the above example shows, playing a double limits the possibilities for other players, since they must use tiles with a 6 to do matching. In the case of a double-1 tile, or any low-valued tile, one can completely lock out a path.
- The main aspect of Cuban Dominoes strategy is to count tiles, since there are a limited amount of tiles, that means you can estimate what tiles the other players have.
- Play out larger-valued tiles first, since higher-valued tiles result in higher scores for your opponent if you lose.
- If you know your teammate has limited plays, it might be worth passing even if you have playable tiles.
- Once you play a number, it is worth continuing to play that number, forcing your opponent to deplete their tiles of that number.
Frequently Asked Questions
Must I use the double-9 sets when playing Cuban Dominoes?
Any set can be used, but the double-9 sets are the most common. For double-6 sets, each player should start with 6 tiles instead.
How many rounds does each game of Cuban Dominoes last
Depending on the point threshold, a game of Cuban Dominoes continues until a team obtains the necessary points to win.
Can a game of Cuban Dominoes end in a draw?
If all 4 players pass their turn, the round ends since no one can make a play. However, the points are still calculated as if all players have lost, meaning the game still progresses as usual.
How do I win in Cuban Dominoes?
When playing Cuban Dominoes, the main thing to look out for are potential tells. If you are aware of the potential remaining tiles, then you can play around your opponents and assist your teammate.