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Dominican Dominos

What is the best way to beat the intense afternoon heat in the Dominican Republic? Many Dominicans would say by playing a friendly game of dominos. Most people have a house with a tin roof that radiates heat all during the afternoon hours, so the domino table is usually set up outside under the shade of a large tree. This makes the game of dominos a very public event, where neighbors and friends gather round to watch the four star players.  more...


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The game is played with a set of 28 white tiles that have black dots. Each tile is divided into 2 sections and each section can have 1 to 6 dots. The domino set has all the possible combinations of dots. These tiles are laid face down and shuffled or mixed in the middle of the table. The each player takes 7 tiles. The players take turns adding tiles to a snake-like formation in the center of the domino table going counter-clockwise. Tiles can be added to either end of the domino “snake”. The object of the game is to be the first to use up all your tiles by connecting them to a tile with the same number of dots in the middle of the table.

The four players are divided into 2 teams and are seated across from their partner. Each Dominican usually has their favorite partner, who they have played with for years and have developed a close relationship with. Long time partners even have gestures and facial expressions that serve as hints, so their partner knows which tile to play next. Some say the silly conversations, the loud arguments and the slamming of the tiles are all just a ruse to disguise all of the subtle communications between partners.

If you decide to participate in a game of Dominican Dominoes during your next trip, it’s smart to arrange your tiles in to sets. Look at your tiles and determine what number you have the most of and organize the tiles with this number in ascending order. This way when it’s your turn you will be able to find the tile you need quickly.

Another good tip is to pay attention to the tiles that have been played and compare them to the tiles you have in your hand. There are six tiles of each set, so by subtracting the amount of tiles from that set that been played and the amount of tiles from that set that you have an your hand, you will be able to calculate how many of tiles from that set are in the hands of the other players. When a player passes (or is unable to play during that round) you can use the process of elimination to figure out what tiles each player has left in their hands.

For example, the first tile played is the double six, so right off the bat you know that there are only five tiles left with six dots. Now you can look at your own tiles to see how many sixes you have. Let’s say you have four tiles with six dots, now you know that there is only one more from this set in the hands of one of the other players.

A common strategy is to use all of the tiles with high dot combinations first, because at the end of the game the dots on the tiles from the losing team are added up and awarded as points to the winning team.

Dominos are such a deep rooted tradition in the Dominican culture that in many homes you can find a special table designed especially for playing dominos. The table is perfectly square and has a ridge on each side for each player to set up their dominos on. Most domino tables come with a hole in each corner to use as cup holders, since nothing compliments a game of dominos better than a cold beer or some rum over ice. Even if they don’t have a table, you can see people playing dominos on a piece of wood balanced on the players laps.

Dominos is the ideal way to mingle with the Dominican culture and while away the hottest hours of the day. Why not give it a try during your visit to the Dominican Republic?

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