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Strategy for Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train is a fun dominos game.
domino effect - dominos isolated on the white image by Elnur from Fotolia.com

The game of Mexican Train, a popular domino game, is easy to learn and play. However, learning to consistently win at Mexican Train is a much more difficult task. It involves planning and organizing dominoes before play. By learning key strategies, you can play smarter, use dominoes with discretion and outwit your opponents.

The Game

Mexican Train requires 2 or more players. All the dominoes are placed face down on the table, and each player draws several dominoes. For 4 players, every player draws 10. The player with the highest double domino puts that domino in the middle of the table, starting the train. For the first round, each player attaches all the dominoes he can connect on to the train. For subsequent rounds, every player plays one domino; if a player is unable, she must draw a domino from the collection of dominoes in the middle, and if still unable to play, she must put her playing piece up on her last domino to signify her train is open. Anyone can play on that until she is able to play on her own. The winner is the first player without any dominoes.


Since the object of the game is to relinquish as many dominoes as quick as possible, spend time working on your first move. You get to place as many dominoes out as you can, so ensure you have the best possible move. You also want to keep the number and connection of dominoes in your hand a secret from the other players, so do not put all the dominoes in a line.

When you have a choice of what domino to play, take the other players into consideration. Who is winning, and how do you stop him from getting rid of more dominoes? For instance, if you can play a double or a 5-2 domino, play the one that will most likely leave your opponent searching for more dominoes, placing his playing piece on top of his train. This is a great way to immobilize a player.

Pay attention to how the game is scored. Some versions award the winning title to the one who finishes first. Other versions tabulate the score and award a winning title to the lowest scorer. Once you determine how the game is scored, play accordingly. For games where the lowest scorer wins, spend time unloading your higher numbered dominoes. Perhaps you have several dominoes left at the end; if they are all low numbers, you might beat an opponent with only one domino remaining.

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