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Sniff Domino Game Rules and Directions

This is a fun domino game to play with kids. It has simple rules and goes relatively quickly. You can play this game with little kids. However, you would need to help the young player with the math involved.

Domino Game Sniff

Kids playing Domino Game Sniff

Come see our 10 Great Domino Games for Children Blog for more Domino Game Ideas.


  • A point- type domino game
  • Two to Four Players using a double-six domino set but large sets can be used to accommodate more players.
  • We use a cribbage board to keep track of scores.
  • Domino Racks are a perfect addition for this game. Though not required, they make play much easier for little ones and keep your dominoes upright when the table gets bumped. The racks in the pictures can be found HERE.


  1. The dominoes are placed face down and “shuffled”
  2. Next, each player draws tiles
    • 2 players – 7 tiles each
    • 3 players – 6 tiles each
    • 4 players – 5 tiles each
  3. Any remaining tiles become the “boneyard” and may be drawn as play continues.
  4. The first player sets down a domino to start play. It doesn’t have to be a double. However, The first double played is the only double that can be played off of all four sides.  (This is known as the “sniff” or spinner ). No other double that is played is a sniff after the first.
  5. Players in turn lay tiles on the open ends of the domino layout. Domino ends must connect with a matching number of pips (that is the domino term for the dots on the domino) Any player who does not hold a tile in his hand with the correct number of pips, therefore, cannot make the next play, must either pass or take a domino from the boneyard.
  6.  Players score when they play a tile on the layout and the pips on all the open ends add up and equal a multiple of 5. Example: 1 point is earned if total is 5; 2 points are earned if total is 10; 3 points are earned if the total is 15…. etc..
  7. The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all the dominoes in your hand and then yell “Domino!”. If play is blocked and no player can add a tile to the layout then the game is over. The winner of the round is the player that has dominoed or the player with the least amount of pips remaining. The winner then adds the amount of pips in his/her opponents hands minus the amount of pips in their own hand. Round this number to the nearest multiple of 5 and then divide that total by five for the points earned.
  8. Continue playing rounds until someone earns 20 points (or whatever point goal you set at the beginning.)

Some Fun Domino Vocabulary (Cause it is just more fun to call them pips) 

Pips – The name for the dots on the dominoes.

Spinner – A double in the layout which may played on both sides and both ends. Each domino game has a rule about spinners: a) There are no spinners; b) Only the first double played is a spinner; or, c) All doubles are spinners.

Boneyard – The tiles that are purposely not drawn at the beginning of the game, so that players can draw from the boneyard during the game when they do not hold a playable tile in their hand. If tiles are all distributed in the game except for a pile of “extras” that can’t be evenly distributed among the players, this pile of dominoes are referred to as “widows”.

Arm- A row of dominoes in a straight line in the layout of a matching or scoring game.

Come see our 10 Great Domino Games for Children Blog for more Domino Game Ideas.

Domino Holders at Lady and the Carpenter

Card Holders (Set of 2)