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Jamaican Dominoes

My first lesson in Jamaican dominoes

I’m a little ashamed to say that in 10 years of travel to Jamaica I have never taken the time to learn how to play dominoes the way they do. I’ve played several different versions back home, including Mexican Train which is a riot. But not Jamaican dominoes…..and I claim to know the country!

jamaican dominoes

One evening I was sitting at Chicken Lavish in Negril with a couple of girlfriends having dinner. It was late in the evening and we were the only ones in the place besides a table next to us where some locals were minding their business and playing dominoes. This is an ultra-common thing to see in Jamaica no matter which restaurant or bar you end up at.

I turned around in my chair to watch and after a while they noticed I was watching. If you’ve ever watched or played the game in Jamaica you would know it’s a fast and emotional game. Players slap their domino tiles hard on the table and there’s always loud chatter going on. It’s very fun to watch. They invited me to join them and I admitted I didn’t know enough about the game to join them, I didn’t want to slow down their flow so I declined the offer. But these guys were really cool and assured me it’s totally okay to join and they would slow down and teach me. So….I moved over to their table and we started.

My friend Brenda decided it would be fun to film so here it is. I still laugh when I watch this video back because I’m so lame! I can’t even hold all the tiles in my hand so I have them spread out on my lap too. Not even aware of the fact that I’m not hiding my tiles very well and anyone could look at them. This was a lot of fun though, and I’m grateful for their patience!

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  1. This is so cool! I would probably be terrible haha. Thanks for posting the video, it’s really cool to actually watch what you’re talking about!

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  2. Thanks Christina. LOL I WAS terrible at it but these guys were very patient and fun. I’m sure they talked shit about me after I left hahaha

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  3. HAHA! At least you had fun doing it!

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  4. Yup! Everything is fun there! Even the chaotic moments hahaha.

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  5. Nice video Kristi, and educational. I had never heard of Mexican Train dominoes before (Wikipedia explained it to me).

    Anyway from the video, I think you may have been left thinking that there is some special rule in Jamaican style dominoes that allows a player to play two dominoes at once under some special and mysterious circumstances. Nutten no go so.

    Just in case, you want to play again, here is a long (sorry about that) explanation of why that player (the guy to your left) played both dominoes at once.

    In the game you were playing, when the guy had two dominoes left he was certain to win (because nobody could stop him from playing his last two dominoes and nobody could win before he did), so rather than playing out the game and wasting everybody’s time, he just put both dominoes down at once (in a real game he would probably have jumped up and banged his two dominoes down on the table).

    Nobody could stop him from playing his last two dominoes because there was a five on one end of the board and a three on the other end, and he had the last five and the last three (that’s what the guys meant by “hard ends”).

    Once he played on one end, he would have only one dominoe left and would win when his turn came around again, so unless someone had only one dominoe they could not win before he did. In the game everybody had more than one dominoe left so nobody could win before he did.

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  6. First of all WELCOME BACK Stew. Long time mi don’t hear from you!
    Second – thanks for explaining that. It totally makes sense the way you explain it. The way he explained it left me thinking it was some kind of rule when everyone has 2 left. I’m still foggy on the game even though it’s pretty straight forward but every game has little rules that only experienced players remember. Like I play Crib a lot with my son as well but always forget the little rules like the Jack on the cut and such.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed! And good to see and hear from you again! :-)

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  7. Thanks for your welcome, I’m glad to be back!. I was hoping to just sneak back without you noticing, but that didn’t work, sigh.

    Crib? Jack on the cut? Ok, now you’re just showing off.

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  8. LOL you don’t know crib?? Okay then that’s cool I know something you don’t know!! And you can’t go unnoticed by leaving the longest comments on record on my blog hahahaha.

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  9. thanks for sharing this Kristi!,wanted to know more about the game myself,enjoyed some intense games by the seeker’s lounge in front of silver seas hotel on james ave. in ochi,they play for money sometimes,fun to watch!

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  10. LOL I prefer watching over playing Shane. They’re SO over the top and it’s never a dull game.

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  11. lol I shamelessly match and get lucky most of the time… Dad however takes it seriously. He reads everyone’s hand up to 6 moves ahead…. very passionate I tell you lol . . .

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  12. I don’t understand how they can keep track of their own PLUS everyone else’s. I guess Jamaicans bawn and grow with it!

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