The 7+ best in-person and online domino games for seniors
Helping seniors play dominoes in-person, online, or with Android or iOS apps
Playing dominoes has a lot of benefits for seniors. When done with the whole family or a group of friends at a senior center or around the neighborhood, dominoes can exercise dexterity, memory, and social skills. Plus, playing dominoes is fun for all ages and like a deck of cards, there are many games you can play by using the same set.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is dominoes can be played online or in-person with accessibility features. Visually impaired players can find travel size or large tile dominoes or increase the zoom on an iPad or Android tablet, for instance. And they’re great outdoors because they won’t blow around in the wind.
Mexican Train Dominoes
This is probably the most fun game for seniors because it doesn’t take much practice, is easy to learn, and the game lasts for a while the more people you play with.
Seniors looking to play dominoes with a group of friends or family can play this centuries-old game for up to an hour or ninety minutes per game as they socialize, snack, or drink.
In this game, a typical domino set can be used for the public “train”, but there are standalone physical sets that work with more colors, have larger tiles, and have plastic trays to keep the dominoes in line. But any double-12 domino set will work. Use a dime to mark the head domino, or “engine” for the public Train. You can use a penny to mark open trains for other players.
For 2-4 plays, draw 15 dominoes each.
For 5-6 players, draw 12 dominoes each.
For 7-8 players, draw 11 dominoes each.
For more than 8 players, you’ll need to add another set of dominoes.
Download and play Mexican Train Dominoes for free on iOS or Android
Mexican Train Game Screenshots
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of the main gameboard
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of the users tray
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of winning the round
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of the scoreboard
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of the controls menu
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of iPad of who drew the double to start the round
Mexican Train Dominoes app - screenshot of gameboard with tray toggled off
One of the best games and most loved all over the world, classic dominoes are for children and adults. Domino sets vary from travel size to large-tile formats ranging from Double-6 to Double-12.
The set is named after the domino in the set with the most pips (pips are the dots on each piece).
The goal is to be the first to lay all your dominoes on the table in the least number of moves by matching pips end-to-end, similar to a game of Scrabble. House rules can vary to include playing by colored dots or other tile variations depending on your set.
In classic dominoes, you lay dominoes from your hand, similar to cards. But in Draw dominoes you can dial up the fun by allowing for a “draw pile” of excess dominoes. This is sometimes called “the boneyard” in most game variations.
The goal is to lay tiles from your hand or draw from the boneyard until you can play, similar to Uno where you draw for cards until you make a move. The first person to lay all their dominoes wins.
Cross dominoes gets its name from the five-tile cross it forms during the game. What makes it different and better for seniors and the young alike is it introduces a new complex level of thinking and scoring to the game.
Similar to “Draw” dominoes, you play on both ends of each side of the line from a starting “spinner”. This adds extra moves to each player’s turn.
Another domino variation that’s similar to the card game of the same name. Except no player has their own hand. Instead, each player draws from the boneyard on each turn.
To start, you lay a grid of dominoes face-down in a 4x7 grid. Each player turns over two tiles of their choosing at the same time and if the dots or pips both add up to 12, remove them from the pile and set them aside to take another turn.
If they don’t add up to 12, turn them back and pass the turn to the next player.
This game is great for seniors and young kids because it really tests your concentration and memory. As the number of tiles turned over increases, players have to remember where certain values are to add up to 12.
Because the typical score must add to 12, using a double-6 set is most suitable. However, you can adjust from 12 to 24 or some other value depending on your specific tiles.
Fast-paced and quick to play, domino bingo is great when you want to pass a game in about five or ten minutes.
Suitable for two people at a time, players draw from a face-down boneyard of tiles. The goal is to be the first player to score seven sets of tiles.
Of course, you can involve more people and stretch out the playing time by adding more dominoes as you add players. Kids with short attention spans can practice their quick-thinking skills, as well as their opponent.
The winner yells “Domino!” instead of “Bingo!” when they complete their sets.
Popular among computer players and often played with a standalone “hub”, Chickenfoot will be most familiar to Mexican Train players since the rules are the same.
The exception is the “cover the double rule”. Typically players must “cover the double” when they lay a tile with the same number of dots or pips on each side (e.g., 4 | 4). In Mexican Train, a player goes again to cover that double. In Chickenfoot, players must cover it a third time.
This adds some extra fun and speed to a game because if you’re a player lucky enough to have multiple doubles in your deck, you can lay them down real fast. Similar to a game of Uno when you draw multiple “wild” cards. Depending on your family’s temperament, that may or may not lead to some intense games!
As entertainment goes, Chickenfoot, like Mexican Train, is fun for all ages and can be played with up to 8 people.
Other fun ways of playing
Consider a scavenger hunt with dominoes. This is a lot of fun with kids since the adults can hide dominoes around the house, like easter eggs. Then tell the kids or adults to go find a specific tile, color (if your dominoes have color), pair, or double.
This is also a good game for seniors as scavenging and looking around gets people up and walking. Spread over a large space like a community or senior center, this can be just as much a physical challenge as it is a skills challenge.
You can also help older players who may want to pass some time until the kids get home from school by setting them up with an app on their phone or iPad. For details, check out the reviews on Mexican Train Dominoes: