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four players playing mexicain train dominoes

What is the Mexican Train “tapping rule” and how is it supposed to work?

The cardinal rule of Mexican Train is “always cover the double”. No matter what variation you play, from Chickenfoot to Double-18 dominoes, you always cover the double and get a free play after laying a double domino. Everyone knows that one.

But one table rule that often goes unnoticed is the “Mexican Train tapping rule”. The rule says once you’re down to one playable tile you must tap the domino or table loudly enough people can hear it. Alternatively, you can say “uno” to indicate you have one tile. Sometimes this is referred to as the “End of Play” rule, and many prefer their own house rules requiring players to announce their last tile and tap the table.

And like the classic Uno card game, if another player notices you failed to announce you have one domino left, you must draw two tiles from the remaining dominoes in the bone pile (unless it’s empty. If there’s only one tile left, then draw that.) You lose a turn and cannot play until your next round.

The tapping rule exists to give other players a chance to lower their score by unloading as many dominoes, higher-numbered tiles, and double tiles they may be holding. Since the object of the game is to maintain the lowest score, your final tile announcement sets off a race to second place.

FAQs about the Mexican Train tapping rule

No, you can play your last tile on any open player’s train, your personal train, or the Mexican Train.

If your last domino happens to be a double, so be it. Once you lay the last of your hand, the game is over. Other players do not have to cover the double.

If another player notices you didn’t tap or announce, you have to draw two tiles from the bone pile. However, if there are no remaining tiles, you still lose your turn but don’t have to draw. If one tile is left, you still draw the last one.

You still have to announce your uno, but like every other turn, you’ll put a train marker on your personal train if you cannot play. Play moves clockwise and rules for covering doubles stand.

At the end of the game, one common situation might be players laying multiple dominoes and two or more doubles they can’t cover. You and several players may have to repeatedly announce your uno until someone can cover the double tile or the boneyard has no more tiles.

If you didn’t tap or announce you’re on your final tile, and no one notices, the window for someone to make you draw two tiles expires once the next player plays or draws a tile.

Play free online where tapping is just part of the game

Dilly Dally’s Mexican Train Dominoes game is free to play online with no download required. Play it directly in your browser at mexicantrain.com. You can also download iOS, Android, and Kindle apps to play free there.

Unlike analog gameplay, the digital versions give new meaning to taps and double taps!

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