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As daily life in Punta Cana starts up, chaotically and not too fast, we pass many people on the streets playing the favorite pastime of the Dominicans: dominoes. The game is everywhere: it’s played on the veranda in front of someone’s house, at bus stops, in the street. Time to get into the game and play with us!

How to play dominoes

You could call this game the national sport of the Dominican Republic! It is certainly easy, and very straightforward. You have a big pile of dotted domino stones and about four players. The dominoes contain a number of dots and are facing upside down. At the start of the game, each player takes 7 stones. The player drawing the domino stone that holds double sixes, starts. Then, each player must match a domino of their own to one end of the dominos lying on the table. Can’t match your dominoes? Then you have to draw a new one from the pile. This continues until one of the players loses all of their stones. And remember, in the Dominican Republic, we SLAM the stones into the table! Be competitive!

Daily domino life in Punta Cana

The nice thing about dominoes is that it’s such a simple game: anyone can play it. However, that doesn’t mean we actually see anyone play it. No, in all fairness, it’s mostly Dominican men. Loud groups of them, shuffling the stones around the table and SMACKING ‘em down. The sound of dominoes is a very familiar one in these streets!

Even though the game is simple enough to learn, some players are fanatic. They know what their opponents will play before even they themselves do. This way, a domino match can take hours of careful strategy and poker facing your fellow players. A cup of rum or beer in hand, and go. When time passes without noticing, you’re truly playing. Dominican dominoes is all about shrewdness, reading each other’s body language, and in some cases even gambling for a few pesos.

Wanna join?

Easy enough! Find a group of players and stick around until there’s an opening. Then see whether you can actually beat some of them. You’ll experience that the noise they make isn’t for nothing.. While on the local bus guagua, you have many opportunities to see domino players and stop the bus. Especially around the Parade of the Sitrabapu. You might hear some stories, too.

Find out why these players smack their tiles? Tell us about it on Facebook @bestofpuntacanaofficial!

Photo: Hotel Las Palmeras