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Questions and Answers About the Domino Game 42
("He," "his," and "him" are representative of both genders in this document.)

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Click questions for linked answers (most recent listed first)                   Q1-Q6

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90. What country invented dominos?

89. Where did your map for the Texas polling areas come from?

88. Anybody know what happened to Glenn Hill's 42 web page?

87. Have you ever heard of Lo-Lo?

86. How can I print your online 42 instructions?

85. In Moon, does play continue if the high bidder is set in the first trick?

84. What are the rules for two-handed 42?

83. How are blanks interpreted and/or played?

82. How is nello-lo and nello-hi played? Strategy?

81. Does the double in the trump suit have to be played in the first trick?

80. Should you lead to your partner when you and he have all the trumps?

79. How do you handle a sensitive (and unreasonable) reneger?

78. What to play when doubles are trump (and led) and I don't have any?

77. Have you heard of this Nel-O variation?

76. Who invented the dominoes game Moon?  Rules and scoring?

75. What are the rules for playing out of turn or a knocked over domino?

74. What is the rule for bidding out of turn?

73. Which duplicate tile wins the trick in Texas 88 (six-player "42")?

72. Can I reproduce copies of your 42 web pages?

71. Can you bid low in Moon?

70. Can I play 42 at this web site?

69. What are the rules regarding reneging?

68. Do you have to play the other end of a trump if you have no trumps?

67. Where can I find a 42 game?

66. How can I get a rule book on 42?

65. What is your policy for linking to commercial web pages?

64. What are the odds of drawing all seven dominos in a suit?

63. Where can I find the rules for "six-handed 42?"

62. Where can I find a game of 42 to play on a MacIntosh computer?

61. What happened to Tony Sanders' 42 web pages?

60. How many tiles does each player get?

59. Is there such a thing as three-handed 42?

58. Can I pick any suit as trumps? How are trump dominos different?

57. Does the end of a trump domino have to match the non-trump led?

56. Do trumps have to be led? Which end is the suit?

55. How much luck is involved in playing 42?

54. What is a "bye" in an online 42 tournament?

53. Where do I find rules for playing Shoot-the-Moon dominos?

52. Is it okay to talk across the table sometimes?

51. When can you play a trump?

50. Can you bid multiple marks in a hand to win a game?

49. Where can I get a CD with 42 on it?

48. Can you double shoot the moon?

47. Instructions for Mexican Train (and other non-42 domino games)?

46. Why bids of 30 or more? Exceptions? Bidding incentives?

45. More info on "follow-me" when trumps aren't declared?

44. What are the rules for playing Sevens? Strategy? How do partners help?

43. Do you have information on the annual statewide 42 tournament?

42. When is a trump not some other suit?

41. How many tiles (dominos) are there in the various games of dominos?

40. Where can I find a 42 game application for my PDA?

39. How do I learn to bid wisely?

38. Are your download instructions printable?

37. Do you post answers to all anonymous questions?

36. How can I be sure your downloads are safe?

35. Is it possible to see a 42 hand played or to participate without voice?

34. Can doubles be called as trumps?

33. Why won't my McIntosh computer open your download files?

32. What are the rules for playing four tables at a 42 party?

31. Where can one acquire a book on Moon? Rules? Scoring?

30. Where did the game 42 originate?

29. Where can I get a set of marble dominos?

28. Is your 42 download for playing against a computer?

27. How do we count points in a hand when the bidder does not make his bid?

26. How does one actually get started and get into a game of 42?

25. Do you know of any 42 clubs in southwest Texas?  San Antonio?  Rusk?

24. Can people play 42 online without having to download software?  Free?

23. Some consider indicating is cheating.  Do you play in tournaments or online?

22. What are your house rules for playing 42?

21. If a player plunges, can his partner overbid him?

20. Is your 42 download free?

19. When can a player lay his dominos down and declare the hand over?

18. Can trump dominos be forced into play when there is another suit leading?

17. Where can I find guidelines for organizing a 42 tournament?

16. Where do I find a web page to play 42 online?

15. How many different hands are mathmatically possible in 42?

14. Which rule variations apply in a basic game of 42?

13. If Nel-O is bid for 42, can a subsequent player bid less than 42?

12. When doubles are a suit, can you play any domino if you don't have a double?

11. In Sevens, does the bidder lead when his partner takes a trick?

10. Where can I find the rules for playing 88?

  9. Where can I find Cameron's Win42 game?

  8. Do you play 84?   Rules and scoring?

  7. What are the dots on dominos called? How many are there?

  6. Where can I find a web page to play Moon with partners?

  5. Where can I buy a set of (double-six) dominos?

  4. Do I have to trump in if one end of my trump matches the suit led?

  3. Do I have to follow suit if I have a trump with the same suit on one end?

  2. Can any player go low, or only the shuffler when forced to bid?

  1. Any ideas how to learn 42 when experienced players aren't around?

Popular discussion items:   Bidding     Trumps     Indicating    Playing online     History     Domino games

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Q u e s t i o n s   a n d   A n s w e r s
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Q90. What country invented dominos?

A90. Google search results indicate domino tiles originated in China circa 1120 AD.

Q89. The Texas polling map is different than any I've seen. Where did it come from?

A89. I wanted a map that outlined the areas of north, east, south, and west Texas, but no typical maps were found. The widely accepted travel regions in Texas best suited my purposes (they varied too), so I made a hybrid map from one of them.

The Gulf Coast was replaced by extending the Piney Woods and the South Texas Plains to become the east and south polling areas. The Hill Country was extended to the east polling area via the lower part of the Prairie and Lakes region to become the central and northeast polling areas. The Panhandle Plains and Big Bend Country became the north and west polling areas.

Click for more:  Map Comparisons   Inclusive Counties   Polling Densities   Q/A30.

Q88. Glenn Hill had a (42 web) page at one time (four or five years ago). (It was a good one.) ... Is there anyway you can find out who this guy is (or was)???

A88. I've Googled the internet extensively and found nothing on him or his web page. His web page is probably archived at the WayBackMachine, but you need the URL, e.g.,, to find it. If anyone has info on this, please send to me and I'll complete the research and post a link to the archived page here.

Q87. I grew up in Texas playing 42 with Grampaw. We played a rule I have not heard anyone else mention. We called it Lo-Lo. The low dominos in the suit caught the trick. So if you were playing and you had a string of low dominos like 6:0, 6:1, 6:2, 6:6, 1:0, 4:0, 4:2 that would be a good Lo-Lo hand. (Doubles are high in their suit.) I was wondering if you had ever heard of it?

A87. I haven't heard of Lo-Lo, but it sounds like the conventional 42 player would have to adjust his thinking to remember that low domino takes the trick.

Q86. I cannot get the information (rules) from your web-site to print out. Do you have a suggestion?

A86. Your best bet is to print the printable version (added 19 Jan 06 and linked in both the frames and non-frames 42 web pages). Thanks to Ken for calling attention to this long-neeeded improvement.

Other notes (from previous posting):

In Internet Explorer, in the frames version, right-click your mouse in the rightside frame (the playing instructions) and select "Print" in the menu box.

In the non-frames version, click "File" in the browser's menu bar, then "Page Setup," then "Landscape" orientation, then "OK." Next, click "File" again, then "Print," then the "Print" button.

If you're using Netscape, Mozilla, or Firefox, the procedure is essentally the same for the non-frames version, but you might not be able to print the frames version adequately because of browser peculiarities (no right-mouse print option). To remedy this, I added a "Print" button at the end of the instructions in the frames version, with notes on how to print selected content (if you don't want the whole frame).

See also Q/A38.

Q85. Moon scenario: First hand, first game. Player A bids 7. On first play, "A" goes set. Is the hand ended at that point and the dominoes shuffled for the next hand or are the rest of the dominoes played and tricks scored to the player ("B" or "C") who catches them?

A85. Unless agreed otherwise before the game starts, the rest of the dominos in the hand are played out to determine how many tricks to score for the other players.

More Moon info can be found at these sites: Domino-Games, DominoRules, and Pagat, and WinMoon.

Q84. What are the rules for two handed 42?

A84. I have not heard of 42 played by just two people, but you might try playing regular four-handed 42 with two dummy hands:

Two boneyards of face-down dominos replace the players' missing partners. Players alternately bid and play their hands and their dummy partners' hands (random selection). Dummy partners don't have to follow suit. (Don't count on them to help make a bid.)

Q83. Can you use blanks as anything or, if not, what number do they represent?

A83. Blanks are a unique suit in 42 (as are each of the other seven possible trump suits). Blanks cannot be anything but blanks (not "wild").

When there is no trump suit (high bidder calls "follow me"), the high end of the domino led is the suit, and the low end is its ranking in suit (blank is the lowest rank representing zero).

When blanks are called trumps, the is a blank, not a six. When sixes are called trumps, the or (same domino) is a six. See also Q/A58.

Q82. I would like to know how to play nello-lo and nello-hi. What is the strategy?

A82. Play is similar to my house rules Nel-O option, except doubles are not a suit of their own. Doubles can be declared as high in suit (nello-hi) or low in suit (nello-lo). The strategy is to take no tricks (opposite of regular 42).

More info on 42 variations, including nello, AKA Nel-O, can be found here and here.

Q81. If you do not have the double to your trump, can you call for it on your 1st hand? If so, and your opponent has the double, is he obligated to play it?

A81. If you do not have the double in your trump suit, you can try to call it in in the first trick (normally good strategy).

If your opponent has the double in your trump suit, he only has to play it if a trump is led, and the double is the only trump he has in his hand. If, however, he has more than one trump, he does not have to play the double first (normally good strategy).

Q80. and your partner are the only ones that have trumps... Question: Is the best strategy of play to [1] play any doubles you have (let your partner "clean out" his hand) and then lead a low trump to your partner..., or [2] after seeing that you and partner have all the remaining trumps, immediately go to your partner with a low trump and allow him to lead...?

A80. Leading your doubles before relinquishing the lead to your partner is better for the reason you stated. If, however, you have no doubles, it might be better to lead a low trump so your partner can take the lead and, hopefully, you can clean out your hand.

Q79. How is the best way to handle (a reneger) when some people tend to wear their feelings on their shirt sleeves, and (won't concede when the reneging is challenged)?

A79. Normally, a playing irregularity is addressed at the time of discovery. If you determine that reneging occurred in an earlier trick (and you can prove it), then the reneging team loses the hand.

In your case, if you announce that a suit wasn't played when it should have been played (and nobody confesses), defer the discussion until the delinquent suit is played later in the hand. Then, when the reneging domino is finally played, renew your objection and show the guilty player the trick that was challenged earlier.

Q78. If you call doubles as trumps, do the other players have to follow suit (of the double being played) if they have no "double trump" to play?

A78. When a player cannot follow the suit led, he may play any domino he wishes. When doubles are trump, they are a suit of their own. So, when a player does not have a double, he may play any domino he wishes. (When doubles are trump, the number of pips on one end of a double has no relationship whatsoever to another domino with the same number of pips on one of its ends.)

See Q/A58 for related info.

Q77. My family has a house rule to let the players still enjoy a Nel-O game, without having it become a low-boy free for all. Our rule is as follows: A Nel-O bid is allowed, but it HAS to be for 2 marks. The only exception is if the shuffler is stuck with the bid. In this case, the shuffler may bid Nel-O for one mark. It works out nicely. Have you ever heard of this variation anywhere else?

A77. No, but if it works for you ... (See also Q/A2.)

Q76. Who invented the dominoes game moon? Rules and scoring?

A76. During my internet research on the game of 42, I found nothing on the origin of Moon. I suspect three people got creative when they were unable to get a fourth player to play 42. You might try contacting TexasTinCup42 at (See also Q/A31.)

Q75. What is the rule regarding playing a dominoe out of turn? If an unplayed dominoe is accidently exposed in a player's hand, what is the rule?

A75. Playing or leading a domino out of turn normally ends the hand in tournaments, and the opponents get the mark(s). If a domino is inadvertently knocked over (exposed), it must remain face up and played at the first valid opportunity. Social players can use discretion for either situation; however, it's best to agree on rules before beginning a game.

Q74. What are you supposed to do when a player bids out of turn?

A74. If you bid out of turn, then the bidding process starts (or resumes) normally, but you cannot change your bid. If your bid is not higher than previous bids when it is your turn, then you must pass.

Q73. Playing 88 with six players. Winning bidder plays Nello and names doubles low in the suit and fives as trumps and is aware he must take all tricks. He leads with a five blank. Opponent plays double five. Partner of bidder plays a double five. Others play in the five suit. Who takes the trick? Is it the first double five or the partner who played the double five? Is it a team or individual that determines the winner?

A73. Re the rules for playing 88 at and I don't understand why Nello must take all tricks (normally must take no tricks) and why trumps are called in conjunction with Nello (normally no trumps), but here are the answers to your questions.

In 88, there are two tiles of each suit and rank. When both duplicates of a tile are played in the same trick, the first one played is deemed the higher of the two; therefore the opponent playing the first double-five would normally win the trick if doubles were high.

Since doubles are low in your game, one of the other fives played will win the trick. You did not specify the rankings of the other fives played (or who played them), so I'm unable to determine who won the trick.

The player who took the trick was not the high bidder who led a five-blank, nor one of his partners who played a double-five, nor the opponent who also played a double-five. The individual who played the highest non-double five (first) won the trick. If it was one of the opponents, he/she wins the hand for his/her team.

Q72. I do not find any copyright information on this web site. I would like your permission to print the pages to give to students who would like to learn 42. The classes are free and I do not charge anything for handouts.

A72. Thanks for calling attention to the lack of copyright info in my 42 web pages. I fixed it, and you (and others) are welcome to print my material for private use and/or non-profit distribution.

Q71. Can a player Bid low in 3 Handed Moon?

A71. I've never played a game of Moon where bidding low was an option; however, it seems plausible. Check for a Moon contact and more info.

Q70. Can I play Texas 42 here?

A70. No. My web pages on Texas 42 are instructional only. Here are links to other sites where you can play online or download the game:, or, and/or

Q69. What is the rule if a player has a trump and does not play it when it should be played?

A69. If you are able to follow the suit led, trump or non-trump, and you fail to do so, you have reneged. When this happens, the hand is ended and the opposition partners get the mark(s).

Q68. If a person plays a trump, say like 5-1, ace being the trump, do the other players have to follow the highest number played if they don't have a trump to play?

A68. No. You only have to follow the suit led. If the 5-1 is led, the ace is trump and aces is the suit led. If you don't have any aces, you may play any domino you want. (You don't have to play a five.) See Q58 for trumps in a nutshell.

Q67. Where can I find this game?

A67. See Q9 and Q49.

Q66. How can I get a rule book for the game of 42?

A66. An excellent book on 42, which includes the rules, is authored by Dennis Roberson: Winning 42.  Click on the title at the top of the linked page for ordering info, or you can order it through your local bookstore if it isn't on the shelf.

Also, Jennifer Kelley's Great Book of Domino Games has a chapter that includes concise rules for playing 42.

Q65. (Will you add) a link to my dominoes page? I make domino tables and ...

A65. I don't normally add commercial links to my 42 pages unless I have firsthand knowledge of the product(s), and the site provides useful information for learning the game of Texas 42.

Q64. What are the odds of drawing all seven dominoes with sixes on them (using double-six dominoes) from the boneyard at the beginning of a game?

A64. There are 1,184,040 different possible seven-domino combinations that a player can draw from a set of double-six dominos, not including duplicates (Q/A15). Since the sixes suit is one of those combinations, the odds of your friend drawing seven sixes is slightly less than one in a million.

Q63. Looking for rules for six-handed 42; seems everyone plays differently.

A63. I believe you want the game rules for Seventy-Nine. As with most domino games, you will find variations which require choices. Puremco, however, might have what you're looking for at

Q62. I am looking for a site to play 42 online or a 42 game for a MacIntosh OS X????

A62. If anyone knows where 42 for a Mac can be obtained (or played online), send me the info via my comment form or e-mail, and I will post the information here.

Q61. Your links to don't work. How can I see the rules and strategy at Tony Sanders 42 web site?

A61. I have been unable to contact Tony Sanders at, and his 42 pages there have been inaccessible since late last year (2004).

If anyone has information on Tony Sanders' site or how he can be reached, please advise via my comment form or e-mail.

23 Mar 05:  An archived copy of Tony Sanders' 42 home page (with working links to rules and strategy) is at the WayBackMachine.  Thanks, Curtis Cameron.

Q60. How many tiles does each player get?

A60. There are 28 dominos in a set of double-six dominos. There are four players in a game of 42. All 28 dominos are used; therefore, each player gets seven dominos (28/4).

Q59. Is there such a thing as three handed 42?

A59. Three-handed 42 is called Moon. See Q/A31 for more info on Moon.

Q58. Can I pick any suit to be trumps, and how do I tell the difference between them and the other dominoes?

A58. When declared, trumps become the highest of all the possible domino suits. The non-trump end of a trump domino designates its ranking in the trump suit and has no relationship whatsoever with non-trump dominos.

A trump domino (or the highest trump played) will take any trick. Trumps can be played only when trumps are led or when a player cannot follow the suit led. One does not have to play a trump when he can't follow a non-trump lead.

The following are the eight possible trump suits and the domino rankings within each suit:

Other questions on trumps:  Q83  Q78  Q68  Q57  Q56  Q51  Q42  Q34  Q18  Q4  Q3.

Q57. If an opponent is holding a trump, say 4-2 and 4's are trump. If that is their only 2, and a 2 is led by someone else, are they required to play their 4-2 or can they trump that hand with a different trump 4?

A57. Trumps are a suit of their own. If fours are trump, then all seven fours are trumps, regardless of their other ends. The other end only determines the rank of the domino in the trump suit.

In the case you asked about, the 4-2 is a four (trump), not a two per se. The deuce end only designates its rank in the fours trump suit (fifth highest).

When a deuce is led, and you have no deuces in your hand, you do not have to play the 4-2 (trump). If you want to trump in, and you have more than one trump, you can play any four. (You don't have to play the 4-2.)

See Q58 for a definitive description of trump dominos.

Q56. If trumps are called, do they have to be led? On the first lead, can you call the Six/Ace domino as an ace?

A56. Trumps do not have to be led, but it's usually a good idea to call in the trumps (or try to find out who has them) early in the hand.

If aces are trump, the six-ace (6-1) is an ace (trump), i.e., ace-six (1-6). See also Q58.

Q55. What are the probabilities of odds from luck to knowledge? What percentage does luck play in the game?

A55. Skill is predominate over luck in the game of 42. When experienced players play, the more skillful players usually prevail; however, the luck of the draw is still a factor. (See Q/A15 for the number of possible hands that can be randomly drawn from 28 dominos.)

Mathematically quantifying the luck factor is too subjective to be accurate; however, I polled experienced 42 players, and the range of estimates varied from less than 1% luck to higher than 50%. Rationales and assumptions are shown in selected extracts.

In his book Winning 42, Dennis Roberson has a chapter on statistical odds that addresses the probabilities of drawing various combinations of trumps, doubles, and suits. The data help determine wise bidding and strategy, and they are useful information for 42 players.

Q54. Using the term "bye" in registering to play in a tournment, please explain that term to me!

A54. A "bye" means you advance to the next round in a tournament without playing an opponent. This happens when there is an uneven number of players in a competition. Click example (second elimination chart).

Q53. Where do I find rules for playing Shoot-the-Moon dominos?

A53. I assume you're referring to Shooting-the-Moon which is a bid to take all seven tricks in a hand of Moon. See Q/A31 for links to rules.

Q52. If the person or partner that has the bid plays something other than a trump later in the hand and my partner or myself trumps it, is it against the no-talking-across-table rule for the person that trumps to comment "I think I will trump that?"

A52. It's considered talking across the table when the talker can influence his partner's play, e.g., "I'm trumping this" could indicate the talker wants his partner to play a count domino. If the talker's partner has already played a domino, there's no harm done; however, the talker might unintentionally help his opponents if he's not the last player to play a domino in that trick.

Q51. One group of players say that, if you can't follow suit, you must play something other than a trump if you have something else, unless a trump has already been played. Another group says that you can play a trump at anytime if it follows suit or if you don't have something to follow suit. Which one is correct?

A51. The second group is correct. You must follow suit if you can, and you can play a trump (optional) when you can't follow suit, even if trumps haven't previously been played. See also Q58.

Q50. Can you bid multiple marks in a hand, and if so, (can) a player with a laydown hand ... bid the number of marks needed to win the game?

A50. The first bid in marks can be one or two marks. Subsequent bidders may bid no more than twice the number of marks previously bid.

When three or more marks are needed to win a game in progress, if the player with a laydown hand is the only one who bids in marks, he is limited to a maximum bid of two marks.

In the first hand of a new game, if three players have laydown hands (highly unlikely), and the first two bids are two marks and four marks, only the third bidder can bid enough marks (seven) to win the game.

Q49. Where can I find a CD for my computer that has 42?

A49. Curtis Cameron offers two gift CDs with 42 on both.

Q48. Can you "double" shoot the moon?

A48. Moon, or shooting the moon, is a three-handed version of 42. I'm not faniliar with double-shooting the moon, and the only thing found on the internet was a yo-yo trick. You might try the webmaster at Or, if anybody knows, send e-mail, and I'll post the answer and source here.

Q47. Instructions for Mexican Train (and other non-42 domino games)?

A47. Puremco has a fairly complete listing of links to rules for the various domino games:
Add-Em-Up 50
All Fives
All Threes
Blind Dominoes
Castle Rock
Collecting Tens
Cross Dominoes
Cuban Dominoes
Disputing Tens
Domino Pool
Dragon Dance
Fair Lucy
Five-Up Solitaire
Good Neighbors
Lat. Amer. Mat. Dom.
Maltese Cross
Mexican Train
One-Arm Joe
Pai Gow
Pip, Plunge
Polka Dots
Seven-Toed Pete
Straight Dominoes
The Big Clock
The Buccaneer
The Jubilee
The Sultan
Threes and Fives
Tien Gow
Number of dominos in set: double-6=28, double-9=55, double-12=91, double-15=136, double-18=190

Q46. Why is it important to bid 30 or more points? Are there house rules that would allow lower bids? If a team bids 30 and only attains 25 points, then all the points go to the other team which is what was consistently occurring for us! No one wanted to bid! What are we doing wrong?

A46. Traditional 42 has a minimum bid of 30. I suspect 30 evolved as the minimum bid because a bidder and his partner can usually make that bid if they play their dominos wisely. Anything less than 30 would be too easy and make the game less interesting for experienced players. I'm not aware of any house rules that allow lower bids.

A foursome which includes an experienced player would be very helpful when learning to play 42 (Q1). The objective in 42 is for you and your partner to make your bid (or set the opponents if they are the high bidders). By forcing the last bidder to take the bid for 30 (when everybody else passed), experience is gained by all, and the advantage of having the high bid becomes more apparent. See Q39 for bidding considerations.

When scoring in marks, if you make your bid, you get what you bid (bids of 30-42 are scored as one mark), or your opponents get what you bid if you fail. In scoring by points (optional), when you make your bid, both teams score total points and tricks they took; otherwise, you get zero points and your opponents' score is your bid plus points and tricks they took (Q27).

Q45. Explain "follow me high" ...?

A45. I'm not familiar with the quote "follow me high." However, when a player gets the bid and doesn't want to call a trump suit (no trumps), he can say "follow me." This means the highest domino played takes each trick. For example, if a trey is led, everybody has to play a trey if they have one. The highest trey takes the trick. (The double-trey is the highest trey.)

Q44. Rules on playing "7"? Sevens strategy? How do partners help?

A44. You can find the rules for playing Sevens at Puremco.

Pagat says Sevens is "a special contract which can be played by a declarer who has bid 1 mark or more. Declarer leads, and each player must play a domino whose pip total is as close as possible to 7. The trick is won by the closest domino to 7 or, if several are equally close, by the first of these which was played. The winner of a trick leads to the next. The declarer's team have to take all seven tricks to win. There is no strategy in Sevens - the play is forced throughout."

Partners play their dominos nearest to seven pips. Whether that "helps" or not is dependent on the "luck of the draw." Many 42 players don't play Sevens, a variation to basic 42, for the same reason Pagat states: no strategy (and little playing skill) involved.

Q43. I remember a few years ago seeing something on TV about a statewide tournament that was held each year. Do you have any information about this tournament?

A43. The official state championship 42 tournament is held each March in Hallettsville, Texas: (Calendar of Events).

The annual Texas Senior Games (includes open 42 competition) is held in Temple, Texas:

Q42. If 3's are trump, and I lead a 5-4 and the next player has a 5-3, is it played as following suit or trumping? Who would win the hand?

A42. Trumps are a suit of their own. The 5-3 is a trey (trump), does not follow suit when fives are led, and it wins the trick if no higher trey is played. (High trump wins any trick.)

If treys are trump and you lead a five, then the other players must follow suit (fives). The 5-3 can trump in only if that player has no other fives. If the player who plays the 5-3 has another five in his hand, he has reneged, and he and his partner lose the hand.

See also Q58 and Terms and Definitions.

Q41. How many tiles (dominos) in the game of Dominos?

A41. A "regular" set of double-six dominos has 28 dominos. Forty-two (42) and other games played with double-six dominos can be found at Puremco. Information on double-nine dominoes (55 per set) through double-eighteen dominoes (190 per set) are linked in Puremco's home page.

Q40. Any place to get 42 for PDA application?

A40. Check out

Q39. I'm new to learning Texas 42. Is there an easier way to learn bidding? I was taught to bid according to what game points, e.g., 5/5, 6/4, 2/3, 0/5, 1/4, you don't have in your hand. I don't understand how to determine how many tricks I can take by knowing what isn't in my hand.

A39. Study my online Sample Hand to analyze bidding considerations. There are risks in not having the "right" dominos in your hand, e.g., you might not want to bid 32 in sixes (trumps) if you don't have the 6-4 and couldn't call it in with higher sixes. You could, however, bid 31, lose the 6-4 trick, and still make your bid if you and your partner take all the other tricks (42-11=31).  Click here for bidding tips from Tony Sanders.

Here's the most you can lose in any hand and still make your bid (42 = one mark bid):
Bid Can't lose more than
Bid Can't lose more than
 42(Must take all tricks) 35Two tricks, one 5-count
 41One trick, no count 34Three tricks, one 5-count
 40Two tricks, no count 33Four tricks, one 5-count
 39Three tricks, no count 32Five tricks, one 5-count
 38Four tricks, no count 31One trick, one 10-count*
 37Five tricks, no count 30Two tricks, one 10-count*
 36One trick, one 5-count*or two 5-counts  

Q38. I've downloaded freeware for 42 and would like to print the intructions. Is this possible?

A38. My downloadable instructional freeware opens in your web browser. In browsers like Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Mozilla, click on File in the menu bar, then Print Preview. If the page doesn't fully display in the preview, adjust the margins in Print Setup (or select the Landscape setting). Then click Print. (You can print a page online following the same procedure.)

17 Jan 06: Added print buttons to both the downloadable and online frames versions (at bottom of right frame).

See also Q/A86.

Q37. I sent a question using this message form, but the answer never appeared on your web page. How do I get an answer?

A37. If the answer to an anonymous question is not posted within a couple of days after submittal, the question (1) was a duplicate of a previously posted question, (2) was incomplete (more info needed), (3) did not appear to be a serious 42-related question, or (4) was not received.

To ensure you receive an answer, send   If your question is of general interest, I will also post the answer on this web page.

Q36. With all the viruses on the internet, how can I be sure your downloads are safe?

A36. My download files have been checked using Grisoft software.  (If you aren't using virus or spyware protection software on your computer, you might want to checkout Grisoft and LavaSoft.)

I used software from reputable sources to convert the 42 instructional file to executable files: HTML Executable (Version 2.5) and Install Maker (now Install Creator).  If you are reluctant to download an executable 42 file, you can save my online 42 instructions (non-frames) directly to your hard drive: Load page in browser and click File/Save As...

Q35. Is it possible for me to see a 42 hand played or to participate without voice?

A35. If you know people who play 42, ask them if you can watch their game(s). Observation is a great learning tool.

If not, you can check the sites linked in A16 and see if you can watch games in play online. (42-online indicates you can watch games being played online.)

Another option would be to download and install the game linked in A9 and see how the computer plays its hands.  (Tap F3 to show all the dominos in each hand of the game.)

Lastly, it's not the same as watching, but my sample 42 hand walks you through the bidding process and shows how all seven tricks in the sample hand could be played.
(The sample hand in my frames page gives real names to the players.)

Q34. Can you call doubles as your trump?

A34. Yes. (See Q58.)

Q33. Do you have a link that works with iMac? I cannot get your installer to open.

A33. Unfortunately, no. The two software tools I used to make the downloadable files compile code that is executable in Microsoft Windows only.

Q32. We want to have a 42 party, but are not sure of the rules when playing with four tables. For instance, how many games are played before the teams move? How is the scoring done for the winners?

A32. Follow the links in A17 for some tournament rules. Here are more optional rules:

  • Each team plays two games versus every other team in the tournament.
  • The two teams with the best records will play a "2 out of 3" match for 1st place.
  • The teams with the 3rd and 4th best records will play a "2 out of 3" match for 3rd place.

    Using the guidelines above, you can set up a playing schedule for eight teams so that each team plays every other team as indicated. Other optional competition arrangements include "single elimination" and "double elimination."

  • Q31. I have been playing MOON for many years and have not been able to find a rule book on the game, please let me know how I can acquire one.

    A31. I'm not aware of any books on solely Moon; however, there are books on domino games that cover Moon rules, e.g., Great Book of Domino Games by Jennifer Kelley.

    Other Moon sources with rules/scoring (updated 29 Dec 04):

  • Q30. I was often told by a number of 42 players that the game of 42 originated in Garner, Texas. I had never heard the story about 42 originating in east Texas. Source?

    A30. Tony Sanders indicates the game 42 originated in east Texas ( Dennis Roberson's research indicates the game originated in Garner, Texas (summary). (Garner might have been considered in east Texas in the late 1800s, and some maps show Garner in east Texas, so both sources of origin may be correct.)

    Additional historical information was provided by Beerdaddy42 from east Texas. If any other longtime players have information, please advise.

    Q29. I'm looking to buy a set of marble dominos. Let me know if you know where I can get a set.

    A29. I could find no marble dominos on the internet, nor do I know where they can be acquired. If anybody knows where a set of marble dominos can be purchased, let me know, and I'll post the information here. (Some subsequently were found at eBay.)

    Q28. Is this (your 42 download) for playing against a computer?

    A28. No. My 42 download is instructional only. Go to for the 42 game you can download and play on your PC. (See also Q9.)

    Q27. We want to use points instead of marks. How would we count points in a played hand when the bidder does not make his bid? Does the opposing "team" get the amount bid plus tricks and count?

    A27. According to Tony Sanders at

    Scoring by points:
    If the bidding team makes their bid, both sides count points taken. If they did not make their bid they get zero points and their opponents score points taken (tricks and count) plus the amount of the bid. (The first team that scores 250 points wins the game.)

    Scoring by marks:
    Bids from 30 to 42 count as one mark, 84 equals 2 marks, 126 equals 3 marks, 168 equals 4 marks, and 210 equals 5 marks. If the bidding team makes their bid they get the marks. If they went set, the opposing team gets the marks. (The first team that scores seven marks wins the game.)

    Q26. My question is this: How does one actually play 42 instead of having explanations made to 'em? If y'all would tell me how I can actually get into a game, I'd be grateful.

    A26. There are three ways to get into a 42 game:

    1. Find three other people who know the game (or want to learn) and arrange a game. (See also Q1.)

    2. Join a 42 club. (Check the internet, e.g., Puremco, to see if there's one in your area.)

    3. Play online:*,,

        *Downloadable game available

    Q25. Do you know of any 42 clubs in the southwest Texas area?  Or Rusk area?  Or San Antonio?

    A25. Puremco's club listing might have what you're looking for. If anybody knows about a 42 club in or near Kerrville, Boerne, Fredericksburg, Rusk, or San Antonio, please send me an and I'll post the information here.

    3 Mar 05: A Fredericksburg resident provided information about 42 organizations in and around Fredericksburg. Send e-mail and I'll forward the info to you. PP

    Q24. Is there any way I can play 42 online without having to download anything?  Or is there somewhere I can download FREE software for 42 and play online?

    A24. My source at advises software is needed to play the game, and it's unlikely you'll get around this without having to download something to play online.  You can download free evaluation software (no expiration) at to play 42 online.

    13 Jan 05: 42-online indicates their downloadable software to play online is free.

    Q23. In the section on indicating you talk about telling your partner what doubles or how many doubles you have by what you bid. In every tournament I have played in, including the State Championships, this is not considered indicating but is considered cheating. Indicating usually refers to when you indicate to your partner what dominos you have by what dominos you play, e.g., you play the 6-6 to indicate to your partner that you have the 6-5. While this is technically legal, some still consider this cheating. Do you ever play in any tournaments or online?

    A23. My experience is solely in face-to-face social playing, and my "house rules" are geared to a recreational setting. Apparently formal 42 competition has more stringent rules. The nice thing about 42 is that social players can be selective in which variations (and playing styles) apply when they sit down to play a game of 42.

    Comment from my 42 mentor in Devine: "It (indicating) might be considered cheating, depending how it is done. I think pushing one end of a domino toward your partner is not right, but some indications are self explanatory, such as playing double six. Obviously that means you have the 6-5. All will see that. Also, I think a 30 bid is pretty much recognized as saying you have a helping hand. I think it depends what kind of indicating is being done. If it is a game among friends and all know the indications, I don't think it is a big deal."

    Comment from another 42 player (also a Bridge player): "As you know, Bridge is a game that is similar in nature to 42. There are certain rules for playing the game, and then there are elaborate sets of 'conventions' where a bid or a play has a particular defined meaning. Sounds just like 'indicating' to me. Conventions are standard. People playing together usually define which set of conventions they are playing with beforehand, and this is by no means considered cheating in either social or professional play."

    Comment from a 42 player in Fredericksburg: "I have played Hallettsville for each of the past three years as well as numerous other tournaments both online and live. Indicating your double by playing a domino in a normal fashion is completely acceptable and widespread in competition ..."

    More:  42-Online   Pure 42 player   Beerdaddy42   Dennis Roberson   Webmaster   Blog

    Q22. What are your house rules for playing 42?

    A22. My family's house rules are essentially those described in my 42 web page(s), less the variations. Occasionally we'll agree to do something different; however, we usually return to playing basic 42, allowing the last bidder the option of going low when the bid is forced on him/her. (Some experienced players consider this a variation to basic 42 and do not allow it; same with the 30-bid to indicate a good hand that includes doubles.)

    Q21. In a hand of 42, going clockwise around the table, the first player bids Plunge for two marks; the second player bids four marks. Can the third player overbid his partner and the second player?

    A21. Plunge has different rules and interpretations as indicated at the following sites:


    When a player plunges, he is indicating he has no less than four doubles in his hand, and his partner calls trumps if they have the high bid. Beyond that, the minimum Plunge bid (and who leads the first domino) is subject to agreement before the game begins. Same is true for allowing the Plunge declarer's partner to overbid (and by how much). Some players don't like Plunge because of its ambiguities and agree not to allow it as an option.

  • Q20. Is your 42 download free?

    A20. Yes. You can download a frames version of my 42 instructions web page from

    Q19. When is it appropriate (or generally accepted) that a player can lay his dominos down and declare the hand over? I have generally played that all trumps must be in (or at least all in the declarer's hand), and doubles/walkers left, prior to declaring the hand over. This avoids any error in play on the part of the declarer or his partner.

    A19. I'm not aware of any written rules of play that address lay down hands. However, it is generally accepted that a lay down hand, when challenged, has to be played out. In a game of 42, the players can agree beforehand that all hands will be played out. This eliminates possible conflict; however, it could slow the game down when an occasional indisputable lay down hand has to be played out.

    Q18. Hypothetical: 3s are trumps. Bill has the highest bid and leads with a 6/6. If Bill's partner's only 6 suit domino is the 6/3, does Bill's partner have to play it? In other words, can trump dominos be forced into play when there is another suit leading?

    A18. When 3s are trump, the 6/3 is a trump, not a 6 per se; therefore it does not have to be played when 6s are led (even if it's the only domino in your hand with six pips on one end). See also Q58.

    Q17. We're having a family reunion in 2 weeks and a lot of people have expressed an interest in a 42 tournament. I have no idea how to run one and was trying to find out if there's some guidelines on the internet.

    A17. Here are some links that you might find helpful:

    Sample tournament rules (single elimination).

    National 42 Players Association (rules for sanctioned tournaments).

    See also Q32.

    Q16. I just moved to Alabama from Texas and canít find anyone who knows 42. Are there any online games of 42 out there?

    A16. Here are links to three sites where you can play 42 online:,, and

    Q15. How many different hands are mathmatically possible in 42?

    A15. There are 472.518x1012 (trillion) different possible seven-domino combinations (hands) that can be distributed among four 42 players (28!/7!7!7!7!).  One player can randomly draw more than a million different distinct hands from a pool of 28 dominos:

          28 x 27 x 26 x 25 x 24 x 23 x 22 total combinations
               7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 duplicate hands
          = 1,184,040 

    See Q/A55 for analysis of the luck factor in 42. See also Q/A64 for another probability.

    Q14. How do you know which variation rules apply in a basic game of 42?

    A14. Basic 42 is "pure" or "straight" traditional 42. There are, however, optional variations, e.g., Plunge, Sevens, Splash, Nel-O, doubles as trumps, etc. The important thing is to agree on any variations before beginning a game. I consider my house rules (A22) as basic 42 with options for social players. Tournament 42 usually doesn't allow most variations, e.g., Plunge, Sevens, Splash, Nel-O, and "indicating" per se.

    Q13. If a first, second or third bidder bids 42, can a subsequent bidder win the bid with less than 42 if the 42-bidder intends to play Nel-O? (Note that some of the websites I've seen insist that Nel-O should only be allowed to the last bidder after everyone else has passed, thus restricting the "abuse" of Nel-O....unfortunately my compadres don't want to give up a Nel-O bid but feel there should be a way to "overbid" it with a 35+ bid).

    A13. My "house rules" allow only the last bidder to go low (Nel-O), and he can go low only if the bid is forced on him (all the other players have passed). If he goes low, he can bid one or two marks and can take no tricks. There are no trumps, and doubles are a suit of their own. His partner does not play (turns dominos face down). (See also Q2.)

    Q12. In any game where Doubles are a suit of their own, and a player does not have a double but does have a domino with one-half corresponding to the double that was lead, must that player play that domino or can they play any domino they choose? Example: Doubles are being played as a suit of their own and 6-6 is lead; next player has 6-5, 5-4, 3-2, 3-1, 4-3, 2-0 and 1-0...does that player have to play the 6-5 or can they play one of their other dominos?

    A12. When doubles are a suit of their own, and a player can't play a double, he can throw off any domino he chooses. One end does not have to match the double led. (See also Q78.)

    Q11. When playing Sevens, if the bidder's partner takes the lead on a trick does he keep the lead or does the bidder continue leading?

    A11. In Sevens, when the bidder's partner wins a trick, the partner leads the next domino. (Whoever wins a trick always leads the next domino.)

    Q10. I have been trying to find the rules for playing 88. All I can remember is that it is played similar to 42, using two sets of dominos and with up to 8 players. Being an old 42 player (thanks to my Dad!), I am intrigued and want to try it. Please, if you can help me locate the rules .

    A10. Try

    Q9. Do you folks know of the fellow who has the game called Win42? He was from Plano, TX and I think his name was Cameron, but that's all I can remember from the credits page that always flashed as I was starting the game.

    A9. Cameron moved his web site to You can download his Win42 game from

    Q8. Do y'all play 84? Rules and scoring?

    A8. My family does not play 84.  Puremco′s web site provides rules and scoring.

    Q7. What are the dots on the dominos called??? Is that what your page calls a pip? How many dots on all the dominoes in a regular set?

    A7. The dots on dice and dominos are called pips. I personally like "dots" because everybody knows what dots are. I included "pips" in my 42 page for visitors who have more sophistication than me.   :-)

    There is a total of 168 dots (pips) on the 28 dominos in a set of double-six dominos (trivia question?). More on dots and dominos.

    Q6. I would like to find a web page that players go to to play "moon" as partners.

    A6. Original answer: I'm not aware of any web page that has Moon that can be played online, with or without partners. Moon is a three-handed game that is usually played because a fourth person was not available for a regular 42 partner arrangement.

    Reference this link added 16 Sep 03: (online Moon). Partner play is addressed in the discussion on strategy.

    Q5. Where do you buy your dominos? They are hard to find.

    A5. I don't remember where I bought my first dominos from many years ago; however, they're available at just about any store that sells traditional games. My son ordered a real nice set of dominos from Puremco.

    Q4. If the double six is played, I have the six five and no other sixes but the fives are trumps, do I have to play it?

    A4. You do not have to play a trump unless a trump is led. If sixes are led, and you don't have any sixes but the six-five (a trump), you do not have to play it.  (See also Q58.)

    Q3. What if the double six is played and I have the six five, fives are trumps but I have another six, do I have to play the other six or can I trump?

    A3. Trumps are a suit of their own. If fives are trump, then all seven fives are trumps, regardless of their other ends. The other end only determines the rank of the domino in the trump suit.

    You have to follow suit of the domino led if you can. If you can't follow suit, you may trump in if you have a trump. In this case a six is led, you have a six (the non-trump), so you have to play it. (You can't play a trump unless you can't follow suit of the domino led. If a trump is led, you have to play a trump if you have one.  See also Q58.)

    Q2. You make it sound like a player can only play "low" if they are forced to bid as a shuffler. Our family has played for years (several generations of Texans/Louisianians) and we play that any player can call low but the bid is always 1 mark or 2. I think I would prefer your way, because a high hand can get overbid easier by a low hand. Does this make sense?

    A2. I've played 42 with different people in different Texas locations, and "low" was never an option unless the bid was forced on the shuffler. I checked with my 42 mentor in Devine, and this is what he wrote: "Yes, I have played it that way. The times I played it that way, it turned out to be a real pain because it turns into a low bid goat-roping. I do not know if there is an official rule about 'low', but I prefer it your way, or just tell all up front that there will be no 'low' played. I have seen some games that had their own house rules like having to have double blank to bid low."

    The nice thing about 42 is that social players can agree beforehand what the rules will be. When my wife and I play 42 with my son and his wife, we sometimes experiment just to see if it adds enjoyment to the game. (See also Q13 and Q77.)

    Q1. I'm trying to learn to play 42. I have Cameron's 42 game. This isn't as easy as it looks. Bidding gives me real problems. It would help to have someone around that knows the game, but since I don't I'm on my own. Any ideas on what might help me?

    A1. The best way to learn is by playing. If you can't find anyone who knows the game, get three other people who want to learn, too. Keep a printout of the rules handy while you're learning.

    Cameron's 42 game will help you get the feel for playing 42. Click his suggestion options to view bidding hints. (See also Q26 and Q46.)

    © Paul Proft, 2003-2006