Mexican Train

Mexican Train

Mexican Train Overview

Have you ever traveled by train? If so, then you could get a clear picture of what we are going to discuss concerning the above card game. In the world of card games, there are tons of incredible games with entertaining gameplay and rules, and one of them is the Mexican Train. In this section of our website, you will get to know all about these, and here below is the simplified tutorial guide:

  • Introduction
  • Game Objective
  • Equipment
  • Game preparation/setup
  • Gameplay and basic game rules
  • Scoring
  • Game Variance
  • Conclusion

Let’s get seated round the table and learn how to play this great card game!


Mexican Train is one of the recently developed variations of Dominoes train type games that is considered to have become extremely challenging and popular these days. The above game is famous because of its interaction and simplicity, and the fact that anyone can play it anywhere.

Creating a train from dominoes

Game Objective

The aim of the Mexican Train card game is to be the first person to lay down all of your dominoes. Indeed, the number of tiles left in your hand at the end of the game counts against you; therefore, you as a player need to play strategically and try your best to get rid of all high-numbered tiles.

Equipment and number of players

To play the above game, you will require a double-twelve set of dominoes, which will accommodate up to eight players. Nonetheless, other sets of dominoes can be used as well so long it contains all possible pairs of numbers. Here below are some of the common alternative sets that depend entirely on players playing it:

  • Double-six (for two players)
  • Double-nine (for two to four players)
  • Double-twelve (for five to eight players)
  • Double-fifteen (for nine to twelve players)
  • Double-eighteen (for thirteen and more players)

Besides Dominoes, Mexican Train requires a set of other playing equipment that includes a pencil, paper (to keep scores), marker/token, and a special spacer (often referred to as hub or station).

Mexican Train playing equipment

Game Preparation/setup

Once all the equipment have been assembled on the table, it is now time to prepare to play the game. During this session, dominoes are shuffled thoroughly, and each player takes a given number and stands them on the table’s edge so that their faces are visible only to the owner but not to the other participants. Depending on the number of players, dominoes are shared equally; four players take fifteen dominoes each and five to six players each takes twelve dominoes. Besides that, seven to eight players each takes ten dominoes while eight to ten players take eight dominoes. The remaining tiles/dominoes are placed face down in a special position called the boneyard pile.

Game preparation for Mexican-Train

Gameplay and basic game rules

Every player has a gotten an equal number of dominoes, and it is now time to start the game. Typically, in the Mexican Train card game, the play moves in a clockwise rotation from one participant to the next.

The first turn starts with the first player building a train, often in a single row of dominoes, emanating from the center domino and moving towards the starting player. Typically, the domino’s end near the train’s engine has to match the double number of the engine. For instance, if the engine’s number is double-twelve, then the end of the domino adjacent to the engine must be a twelve while the other end can as well be anything. The other players do the same while taking turns in a clockwise rotation.

If the first player on the first turn can’t start the train, they have the option of drawing a domino from the boneyard pile. If they’re lucky to draw the needed Domino (which is twelve in our example), they can play it immediately. This alternative is often referred to as Golden Domino. However, if after drawing the domino and they do not pick the needed tile from the pile, they place marker or train on the position where the domino would have been placed to show that they couldn’t start a train. On the next turn and even in all the subsequent turns, any player has the option to play dominoes in the areas marked.

Mexican Train Game Rules

Playing a Double

As soon as the first player plays a domino on the first turn, it is then the second player’s turn to play on their train. The procedure explained above goes on to the completion of a round, and the game returns to the first player. Each player, during their turn, places a domino to make the train longer besides trying to get rid of their hand. This is a typical case of players playing one domino per turn.

Nonetheless, we have situations when players lay two legally placed tiles per turn, and it is called Doubles. If a participant plays a Double at the train’s end, they must shout the word ‘Double.’ Besides that, they have to answer the double as well. That means if it is a double eight, they have to place the double eight and must place another domino with an eight with the double simultaneously. If they cannot, then they have to draw or pick a domino from the boneyard pile. If they are lucky to have picked the needed tile, in this case, an eight, they can play the domino immediately on the train to match the double. Unfortunately, if they cannot answer the double even after picking from the pile, they have to place the train market on the train. Consequently, the next tile from by the subsequent player must be played at the end of the train depicting the double. Again, if they can’t play against the double, they must pick from the pile. If again, they cannot play, then they must pass, and you pass, you do not have to put your market on your train.

Rules for playing doubles

Ending the game

The last tile in your hand has to be announced and this done by tapping your domino loudly on the table. Alternatively, you can announce by shouting the word ‘uno’ loudly. The player is required to make this announcement before the next player had drawn a domino. If realized that you have one domino left and you did not announce, you will be forced to draw two more tiles from the pile, unless it is already empty. Inherently, the game ends when one player has got rid of all tiles in hand or when the game is blocked.

Mexican Train game blocked


The first player to get rid all dominoes in their hand scores zero points. All the other participants score the total number of dots or pips on the tiles left in their hands. In most cases, a series of games are played, and the participant with the least points at the end of the series (rounds) wins the match. If there is a tie, the player who scored the highest number of zero-point rounds is declared the winner. If again there is a tie at this point, the one with the lowest total in a round not considering zero wins the game.

Game Variations

There are quite many other versions of the rules of the above card game, which give rise to many different Mexican Train variations. The rules are varied significantly as far as the number of tiles drawn by each player, the number of dominoes that can be played during a single turn, rules of playing doubles, and so on are concerned. This explains why the game varies incredibly from one region to another.

  • Mexican Train Rating


That is Mexican Train card game at its best. Now you know some of the basic rules on how to play it, and perhaps you can try it as well. It is an entertaining game suitable for family vacations or even during dinner parties. Critics say it that it is an addictive game, and therefore, ensure you play it responsibly. Have fun!