Texas 42 is a trick-taking game played with dominoes. It is also known simply as 42 dominoes. Folks in the Lone Star State love it so much that it was officially designated as the State Domino Game of Texas in 2011.
Players, Equipment, and Objective
- Players: The game is played by two to seven players. Texas 42 is best when played with four players in two teams of two players each. Partners sit diagonally across from each other at the table.
- Equipment: One standard set of double-six dominoes.
- Goal: To be the first team to reach seven points (also known as "marks").
The dominoes are shuffled, face down, and one player is chosen to be the dealer. That player gives each player an equal number of dominoes. In the four-player partnership game, each player draws seven dominoes.
The "Count" Pieces
At the end of each round, five dominoes (known as the "count" pieces) are worth points. The blank-5, 1-4 and 2-3 are each worth five points. The 4-6 and 5-5 are each worth 10 points.
The player who drew the blank-1 domino bids first.
In clockwise order, starting to the left of the dealer, each player bids the number of points they will earn by winning tricks. (See "Scoring" below for more information.)
The minimum bid is 30. A player may pass rather than bid. If everyone passes, either the dealer bids or the dominoes are reshuffled and the next player becomes the dealer.
There are 42 points available in the game (one point or each of the seven tricks, plus 35 points from the count pieces. Thus, the maximum bid is 42—unless a player decides to bid 84. A bid of either 42 or 84 indicates that the player expects to win all tricks. If a bid of 84 is made, as tricks are won, they should be stacked so that no one can see what dominoes have already been played.
The main benefit of bidding 84 rather than 42 is that a successful bidder will in two marks instead of one.
The winning bidder chooses trump. This can mean designating a particular suit as trump (e.g., sixes, which would mean all dominoes with at least one six are part of the trump suit; or threes, which would mean all dominoes with at least one three are part of the trump suit), designating all double dominoes as trumps, or "follow me," which is the same as announcing "no trump."
The winning bidder then leads a domino. Moving clockwise, each other player must follow suit, if possible. When led, each domino belongs to the suit of its higher-end unless that domino is part of the trump suit, in which case it belongs to the trump suit.
If at least one trump is played, the highest trump wins. If no trump is played, the highest number of the leading suit wins.
Note: The double of any suit is the highest domino in that suit, followed by the domino with the highest number on the non-suit side. (Example: The three-three domino is the highest in the suit of threes. The second-highest domino in that suit is the three-six.)
The winner of the trick collects the dominoes and opens the next trick. Play continues in this way until the bidding team (or bidder) makes their bid or is prevented from doing so. Then marks are awarded to the winner.
The score is calculated by giving one point for each trick and adding the values of the count pieces. If the bidding team (or bidder) makes their bid, they win one mark. If they fail to do so, the other team wins one mark.
The first player or team to earn seven marks wins the game. (Seven marks on paper can form the capital letters in ALL, a common way to keep score.)