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How to Play “Mexican Train” Dominoes (Double-9 and Double-12): Rules of Play

A favorite game of our customers, “Mexican Train” is a popular and fun game for 2-10 players using dominoes. We created our Double 12 Travel Domino Playing Cards specifically for the game Mexican Train, with 10 train cards and a “quick start” guide. These are the complete rules of play, free printable scoresheet, plus a little history about the game:

History of the Game ‘Mexican Train’

Similar to the game Chicken Foot, Mexican Train is a fairly recent variation of Dominoes that has become extremely popular, particularly in the US. Because of its simplicity and interaction, it can be played by nearly anyone, anywhere. It can last from a single, 20-minute game to a 12 round game lasting hours, and played by a wide range of 2 to 10+ players or teams.

Mexican Train can be played with a standard set of dominoes, but branded versions usually include a range of mostly just-for-fun parts and accessories to facilitate play and highlight the theme, such as a train station, train-shaped pieces to mark players’ trains and the “Mexican train”, and a “woo woo!” train whistle.

Why Is It Called “Mexican Train”?

In short, nobody really knows. There are many theories. Someone theorized that the game’s relation to the Cuban game called Longana might have caused people to confuse one country with another. A popular theory is that it was invented by Mexican railroad workers. We asked some friends in Mexico but they had never heard of it!

How to Play ‘Mexican Train’ Dominoes – Rules of Play

Game Set-up

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to have the fewest points, after playing all Hands.

The object of each Hand is to be the first player to place all of their dominoes. A Hand is played for each number in the domino set (for example, there are 13 hands with Double 12 dominoes (0-12) and 10 Hands with Double 9 Dominoes (0-9).

Starting Play: First Turn

The Engine

The Trains

To Play: Subsequent Turns

  1. on the player’s own “private” / “closed” Train, or
  2. on another player’s “open” Train, if available. Another player’s Train is available if it is marked with the Train Token, to show that its owner was unable to play on it at their last move, or
  3. on the “public” / “open” train, known as the Mexican Train, which is always available to all players, as explained below.

“Open” vs “Closed” – Marking Trains with Tokens

The Mexican Train


Playing Doubles

Satisfying Doubles

  1. the player of a double was unable to place a further domino, or
  2. the player of a double placed the second domino on a different Train, or
  3. a player placed more than one double — and having only one free turn cannot satisfy more than one of them.

Ending the Hand

Free printable PDF version of the Mexican Train domino scoresheet on our website



There are many rule variations and shortcuts to make the game shorter or longer, easier or more sophisticated. We really liked the clearly-written rules and variants documented on, and there are more on Wikipedia and Board Game Geek.

Mexican Train is a great game for parties and gatherings – the number of players is flexible and the game is easy to start and stop, and pick back up again later. We like to play a Hand or two every day at lunch, making the Game an ongoing event over days or even weeks, with just the two of us, and at parties it’s very easy for people to come and go from the game without having to start over. It’s flexible for up to 10 players (and probably more, if you get creative, especially with teams!). Give it a try and let us know what you think!

We designed our Double 12 Travel Domino Playing Cards specially for Mexican Train, which is a favorite game of our customers worldwide. Inspired by them, we created a unique hand drawn edition with Mexican Train accessories, giving you an on-the-go game for up to 10 people only 1.75″ tall and weighing 1.5 oz!

Double 12 Travel Domino Playing Cards

Our travel-sized version of Double 12 dominoes uses the most efficient material for travel size and weight: playing cards!

Specifically designed for Mexican Train, our domino set includes 10 train cards for tokens, and a “quick start” guide to begin play.

Our design of domino playing cards are printed on 1/4 size playing cards, hand-drawn, and feature unique pip colors and innovative corner numbers for fanning the cards in one hand.

Shop Double 12 Travel Dominoes >>>

Play dominoes and more travel games on-the-go with your family and friends using our creative, handcrafted travel-sized versions. Check out all our handcrafted travel games: 

About Walnut Studiolo

Walnut Studiolo crafts original modern designs by hand in our Oregon workshop using only natural materials. We are a family-run company located on the North Oregon Coast. Learn more about us on our website:

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