OBJECTIVE OF TEXAS 42: Reach 7 marks or 250 points first!
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players (partnerships)
DOMINO SET: Double-6
TYPE OF GAME: Dominoes/Trick-Taking
AUDIENCE: All Ages
INTRODUCTION TO TEXAS 42
Texas 42 or simply just 42 is a trick-taking game which uses a double 6 domino set. The game is also referred to as that “national game of Texas,” where it is held in high esteem and many towns have local tournaments. The game was developed in Garner, Texas by two local boys, William Thomas and Walter Earl. Apparently, the game was created as a response to religious (Protestant) disdain for card games, a similar origin story to Rummikub.
Partners sit across from each other at the playing table. Determine who will act as score-keeper. After, pick the first shaker. This is done by shuffling the dominoes on the table, face-down. Each player draws a single domino, the player with the highest value domino (more pips or dots) is the first shaker. In the event of a tie, the two players repeat until a winner is made.
Like a typical trick-taking game, the game is a series of single hands, with each hand producing a winner. This continues until one team earns 7+ marks. A hand has 7 individual tricks within it. A trick consists of each player playing a single domino, the highest value domino wins the trick.
Players win hands by fulfilling their bid contracts OR blocking the bidders from fulfilling their obligations.
Play can be broken down into the following steps: shake, draw, bid, declare trumps, play, score.
Shuffle (shake) dominoes on the table.
Players draw 7 dominoes each. Typically, the opponent’s of the dealer (shaker) draw first, then the dealer’s partner, followed lastly by the dealer.
There are 42 total points to bid on in any hand.
- 1 point per trick won
- 5 points per five pointer. won: 5-0, 4-1, 3-2
- 10 points per 10 pointer. won: 5-5, 6-4
- Bidding starts with the player to the left of the shaker and moves to the left.
- Players are allowed to bid only once.
- Players must pass or bid higher than the previous bid.
- If all players pass, the shaker is required to bid the minimum (30 points)
- ONce the bidding hits 42 (or 1 mark), only marks may be bid
- Players can bid up to 2 marks, bids after may be only 1 additional mark
- Marks bid are obligated to take (win) all 7 tricks to fulfill the bid.
The player who wins the bidding (bids the highest) declares the trump suit before playing. Suits include: blanks, ones (Aces), twos (Deuces), Three (treys), fours, fives, sixes, doubles, and lastly No-Trump or Follow-me. Trumps win over all over dominoes played (following the rules of play below). If players fail to declare a trump prior to play, the first domino played is the trump.
The winner of the bid leads in the first trick, play moves left.
During a trick, the following rules apply:
- Suit Order. For any possible suit played, the opposite end of the played domino determines the win hierarchy. Except for doubles, which are always the highest in their suit.
- Trumps. Dominoes in trump suit beat all other. Higher value trumps beat lower value trumps.
- Lead Anything. You may lead with any domino.
- Follow Suit. If you can, you must follow the suit of the first domino played. If not, you may play a trump (play trump) or any domino in hand (play off).
- Win Trick. Tricks are won by the highest value trump, or if no trumps were played, the highest ranking domino from the suit led with. Players who win lead in the next trick, this continues until all 7 tricks are played.
Teams keep a single stack of dominoes won from tricks. Keep the dominoes in order of when they were won. Stacks must be visible to opponents.
If bidding team has satisfied their contract, they win the marks they bid. If their opponent blocks them or takes more tricks, the opponents win the marks bid.
This continues until a team wins by earning 7 marks.
The goal is to win zero tricks. The player must bid at least 2 marks. If the bid is won, the player names “Nel-O” as the “trump”. In Nel-O, the bid winning player’s partner does not play the hand. The bid winning player plays first. If the bid winning player succeeds in not taking any tricks, the contract is satisfied. Otherwise, the opposing team wins the hand.
This involves adding the total number of pips on each domino then calculating how far “away” from 7. For example, 5-5 is “3 away”, 4-blank is also “3 away”. The minimum bid is 1 mark. The goal is for the bidding team to be closer to 7 than the opposing team. The contract is met if the bidding team is always the first to play the closest to 7 on each trick. The lead passes to the player who had the closest to 7 on the previous trick. Note that if the non-bid winning team wins any trick, the hand is over since the bidding team must win all 7 tricks.
This variation applies to the bidding phase. If a player has 4 or more doubles, the player can declare a “plunge” BEFORE any other player bids. A Plunge is a bid of 4 marks. If no other player increases the bid, then the partner of the “plunging” player names trump and starts the play.
Variations courtesy of commenter Tx350z
14 thoughts on “Texas 42”
can you open bidding with 84?
Hi Jack, yes you can but it would be called bidding 2 marks. Once the bidding reaches 42 then marks are used to signify new bids. A bid of two marks would make the other players only able to bid increase the bid by one mark each at a time.
We have played Texas 42 for years. Now that our parents are older they have forgotten many of the rules. So hear is the question, Do you have to play a trump if the opposite side is called for and it is they only one you have? For example: Threes are trump. The five- six has been played, all other players have fives. At your turn you have only one five and it has the trump #3 on the other side. Do you have to play this domino and thus take the trick even though you don’t want to take control, yet. Thank you Wynona “Rafferty” Schlott
Hi Wynona, so players must follow suit if able. If that is the only tile you have of the suit then you must play it. I hope this helps!
You do not have to play a trump unless a trump was led. When trumps are called, they become a suit of their own. In your example, your 5/3 is not a five, but a trump three.
Your question confuses me though. I see Ed already addressed this. You state that the 5-6 was played. If it was led, it is a six. When a domino is led, the big end always determines what suit it is, unless the small end is the trump.
Another varient of determining the bid: If all players pass, the shaker must take the bid for 30 – HOWEVER IF HE TAKES ALL 7 TRICKS HE EARNS 2 MARKS. This places a challenge to the opposing team to at least bid 30 to prevent possibly losing 2 marks. It is also an incentive to the shaker’s partner to bid 30 if he has a reasonably strong enough to bid.
Hi Gus, thanks so much for taking the time to add to our rules. I always love to hear about new and fun variations to beloved games.
Regarding Wynona’s question: If the 5-6 is led than everyone must play a 6 and the 5-3 is safe since the largest end of the dominoe led determines the suit led.
There are three variations worth mentioning. Generally players need to agree which, if any, will be allowed. The variations are “Nel-O”, “7s”, and “Plunge”.
Nel-O — The goal is to win zero tricks. The player must bid at least 2 marks. If the bid is won, the player names “Nel-O” as the “trump”. In Nel-O, the bid winning player’s partner does not play the hand. The bid winning player plays first. If the bid winning player succeeds in not taking any tricks, the contract is satisfied. Otherwise, the opposing team wins the hand.
7s — This involves adding the total number of pips on each domino then calculating how far “away” from 7. For example, 5-5 is “3 away”, 4-blank is also “3 away”. The minimum bid is 1 mark. The goal is for the bidding team to be closer to 7 than the opposing team. The contract is met if the bidding team is always the first to play the closest to 7 on each trick. The lead passes to the player who had the closest to 7 on the previous trick. Note that if the non-bid winning team wins any trick, the hand is over since the bidding team must win all 7 tricks.
Plunge — This variation applies to the bidding phase. If a player has 4 or more doubles, the player can declare a “plunge” BEFORE any other player bids. A Plunge is a bid of 4 marks. If no other player increases the bid, then the partner of the “plunging” player names trump and starts the play.
Hi, Thank you for the variations! Very interesting and fun.
Can you play 42 with 3 people and if yes how do you do it. Maybe take the Blanks the blanks out.
There is a variation for 3 players called 3-handed 42. it is not on the site yet, but I will look into adding it very soon. The only difference are that the blank ace is removed and each player has a hand of 9 dominos. All rules for bidding and play remain the same. I hope this helps!
With Doubles are trump, if a player does not have a double, but has a domino that matches the double that is led, does he have to play a domino that matches the double?
When doubles are trump, they are considered their own suit. if you do not have a double, you may play any tile.