Cuban dominoes

You say that traditional dominos is not mentally challenging enough for you. No problem! Try your hand at Cuban dominos. The perfect game to play in the park while sipping a cafecito.

Players 2 teams of 2 players
Equipment Double nine set
of dominoes and a score pad
How to play

The set of 55 dominoes is put facedown on the table and shuffled.

Each player takes 10 dominoes, and the remaining 15 are set aside and not used for that hand.

The player with the highest double starts the round.

On the players turn he or she places a domino with a matching numbered spots on either end of the domino layout. If a player cannot play, he or she knock on table an lose there turn.

The first player to play all their dominoes wins the hand and collects the points that the opposing team has on their dominoes. Points are determined by how many dots are on the domino.

If no player can play on the layout the game is blocked. In this case the player with the lowest number of points in his hand wins.

The winning team starts the next hand.

Games can be played to 100 ,150,or 200 points.


Some people play that person who picks the highest domino from the fifteen left over dominos leads the first hand.




Scopa is a popular Italian card. Played in parks, piazzas, and at kitchen tables, it is a game enjoyed by many. It is often played quickly, and with a fair amount verbal commentary from the players. After learning to play Scopa, be sure try your hand at one of the over dozen variations of the game. In bocca al lupo!

two or four playing in partnership
Latin deck of cards or standard deck with the 8, 9, and 10 cards removed.
Score pad
How to play
Players should determine what score they’re going to play to 11, 15, or 21 points,. Players cut for deal low card deals.

The dealer gives each player three cards. Then four cards are be placed face up on the table. If three of the table cards are Kings however the to hand must be re-dealt.

Play goes around the table counterclockwise from the dealer. On the players turn they lay a card from their hand on the table. The objective is to capture a card or cards from the table that have the same value or combined value as the card the player laid down. A King is worth 10 , a Queen (or horseman if using a Italian deck) is worth 9 and Jack is worth 8. Any cards taken on the table are placed face down in a pile next to the player. If a player does not have a card that capture any cards from table then it stays on the table and other players can try to capture it.

If a player on their turn captures all the cards on the table this is called a Scopa or sweep. This is an automatic one point the player. Keep track your sweeps place one card face up in your captured stack.

After the players use their three cards, the dealer deals out another three cards face down each player but no table cards are dealt. Play continues until the deck is all used up.

If there are cards on the table after all the cards have been played they are given to the player who made the last capture of the game. The player who captures the last cards this way does not get a Scopa.

The player who captured the highest number of cards earns a point. The player who captured the most coins or diamond suited cards earns a point. The player who captured the seven of coins or seven of diamonds earns a point. The players gets one point for each sweep or Scopa he or she captures. A player earns one point if the have the highest primiera. To find out who has the highest primera add the value of cards capture using the ranking described here:
sevens are 21
sixes are18
aces are 16
fives are 15
fours are 14
three are 13
twos are 12
Kings are 10
Queens or horseman are 9
Jacks are 8
Whoever has the highest score of these cards captured wins the point.

Scopa di Quindici
In this variation, the played card does not take a card or set of cards that sum to the value of the card played. Instead, a capture is made when a played card and the cards captured equal 15.

Scapone Scientifico
This variation is played just like Scopa with these exceptions. There are four players playing in teams of two. Each player is dealt ten cards at the start of each hand. There are no cards dealt to the table.

How to make a Mancala board, even if you do not have a full deck.


Here is an improvised Mancala board made from some playing cards. The cards that are in rows are used as the pits that the players sow the seeds. The cards at the ends are for putting the seeds that are captured. This is a great way to play Mancala games while traveling because it reduces the amount of extra equipment you need to bring. A board made from cards can also be used to playing variations of Mancala that have differing numbers of pits. If you have any ideas on making a Mancala board, please share it in the comments section.

What do you mean we forgot to bring a pencil?!

Here is a homemade abacus on a string that can be very helpful to the traveling game player. This simple tool allows you to score games without needing pen or paper, reduces simple math errors, and is easy to pack. The beads of the abacus shown in the photo above even glow in the dark.

When a player records a score, he or she move the beads from the left to the right along the string. The first ten beads are worth 1 point each, the middle ten beads are worth 10 points each, and the last ten beads are worth 100 points each. When all beads in a row have been pushed to the right they are all pushed back to the starting postion on the left, and a bead from the next row is pushed to the right.

Here is an example of using the score keeper. If a player scored thirteen points he or she would move one 10 point bead to the right and three 1 point beads point beads to the right.

If the player scored seven points on the next turn, seven 1 point beads would be pushed to the right. After pushing the seven 1 point beads all the 1 point beads would be on the right, so they would all be pushed back to the left and one 10 point bead would be pushed right.