Release Date: 
Sunday, September 15, 2002
PDF icon pokino.pdf794.31 KB
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
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by Jonathan Leistiko


Score points by playing card sequences that match sequences of adjacent numbers formed by dominoes in play.

You Need

A set of double-12 dominoes.
A poker deck.
A bunch of beads or other tokens. Pennies work well.

Setting Up

Place the dominoes face-down and mix them. Remove the Jokers from the poker deck and shuffle the remaining cards.
All players get three dominoes, five cards, and one bead.
Leave all remaining beads in a pile. This pile is the “bank.”
Leave all unused cards in a face-up stack, the “deck.”
Leave all unused dominoes face-down, in the “poke.”
Take four dominoes from the poke and arrange them in a spoke. Flip them face-up. It should look something like this:


On your turn you may play a domino from your hand (to create a future point-scoring opportunity) or play two or more cards from your hand (to score points).

Playing a domino:
Take a domino from your hand and lay it next to at least one face-up domino. You must lay your domino so that each square on it touches only one square on every other domino that it is adjacent to, maintaining the implied grid.

Valid plays:

Although not very productive, every domino pictured above is legally played.

Invalid plays:

There is only one valid connection pictured above. Do you see it?
After playing your domino, draw a domino from the poke to replace it and take a bead from the bank to reward you for your work.

Playing cards:
Step 1: Find an unbroken series of numbers on the face-up dominoes that matches a series of cards in your hand. A valid series contains 2 or more numbers.

Domino to card conversions:

  • 1 through 10 = Ace through 10
  • 11 = Jack
  • 12 = Queen
  • 0 = King

No two consecutive numbers in the series may come from the same domino. None of your consecutive numbers may come from a pair that has a token on their border—that pair has already been claimed by another player (explained below).

Valid and invalid plays:

Dominoes can be reused in a sequence, so:

  • Ace (1) + 3 scores
  • 10 + Queen (12) scores
  • King (0) + 6 does not score. The only scoring combinations adjacent to the 6 are 6 + 8 or 6 + 7
  • 6 + 8 + Ace (1) + 3 + 9 + King (0) scores.
  • King (0) + 9 + 3 + Ace (1) + 8 + 4 + 5 + Jack (11) scores.

More examples:

  • 6 + 4 + Ace (1) + Queen (12) + 6 scores.
  • 6 + 4 + Ace (1) + Queen (12) + 6 + 8 + 3 + Queen (12) scores. It’s also one of the two possible longest scoring chains on this particular example.

Step 2: Play your matching card sequence to the table. Return one bead to the bank for every card you play. You may not play a card that you can not pay for.

Step 3: Place a token at the border of each pair of numbers you claim. No other player is allowed to use that pair.

At the end of your turn: Draw a card, regardless of whether you played dominoes or cards. Play passes to your left.


If you have no cards in your hand at any point during the game, call out “Pokino!” The game ends immediately. You win the game. Winning this way is hard to do, but not impossible.

The game also ends when there are no dominoes left in the poke. Set any dominoes or beads you have aside; they’re not worth any points, and they don’t count against you.

Runs of cards score as follows:

Cards In Run Points Scored
2 5
3 5
4 5
5 10
6 15
7 20
8 35
9 55
10 90

Add the score for each run of cards you played. If you have the highest score, you win.


Greed – You do not have to pay for each card you play. Score five points for each bead you have at the end of the game.

Pokino-Up! – Each player starts the game with seven cards instead of five. You only have to draw a card at the end of your turn if you have less than seven cards in your hand.

Tear Down the Walls – Consecutive numbers in a sequence of cards may come from the same domino. When a domino is used in this fashion, set it aside and remove it from play.

Territory – In addition to having a homogenous set of tokens to use as a bank, you’ll need a unique, homogenous set of tokens for each player. When you play a sequence of cards, use your tokens to mark each pair of numbers you claim.
At the end of the game, set all of your cards (both played and in-hand), dominoes in-hand, and beads aside. Give each domino to the player who has the most tokens touching it. Add all of the pips on all of the dominoes you get to claim. The player with the highest total wins.

Origin and Credits

The emphasis is on the second syllable: poe – KEE – no.

Unlike most of my other games, I don’t really remember when I had the idea for Pokino. I do know that I started by focusing on making a game that used dominoes and a poker deck instead of starting with a rule set or design goal. I like the idea of a game that affects what scores points in another game. I actually intended for this month’s game to be something else, but that game will require y’all to cut out 100 unique cards and a bunch of tokens, so that might not be the best thing to offer as a free game.

I got the idea for the scanned banner from Jeremy’s Dice Box banner.

Thanks to Sharon for editing and to Ben for play testing.