I know that Mexican Train is actually a friendly game, often played with friends and family, and that winning is not critical or terribly important. The most important thing is the social part of the game: talking, laughing, and getting fun.
With that said, I also know there are individuals who will really like to become better at this particular game. Particularly if the friendly people you play with are winning more frequently than you happen to be and you are starting to get distraught and depressed over it.
Winning the video game of Mexican Train Dominoes is not as difficult to do as you might think. There are a few simple tips that could have a dramatic effect on the results of the game. Weather you are a beginning player, an intermediate player, or even an advanced player, you may still reap the benefits of these strategic tips.
Mexican Train comes with a lot of rule variations which are used all over the world, however the majority of my strategic tips affect all the most common rule sets and I’ve noted in the text in which the strategy may vary for various rules.
Organize your dominoes into the ideal train
Obviously, every hand starts by “dealing” several dominoes to each and every player. Depending on how so many people are playing, this number can vary from 7 or 8 to 15 or so. The particular number is not relevant. But it is crucial to organize your dominoes into the best possible train prior to starting play.
After the starting double has been played, on your part or other people, you build a train along with your remaining dominoes that starts with the same pip value as the opening double and connect as many dominoes as is possible for that train.
To actually calculate the perfect approach to organize a player’s dominoes, one would need to consider every domino that has been played up to now, and do a substantial amount of math so that you can calculate odds. The best play at any point in the game is influenced by what continues to be played up to that time. Because this is unrealistic, I like to “approximate” the most effective train by making use of these 3 basic rules:
The train with the most dominoes is most beneficial.
Given 2 trains of equal length, the train with all the most points in it is best.
Given 2 trains of equal length and equal point value, the most effective train has higher point value dominoes placed as far forward inside the train as possible.
Play your spares first whenever possible
Playing a spare is the first order of economic. If there is no possible play from the spares, then play out of your train.
In case you have spares, then play from your end of the train whenever possible
This is extremely important! The first option is to experience from your spares, however, your second options are to try out from your end (caboose) of the train. You’ll find a lot of times where you play through the end of the train, and suddenly one of the spares can fit on the end. It has the same effect as playing an extra.
Watch out for opportunities to change your caboose
If the last domino within your train is really a 10-4, and one of the spares is 10-2, and you may play either on an opponent’s marked train (when I say “marked train”, I mean a players’ train which can be open for anybody to experience upon), or on the Mexican train, play the 10-4, and move the ten-2 for the end of the train. If somebody is out before you do, you might have saved yourself 2 points. This is this kind of common occurrence, that over the course of an entire game, you will probably stay away from a large number of points.
In case you have spares, and the Mexican (or community) train is not started, and your spares (or perhaps your caboose) can start it, then start it!
The Mexican (or community) Train is easily the most common place to dump your spares. You can’t do this if it has not yet been started. So given a selection of playing on an opponents penny, or starting the Mexican train, start the Mexican train. But this is only if you have spares to experience. If all your dominoes are in your train, then you definitely don’t require the Mexican train, so don’t start it.
Know when you ought to play on your own marked train vs. another train once you have a choice.
Sometimes you will be up against a selection of playing Adu Q on your own marked train, OR on another player’s marked train or the Mexican Train. You don’t desire to play all on your own train, thus removing your penny, unless you have another domino you can play all on your own train.
For example, let’s say you may have just one single domino left, the double-6, your train is marked (a cent is into it), and it is your turn. You are unable to play the double-6 which means you must draw. You draw a 10-8. Let’s repeat the end of your own train is a 10 and the end of the Mexican Train is a 10. So you do have a choice. It is possible to play in the 10-8 on either your own train (removing your penny) or on the Mexican train.
The proper choice is to play the ten-8 on the Mexican Train, not on your own. This will keep your own train marked and offered to the other players thus improving the chance that you might play in the double-6 and venture out.
In the event the Mexican train is stuck, i.e., nobody is playing into it, and there is no need any spares, then don’t play on the Mexican train through the end of your own train. You would like it to remain stuck and so the other players cannot play into it either.
If you have a selection of playing a domino using one of two opponents’ marked trains, select the opponent with more dominoes to try out.
Unless you have any spares, which means you are simply playing out your train, and also the end of your own train would fit upon an opponent’s marked train, don’t play it. Why unstick an opponent?
If you’re playing with the principles that say doubles do not have to become covered, here is another tip: Play doubles as soon as possible – even from your train.
You need to play a double as soon as possible. Playing a double lewnqd the center of your train will not destroy the integrity of your own train. It merely lowers the point total of the hand. When another person is out, you don’t wish to be caught having a double in your hand that one could have played earlier within the hand.
There certainly luck associated with Mexican Train, but luck has a tendency to even out with time, with everyone getting their fair share of good luck and bad luck.
So, although my strategic tips won’t guarantee a win each time, they are doing promise to improve your game and many likely, improve it to the point that you are currently winning more frequently than your opponents.