Play Dominoes-- Panamanian Style
A fun part of the family Christmas celebration for many Panamanian families is playing dominoes after everyone has had their fill of Christmas dinner. Your family may enjoy adding this tradition to their Christmas Day celebration as well.
Dominoes is serious business in Panama. Some might argue that it is a national pastime.
Men often gather around small tables to play in public parks, fraternity lodges (think Elk's Club), clubs and homes. These games can literally last for days! There is a lot of jeering and smack talk, it's all in good fun, but it can be intense and very entertaining to watch.
During the holidays, domino games are a very popular way for families to unwind after the holiday meal in homes across the country and among Panamanians living in the US. These venues are no exception in the level of competitive fervor and bravado. There will be people slamming their 'winning' domino onto the small table followed by more boastful retorts to anyone who had dared to believe they would prevail against the winner.
Panamanian style dominoes is similar to Jamaican style dominoes in game play. This is called the 'draw' style and like in Jamaica, there can be many variations to the 'draw' style.
How to play Panamanian style with four players:
1. Count out 28 dominoes, from double blank to double six.
2. Place all the dominoes face-down on a sturdy table.
3. Shuffle the dominoes well.
4. Each player takes seven dominoes.
5. The player with the highest double goes first. In this case it will be “Double Six”. It is placed horizontally. This is called the “pose”.
6. The player to the right (counter clockwise) of the first player should play next. Except for doubles, each domino is placed vertically. In Panamanian style dominoes only two sides of the domino is used to match.
7. The next player will play the domino with like value next to the first domino (it doesn’t matter which end). Make sure like values are always touching.
8. If you don’t have a domino that corresponds to the ones on the layout, you must pass. Most players will either lay down their dominoes to show they “pass” or they will “click” two dominoes together twice to show they have passed. A person who makes everyone else pass a turn or two is jokingly called a "Ramsey." The origin of this moniker is unknown, but it means the person who is dominating the game. It is conjectured that it may be a Caribbean linguistic variant of "Ramses,' the Egyptian pharaoh.
9. Who wins: The first person to run out of dominoes wins OR if everybody passes (GAME BLOCKED). The winner is the person/team with the lowest score. You count the number of dots on the tiles remaining in the hand(s) of the losing player/team. First team to 100 wins (winning points totals may vary).