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Official Old Maid Rules

Old Maid is a classic card game perfect for families and gatherings. It's a fun and easy game to learn, making it a great choice for players of all ages. Here's a breakdown of the rules:


Avoid being left holding the "Old Maid" card (typically a single queen) at the end of the game.


Number of Players: 2-4 players (works best with multiples of 2)

  1. Remove the Old Maid: Take out one Queen (any suit) from the deck. This card becomes the "Old Maid" and is set aside face down, not used in the game.

  2. Shuffle the Deck: Mix the remaining cards in the deck face down.

  3. Deal the Cards: Evenly distribute all the cards face down to the players. Depending on the number of players, some might have one more card than others. This is okay.


Old Maid is all about discarding matching pairs and avoiding the dreaded Old Maid card. Here's how it plays:

Turns and Discarding:

  • Players take turns in a clockwise direction.

  • On your turn, you can do one of two things:

    • Look for Pairs: Look through your hand and discard any pairs of matching cards (e.g., two Kings, two Sevens). Place the discarded pairs face down in front of you.

    • Draw a Card: If you don't have any pairs in your hand, you can choose to draw a card from the top of the deck. Add this drawn card to your hand face down.

Discard Pile Strategy:

  • There's no designated discard pile in Old Maid. Discarded pairs are simply placed face down in front of the player who discarded them. This can be helpful for remembering which cards have already been played.

End of Round:

  • The game continues with players taking turns discarding pairs or drawing cards until only one player has cards remaining in their hand.

Winning the Game

  • The player who gets rid of all their cards by forming pairs throughout the game wins!

  • The player left holding the single "Old Maid" card at the end loses the game.


  • Discard Pile: Some variations introduce a central discard pile where players can discard any unwanted cards, not just pairs. This can speed up the game.

  • Multiple Old Maids: For larger groups (more than 4 players), you can remove two or even three Queens from the deck to create more "Old Maids" and increase the challenge.


  • Pay Attention: Observe which cards have already been discarded by other players to help you deduce which pairs might still be available.

  • Bluffing (Optional): In some casual variations, players can bluff by pretending to have a pair when they don't. However, if another player challenges your bluff and you can't produce the matching card, you might have to draw extra cards as a penalty.

Old Maid is a simple yet engaging game that provides a fun and lighthearted experience for players of all ages. It's a perfect choice for family game nights, gatherings with friends, or whenever you're looking for a quick and easy card game to enjoy.

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