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Old Maid Rules: How Do You Play Old Maid?

Old Maid Rules:

When you were a child chances are one of the first games you learned to play was Old Maid.  One of your first childhood memories of playing card games may be asking your parent: “how do you play old maid?”  It is a relatively simple game for almost any number of players (2-8).  What makes it such an appealing game to teach children is the skills it builds in number recognition, matching, and pairing.

Suggested Ages:

Old Maid is recommended for players aged four to ten.

Required Elements:

To play, you will need one standard, 52-card deck or one of the flavorful decks that are available for the game.

In order to play the game, remove a Queen from the standard deck, leaving 51 cards.

Goal of the Game:

The objective of Old Maid is to form pairs of numbers.  Once the numbers are paired, they are discarded. Further, players attempt to avoid being stuck with an unmatchable queen, as this results in a loss.

Beginning The Game:

Choose a dealer.  The dealer shuffles the deck of fifty-one cards and deals them, one at a time, beginning with the player on his/her left until all of the cards have been dealt.  It is not necessary for each player to have exactly the same number of cards (remember, one Queen is missing).

After all of the cards have been dealt, each player organizes their hand and immediately discards any matching pairs they have.  If a player has three of a number, only two are discarded and the third must remain in that player’s hand.  Then the game play phase begins.

Game Play:

The player who is the dealer then spreads out his hand, face down, and offers it to the player on his left.  The second player chooses a random card from that hand and places it into their own.  If the card taken creates a matching pair, the player discards the newly created pair.

The player who just drew a card then offers his hand, face down, to the player on his left who then draws a card from it and discards any matching pair that may have been formed.

Each player repeats this pattern until all of the cards have been paired with the exception of the odd Queen (the Old Maid).  The player holding the lone queen is the Old Maid and loses the hand.

Mistakes and Misplays:

In the event that a player mistakenly discards an improper number of cards or discards a pair that does not match, each discarded pair ought to be inspected to determine what player had committed the mistake.

That player is then declared the Old Maid and forfeits the hand.


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