How to Play: Old Maid

Filed under: Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens, Activities: Family Time, Kids' Games

Don't get stuck with the Old Maid! Credit: Getty Images

What you need: Two to eight players and a pack of Old Maid cards or a standard pack of playing cards. When using a regular deck, a card is either removed or added, resulting in one unmatchable card. The most popular choice is to remove the ace of clubs or queen of clubs or to add a single joker. The unmatchable card becomes the "Old Maid."

How to play: The dealer deals all of the cards to the players. Some players may have more cards than others; this is acceptable. Players look at their cards and discard any pairs they have (for example, two kings, two sevens, etc.) face up. Players do not discard three of a kind. Beginning with the dealer, each player takes turns offering his or her hand face down to the person on his or her left. That person selects a card and adds it to his or her hand. This player then sees if the selected card makes a pair with his or her original cards. If so, the pair is discarded face up, as well. The player who just took a card then offers his or her hand to the person to the left, and so on. A player is allowed to shuffle his or her hand before offering it.

The rules: In common variants, the suit colors of a discarded pair must match: spades with clubs and diamonds with hearts.

How to win: The object of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until all players except one have no cards left. That one player left with the lone unmatchable card -- the "Old Maid" -- loses.

What else you need to know: There are many variations of this game, such as any card can be removed at the start of the game. That card is revealed at the end of the game, and the player left with its partner loses.

Related: More Kids Games

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