What is Old Maid?
The classic Old Maid card game is a matching type card game from the Victorian era, which can involve any number of players, and is suitable for players of any age range. The game is easy to understand, and involves a simple gameplay loop that combines minuscule skill with luck.
How to Play Old Maid?
Old Maid is a card game that can accommodate any player count, though it is recommended that the total player count does not exceed 10, which would be overly cumbersome to run smooth.
The play the Old Maid card game, all you need is the standard 52-card Anglo American deck. No Jokers are used in Old Maid.
However, you will need to remove a Queen from the deck. This makes the Old Maid deck a 51-card deck.
Each player is dealt cards one at a time until all cards have been dealt.
Since the deck has an odd number of cards, there is no way to ensure all players have the same number of cards at the start of the game. However, it is alright for some players to have more cards than others.
Each player is then allowed to view their cards. If there are any pairs in hand, the players will remove the pair from their hand and place them face-up at their side.
Note that pairs in Old Maid do not rely on suits to be determined. In fact, suits do not matter at all in the Old Maid card game.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Turn order proceeds in clockwise order.
As long as a player still has cards in hand, they will offer their cards face-down to the player to their left. The player then randomly picks a card to take and add to their hand.
The player who chose the card will then view his/her hand. If a pair can be formed with the newly obtained card, the pair is set aside. If a pair cannot be formed, the card is kept in hand.
The player then offers their cards face-down to the next player. The process continues in clockwise order.
The aim of the Old Maid card game is to not become the titular “old maid”. Since a Queen has been removed from the deck, there will be a card that cannot be paired up (there are only 3 Queens in the Old Maid deck).
When a player runs out of cards in hand, they are considered “safe” and can wait until the game ends.
This can happen via making a pair with an obtained card, or by letting the next player in turn order take the final card from hand.
The final player who has the unpaired Queen will be the Old Maid, and loses the round.
The Old Maid rules and instructions are:
- A Queen is removed from the standard 52-card deck.
- Each player is dealt cards one-by-one until no cards remain.
- All players view their cards, and set aside any pairs from hand face-up to the side.
- The player to the left of the dealer goes first, offering their hand face-down to the players on their left. The other player takes a card of their choice from the hand.
- The player who obtained the card will check to see if more pairs can be formed with the newly obtained card. If not, the game continues.
- The game continues until all but one player has gone out.
- The player with the unpaired Queen will lose the game.
Old Maid scoring is only applicable in games played across multiple rounds. Each player who goes out will be granted one point each.
The player who ends the game with the highest point can be considered the winner.
This is an example of a turn in a 2-player Old Maid game, between two players.
In this case, Player 1 is offering his hand to Player 2.
Player 1: Q♠ 7♣ 5♥
Player 2: 3♣ 5♦
Player 2 draws the 5♥ from Player 1. Thus, Player 2 can form a pair of two fives (5♥, 5♦).
Now, the players have the following hands.
Player 1: Q♠ 7♣
Player 2: 3♣
Player 2 now offers his hand to Player 1. Since there is only one card left, Player 1 has to draw the 3♣.
This clears Player 2’s card. Thus, Player 2 goes out and wins the round.
- The main aspect of Old Maid strategy is to play fast.
- Prevent players from seeing your cards if possible.
- If you’ve seen another player pair up two Queens, that means the unpaired Queen is now a lose condition.
- Try to observe player’s drawing habits. If you can force the next player to take the Old Maid Queen, you’ll be safe for turns to come.
- Count cards. If you’ve seen a pair made with a certain card rank, that means it will be harder to make the remaining pair.
- Keep calm while playing. Old maid is ultimately a game of luck, so have fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I play the Old Maid card game online?
There are a few Old Maid simulators online, and some that are geared specifically for phones. Since Old Maid is a game with simple rules, its no surprise most of these are well-made.
How to play Old Maid with regular cards?
Using a standard 52-card deck, remove one Queen from the deck to make the 51-card Old Maid deck.
How many cards do you deal?
All 51 cards from the Old Maid deck are dealt one by one until all cards are dealt. It is okay for some players to have more cards than other players.
How many cards are in an Old Maid deck?
In an Old Maid deck, there are a total of 51 cards.