- Deck of cards
Additional Setup Notes
- Before playing, select a player to be the designated dealer for the game. The dealer is chosen by each player receiving a card from a shuffled deck; whoever gets the highest card is the first dealer. If there is a tie for the highest number, repeat the deal. To keep it simple, Aces are high, and 2s are low.
- The dealer begins by removing one Queen from the deck. This is the process of designating the “Old Maid.” Shuffle the cards well after removing a Queen, allowing the player to the right to cut the deck. The dealer should then deal out the entire deck one by one, going in a clockwise rotation.
A distant relative of Go Fish, Old Maid is a game of matching cards. The objective of Old Maid is to make as many matching pairs with your cards as possible and to avoid having the off card out: the dreaded Old Maid.
Old Maid begins after everyone receives their cards, at which point they can look at them while keeping them hidden from other players. Players can check their hand for possible pairs, such as a pair of Jacks or two 7 cards. Players should place these matching pairs face down on the table in front of them. Any remaining cards make up their hand.
Players shouldn’t ever be able to see the other player’s hands. The dealer will begin by holding out their hand face down towards the player to their left. The player to the left can then choose any random card from the extended hand and add it to their own hand, hoping to make a pairing with the new card. If they can make a pairing, it’s added to the pile of face-down pairings. If they still can’t, the card simply remains in their hand.
Once the player to the left of the dealer has gone, they will then offer their face-down hand to the player to their left, and so on. The goal for each player is to “Go Out” in two possible ways. They can either pair up all of the cards in their hand, or the player to their left takes their last card for their draw. By getting out of the game, you avoid becoming the Old Maid.
Winning Old Maid is all about not losing. As the game progresses, it will become increasingly obvious which player might have the Old Maid by how many pairings begin matching up. The player with the unpaired Queen at the end of the game becomes the Old Maid and loses the game.
What is the recommended number of people that can play Old Maid?
Old Maid doesn’t have a defined player limit, but it’s best played between groups of 3-7 people. Games between two players can be especially thrilling as you do your best to dodge the unpaired Queen. You can also increase the number of players by adding another deck of cards to the mix, taking care to make sure there is still one odd Queen card out.