How to Play Old Maid: Classic Card Game Learning

how to play old maid
how to play old maid

Old Maid is a timeless and classic card game that generations have enjoyed. This simple yet entertaining game is perfect for family gatherings, game nights, or just some casual fun with friends.

If you’re new to Old Maid or need a refresher, this guide will walk you through the rules and strategies to ensure you have a great time playing.

What is the Objective of the Game Old Maid?

The objective of the game Old Maid is to form pairs of matching cards and avoid being left with the unmatchable ‘Old Maid’ card at the end of the game. Players take turns drawing cards from each other’s hands, trying to make pairs and discard them.

The game continues until all pairs have been formed, except for the single ‘Old Maid’ card, which is left unmatched. The player who successfully avoids holding the ‘Old Maid’ card at the end of the game is the winner. The game is often played for fun and is enjoyed for its simplicity and humor.

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Setting Up the Game

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare for a round of this classic card game:

  • Remove the Old Maid: From the standard 52-card deck, take out one Queen card. This Queen will be the ‘Old Maid.’ The rest of the deck will comprise pairs of matching cards.
  • Shuffle the Deck: Thoroughly shuffle the remaining 51 cards to ensure a random distribution.
  • Deal the Cards: Distribute the entire deck of 51 cards among the players. It’s okay if some players end up with more cards than others.
  • Organize the Cards: Each player should organize their hand by grouping matching pairs. For example, if a player has two 8s, they should place those cards together.
  • Initial Pairing: Before the game begins, players should check their hands for any initial pairs and set them aside. These pairs will not be used during the game.
  • Start the Game: Determine who goes first. The player to the left of the dealer usually starts, and the game proceeds clockwise.

How to Play

  • The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They draw a card from the player to their right, trying to make pairs.
  • If a pair is formed, those cards are set aside, and the player gets another turn.
  • The game continues clockwise, with players drawing and forming pairs until it has made all pairs.
  • The game ends when all pairs are matched except for the ‘Old Maid’ card.

The Old Maid Card

The ‘Old Maid’ card is a single Queen that cannot form a pair. Players aim to avoid being left with this card at the end of the game. As the game progresses, players strategize to pass the ‘Old Maid’ to opponents without them realizing it.

Winning the Game

The player with the fewest cards at the end of the game is the winner. The game is meant to be lighthearted and fun, so enjoy the playful banter and laughter that often accompany Old Maid.

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Tips and Strategies

  • Memory Game: Pay attention to the cards your opponents pick. Remembering which cards have been drawn can help you make informed decisions during your turn.
  • Misdirection: Use misdirection to pass the ‘Old Maid’ to opponents. Consider taking cards from players who are close to winning pairs to avoid suspicion.
  • Bluffing: Act confidently, even if you have the ‘Old Maid.’ Make deliberate choices to confuse opponents and keep them guessing.
  • Observation: Watch your opponents’ reactions when you draw a card. This can give you clues about whether you’ve picked the ‘Old Maid’ or a potential matching pair.

FAQs on How to Play Old Maid

Is there a recommended age for playing Old Maid?

Old Maid is suitable for players of all ages. It is often a popular choice for children due to its simplicity, but adults can also enjoy the strategic and humorous aspects of the game.

Can I look at the cards I draw from other players’ hands?

Yes, players can look at the cards they draw from others’ hands. This helps them remember and strategize during their turns.

How is the Old Maid card chosen?

The old Maid card is typically one of the Queens from the standard deck. Before the game begins, one Queen is removed, leaving the rest of the deck with pairs of matching cards.


Old Maid is a classic card game that transcends generations, providing endless entertainment and fostering social interaction. Whether you’re introducing it to a new generation or rediscovering it with friends, the simplicity and strategy of Old Maid make it a timeless favorite for all ages.



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