Old Maid Card Game

  1. Old Maid Card Game Vintage
  2. Old Maid Card Game How To Play
  3. Old Maid Card Game
  4. Old Maid Card Game History

This video tutorial will teach you how to play the card game Old Maid. For more information visit video will. Here comes 'Old Maid' which popular as a classic game. What card is coming the next? It's addicted to thrill. Popular between women and men. Old Maid is a Victorian card game for two to eight players probably deriving from an ancient gambling game in which the loser pays for the drinks. It is a card-passing game where each player hopes not to end up with the odd card out - the Old Maid. The unmatchable card becomes the 'old maid', and whoever holds it at the end of the game is the loser. The dealer shuffles and deals all of the cards to the players, one card at a time. Some players may have one or two more cards than others; this is acceptable.

Old maid
OriginUnited Kingdom
TypeShedding game
Skills requiredMatching, pairing and recognising numbers[1]
Age range4-10[1]
CardsAny odd number depending on the number of players, typically 25, 49, 51, or 53
Random chanceLow-medium skill[1]
Easy to play[1]

Old maid[2] is a Victoriancard game for two or more players probably deriving from an ancient gambling game in which the loser pays for the drinks. The game includes an element of bluffing.[3][clarification needed]


The rules of the game are first recorded in 1884 by Green [4] and referred to in Bazaar, Exchange and Mart in 1883 as a 'newly invented game'.[5] However, it may well be much older and derived from the French game of Vieux Garçon, whose rules first appear in 1853,[6] or from the German game of black Peter whose rules are recorded as early as 1821.[7] All these games are probably ancient and derived from simple gambling games in which the aim was to determine a loser who had to pay for the next round of drinks (c.f. drinking game).[8] They originally employed a pack of 32 or 52 French cards, the queen of diamonds or jack of spades typically being the odd card and the player who is last in and left holding a single queen or jack becoming the 'old maid', 'vieux garçon', or 'black Peter' depending on the game.


There are retail card decks specifically crafted for playing old maid, but the game can just as easily be played with a standard 52-card deck. When using a regular deck, a card is either added or removed, resulting in one unmatchable card. The most popular choices are to remove the ace or queen of hearts or to add a single joker.[9] It is also possible to remove one card face-down from the top of the deck before hands are dealt; if this is done, players will not know which card is unmatchable. The unmatchable card becomes the 'old maid', and whoever holds it at the end of the game is the loser.

The dealer shuffles and deals all of the cards to the players, one card at a time. Some players may have one or two more cards than others; this is acceptable. Players look at their cards and discard any pairs they have (e.g., two kings, two sevens, etc.) face up.[10] Players do not discard three of a kind. In common variants, the suit colors of a discarded pair must match: spades () must match with clubs () and diamonds () must match with hearts ().

Beginning with the dealer, each player takes turns offering their hand face-down to the person on their left. That person selects a card without looking and adds it to their hand. This player then sees if the selected card makes a pair with any of their original cards. If so, the pair is discarded face up as well. The player who just took a card then offers their hand to the person on their left, and so on.

The objective of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until no more pairs can be made. The player with the card that has no match is 'stuck with the old maid' and loses. When playing with more than two players, the game is somewhat unusual in that it has one distinct loser rather than one distinct winner.

Scabby queen[edit]

Scabby queen is old maid played with a standard pack of cards from which the queen of clubs has been removed. The player left with the 'scabby queen' (queen of spades) is the loser and receives a number of raps on the knuckles with the edge of the pack. The number of raps is decided by reshuffling the pack and getting the loser to draw a card. They get the number of raps based on the face value of the card or, if it is a jack or king, 10 raps; if it is a queen, 21 raps. If the loser draws a red card he or she receives soft raps; if a black card, hard raps.[11]

Black Peter[edit]

The equivalent game in many European countries is known (in each country's own language) as 'Peter' or 'black Peter', and is played with special cards, typically 31 or 37, in which the odd one out is typically a chimney sweep or a black cat. The game can also be played with a standard 32-card pack from which a black jack is removed. The loser often gets a smudge on his or her face with a piece of soot or piece of burnt cork.[12]


  • In some variants, all players discard only after the dealer has had their turn to take a card.[citation needed]
  • Alternatively, play can proceed in reverse order, with players taking a new card before giving one up. In this variation, players can be stuck in 'old maid purgatory', i.e. with one card and no way to get rid of it.[citation needed]
  • Jackass, a variant played in Trinidad, removes the jack of diamonds; the jack of hearts is then the odd card. The player left holding it is the 'jackass'.[13]
  • A variant in East Asia is called baba-nuki (ババ抜き, 'old maid') in Japan and dodukjapki (도둑잡기, 'catching the thief') in Korea. It is played exactly as old maid, but instead of removing a queen or any other card, a joker is added, and the player who is left with it loses.[citation needed]
  • A variant played in the Philippines, is called ungguy-ungguyan. The game is played as old maid except any card can be removed at the start of the game. That card is revealed at the end of the game and the person left with its 'partner' (the odd card) loses and is called unggoy (Tagalog for 'monkey'). A similar variant exists in Indonesia by the name of kartu setan which literally translates to 'ghost card'; and in Japan by the name of jiji-nuki (ジジ抜き, 'old man').
  • In Brazil, two variants of the game are played: One, called fedor, literally 'stink', is played with a regular deck from which one card has been removed. The other, played with a specialty deck, is called jogo do mico, or 'capuchin-monkey game'. The cards in this version depict animals, each one having a male and a female card representation; only the capuchin monkey (mico) is unpaired.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdeChildren's Card Games by USPC Co. Retrieved 22 Apr 2019
  2. ^Not usually capitalised in UK or US English as shown by entries in encyclopedias and dictionaries, though some books uppercase many games. old maid in Encyclopædia Britannica, old maid (def. 2, no capitalisation) in Oxford Dictionaries, old maid in Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, old maid (def. 3, no capitalisation) in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  3. ^Gallagher 2015. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGallagher2015 (help)
  4. ^Green 1884, p. 326. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGreen1884 (help)
  5. ^_ 1883, p. 336. sfn error: no target: CITEREF_1883 (help)
  6. ^Lasserre 1853, pp. 307/308. sfn error: no target: CITEREFLasserre1853 (help)
  7. ^_ 1821, p. 298. sfn error: no target: CITEREF_1821 (help)
  8. ^David Parlett: Oxford Dictionary of Card Games. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York 1992/96.
  9. ^Dawson, L.; Hoyle, Edmund (1979). Hoyle's Card Games. Routledge. p. 234. ISBN0-415-00880-8. The Queen of Hearts is taken out of a full pack of cards, which is then dealt..
  10. ^Sackson, Sid (1994). Card Games Around the World. Dover Publications. p. 61. ISBN0-486-28100-0. The cards are dealt one at a time until all are dealt. If some players have one more card than others it doesn't matter.. The players look at their hands for pairs (such as two aces, two kings, etc.) and discard every pair they find face up on the table before them.
  11. ^McAlpine, Fraser. '5 British Card Games You Should Learn'. BBC America. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  12. ^Schwarzer Peter at pagat.com. Retrieved 18 Jun 2020.
  13. ^Golick 1986, p. 92. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGolick1986 (help)

External links[edit]

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Old Maid.
  • Rules of Card Games: Old Maid on Pagat.com
Retrieved from 'https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Old_maid_(card_game)&oldid=1003523119'

Whose deal is it? Come on, deal ‘em out. All you need is a standard pack of playing cards unless it’s a boys’ night in – then you can use the special pack you picked up in Amsterdam. But then again, if it’s a boys’ night you’re probably playing poker – not this game.

You’ll probably need at least three players but probably not more than six. A piece of paper and a pen would be good too. Designate someone to score. Someone who can add up would be helpful. We were taught this game on one of our trips over to Cyprus to see Sarah’s old man Keef and his Maid Marion. It’s a simple to learn game and good fun. The game is called Palmer. We call it Palmer, named after Keef, because he didn’t have a name for it. Palmer is Keef’s surname, in case you hadn’t worked it out.

Sarah, with her Dad, Keef

We play this in the bus sometimes. Here are the rules.

The Aim of the Game

The idea is to finish each round with the least points against you, preferably zero. After each round you count each players’ points and add it to their rolling total from the previous rounds. When a player hits a predetermined total (e.g. 50 points) then that player is out. Get outta’ town loser. Go put the kettle on or get some beards. The loser will normally think the game is crap, and to be fair, they might be right. You keep playing until there is one player who still has a score below 50 (or whatever your predetermined score is). And that player is the winner! Watch out for the usual post match uncalled for celebration drivel.

Marvellous, good game, didn’t you play well, crackerjack, two in the bed, one in the black, stay out the jack and um… bulls eye. Easy Peasy, crush a grape, wrestle an action man, and look what you could have won. Super smashing great, come on down. I thank you.


You will all recognise the winner easy enough. Upon winning they generally adopt the characteristics of a twat.

Scoring: The points for each card equal the number of the card. So, a seven is a seven, a three is a three and an ace is worth one. Simple. How much is a ten worth? Yep, you guessed it. It’s worth ten points. Simple. A Jack and a Queen are also worth ten. Here’s the complicated bit. The King, now he’s worth zero. And that’s good. Zero points is what you’re after. Bob-a-job.

If you end up with two cards with the same number then they cancel each other out and both score zero. So two aces gets you a zero. Two Queens get you a zero. Two Kings get you a zero – but they’re worth zero anyway – you remembered that already. Right?

Ok – we’re all clear on the scoring? Two eights? Yeah, that gets you a zero.

What about a Jack and a nine?Ok, that scores you ten for the Jack and nine for the nine, so that would be nineteen. N N N N nineteen.

Old Maid Card Game Vintage

The Deal: The dealer deals four cards to each player and sets the remaining cards in the middle with the top card turned over face up next to the rest of the un-dealt pack. Let’s call this the ‘Palmer Pile’. Don’t look at your cards. I SAID DON’T LOOK AT YOUR CARDS!!

Each player arranges their four cards face down into a 2×2 square. You have a top row of two cards and a bottom row of two cards. Now, without letting your opponents see, take a peek at your bottom row, but don’t turn them over. You’re allowed to look at these now and during the game. You’re not allowed to look at your top row.

First Play: The player to the left of the dealer goes first. That’s tradition, so no need to muck about there. The first player can do one of three things:

  1. Take the card that’s facing up from the Palmer Pile next to the pack of un-dealt cards in the middle. If you take this card, you must use it to replace one of your four cards which you will discard to the Palmer Pile, face up. You can replace either one of your bottom cards that you have already taken a peek at, or you can replace one of your unseen top cards. You replace your top cards blind, that’s to say, you can’t look at it before you make your choice.
  2. Take a card from the un-dealt pack. Obviously you don’t know what this card is, but you hope it’s a better card than the one showing on the Palmer Pile. If you take this card you use it to replace one of your four cards as described above. Go read that bit again if you already forgot what you do next.
  3. Turn over one of your four cards. You don’t need to select a card from either the Palmer Pile or the un-dealt pack if you don’t want to, but you must turn over one of your four cards.

After your first go you should have one of your four cards face up. This card is fixed now. You can’t swap it. You’re stuck with it. So don’t go turning over high cards unless you’re stupid or a girl – I mean let’s face it, they do take a lot longer to learn new card games don’t they.

Old Maid Card Game How To Play

The Next Turns: Once you’ve done one of those three things the next player takes their turn. On the second round do the same thing again, but you can’t replace any of your cards that are already face up. Keep going round until all the players have turned all four cards over. When you’ve done this you add up your points and the designated scorer will tott up the scores on the doors and then you all begin the next deal.

Old Maid Card Game

Take turns to deal by moving round to the original dealers’ left. Again, this is an ancient rule of card playing. If you’re a boy be ready to deal for the girl next to you. If you’re a boy and you do deal for the girl next to you, be sure to make an arse of yourself by trying to deal like a Las Vegas croupier. Don’t be surprised if someone calls you a ‘tit’.

Old Maid Card Game History

Gala spins welcome offer. Tactics: Who knows. Given the idea is to score low you want to discard your high cards to the Palmer Pile, but remember you can only peek at two of your cards. A second tactic is to reveal or swap your top cards that you can’t see as soon as possible so you know what you have to deal with. You can do this by swapping with a low card picked up from the un-dealt pack or the Palmer Pile, or you simply take a gamble and turn a top row card over. Sometimes you just have to play to get a pair. You’ll work it out.