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Uno (card game)

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Title: Uno (card game)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Crazy Eights, Taki (card game), List of Mattel games, Mattel, Craits
Collection: American Inventions, Card Games Introduced in 1971, Dedicated Deck Card Games, Games of Mental Skill, Mattel, Shedding-Type Card Games, Uno
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Uno (card game)

Type Shedding-type
Players 2 – 10[1]
Skills required Keeping important cards for later; knowing when to put them down, concealing your hand.
Age range 7+[1]
Cards 108
Playing time Normally up to 30 minutes but can go higher
Random chance easy

Uno (; from Italian and Spanish for 'one') is an American card game which is played with a specially printed deck (see Mau Mau for an almost identical game played with normal playing cards). The game was originally developed in 1971 by Merle Robbins in Reading, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. It has been a Mattel product since 1992. The game's general principles put it into the Crazy Eights family of card games.


  • History 1
  • Official rules 2
    • Penalties 2.1
  • Strategies 3
  • Card and deck styles 4
  • Theme packs 5
    • Themed video games 5.1
    • Themed sports teams 5.2
  • Special Uno games 6
  • Video games 7
  • Variations 8
    • Alternative Game Play 8.1
    • Alternative Games Featuring Uno Deck 8.2
  • Similar games 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • Bibliography 12
  • External links 13


Merle Robbins, an Ohio barbershop owner, loved to play cards. One day in 1971, Merle came up with the idea for UNO and introduced the game to his family. When his family and friends began playing UNO more and more, Robbins and his family spent $8,000 to have 5,000 games made. At first Robbins sold UNO from his barbershop. A few local businesses sold it as well. Later Robbins sold the UNO rights to a funeral parlor owner Robert Tezak, an UNO fan, and 4 of his friends from Joliet, Illinois, for $50,000, plus royalties of 10 cents per game. International Games Inc. was formed to market UNO. The office was in the back of the funeral parlor. The games were produced by Lewis Saltzman of Saltzman Printers, Maywood Il. Initial games were placed in Ekert Drug stores in Indiana and sales skyrocketed. In 1992, International Games became part of the Mattel product line.[2]

Official rules

A deck of English Uno cards from 1994. This particular deck uses the older card design, where letters appear on the action cards instead of symbols.
UNO cards deck

The deck consists of 108 cards, of which there are twenty-five of each color (red, green, blue, and yellow), each color having two of each rank except zero. The ranks in each color are zero to nine, "Skip", "Draw Two" and "Reverse" (the last three of these being classified as "action cards"). In addition, the deck contains four each of "Wild" and "Wild Draw Four" cards.

To start a hand, seven cards are dealt out to each player, and the top card of the deck is flipped over and set aside to begin the discard pile. The player to the dealer's left plays first, unless the first card on the discard pile is an action or Wild card (see below). On a player's turn, he/she must do one of the following:

  • play a card matching the discard in color, number or symbol
  • play a Wild card, or a playable Wild Draw Four card (see restriction below)
  • draw the top card of the deck

If a player chooses to draw the top card of the deck, and that card is playable (it matches the discard, or is a playable wild card), then the player may (but need not) immediately play that card.

Play proceeds clockwise around the table.

Action and Wild cards have the following effects:

Card Effect when played from hand fingers Effect as first discard
Skip Next player in sequence loses a turn Player to dealer's left loses a turn
Draw Two Next player in sequence draws two cards and loses a turn Player to dealer's left draws two cards and loses a turn.
Reverse Order of play switches directions (clockwise to counterclockwise, and vice versa) Dealer plays first; play proceeds counterclockwise
Wild Player declares next color to be matched (may be used on any turn even if the player has matching color) Player to dealer's left declares first color to be matched, then plays normally
Wild Draw Four Player declares next color to be matched; next player in sequence draws four cards and loses a turn. May be legally played only if the player has no cards of the current color; Wild cards and cards with the same number or symbol in a different color do not count. Return card to deck, shuffle, flip top card to start discard pile
  • A player may draw a card from the deck even if that player has a playable card.
  • If a player chooses to draw a card and the drawn card is playable, the player has the option of either keeping it or playing it immediately (as part of that turn).
  • If a player chooses to draw, the player may not play any card (other than the drawn card, if playable) on that turn.
  • A player may play a Wild card at any time (even if that player has other playable cards).
  • A player may play a Wild Draw Four card only if that player has no cards matching the current color (the player may have cards of a different color matching the current number or symbol or a Wild card).[3] A player who plays a Wild Draw Four may be challenged by the next player in sequence (see below).
  • If the entire deck is used during play, the top discard is set aside and the rest of the pile is shuffled to create a new deck. Play then proceeds normally.
  • It is illegal to trade cards of any sort with another player.
  • In a two-player game, the Reverse has the same effect as a Skip, allowing the player who discards it to take another turn.

A player who plays his/her next-to-last card must call "uno" as a warning to the others.[4]

The first player to get rid of his/her last card ("going out") wins the hand and scores points for the cards held by the other players. Number cards count their face value, all action cards count twenty, and Wild and Wild Draw Four cards count fifty. If a Draw Two or Wild Draw Four card is played to go out, the next player in sequence must draw the appropriate number of cards before the score is tallied.

The first player to reach 500 points wins the game.


  • If a player lays down his/her next-to-last card without calling "uno" and is caught before the next player in sequence takes a turn (draws a card from their hand, draws a card or touches the discard pile, depending on interpretation), he/she must draw two cards. One must lay the card before calling uno. If the player is not caught in time, or remembers to call "uno" before being caught, he/she suffers no penalty.
  • When a Wild Draw Four card is played, the next player in sequence has the right to challenge it if he/she believes the player has one or more cards in the current color. The challenged player privately shows his/her cards to the challenger. If the challenge is invalid, the challenger draws six cards and loses a turn; if it is valid, the challenged player draws four instead. Regardless of the outcome, the Wild Draw Four remains on the discard pile, and the color named by the player who used it remains in effect.


A strategy at Uno may be offensive (aiming to go out), or defensive (aiming to minimize the score of the hand, in the event that another player goes out). Part of the skill of playing Uno is knowing when to adopt an offensive or defensive strategy.

An offensive strategy would advise holding on to Wild and Wild Draw Four cards, because these can be played near the end of the hand in order to go out (when it may be hard or impossible to play a matching card). However, a defensive strategy would advise getting rid of such cards early, because they have a high point value.

A defensive strategy would advise playing a high-numbered card in order to reduce the point value of the hand. However, an offensive strategy would suggest playing a 0 when the player wants to continue on the current color, because it is less likely to be matched by another 0 of a different color (there is only one 0 of each color, but two of each 1–9).

A player holding only one card is required to call out "uno" or risk being penalized if caught. A player who calls "uno" risks being the target of concerted action from the other players, who may be able to use action cards to prevent that player from having an opportunity to go out. Depending on the level and seriousness of play, some players may deliberately avoid saying "uno", in the hope of avoiding detection and then going out on the next turn. For this reason, it is useful to conceal how many cards are in your hand, and to keep track of how many cards every other player holds.

Little has been published on the optimal strategy for the game of Uno. Simulations of games may shed some light on the matter, but the game solution is likely to be very complex. This is because attempts to reduce point count in the player's hands can be "read" by other players if too transparent. This information can be exploited by other players, and it follows that a mixed strategy may be more appropriate.

Some work has been done into the psychology of Uno as it relates to individual and group behavior.[5] Players may exhibit physical tells,[6] in which a subtle, often repeated, visual cue inadvertently reveals their state of mind during a game. Alternatively, they may change their playing style; switching from an aggressive card-shedding strategy to a more subdued one, or vice versa.

Card and deck styles

The new Uno action cards bear symbols which denote their action, except for the Wild cards which still bear the word "Wild." Before the design change, such cards in English versions of the game bear letters. Especially old English versions can be denoted by the absence of the white rim that surrounds the edge of most Uno cards. Other versions also use symbols and images in both old and new designs, especially those with Wild cards that do not bear the word "Wild" in 40th Anniversary sets. The Xbox 360 version of the game uses the new English style of the cards in gameplay. There are also language-free versions of the newer styles Uno action cards that do not bear the word "Wild" but have the same styling.

Theme packs

There are many different themes and versions of Uno. These theme games may come with slightly different directions and special cards.

Note: * indicates HIT Entertainment character, by which Mattel acquired HIT in 2012.

Themed video games

Versions available on the Xbox 360 version of Uno:

Themed sports teams

Several sports teams each have 112-card sets, featuring players from those teams. The special cards in each deck vary depending on the card set itself. The following teams have confirmed Uno sets.

Special Uno games

Video games


Alternative Game Play

Many variations from the standard gameplay exist, such as Elimination Uno, Speed Uno, French Uno and Pirate Uno.[8]

Alternative Games Featuring Uno Deck

Similar games

Uno is a member of the shedding family of card games. The shedding family of card games consists of games where the objective is to get rid of all your cards while preventing the other players from getting rid of their cards.


  1. ^ Which features the "friendship" card, where the player can swap his/her hand with another player.
  2. ^ Features a Joker, which when discarded, this card allows the player to choose 1 to 3 players to draw 1 to 3 cards
  3. ^ "On the Go Card": Swapping Cards with the player to his or her left or right depending on the person that played the card.
  4. ^ Two different packs. One a heart shaped tin, one a lunch box style. Features "Care-a-lot" card, when played allows all players to discard any card in their hand to the discard pile without causing any consequences to other players.
  5. ^ Packaged in a round barrel designed to fit in a car's cup holder
  6. ^ "Cheese Touch Card: If this card is played, all players need to show their yellow cards if they got the cheese touch.
  7. ^ "Evil card: the player holding this card can steal the top card from the DISCARD pile at any point in the game, even if it's not his or her turn."
  8. ^ Features the Dragon Card, when played, all players must discard a prince card (regardless of color or number) to kill the dragon before continuing play. If a player does not have a prince card in their hand, they must pick up cards until they find a prince card.
  9. ^ Deck features many of the characters on the Disney Channel.
  10. ^ The deck features pictures of various dogs on each of the cards, and contains a Fetch Wild Card.
  11. ^ (Released in Japan)
  12. ^ "Vegas" Command Card. This card can only be played on another Vegas card or on the same color of play. When this card is played, the next person in the direction of play has to draw 1 card off of the draw pile and flip it over. If the card flipped over is 0–9, then the player has to draw that many cards and keep the card they flipped over. If the card flipped over is a skip command card, then the next player in direction of play has to draw 10 cards, and the player who flipped over the skip keeps only that card. If the card flipped over is a Reverse command card, then the player who laid the Vegas card has to draw ten cards. If the card flipped over is a wild, draw 2, or a draw 4 wild, then the next player has to draw 10 cards, plus the extra 2 or 4 from the wild.
  13. ^ In which players can try for world domination, à la Stewie Griffin, with the exclusive "Dominate" card and rule.
  14. ^ Includes the Travel card (featuring Traveling Matt), which allows the player to "travel" to another player's spot and view his or her entire hand.
  15. ^ "Sue Sylvester's Sabotage Card allows you to select an opponent whose hand you wish to view, then allows you to swap a card you don't want with one you desire from the hand of the opponent you selected."
  16. ^ "Best of Both Worlds Card, when this used a player can decide whether to use this as "Miley's 'Ya Think' Rule" or "Hannah's Gotta Secret Rule". This former causes every other player to draw a single card, while the latter can block a "Wild Draw Four" Card."
  17. ^ Yogi Bear adds to the fun with the exclusive "pic-a-nic" card – the player with this special card gets to steal the top card from the discard pile at any point in the game.
  18. ^ "Mambo! card: the player who plays it must give each opponent one card from his/her hand, and then places a card on the discard pile to start the next round."
  19. ^ which features a Draw Three (instead of Draw Two) card; also features a "howler" wild card where, if played, the player who uses the card may select another player to say all of their cards aloud; also features an "invisibility" wild card where, if played, the player can block any card placed down (such as, a card that forces them to draw cards)
  20. ^ "Love Me Not" card and rule that when laid, person who laid the card picks a color and everyone has to lay down a card from their hand of the color and say 'Love Me' as they discard. If a person doesn't have a card of the color, they must draw until they get one while saying 'Love Me Not'. The color called is now the color in play after everyone has laid their card, and the game continues.
  21. ^ features 27 additional or modified cards
  22. ^ Gamma Card: Makes a player discard all their cards in their hand and draw the same amount discarded.
  23. ^ Features farm equipment graphics and a "Harvest" card-The player who plays the harvest card selects another player to draw from the DRAW pile until he/she draws a green card, which will allow them to complete the harvest (or, until they draw 5 cards, whichever comes first).
  24. ^ "Battle" card
  25. ^ Power card: draw 6 cards. Same thing as Nintendo Uno.
  26. ^ "Mayhem card: the player who plays it causes everyone to swap hands. The direction of the swap is determined by the player playing the card."
  27. ^ Card sets only have 36 cards designed for children at least 3 years of age. These sets come in several variants, based on titles for children (such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Sesame Street, and Clifford the Big Red Dog).
  28. ^ "My Uno: Uno card game with your own personal pictures."
  29. ^ Has pictures of various Nintendo characters on each card and has writing in classic 8-bit style. Also contains the Power card; this card can be used as a regular Wild card at any time, but can also be used to block a Draw 2 or Wild Draw 4 card played against the player after which it acts as a regular Wild card.
  30. ^ Artwork contains scenes from the University of Notre Dame, mostly football-related. Includes a special "Irish" card which can be played as a wild card or to block a draw two or four.
  31. ^ Released in Japan. The gameplay is the same as normal, but all card's artwork is made into One Piece related artwork.
  32. ^ "Red Baron" card: this is a wild card; the player playing the card chooses to look at someone else's hand and then designates the color of play. "Good Grief" card: this is a wild card; the player playing the card may select an opponent to continue drawing cards until one depicting Charlie Brown is drawn.
  33. ^ Wei, R. H.. Gamebits: Peanuts at Play. Games. Issue 196 (Vol. 27, No. 10). Pg.4. December 2003.
  34. ^ Happy Holidays Card
  35. ^ The "Black Pearl" card and special rule lets the player who lays it down choose one opponent and that opponent must draw until he/she gets a Capt. Jack Sparrow card or a Capt. Barbosa card.
  36. ^ Features third-generation and previous Pokémon on the back of cards
  37. ^ Features an exclusive "Recipe for Chaos" card.
  38. ^ Features an exclusive "Eeeeeediot" card where the person playing this card chooses someone to be the "Eeeediot" and turn their hand around so it is facing everyone else and continue to hold their hand that way until someone discards a card with a Stimpy on it.
  39. ^ Features a Grouch card, which allows players to give up to three un-needed cards in their hand to another player, so it removes their "garbage". The character featured on it is Oscar the Grouch. There are 4 Grouch cards in the 112-card deck.
  40. ^ In a Shrek-faced package
  41. ^ Features a Draw Three card. It also includes a "Blinky" card which requires all players to pick up cards from the draw pile until all players pick up a card of the colour named by the "Blinky" player. This feature can considerably add to the game time. At least one other version contains the Doh! card. This is a wild card where everyone has to draw 2 cards including the person who placed it down!
  42. ^ Features a "GREAT SCOT" card, with Groundskeeper Willie, where a player selects another player and gives that player two of the former's cards.
  43. ^ Features a Witchcraft card; the player who plays this card can use it to block any Draw 2 or Wild Draw 4 played against him/her.
  44. ^ The special card is called "Dead Kenny". When you play this card, you decide which player will share Kenny's bad luck. You may choose any player's hand to "kill" by having that player draw cards from the DRAW pile. The chosen player must keep drawing cards until he/she draws any card with Kenny on it.
  45. ^ ' This set has a special Racer X card. The player who uses this card draws a card from the draw pile onto the discard pile and the depending on the number, the next player must place a card that follows the number drawn before. For example, player A draws the racer X card and draws a card with the number 3. The next player must place a card with the number 4 (regardless of colour) and the next player must place a card with the number 5 and so on. If they reach 9, they must start over with 0 until a player is unable to place a card and he/she must draw three cards.
  46. ^ The special card is called "Spider Sense" card, where this card is a wild card and allows you to view an opponent's hand.
  47. ^ Super Absorbency (#1) Uno – which features the Super Absorbency card, a wild card which requires the next player to draw one card from all other players' hands at random. There is controversy as to what happens when the Super Absorbency card is played as the player's penultimate card. Some contend that the person playing the card would win as the next player would be required to take that card from him/her. However, some say that there is an exception whereas the Super Absorbency requires a card to be drawn from all players' hands except those who are in the uno stage. Clarification can be found on the back of the SpongeBob metallic tin.
  48. ^ Secret Recipe (#2) Uno – Secret Recipe – Allows the player to look at another player's hand. The player can also select a new color just like a wild card.
  49. ^ Lost in Time (#3 Uno) – Daredevil – Can be played to counter a Draw 2 or Draw 4 card. Can also be used as a wild card.
  50. ^ Two Editions, both based on Star Trek: The Original Series
  51. ^ With special cards, each of which appears once per pack: Double Tribble card – The player who plays this card chooses the color of play, then next player doubles the amount of cards in their hand and forfeits their turn; Beam Me Up, Scotty card – This can played to stop any command card (a "Draw 2" card, for example) and allows for the color of play to be chosen; Mind Meld card – This commands the next player to show the person who played this card their hand; Live Long & Prosper card – This can be played at any time to discard the players hand and pick up an entirely new one, then allows him/her to choose color of play.
  52. ^ Simplifies the special WILDs to one kind: 4 "Beam Up WILD" cards that can negate the effects of any DRAW 2 or DRAW 4 WILD cards played against a player. That player can then call a new color, and play resumes as if they had played a regular WILD. (It can also be used as a regular WILD if desired.)
  53. ^ This version features a battle card. When this card is played, the player who plays it selects another player to "battle". The player who played the card chooses to be either Superman or Bizarro, and the player he/she selected is the other character. Superman must discard a blue card since Bizarro is vulnerable to blue Kryptonite, and Bizarro must discard a green card since Superman is vulnerable to green Kryptonite.
  54. ^ This deck has a "claw" card that when a player lays it down, everyone has to lay down a card of any color with an alien on it.
  55. ^ This specialty deck features characters from the Toy Story 3 universe. One special card includes the Lotso card, which functions as a Wild card, but with a penalty. The person playing the Lotso card calls out a color. All other players must immediately show a card of the color. Any player who does not have a card of the same color must draw 3 cards. If all players have the chosen color, then the person who played the card must draw 3 cards.
  56. ^ A special deck made to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the first edition of Uno released in the United States in 1971. In this deck, there are specialty "35" cards, when, if the card is in play, only 3s or 5s of any color must be played after the card is dealt.
  57. ^ A deck sold at the end of 2010 and throughout 2011 with the cards and box design resembling the original International Games-era product.
  58. ^ with erasable score pad
  59. ^ A deck with transparent waterproof cards. It includes 4 (2 of which are +1 2 of which are +2 downpour cards) black action cards called "wild DownPour" cards; when played, all the other players must pick up the number specified on the card and may choose the next color of play these cards replace two of the wild cards and two of the wild draw four cards out of the original deck, and also double as wild cards.
  60. ^ Features a special "whirlpool" device that has you shake the Magic 8 Ball-like item to reveal what you must do such as Wave Left or Wave Right
  61. ^ Two decks in a Red and White Plastic Travel Case. Contains 2 Mod Cards in each deck. The Mod Card plays like a wild card but instead allows you to pass out all the cards of one color from your hand to your opponents in a clockwise manner.
  62. ^ Includes a special "Over The Rainbow" card where the person playing this card chooses someone hand to look at, also acts as a wild which then the person chooses the color of play.
  63. ^ Includes the "Mutate" card, which when played, allows the player to exchange all but one of their cards with new cards from the draw pile. Alternatively, the player can choose to force another player to do the same.
  64. ^ In this game, the cards show different characters from the Street Fighter II video game. This deck contains a special Hadouken card, which allows the user to choose 1 player to draw cards until they have drawn a Skip or a Reverse card. Play then continues on as normally.
  65. ^ In this game, the cards are drawn like cars seen in the Project Gotham Racing series of video games. In this game, the rules include a card called the "Gotham Live" card, which is the same name used as the replay feature in Project Gotham Racing 3. This card allows a player to look at the hand of any of the other players.
  66. ^ This pack was released on 1 November 2006. This is a custom deck with artwork from the Kameo game. In addition, a special play card allows you to swap your hand with the hand of another player in the game.


  1. ^ a b UNO instruction sheet, 1983, International Games Ltd.
  2. ^ "30 Anniversary Rule Book" (PDF). Mattel. 2001. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Exact wording of the official rules: 'When you play your next-to-last card, you must yell "UNO" (meaning "one") to indicate that you have only one card left'.
  5. ^ "How to Play UNO in Large Groups". Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  6. ^ "Tells". Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  7. ^ (Uno Extreme in the UK and Canada)
  8. ^


  • Current official rules, from Mattel

External links

  • Official Mattel Uno site
  • Uno Rules at
  • Uno Variations at
  • Uno variants at
  • Uno News at Wonkavator
  • Advanced UNO strategy at
  • Uno at BoardGameGeek
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