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UNO rules - how to play Uno

Haven’t played Uno before? Or has it just been a while? Here are Uno rules you can read faster than you can play a hand of reverse cards

Uno rules - a family play uno

Ah, Uno – the brighter, simpler alternative to playing card games that require a stuffy old 52-deck. For many, Uno was a favourite childhood game – and many may still argue that it’s one of the best card games for adults. You can use it as a drinking card game, or you can use it to teach children maths. Uno is surprisingly versatile.

Despite being a bonafide card game classic, many people have never played Uno. Plenty of others have played it, but not for many years. All of this results in a heck of a lot of people who don’t know how to play Uno. What’s one to do when you’ve got an Uno deck and no Uno rules in your brain?

Worry not, aspiring Uno players. We’ve put together everything you need to know to set up, play, and win a game of Uno. Take a scroll through an easy-to-read guide to an easy-to-learn game – and try not to pick up too many nasty ‘draw four’ cards along the way.

Here are the Uno rules:

Uno rules - deck of uno cards and a hand of multicoloured uno playing cards

How many cards are in an Uno deck?

To begin a game of Uno, you’ll need a deck of Uno cards. There should be 108 cards in a standard pack – 19 of each of the four Uno colours, plus two ‘skip’ cards, ‘draw’ cards, and ‘reverse’ cards for each colour. The deck also includes four ‘wild cards’ and four wild ‘draw four’ cards. Some packs may also have blank cards. Blank cards are just spares in case you find certain cards have gone missing, but we’ll explain how each of the other cards works in a moment.

Uno setup

Uno is for two to ten players, and it’s recommended that players be aged seven or above. But how many cards do you get in Uno at the beginning? Once you’ve shuffled the deck, each player should receive seven cards, dealt face down. Put the remaining cards in the middle of the table, also faced down, to create the draw pile. Lastly, make sure you’ve left space next to the draw pile – this will become your discard pile.

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You can choose your first player in a few different ways in a game of Uno. You might all draw a card and have the person with the highest number go first, or you might choose the youngest player to go first. You might also have elected a dealer to hand out the Uno cards, and then the first player may be the person to the dealer’s left. However you choose, make sure it’s a method everyone agrees on.

How to win Uno

In Uno, the aim of the game is to be the first player to reach 500 points (though you might agree to adjust this number for longer or shorter games). You earn points when you’re the first person in a round to empty their hand of Uno cards – once you’ve done this, you calculate your score by adding together the value of the cards left in the other players’ hands.

Uno rules - four decks of face-up uno cards divided by colour (red, yellow, blue, green)

How to play Uno

If the discard pile is empty, start Uno gameplay by drawing a card and immediately discarding it. Everyone now takes turns playing a card from their hands. Either the colour or the number of the card you play must match with the card currently on top of the discard pile – this means, as players place cards, the colour or number you need to match will constantly change.

If you don’t have any colours or numbers in your hand that match the card on top of the discard pile, you can play a wild card or a wild draw four card, as these match any colour in the game. If you don’t have any matching cards in your hand, you must draw a new card from the draw pile.

The numbered Uno cards have no special effect when they are played, but other Uno cards will cause things to happen. A ‘draw’ card means that the next player must draw two cards – or four if the wild draw four card is played. A reverse card means that the order of play is now backwards. You start Uno by passing turns to the left, but a reverse card will mean that gameplay now continues to the right – making the previous player the next player.

Uno rules - a hand holding a single uno card, with multicoloured uno cards spread out beside it

If your hand of cards is reduced to one, you must immediately shout ‘Uno’ to declare that you’ve nearly emptied your hand. If you don’t shout ‘Uno’ and someone notices your mistake before the next player begins their turn, you have to draw four more cards as a penalty. Of course, if you forget to shout ‘Uno’ and no one catches you out, you don’t need to draw any more cards.

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As soon as someone empties their hand, the round is over, and the scores are calculated. Note: if the final card played is a draw card, the next player must draw cards before scoring begins. All numbered cards are worth their face value, but special cards also have scoring value. Draw two, reverse, and skip cards are worth 20 points; wild and wild draw four cards score 50 points.