How to play old maid: Rules, Strategy & Tips

The “fall guy” family of card games includes the game Old Maid. Scapegoat games are played to avoid getting a certain card or cards.

Old Maid is a two- or more-player hand-matching game that uses a standard 52-card deck. Connect together all of your hands and avoid having a Queen out at the finish is the object of the game.

For more on other traditional card games, see our guides on Go Fish and Hearts.

Origin of the Game

A lady who is childless and unmarried is referred to as an “Old Maid.” The Queen is the sole card that is still unpaired as a consequence. The phrase first appeared in the 18th century in England. In the late 1800s, the card game Old Maid initially arose. Although the game’s exact origins are unknown, it is most likely a variation of early British drinking games.

In the past, the Old Maid from the game has been represented negatively. (the player who has the Old Maid loses the game after all). As early as the late 1800s, specialized Old Maid cards featuring offensive depictions of the titled figure were created. For example, a card from 1890 shows a senior woman riding a bike while wearing pants. Even while it appears quite natural to us now, it was disrespectful to the constricting Victorian etiquette. Over the course of the twentieth century, the image of the Old Maid on specialized decks changed from the Victorian bicycle rider to the problematic caricatures of Silly Old Cat Woman and Knitting Fanatic.

The Old Maid is typically shown as a grandma-like character, however, this might vary depending on the deck.

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Playing the Game

Selecting a Dealer

Prior to the game starting, an initial dealer must be chosen. The person holding the highest card is the first dealer, and each player is dealt a card from a stack of playing cards. Breaking the ties is a recurring transaction. In the dealing process, the ace is high and two is low.

First, the dealer selects a Queen from the deck to represent the “Old Maid.” After that, the player on the dealer’s right cuts the deck, and the dealer shuffles the deck. The cards are then dealt clockwise by the dealer, one by one, to each player.

Old Maid

Players make any partnerships they can with their hands once the cards have been dealt out, then place them all face down on the table. The dealer then extends their hand, face down, to the player to their left. The person to the left of the dealer then adds one card to their hand by randomly choosing one from the other players’ hands. The player on the dealer’s left makes an effort to form another pair with this new card. They attempt to include the pair in their collection of pairs by doing so. If they are unable to, the card is put back into their deck. After then, the game resumes as usual with the player to the left of the dealer giving their hand to the player on their left.

There are two methods for players to “Go Out” and escape being the Old Maid: pair up all of their cards, or have the opponent to their left take their last card for the draw.

One of the Queens was eliminated, therefore there will always be an unpaired Queen. It belongs to the player who is the Old Maid at the end of the game, and that person loses.

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Example Play

Let’s say you get two Jacks, three Queens, an Ace, a 9, two 10s, a 2, 3, and eight cards. While the other players couple up their Queens, Tens, and Jacks, you do the opposite. The player on your right is the dealer, and they display their down-facing hand to you. You receive a 9 when you select at random. You flip the hand of the opponent on your leftover by matching the two 9s. Your Queen is picked at random by them. After this round, a new one starts. The player on your left picks your Ace after you choose a 4 and reveal your hand. The round is over. You get a 7 and give up an 8.

The round is over. You get a 7, but you drop an 8. The person in front of you gets eliminated when a round has ended. Then you receive your original Queen back and suffer a 7 loss. The person on your left is eliminated after a round. A King is won, but a 3 is lost. The last card of the player before you is then chosen by you. You play the part of the Old Maid while they are gone.

How to win at Old Maid?

Old Maid is a simple card game with little space for strategy. Try to convince the individual to your left to accept the Old Maid if you do have it in your possession. Reverse psychology can be used to convince people to accept it. Put other cards in front of them or try hiding it; maybe they’ll try to grab the hidden card. Place the Old Maid card there the following round if they consistently take the card from the same location. Don’t choose the card from the same spot each time to reduce your chances of getting the Old Maid; otherwise, the other player will figure it out.

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The loser is the owner of the odd Jack at the conclusion of the game in certain countries where the game is known by a male name, such as Black Peter, and a Jack rather than a Queen is removed.

There is also an upside-down variation of Old Maid. The game’s rules don’t change, but the player who possesses the odd card—the last Queen, Jack, or Old Maid—is crowned the winner once everyone has used up their decks.

Sometimes, Old Maid is played with a special pack of cards that all the cards arrive in, with the exception of one Old Maid card, the bearer of which is the eventual loser.


Is there any strategy for Old Maid?

You should make an effort to persuade the person on your left to accept the Old Maid if you have it in your hand. To attempt to convince them to accept it, you might employ reverse psychology. Try concealing it or placing various cards in front of them; perhaps they will attempt to steal the concealed card.

What does Joker do in Old Maid?

It is played precisely like Old Maid, except that a joker is added rather of a queen or any other card is removed, and the person who has it after that loses.

What age can kids play Old Maid?

If a woman was still single and childless by the time she reached her mid-20s in the 17th century, she was regarded as an old maid. Today, however, the term “spinster” is more frequently used to describe females who are between the ages of 23 and 26.

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Riya Kapoor

Riya Kapoor writes about lifestyle, entertainment, news and gadgets. She has been in this industry for almost 4 years now. She is a graduate from Delhi University with English Hons and had deep connection with writing since her childhood.

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