Old Maid is a card game played both with children and families together. It is an ancient game and Schwarzer Peter in Germany, Fekete Péter in Hungary, Sorteper in Denmark, le pouilleux in France and many other aliases.


It is played with a standard single deck of 52 cards. One queen is removed from the deck leaving total 52 cards. There are also special crafted cards for old maid but the regular deck would be sufficed.


2-8 players.

How to Play

Dealer will deal cards from his left evenly. At the end, some player have 1 more card than others. Players take their pile, look at them and discard pairs. For example- two sevens, two kings, etc. They have to discard exact pairs only, not three of a kind or four of a kind.

The dealer commences the game. He will offer his cards face down to the player at his left. The player will take one card out of his face down cards and adds it to his cards. If the player succeeds in making a pair from the selected card he will discard them. The players then offer his cards to the player at his left and turn by turn player takes their turn. Players are permitted to shuffle cards before offering them.

Old Maid
Age Kids
Deck Standard deck
Skills Required Reconizing Numbers, matching , pairing and discarding.

Object of the Game

To get rid of all the cards by discarding them. All players will lose cards until one player will leave with a card. That would be the Queen as there were odd numbers of queens. Player left with the unmatched card will be Old Maid.


  1. Jack is removed in case of Queen and the player is left with the odd Jack card. In some places, it is also known as Black Peter, zwartepieten in Dutch, Svarte Petter in Swedish, Piotruś in Polish and Svarti Pétur in Iceland.
  2. Special card that has the entire card with farmyard animal while one card is of Donkey. Donkey is the odd card that is left at the end with a player.
  3. Reverse Version– The game is played as same but the player holding the last card is proclaimed as the winner.
  4. This variation is known as Baba – Nuki in japan. One joker is added instead of removing a jack or queen. The player left with the Joker at the end is the loser.
  5. This variant is known as ungguy-ungguyan in Philippines. Any card can be removed and the rules are the same. The card is not revealed at first as it is removed face down. At the end, player left with the unknown card with its partner (Monkey or Tagalog) loses the game.
  6. This variant is known as scabby queen in U.K. Rules are the same with an exception. When the loser is declared (player left with the queen), the whole deck including the remaining Queens is shuffled again excluding jokers. Card from the bottom of the pile is taken which decides its punishment. If a red color card is drawn (Diamond or Heart) then the complete deck would be wrapped around his hands. If a black color card comes up (Clubs or Spades) then the entire deck would be wrapped around his knuckles.old maid rules adn instructionsThe repetition of the punishment would be decided by the face value of the cards. Jacks have face value 10, Aces have 11, and Queens have 21 while cards 2-10 have their face value. It is named Scabby Queen because the cards are attached to your skin and they would be ripped which would be painful. It is not mandatory to use the deck with you have played. You can use old cards as they would get damaged in this process.Players play them without the punishment as it is considered as much severe (parents playing with their children) still the game remains scabby queen. It is twisted by the players in their own version by changing the type and degree of punishment.
  7. This variant is known as “Abu Foul” in Egypt. Same rules just one variation, one king is left while all the others are removed from the deck. Game is played until a king is left with a player. In traditional old maid players use single deck but in “Abu Foul” the number of decks can be varied in accordance with players. Jokers are excluded and the loser has to face punishment (strikes or wishes) which is decided before the game commences. Loser will shuffle the cards and take out one card for each player. They involve daring that would involve some kind of humiliation in one way or another.
  8. Another variant if “Papaz Kaçtı” in Turkey with almost same rules.
  9. They are two variants of old maid in Brazil. The one played with standard deck where any card is removed known as “Fedor” means stink while other is played with special deck “Jogo do Mico” also known as “Capuchin Monkey Game“. All the cards have either a male or female representation but only one card which is capuchin Monkey is not of any sex. This variant is very famous over there.


Pair up the matching Card and discard them. The holder of the Queen would be loser.


Special decks have matching pairs with one exception card. The holder of that exception would be loser.

You can bend the rules on your own and play with your own unique variations. It is the best starting game for children because the rules are easy to comprehend. If you are playing with your child then it would be good to buy some special deck maid for only old maid that have pictures of famous cartoon characters.

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