Old Maid Card Game Instructions

By Haydee Smith

Old Maid is a card game that teaches matching skills and number recognition to children. This game is appropriate for players four years and older, and between two and 12 people may play. The object of the game is to accumulate as many pairs as possible and avoid holding the "old maid" card when all pairs are matched up. Old Maid can be played with a standard deck of cards or a specially manufactured Old Maid deck. Some Old Maid deck themes include animals, occupations, places, people, sports and numbers.

Set Up

Old Maid decks are generally composed of 16 to 25 pairs of matching cards and a single old maid card. To play using a standard deck of cards, remove one of the queens from the deck.

Shuffle all the cards and distribute the entire deck among the players. Players look at their cards and remove any pairs of matching cards from their hands, placing them face-up on the table. If you are using a standard deck with one queen removed, determine whether pairs must be the same color and rank (such as red jacks), or only the same rank.

Game Play

After all of the players have separated out their pairs, the dealer spreads her hand face-down and offers it to the person on her left. That player will choose a single card, and if it makes a pair, he will place the new pair face-up on the table. The player will then offer his hand spread face-down to the person on his left. Play continues clockwise until all of the pairs have been matched up. The player who is left with the old maid card or the extra queen loses the game. If there are only two players, the person who is not left holding the old maid card is the winner. To win a game with three or more players, you must accumulate the most pairs and not be left holding the old maid card.

About the Author

Haydee Smith has been a writer since 2008, specializing in nonprofit development and grassroots activism. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and was published in the 2011 issue of the "UCB English Undergraduate Journal."