How to Play UNO

By Carol Finch
UNO can be played with kids who are over seven.

UNO is a card game for two to 10 players. It mixes chance and skill, making it suitable for kids from the age of seven and adults alike. The aim of the game is to be the first player to get rid of a hand of cards. Before you start playing, it's worth working out card values and strategies. The UNO deck contains special cards that change gameplay or force other players to take extra cards. Get your strategy right and you can turn a losing position into a winning one. Of course, by the same token, if other players outwit you, you can plummet from first to last place.

Basic Gameplay Rules

Pick a dealer for the game, and have them shuffle the deck and deal seven cards to each player. Put the rest of the cards face down in the middle of the table -- this is the draw pile. Turn the top card over and put it to the side of the pile -- this is the draw card. Play typically starts with the player to the left of the dealer. He puts a card from his hand on top of the draw card. This must match the draw card's color or type. For example, if the draw card is a yellow five, he can play any yellow card or a five card of any color. He can also play eligible action or wild cards. If he can't play or chooses not to use a card in his hand, he takes a card from the draw pile. He can choose whether to play this card or not.

Playing Action and Wild Cards

You can play action and wild cards when you like -- it's worth saving these cards until you want to change gameplay or hit an opponent with extra cards -- but you must follow their rules. Play "Draw Two," "Reverse" or "Skip" cards when their colors match the draw card or when the draw card is the same type of card in any color. If you play "Draw Two," the next player takes two cards from the draw pile; if you play "Skip," the next player misses a turn. The "Reverse" card changes the direction of gameplay from left to right or vice versa. The deck also contains wild cards that can be played anytime. Play a regular "Wild" card to choose the color of gameplay; use a coveted "Wild Draw Four" card to switch color and to force the next player to take four cards from the draw pile.

Calling UNO and Win Rules

If a player has one card left, she should call out the word "UNO." If she doesn't, and other players notice that she didn't, she must take two cards from the draw pile. The winner of the game is the first player to have no cards left. If you're playing rounds rather than individual games, score the cards left in hands at the end of each round and give the points to the round’s winner. Regular cards score at face value, action cards at 20 points and wild cards at 50 points. The first player to get 500 points wins. Alternatively, players keep their hand scores at the end of each round. When a player reaches 500 points, the person with the lowest score wins.

UNO Variations

As well as the traditional UNO set, you can buy character card versions of the game, such as Spiderman, Disney Princess and Thomas the Tank. The game's manufacturer, Mattel, has released other game sets, including dice and travel versions. Games like UNO Attack! and UNO Blast come with interactive electronic machines that shoot cards out at random. They add new gameplay elements, such as extra action cards and random machine draws. You can also download UNO apps for Apple and Android devices, buy console or PC versions, and play the game on Facebook.

About the Author

Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.