Old Maid

Three queens

Old Maid is a classic children’s game, relying on little more than pure luck. It is suitable for two to ten players.

Object of Old Maid

The object of Old Maid is to avoid being the player left with the unmatched queen.


To play Old Maid, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, with one of the queens removed.

Shuffle and deal the entire deck out as evenly as it will go. Some players will have more cards than others, which is perfectly all right.

Game play

Players start by looking at their hands, finding any pairs, and discarding them to a central discard pile. Play begins with dealer fanning their cards out so that the backs of them are facing the player to their left. That player draws a card from the dealer’s hand. If it forms a new pair with one of the cards already in the player’s hand, they discard the pair. They then allow the player to their left to draw a card, and so on.

Eventually, two of the three queens will be paired and discarded, and the third queen will stand alone, unable to be matched. This queen is referred to as the Old Maid. The primary interest in the game then becomes the whereabouts and circulation of the Old Maid; the player that holds it wants to encourage the player next to them to draw it. Players may do whatever they think will be effective in convincing them to draw the Old Maid, short of outright exposing cards or refusing to allow the player to take the selected card from their hand.

As players pair up their cards and discard them, they will gradually run out of cards, until they have completely exhausted their hand. Players who have run out of cards sit out and take no further part in game play. Eventually, all the players will have dropped out but one, who is holding the Old Maid; this player is the loser.


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