Mao (card game) – Wikipedia

Card game

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Alternative names Mau
Type Shedding-type
Players 3+ (best with 5–8)[1]
Skills required Invention, induction, memory
Cards 52
Deck Standard 52-card deck
Play Clockwise
Card rank (highest first) N/A
Playing time 5 minutes upwards per round
Random chance Variable
Related games

Mao ( or Mau [ 2 ] ) is a card game of the shedding family. The aim is to get rid of all of the cards in hand without breaking sealed mute rules which tend to vary by venue. The game is from a subset of the Stops family and is similar in structure to the circuit board bet on Uno or Crazy Eights. [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ excessive citations ] The game forbids its players from explaining the rules, and raw players are often informed that “ the lone govern you may be told is this one ”. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] The ultimate goal of the plot is to be the first actor to get rid of all the cards in their hired hand. Specifics are discovered through trial and error. A actor ( Amanda for exercise ) who breaks a rule is penalized by being given an extra card from the deck. The person ( Rick ) giving the penalty must country what the ( normally deep-pattern based ) incorrect natural process was, without explaining the accurate dominion that was broken. In cases where Rick is the best, Amanda must constantly lose as a pseudo-rule in some jurisdictions, or the breakage of said rule carries over to the next game ( s ) ad infinitum.

There are many variants of Mao in universe. [ 9 ] While beginners ( called “ Amanda ‘s ) sometimes assume that the trader ( sometimes called the “ Chairman ”, the “ Mao ” or the “ Grand Master ” – Or just “ Rick ” will do ) and other experience players are plainly making up possibly inconsistent rules ( as in the games Mornington Crescent or Fizbin ), the rules of Mao are reproducible within each game and can be followed correctly. [ citation needed ]


Mao is most likely descended from the german crippled Mau Mau. It may have influenced the game Eleusis, which was published in Martin Gardner ‘s column in the Scientific American in June 1959. [ 10 ] Both of these games parcel similar principles of inductive reason. other inductive games in which not all players know the rules include Penultima and Zendo ; however, the secret rules in those games are made up at the beginning of play and disclosed at the end of each round, and the telescope and subject matter of Eleusis, Penultima or Zendo rules may be more denotative and close circumscribed. Mao ‘s name and rules are a reference to Chairman Mao Zedong ‘s rule over China. The rules not being explained are an allusion to the laws in China at the time being in constant magnetic field, leading to many people being arrested for laws they did not know were in place .

Rules of Mao

depart of the traditional experience of Mao is a new musician being forced to learn some or all of the rules of the game through observation and trial and error. thus new players are not presented with a number of rules, as share of the game is to discover the rules through gameplay. The exact set of rules divulged to new players varies between groups of players : some groups will say “ the only rule I can tell you is this one ”, others will reveal the finish of eliminating cards, and some might outline the basic rules and, in most cases, no rules are revealed at all. however much information is revealed, the players will explain that they are not allowed to reveal any more, and that the modern player must deduce the full rules during play. Mao rules can vary widely between different groups with no person jell of rules being canonic .

Rules of play

Each player is dealt an initial bridge player of the lapp numeral of cards ; the accurate number of cards conduct varies, but is broadly either three [ 4 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] or seven. [ 3 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ] The size of the deck besides varies ; it is commodity to have approximately one 52-card deck for every two or three players, [ 5 ] but missing or extra cards are not important to gameplay. Two or more compound decks is common ; matching card backs is not important. Once the cards are consider, the remaining cards are placed face down in a push-down list in the middle of the table, and the top wag from the batch is turned over and placed adjacent to it. [ 3 ] The dealer may then say “ this game of Mao has formally begun ”, “ the game of Mao begins now ”, “ Mao is a game of rules ” or a variant thence. Play commences with the player to the leave of the dealer and proceeds clockwise. [ 4 ] many variants penalize players for touching or looking at their cards before the game begins, or before the dealer looks at their own cards. [ 3 ] [ 11 ] A player may play any card from their hand matching the value or the suit of the top batting order presently face-up on the postpone. [ 3 ] The card played must be placed on top of this card, and the adjacent player will have to play a calling card that matches the raw one. If the actor has no cards they can play, they must alternatively draw a new circuit board from the top of the stack and, in some variants, say something such as “ fall ”, “ punishment card ” or knock on the table to indicate inability to play a card. [ 3 ] Rules vary widely between variants. Some common rules include :

  • A face value reverses order of play when played (commonly eight,[3][6][11][12][13][15] sometimes two).
  • Aces cause the next player to skip their turn.[3][4][11][13][14][15]
  • Jacks are wild, allowing any player to call out a new suit when a jack is played.[3][4][11][12][13]
  • Spade cards must be named when played (e.g., playing an ace of spades requires the player to say “ace of spades”).[3][4][11][13]
  • A seven forces the next player to draw a penalty card and requires the person who played it to announce “have a nice day”. If the next player also plays a seven, he or she announces “have a very nice day” and the player after that draws two penalty cards. The number of “very”s and penalty cards can increase as long as sevens can be played.[4][11][12][13][15]

variant rules

As might be expected in a game where the rules are unknown to many of the players, a wide variety show of rulesets have developed. [ 16 ] The rules are typically changed between games, either at the begin or with each consecutive crippled. many times, this is plainly that the winner of the last game is allowed to construct their own rule. This raw principle is made known to the trader or not, depending on the crippled, though in many varieties it is required for the dealer to know the dominion in order to confirm its use and to enforce it. Often the achiever of the survive game is besides made the new dealer.

In another random variable, players abandon all normal rules and have each actor make up a principle of their own at the very begin of the plot. [ 17 ] This discrepancy is known as “ Dutch Mao ”, or “ The People ‘s democratic Dictatorship ”, [ 18 ] and probably several other names. It has no restrictions on what cards to play ( other than those made by the players ) and can get identical confusing when rules conflict .

Speaking rules

many of the rules of Mao involve actor’s line. by and large this means that the right thing must be said at the properly clock. Saying the wrong thing, or speaking at the incorrectly clock time, will normally incur a penalty .

No talking
In most variants of Mao, no unnecessary speech is allowed, and one may only speak when required to do so by the rules. For example, if one plays a 6 of spades (with the declaring spades rule active), one is required to say “six of spades” and will be penalized for not doing so. But if one says, “six of spades, I didn’t forget this time” one will be penalized for the additional unnecessary speech. A different but common way to say this is “excessive verbosity”.
Point of order
Any player (or, in some variations, only the dealer) may at any time announce “point of order”,[3][4][11][13] which is a signal for all players to put down their cards while discussion takes place.
Thank you
It may be required to thank the dealer for each penalty card.[19] Usually a player is given a reasonable amount of time to say “thank you” before being penalized. Failure to say “thank you” after a penalty card will usually result in another penalty card. One “thank you” will usually cover for all occurrences where it was required.
Last card
Some variants require the player to announce when they have only one card left in their hand.[4][12][13] This can be with the statement of “last card”, “zin”, “one card left” or “Mao” itself (similar to Uno). If a player fails to announce their last card, they receive a penalty card. In some versions, they continue to receive penalty cards until they announce their last card. At this point, because it is not their last card anymore, they are given three additional penalty cards in quick succession for “lying, cheating, grand theft auto”.
End game
Upon playing their last card, a player must call out “Mao”, “game over” or some other similar phrase to win.[3][4][13] Should a player forget to say “Mao”, or call it incorrectly, they are penalized. Stacking penalties at this point can cause much grief to a player who has gleefully placed their last card down and proclaimed “Mao”, only to discover that they have broken some rule.
Many variants prohibit swearing.[3][4][11][12][13]
“Hail to the chairman”
In some variants, playing a king requires the player to say “hail to the chairman” (alluding to Chairman Mao) or “all hail the chief”, and playing a queen requires the player to say “hail to the chairwoman”, “hail the chairman’s wife”, “all hail the chair lady”,[15] or “all hail her Mighty Majesty the Queen of Spades”. Then the other players are sometimes required to say “all hail”.
“Have a nice day”
Some versions of the game will require a player to tell the next player “have a nice day” upon playing a seven. For instance, if the next person was John, the player would say “have a nice day John”. Not doing so would result in a penalty card.[4][11][12][13][15]
Special card names
In some variants, specific cards are given a name that is to be said instead of the real name of the card. For example, upon playing the nine of diamonds or a joker, a player might say “that’s the badger!”[13] Failure to say this would result in a penalty card.

Points of order

Any actor ( or, in some variations, alone the dealer ) may at any time announce “ point of order ” ( could besides be “ court of law ”, “ point of information ”, “ point of concern ”, “ pevis ”, or “ coffee better ” ), [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 11 ] [ 13 ] which is a signal for all players to put down their cards, while discussion takes place. A common abbreviation is “ P of O ”. This time period basically is an intermission to game bring and much comes with its own dress of rules. Some versions penalize for abbreviating “ point of ordain ” to “ P of O ”, which much confuses new players into thinking alone the principal or chair is permitted to call a point of order. Most versions penalize players for touching their cards ( including failing to put them down in a seasonably manner ) during a period of order. The objective of a decimal point of decree is to clarify unsealed aspects of gameplay : peculiarly to allow disputes over penalties to be resolved. A distributor point of ordering may besides be used to accommodate out-of-game necessities such as consume, shuffling the discard throng to form a new draw pile, etc. Some variants may impose restrictions or penalties on a actor ‘s activities during a detail of order :

  • Players have to talk in the third person.
  • Players are not allowed to say the phrase “point of order” during a point of order (this can usually be circumvented by saying abbreviations such as: “point of O”, “P of order”, “P of O”, “point order”, “POO”, “P-Vo”, “Piffo”, etc. and often has to be to actually call a penalty that would otherwise have the phrase “point of order” in it).

The point of orderliness ends when any musician ( or, depending on local rules, alone the dealer, or lone the musician that called point of rate ) announces “ goal period of arrange ”, “ point taken ”, “ point of disorder ”, or “ pick your cards up ”, at which point the cards are picked back up and play resumes .


The normal penalty for any offense in Mao is one card per offense, though as previously stated, offences are consecutively applied, making some offences harsher than others. There is normally a time limit of approximately 5 to 10 seconds for each go. [ 4 ] [ 11 ] [ 13 ] If exceeded, the player gets a penalty calling card for stay of crippled or late act and either loses their plow or gets another penalty every five seconds thereafter to either comply with any transgress rules, or play a tease. Ruthless players who are familiar with the rules sometimes exploit this convention to confuse raw players who are unfamiliar with crippled mechanics that change the order of play : for example, players might look expectantly at a particular actor early than the one whose call on it is as if waiting for them to play, then penalizing that actor for playing out of change by reversal if they actually played, then immediately penalizing the musician whose become it actually is for stay of game. For each penalty, unless the rules have been changed appropriately, the penalty card is given with the declaration of the predominate violated. In most cases, when a penalty is called, one wag is given to the wrongdoer. If the bid was wrong, the caller of a penalty can be given the poster back with a reason of “ bad margin call ” [ 11 ] [ 13 ] [ 15 ] or “ frivolous card-giving ” .

Adding rules

In many variants an extra rule is mutely and secretly added to the plot with each round of golf. It is accustomed for a musician ( much the winner of the former round of golf, sometimes the next person to deal ) to add one new rule to the game. In a game with only one round, players who have gotten rid of all their cards may make a rule for those however in the bet on. [ citation needed ] sometimes a new rule is explained to one early player ( sometimes the dealer, sometimes a runner-up winner of the round ), both to ensure consistency of the dominion and consistency of its enforcement. Any raw rules are allowed, but it must not be biased towards a actor. There may besides be extra rules that are already in effect at the begin of the game, barely to get things moving, and these rules may be known to all players, or possibly merely to the principal. After many rounds, many new rules will accumulate. naturally, merely the person who created the principle will initially know what it is. The rules will vary from group to group, and from game to game, but most rules fall under one of the following four categories. [ 17 ]

  • When an event occurs, a player must perform an action (such as speaking a phrase or knocking on the table)
  • When an event occurs, something about the game changes
  • An action must always, or must never, be performed by players (such as holding cards in the left hand, or straightening the pile)
  • Something fundamental about the gameplay changes (e.g. all kings are treated as if they were jacks for all game purposes)

The triggering events in the example above can be anything. They might include playing a specific card ( the breeze through of spades ) or a specific character of menu ( any loss three ), but triggering conditions can become ampere complicated as their godhead wishes, such as when person plays the one-fourth wag of the same courtship or playing an odd-numbered card on top of an even-numbered batting order.

To create a rule, one could pick a triggering condition, and then an action and/or game effect. The spirit of the rule is generally something in beneficial playfulness ; while rules that unfairly sway the bet on in privilege of one player or to the detriment of one particular player are quite easy to concoct ( “ Every time James plays a ten, he gets a penalty of ten cards ” ), they are besides broadly frowned upon as cheating. rarely do rules have a punishment of more than one menu, but certain rules have a large penalty attached to them, normally the result of a accumulative predominate .

See besides

  • Bartok (game), in which new rules are announced to all players when they are added
  • Nomic, a game in which all rules are subject to change
  • Calvinball, a fictitious game in which the rules change each time
  • List of games with concealed rules


  • A JavaScript Mao opponent, playing a simplified version of the game (which starts with no real rules), and capable of generating secret rules for a human opponent to guess.
  • Mao, a film directed by Thomas Rudolph revolving around the game – “Lying, Cheating, Deceiving, ungentlemanly conduct, taking the name of the game in vain”
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