Nothing brings a family together like a nice game of cards. But many games are either too complex for the little ones to get a handle on, or too simplistic for the older crowd to enjoy. Then, along came Uno – a card game that could be learned in a few minutes but proved addictive enough to keep families playing until the wee hours of morning. This balance of simplicity and challenge has made Uno one of the most beloved card games of all time.

Families can thank a barber in Ohio named Merle Robbins for introducing the game of Uno in 1971. At first, he sold the game out of his barbershop but later sold the rights to International Games in 1981. Mattel now owns the rights to the game, which is basically a colorized version of “Crazy Eights.”

Two to ten players are each dealt seven cards from a deck of 108, most of which are numbered from 0-9 and can be one of four colors: red, blue, yellow or green. Mixed among these are a number of cards that serve to make gameplay more interesting, such as those labeled Draw Two, Reverse or Skip and wild cards. The most coveted is the Wild Draw Four cards, which not only serve as a wildcard but also force another player to draw four cards. And in the game of Uno, the last thing a player wants to be doing is drawing cards, as the object is to have the fewest cards at the end.

Once the cards have been dealt, the remaining ones go into the draw pile and a card is taken from that pile to start the discard pile. A player must play a card that matches either the color or the number of the card on the top of the discard pile. Or, if they are lucky enough to have a wild card, they may play that as well. If none of the cards in their possession match these criteria, it’s time to start drawing cards until they find one that does. If the luck of the draw isn’t on their side, they can amass cards rather quickly and that isn’t a good thing. When a player is down to their last card, they announce “Uno!” (the Spanish word for “one”) and the rest of the table is left to groan and mutter to themselves. Should the player with the solitary card fail to say the magic word, however, they are penalized by having to draw two cards. Their only saving grace is if nobody happens to notice before the next turn is taken. Then the rule is discarded.

When the last card is played, the game is officially over and it is time to tally those points. How those points are tallied is a matter of family preference. Some prefer to have the winner earn points for each card the rest of the players are stuck with until he or she has amassed 500. Others prefer to have the players left with cards add the points of their remaining cards to their personal total – the last person to get to 500 being crowned the winner.

Over the years, many players have developed their own house rules, much like Monopoly and Uno recognized this fact with the issuance of various “House Rules” sets. Plenty of offshoots of the original game have also been released over the years including Uno Hearts, Uno Bingo, Uno Dice and Uno Dominoes. The game has also been released in an electronic version as well as offering many versions of the game with product tie-ins such as The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Batman and Barbie versions.

With all of the variations and personalized rules, it is clear that the public has embraced this simple card game like no other, making it one of the most popular of all time. In the hearts of many, when it comes to a wholesome night of family entertainment (other than the occasional swear word when that magic word is announced, of course) it is likely that this game will remain numero uno for years to come.

If you hold fond memories of sitting with the family or friends and playing a rousing game of Uno, we hope you’ll share those recollections of this fun card game in our comments section below.

Leave A Comment...