Classic Uno Rules: How to Play the Original UNO Card Game

Once you learn the classic UNO rules you’ll have access to a whole host of card games to play with your friends and family.

UNO is a game with many different versions and spin offs, but they’re all based on the original with all the standard rules staying basically the same no matter which one you choose to play.

Regular card games can sometimes be a tad confusing with complicated rules, but UNO stays honest, meaning kids of any age can pick up the rules making it the ideal family card game. 

Basically the aim is to get rid of all your cards, but we’ll tell you all the other rules you’ll need to know before you get to that stage. 

So if you’ve never played UNO before or need a quick refresher, start by reading our guide to the classic UNO rules below.

What Is Classic Uno?

UNO Card Game Info image

Classic UNO is the original version of the popular card game and it all started in 1971 in Ohio. 

Developed by Merle Robbins, taking a punt on the game being a hit by spending $8,000 dollars to create 5,000 copies of the game. 

And the gamble more than paid off, with the classic version of the game selling around 15 million copies worldwide.

Number of Players Required: 2 – 6 players. 

Who Can Play It: Suitable for ages 5+. 

Difficulty: Easy. 

Length of Play: 5 – 10 minutes per game. 

Similar to: Spicy UNO; UNO Attack; UNO Flash; UNO Dare; UNO Flip; DOS; Mao

Main Objective: Be the first player to get rid of your cards. Accumulate points based on the total that the losing players have in their hands after each round is over. 

Why We Love It: UNO is so popular and is played worldwide because there aren’t any complicated rules or gimmicks in the classic version. It’s a great base for other games as well, seen with other variations of the game. 

Playing Classic UNO – What You’ll Need

As you may expect, what you’ll need to play UNO is the specific deck of UNO cards

This version of UNO includes a tin to keep your cards secure and reduce the risk of them getting damaged and ruining your card game night. 

No matter which UNO set you buy, be sure that it includes:

  • 19 Blue cards
  • 19 Green cards 
  • 19 Red cards
  • 19 Yellow cards 
  • 8 Skip cards
  • 8 Reverse cards 
  • 8 Draw 2 cards
  • 4 Wild cards
  • 4 Wild Draw 4 cards
  • 4 Blank Cards
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You could even buy UNO as part of a set which includes Phase 10 and Pic Flip as well.

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Related: Phase 10 Rules: How to Play Phase 10 Card Game | Switch Card Game

Consider also grabbing yourself a travel case to safely transport your cards when you take them on vacation as well.

How To Set Up UNO

Setting up UNO is a straightforward task. Start by grabbing your deck of cards and shuffle them.

Deal out each player 7 cards each, place the remaining cards faced down to create a draw pile.

Turn over the top card and place it face up to create a discard pile where players will place their cards throughout the game.

Classic UNO Rules

If you’ve played other versions such as UNO flash then the classic UNO rules should be familiar to you as well – but there are slight changes that are worth knowing about. 

Starting the Game

Start the game in the same way that you start the majority of card games with the person left of the dealer laying down the first card. 

To decide who deals, a good idea is for players to draw cards and whoever gets the highest number is the person who deals. 

If you’re playing more than 1 game, the person to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer. Continue this in a clockwise fashion. 

Special Action Cards in Classic UNO

Classic UNO has some iconic cards used in the game, but if you’re a first time player then you’ll need them explained:

  • Wild card – features 4 cards with each color displayed – lets a player pick what color the rest of the circle has to abide by.
  • Reverse card – Background in 1 of the 4 colors with 2 arrows pointing away from one another – Switches which are round the circle the game plays.
  • Skip Card – 2 of these per color, displayed with a stop sign. The player whose turn is next skips a go. 
  • Draw 2 – Back ground in 1 of the 4 colors with a +2 in the corners – The next player to the left or right misses a turn and has to pick up 2 cards from the draw pile.
  • Wild Draw 4 card – Displays all 4 cards of each color with +4 in the corners – The next player to the left or right misses a go and picks up 4 cards from the draw pile. The player who plays the card also picks the next color.

Related: 16 games like UNO | UNO swap hands card

How to Play Classic UNO – Video Tutorial

Now that UNO is set up and you understand what each card does, you can begin playing. 

Starting with the card that is also the discard pile, players need to match either the number or the color of the previous card. 

For example, if the starting card is a red 4 then the player must place either a red, a 4 or a wild card on top.

If the player doesn’t have a card that they can play then they must pick up a card from the draw pile. However, if that card they can play the card that they pick up then they can. 

Once a player has just 1 card left in their hand they must call out ‘UNO’ straight away. 

If they don’t and another player points this out then the penalty is to pick up 5 cards from the draw pile.

The first person to successfully get rid of all their cards wins the game. 

Scoring In Classic UNO.

To extend the game further, you may implement a scoring system into your game.

Grab a pen and paper, and when a player wins a game, tally up the total value of the numbered cards that the other players have in their hands.

Set a target, such as 200 points. The first player who gets to or exceeds 200 points by the end of the game wins. 

Frequently Asked Questions.

What are the blank cards used for in the UNO?

Blank cards have 2 functions, to act as ‘spares’ if you ever lose a particular card or to create a rule that you and your friends decide upon.

Take inspiration from other versions of UNO and use your blank card to create something like the ‘Shuffle Hands’ card to mix the gameplay up.

Related: What Does Shuffle Hands Mean In UNO?

What do you do if you run out of cards from the draw pile before the game is over?

In the likely event that you do run out of cards in the draw pile before the game is over, simply take the discard pile, overturn it and resume the game.

You can either shuffle this pile or leave it as it is, pick whichever option the group is most happy with. 

Alternative Games to Classic UNO.

UNO is one of the most well played and recognizable card games around, and hopefully now you know the classic UNO rules you can see why.

And if you’re a fan of the game, you should try out some of the other versions of UNO available to play

Other Versions of UNO

  • DOS
  • Spicy UNO
  • UNO Attack
  • UNO Flip
  • UNO Bingo
  • UNO Blast
  • UNO Blitzo
  • UNO Choo-Choo
  • UNO Colors Rule
  • UNO Dice
  • UNO Disney
  • UNO Dominos
  • UNO Flash
  • UNO Flip
  • UNO Hearts
  • UNO House Rules
  • UNO Madness
  • UNO Master
  • UNO Moo
  • UNO Power Grab
  • UNO Reflex
  • UNO Roboto
  • UNO Royal Revenge
  • UNO Rummy-Up
  • UNO Spin
  • UNO Stacko
  • UNO Tiki Twist
  • UNO Tippo
  • UNO Wild Jackpot
  • UNO Wild Tiles
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