Uno is one of the most famous and beloved card games of alltime. It was created back in 1971 by an entrepreneurial American barber named Merle Robbins and has since gone on to sell over 151 million copies. But before becoming a global smash hit and one of the best family board games Uno had humble beginnings, with the game crafted after Merle had an argument with his son about the rules of an old school card game.
After coming up with the game with his family, Merle mortgaged his home to create enough capital to sell the first 5,000 copies and the rest, as they say, is history. Decades after it was first created on the Robbins' family dining table, Uno is now a family staple (with it recommended for players aged seven and up). Whether you're a seasoned tabletop player or just getting into board games, it's easy to pick and play with simple rules that can be quickly grasped. And while the rules are simple, it comes with a lot of depth and strategy.
How to play Uno
- Setup: How to setup a game of Uno and how many people can play.
- Basic rules: Get to grips with the basic Uno rules to play your first round.
- How to win: Objective needed to win a game of Uno and the scoring system.
- Special cards: Rundown on how Reverse cards and other Action cards work.
Whether you're playing your very first game of Uno or jumping into a round after playing it years ago as a child, our beginner-friendly guide has everything you need to know to get started. We've got details on how to setup your very first game and the basic rules to help guide you through your first round.
We've also taken a deep dive into what each special card means, outlining the rules for every Action and Wild card so you won't be lost if one of these pops up in your hand or even at the beginning of a round. Our guide also has the answers to more tricky questions, like whether you can stack Wild Draw 4 and Draw 2 cards as well as a full breakdown of the scoring system. If you've got a taste for Uno after trying out the beloved card game we've also got details on some of the spin-off games you can play next.
How to setup a game of Uno
Uno can be played with just two players or a maximum of 10. Each deck comes with 112 cards, but three of these are blank, customisable cards - you can write whatever rules you want on these.
After deciding on the rules for the customisable cards, shuffle the pack and deal seven cards to each player. Once you've finished dealing, take one card from the top of the deck and put it face up on the table. This is the start of the discard pile. Place the rest of the shuffled deck (which is known as the draw pile) next to it.
What are the basic rules of Uno?
The objective of each round of Uno is to be the first player to get rid of all their cards. The person to the left of the dealer begins, and each player has to put a single card from their hand onto the discard pile, but only if it has a matching colour, number or symbol.
If a card can’t be played, that player must pick up a new card from the draw pile and then skip the rest of their go. The person clockwise from them is next, with this pattern continuing until a player gets rid of all the cards in their hand.
How do you win a game of Uno?
When a player discards their second-to-last card they need to shout "Uno". This lets other players know that someone has got one card left and is close to winning that round.
This has to be shouted before another player begins their turn. If this isn't done a player has to draw two cards as a penalty. So be sure to shout "Uno" as you put down your second-to-last card or just before. The first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand wins a round.
At the end of each round, the points are tallied up. Points are only given to the winner of that round, and points are awarded based on the cards left in the losing players' hands. Each card represents a different number of points and the first person to hit 500 points in total wins a game of Uno. If this isn't achieved in one round, then reshuffle the cards and carry over the points to the next round.
Here's how points are awarded:
- All numbered cards - Face value
- Draw 2 card - 20 points
- Reverse card - 20 points
- Skip card - 20 points
- Wild card - 50 points
- Wild Draw 4 card - 50 points
- Wild Shuffle Hands card - 40 points
- Wild Customizable card - 40 points
What are the special cards in Uno?
Each Uno pack comes with 76 numbered cards in blue, yellow, green and red. These are the most common cards, and for each colour scheme there's 19 cards numbered from zero to nine. Besides this, there's also a selection of more rare Action and Wild cards which have special characteristics that can turn the tide of a game in your favour.
One of the most famous Action cards in Uno is the Reverse card. When you play this card the order of turns is reversed. Typically the next player is the person clockwise from you. When a Reverse card is played the turn order goes anti-clockwise.
Reverse cards are coloured and can only be placed on the discard pile if the card at the top is a matching colour or is another Reverse card. If the Reverse card appears face-up at the beginning of a round the dealer goes first, with the order of play going anti-clockwise instead of clockwise.
The Skip card forces the player who would be next to miss their turn. Like with Reverse cards, you can only play a Skip card when there's a card with a matching colour or another Skip card at the top of the discard pile. If the Skip card appears face-up at the beginning of a round then the player to the left of the dealer has to miss their turn.
Draw 2 cards
When you play the Draw 2 card, the next player has to draw two cards and miss their turn. Like with other Action cards, this can only be played when there's a card of a matching colour at the top of the discard pile or another Draw 2 card. If this card appears at the beginning of a round the player whose turn is first has to draw two cards and miss the rest of their turn.
In each Uno pack you'll find eight Reverse cards, eight Skips cards and eight Draw 2 cards. So you won't come across these cards too often in your hand. But there's something even rarer and more powerful.
Like Action cards, Wild cards boast special characteristics that can turn a round of Uno on its head. There are four different types of Wild cards and we'll start by looking at the standard Wild card. When played, these cards let a player choose any colour to continue play going forward. There are four standard Wild cards in each pack. If a Wild card appears at the beginning of a round the person to the left of the dealer chooses the colour that begins play.
Wild Draw 4 cards
A Wild Draw 4 card forces the next player to draw four cards. You can attach any colour to the card, but you can't play a Wild Draw 4 card if you have a card in your hand that is the same colour as the card at the top of the discard pile.
If an opposing player thinks the card has been played illegally they can challenge it. The person that played the Wild Draw 4 card will have to show the challenger their hand and if guilty will have to draw four more cards. But if the challenger is wrong, they will have to draw six cards.
If the Wild Draw 4 card appears face-up at the beginning of a round then it has to be returned to the deck. There are four of these cards in each pack.
Wild Shuffle Hands card
There's only one Wild Shuffle Hands card in each Uno deck. This card can be placed on top of any coloured card on the discard pile and any colour can be attached to it to decide how play continues.
After playing the card, gather all of the cards in each players' hand and shuffle them together. Then, deal these cards out starting off with the player to the left of the person that played it. If the card appears face-up at the beginning of a round then the person to the left of the dealer has to choose the colour that begins play.
If you can't find this card in your deck, it's likely that you have an earlier copy of the game; In 2018, Uno added a few new cards to the set, including the Wild Shuffle Hands card.
Wild Customizable cards
The Wild Customizable card is a completely blank card where players decide what rule is attached to it. Any rule can be attached as long as all players agree and this is decided before a round begins. Like with other Wild cards, the person that plays it decides what colour continues play.
Three Wild Customizable cards are in each Uno deck. Players can choose how many of these cards they want to use. If it appears as the first face up card, the person to the left of the dealer decides what colour to use first.
Like with the above Wild Shuffle Hands card, the Wild Customizable cards are a recent(ish) addition to the game too, so if you're using a pre-2018 set, you likely won't have these cards either.
Frequently asked Uno questions
Can you put a plus 4 on a plus 2?
If you've been stacking draw cards in Uno games for years then you've been playing Uno wrong. Back in 2019 the official Uno Twitter account confirmed you cannot stack +2 and +4 cards.
So you cannot place a +2 on top of a +4 to try and make a player draw six, and it's illegal to put a +4 on top of another +4 to make someone draw eight. That's with the standard rules. If you really want to use this rule you could introduce it using a Wild Customizable card.
What is the 7 Rule in Uno?
The 7-0 Rule is a suggested rule you can introduce to shake-up the standard Uno rules. With this house rule when someone plays a numbered card with seven on it they get to trade hands with a player of their choice.
Also, anytime a zero card is played, all players must swap hands with the person next in the turn order. This isn't a standard Uno rule so you don't have to play it if this sounds too chaotic.
Can you throw 3 cards in Uno?
In the standard Uno rules you cannot play multiple cards at once. In each turn you can only discard one card at a time.
One of the joys of Uno though is it's a customisable game, with decks featuring blank cards that can introduce new rules. You can also adopt your own bespoke, house rules if you want to customise the rules.
How do you play Uno online?
There are a number of ways you can play Uno online. One of the best ways is downloading the official and free Uno iOS game and Uno Android game for your smartphone. This game lets you play online with players around the world, and also helps guide you through all the rules of Uno.
It's a great way to play a quick game of Uno on the go or when you have a little bit of downtime and are looking for something fun. Alternatively, there's also a version of Uno that you can play when you're on Facebook. This plays similarly to the smartphone version.
Uno Flip and other spin-offs
Besides the classic version of Uno, there are plenty of other spin-offs you can try out if you fancy something a bit different. One of the most popular alternatives to the standard version of Uno is Uno Flip, which shakes the classic game of Uno up with a double-sided deck and even tougher penalties.
Tricky new cards like draw five and skip everyone have also been added in Uno Flip. Other spin-offs include Uno All Wild (where every single card in the deck is a Wild card), Uno Extreme (which comes with a gadget that shoots random cards) and Dos - which has been dubbed the 'sequel' to Uno.
Finished a mammoth session of Uno and looking for something else to play? Then checkout our list of the best classic board games that are still worth playing today. If you're looking for something newer to play then head on over to our list of the best board games in 2023, which rounds up some of the most essential games you can play right now.