Mao is half card game and half prank. The object of the game is to get rid of all of the cards in your hand by playing one card per turn. The biggest twist in this game is that you are not allowed to teach the rules to new players. They must figure it out by observing gameplay and making mistakes, hence the prank.
These instructions are written for people who already have some knowledge of card playing terms, but there is a glossary of terms that beginners may not be familiar with in the final step.
Step 1: Game Set-up
The size of the deck is not important. Usually, you want about one 52 card deck for every 2 – 3 players. Extra cards, missing cards and non-matching card backs are also okay.
Each player is dealt 7 cards. Once the cards are dealt the dealer will place the remaining cards face down in the middle of the playing area as the draw pile and place the top card face up next to the draw pile.
Starting the Game
Upon receiving their cards, players are not allowed to touch their cards until the dealer says, “The seven card game of Mao is now in session.” At this point game play will begin with the player to the left of the dealer and continue clockwise from there.
Step 2: Gameplay
On each player’s turn they may play one card of the same value or suit of the face up card in the middle of the play area. If the player is unable to do so, they must draw one card and knock on the table.
These are the rules that really give new players the hardest time.
- Talking is not allowed during gameplay
- Playing an 8 reverses the order of play.
- Playing an Ace skips the next players turn
- Jacks are wild cards. It can be played on any suit and the player calls out a new suit of their choosing. Play will continue as if the chosen suit is on top of the play pile.
- When playing a spade card, you must name the card just played. For example, Jack plays the ace of spades, so he must say “Ace of spades.”
Step 3: Sevens
If a seven is played, the player must say "Have a nice day," and the next player must either draw a card or play another seven and say "Have a very nice day."
If multiple sevens are played in a row, the player of each seven must add one "very" to the phrase "Have a very nice day," and when a player is unable to play a seven, they must draw one card for each seven played before their turn. This concludes the players turn.
Step 4: Penalties
Whenever a rule is broken, the player is penalized by being given one card from the draw pile. Any player can administer a penalty card, and upon giving the card, they must state what the penalized play has done to deserve the card.
1. Jim talks during the game. You give Jim one card and say, “Talking.”
2. Suzy plays a seven, but forgets to say "Have a nice day." You give her one card and say, “Failure to say ‘have a nice day.’”
If a player penalizes you improperly, you may give that player the penalty card they just gave you and one additional penalty card and say, "bad call."
Step 5: Point of Order
Talking is not allowed in the game. This makes disputes on the rules not only difficult, but impossible during normal game play.
If a break in the game is needed for any reason, any player can declare a point of order by saying “Point of Order.”
Point of order rules
- Talking is allowed
- Players must refer to everyone, including themselves, in the third person.
- Saying “point of order” is not allowed during a point of order. A penalty card will be given and explained by saying, “Saying P of O during a P of O.”
- The point of order is ended when any player says, “Point taken.”
Step 6: Ending the Game
The game is won when a player plays his or her very last card and says, “Mao.” The winner of the game gets to make up one new rule for the next time the game is played. This rule cannot contradict an already existing rule. This rule is not told to the rest of the players. They must figure it out during gameplay.
Step 7: Definitions
Suit: The set of four different symbols (Pictured) that categorize a deck of playing cards. Those symbols are hearts (top left), spades (top right), clubs (bottom left), and diamonds (bottom right).
Deck: The complete set of 52 playing cards.
Hand: The cards that each individual player holds in his or her hand and plays out of.
Deal: The act of distributing a deck of cards into each players hand to start a card game.