Old Maid

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AKA Scabby Queen or Black Peter

3-6 players with one deck of cards

Old Maid is a well known favorite with children but also lots of fun for families playing together. The aim is to collect and discard pairs of cards BUT not to be left with the last card!

How to Play Old Maid

  • Uses a standard pack of cards with one of the Queens removed, usually the Queen of Clubs
  • The cards are dealt face down, one at a time, to all players until they are all dealt.
    • Not all players will have the same number of cards
  • Players may look at their cards and discard any matching pairs of cards they may have into a general throw-away pile in the middle.
    • A matching pair is two cards that are the same number and same color, either Red or Black.
  • If they have three-of-a-kind, they can only remove two of those three cards.

General Play

  • The dealer fans his remaining cards, facedown, and offers them up to the next player to choose one, unseen.
  • Player 2 draws one card from it and adds it to their hand.
  • Player 2 can then discard into the middle any pair that may have been formed by the drawn card.
  • Player 2 then fans their remaining cards for the next player to choose from and so on.
  • When a player has no cards left they are safe, out of the game, and play passes to the next player.
  • Play proceeds in this way until all cards have been paired except one – the odd queen!

The game ends when the last pair of cards is made and thrown into the middle with one player left holding the Queen of Spades – the Old Maid.

Black Peter

Black Peter is a European version of the game using a reduced number of cards from the deck.

Either 15 or 18 matched pairs of playing cards are used from the deck, plus a single Black Jack card. The game is then played in exactly the same way as Old Maid.

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