The famous UNO game

The famous UNO game of cards is so much fun to play, either with kids, grown ups or a diverse combination of multiple generations!

Developed to resolve a heated father-son argument in 1971, Cincinnati, Ohio, Hungarian barber Merle Robbins invented the UNO card game to demonstrate to his son the rules of Crazy Eights card games in which players aim to eliminate all cards from their hands to win the game.

After designing the UNO game on the family table, he saved $8,000 to make his first 5,000 UNO decks to sell from his barber shop until selling the rights to International Games in 1981 for $50,000 plus 10 cents per deck royalties. Toy make Mattel ultimately gained the rights to UNO in 1992.

Saying the rules can sound a little complex, but playing is a lot more fun and much easier than the listed instructions. The deck of cards include sets of four colors, blue, yellow green and red and rank from 0 to 9, with all numbers but 0 having two cards per color. The action cards in each color include SKIP, DRAW TWO and REVERSE, while the black action cards include WILD and WILD DRAW FOUR. All cards total 108 cards.

A dealer is selected depending on who draws the highest card value, and dispenses 7 cards to each player and placing 1 card face up with the DRAW deck face down. The person to the left of the dealer begins the game, placing down a matching color, a matching number or an action card, or draws from the DRAW pile if they have no useful card available. We always got this wrong, but only 1 card may be picked from the DRAW pile (we used to pick cards until we finally got a playable card).

Once a player is down to the last card, they are required to yell, “UNO” to alert the other players, otherwise they have to draw two cards. A player wins if all their cards are on the DISCARD pile and remaining players can count points for their cards to a value of 500 - but no one I know ever did this, we just start a new game.

Another rule we didn’t know was that you couldn’t play the WILD DRAW FOUR card unless you had no other playable card on your hand. The penalty is picking up four cards from the DRAW pile, and the person you challenged to DRAW FOUR must challenge you by having you show them your hand. If they are wrong and you do not have a playable card, they must draw SIX cards!

One of the best things about the UNO game is that anyone can play from children to grandparents. The rules are much easier played than learned and you can recapture the rules even after years of not playing.

On a recent trip to Ireland to meet my wife’s Irish family when her father passed away, we met a beautiful and warm group of people who welcomed us with open arms. After several days of mourning and ceremony, the family invited us to the old house to play a game of UNO. It was so much fun to see everyone from youngest to oldest, a very big bunch, play with such joy and excitement. It was one of the more pleasurable and memorable experiences of that trip.

And back at home we enjoy the game with family and friends. It is a staple in our family game collection and a fun pass time my wife and I have been enjoying since we were kids ourselves.

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