Some Background Information
As far as I know, Mao is a vreated to simulate Communist
China and supposedly named after it's creator, Mao Zidong. The laws(rules)
of the game aren't always certain and players get penalized for not
following them. The goal of the game is to leave because who wants
to be communist anyway? After beating the system, you may decide to
return and make up an additional rule to mess with the system even
more. I like to think of this game as organized chaos.
Also, like many games, games end up changing or mutating
as they are spread around. This is especially popular for that since
it is supposed to be against the rules to write the rules down. I'm
sure that this game has been mutated many times before it got to and
I mutated it a little myself. I found that there were quite a few
rules that I didn't approve of so I kicked them out. I've kept the
rules that makes the game fun. I've included all the base rules, and
as many optional rules as I can find as well as many of the New Rules
that I've seen while playing.
Attitude For The Game
Mao's rules are very strict. This game is a great game
for behavioral conditioning. This is not a good game for people with
short attention spans or people that get frustrated easily. It really
helps if you are a good sport about things to play this game. I really
enjoy it and find it's very fun. Beginning players shouldn't worry
about winning right away, they should focus more on learning the rules.
I play it to have fun. Once you are able to catch on and empty your
hand, it's also fun to try to create more chaos by making up additional
rules to the game that only you know.
How To Play Mao
To go out by playing all the cards in your hand.
Standard set of playing cards, with or without the Jokers.
I prefer to use 3 sets of playing cards that have pictures
The dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player 5 cards.
The remaining cards are placed in the center of the table
as the draw pile. The dealer takes the top cards, flips it
over and sets it next to the draw pile, this will be the discad
Play begins going clockwise(to the left) starting
with the dealer. For each turn, you must either play a card
on the discard pile or take a card from the draw pile, but not
both unless a card requires you to draw from the draw pile on
Bad Call - This is where someone calls
a penalty on someone who didn't actually break the rules.
Discard Pile - The pile of cards that
are face up, located next to the draw pile. This is where
you play your cards at.
Draw Pile - The pile of cards that are
placed face down in the center of the table. This is used
to draw cards from.
End Point of Order - This is called to
end a Point of Order. Anyone can call this as long as no one
Penalty - Any player can call a penalty
against another player for breaking the rules. The player
that breaks the rule, has to take a penalty card from the
Point of Order - This can be called to
pause play of the game and allows time for questions. The
rules still may not be discussed. You can not say 'Point of
Order' in a Point of Order. Point of Order is ended by saying,
"End Point of Order" and game play will then continue
There are many different rules that you can choose to play with.
Not everyone plays with the same rules. Here's a list of rules that
I like to use when I play, but depending on who is playing, I may
not always use all the rules.
- You are not allowed to touch your cards until the dealer
is done dealing and picks his cards up.
- No stashing or hiding cards from your hand.
- No playing out of turn.
- After you play your second to last card, you must call "Last
Card" and it must be the last thing you say at the end
of your turn.
- After playing your last card, you must call "Mao"
and it must be the last thing you say at the end of your turn.
- You can not play off suit unless the number you play matches
the number on top of the discard pile.
- No talking except during a Point of Order
Any player can call a penalty on any other player that breaks any
rule. When calling a penalty on another player, you must say "Penalty"
and give a reason for that penalty. This is how new people are able
to learn the rules. The following is a list of what penalties can
be called on other players:
- Penalty: Talking
- One card penalty for talking during gameplay.
- Penalty: Saying P of O in P of O
- One card penalty for saying "Point of Order" while
in a Point of Order.
- Penalty: Going Out of Turn
- One card penalty for playing when it's not your turn. You
must also return the card you tried playing to your hand.
- Penalty: Failure To Draw X Card(s)
- One card penalty if you don't draw X card(s). You must still
draw X cards.
- Penalty: Touching Cards During P of O
- One card penalty for touching your cards during a Point
of Order. You get another penalty if you touch the penalty
card you just got before the end of the Point of Order.
- Penalty: Failure To Take Your Turn
- One card penalty for not taking your turn within 5-10 seconds
when it is your turn.
- Penalty: Failure To Say, "(word or phrase)"
- One card penalty for not saying "(word of phrase)".
- Penalty: Failure To (action)
- One card penalty for not doing a particular action.
- Penalty: Swearing
- One card penalty for each incident of swearing.
- Penalty: Illegal Play
- One card penalty for playing a card that can't be played.
- Penalty: Pointless P of O
- One card penalty for calling a pointless Point of Order.
- Penalty: Bad Call
- One card penalty for calling a penalty on someone who didn't
break a rule.
Some cards do special things when they are played. When a certain
card is played, it sets off a trigger for a special effect. The triggers
for beginning are quite easy as they are just a specific number or suit.
When making your own rules, you can make the triggers harder to figure
out, but then people may get too frustrated because they can't figure
out what it is that is triggering your effect. Here are the triggers
that I use when beginning a game:
- When an ace is played, the next player loses his turn. In
other words, it skips the next player.
- When a two is played, the next player must take two draw cards
from the draw pile.
- When a four is played, the order of play is immediately reversed.
Play continues as normal in the opposite direction.
- When a seven is played, the player who played it must say
"Have a nice day." The next player may play another
seven or draw a card.
- If another seven is played, then that person says, "Have
a very nice day." The next player will then have the option
of playing another seven or drawing two cards.
- If there is a third seven played, that player must say, "Have
a very very nice day." and the next player will have to
play another seven or take three cards, so on and so forth.
- When a jack is played, you may call any suit you want as long
as you are still touching the jack.
- If you let go of the jack and do not call anything, then anybody
can call a suit. First person to call a suit gets it.
Adding New Rules
The addition of new rules is always the funnest part.
Just when you get used to how things are played, someone steps in with
a new rule. Because new rules can change the game entirely, sometimes,
you have to be careful what new rule you decide to add. There's a few
things to keep in mind when you make a new rule and its limitations.
You have to play by that rule as well. If you make a rule
that is too annoying, you might even end up annoying yourself
Remember the other players. If they don't like your new rule,
they are not going to like you very much either.
Keep it possible to go out. If you make it so that everytime
a certain number is played that the next player has to draw
4 cards, then it makes it next to impossible to go out. That
may be the quickest way to end a game though.
Speed the game up. If things are going slow, don't be afraid
to make a rule that will speed the game up by increasing the
number of cards played per turn or increasing the possibilites
of playing on cards, for example being able to play a 3 on
The new rule can not target specific people. You may not
single people out when making a rule. The rule has to be able
to be broken by anyone. A rule is only good if everyone or
no one can break the rule.
Brainstorming For New Rules
Here I will list many new rules. This list is a combination of rules
that I've seen during gameplay, rules I have made up, and other rules
that I've found. To add a rule to my list that you have created, e-mail
me at email@example.com and
put "MAO" in the subject line of the e-mail.
- When you play a '4', the next player has to draw 4 cards
- When you play a face card(Jack, Queen or King), you have to
say, "Giggle giggle."
- When you play an even numbered card(2, 4, 6, 8, or 10), you
have to say, "Bounce bounce."
- When you play a card with purple on it, you have to say, "Purple
is my favorite color."
- When you get a penalty card, you have to say "Thank you."
- When you play a 'King', you have to say "Happy birthday,
(name of person to your right)."
- When you play an '8', pick a card from your hand and give
it to the last person that played a card on the discard pile(before
- When you play a card with a picture of a princess on it, you
must say, "I'm a princess."
- When you play a card with a picture of a horse on it, you
must make the sound of a horse.
- You may play hearts on diamonds and diamonds on hearts.
- Each card is now one face value higher than what it says on
the card.(A '2' is now a '3', a '10' is now a 'Jack', a 'King'
is now an 'Ace', etc.
- Spades are now hearts and hearts are now spades.
- When you play a 'King' on a 'King', you must say "Stalemate."
- When you play a 'Queen' on a 'King', you must say "Checkmate."
- When you play a '10' on a 'King', you must say "Castleing."
- When you play an 'Ace' on a face card or vise versa, you must
- When you play a card on a card of the same face value, you
must knock twice.
- When you play a '9', you get to take another turn.
- When you play a 'Queen', flip over the top card on the draw
pile and put it in the discard pile, treat it as if you just
played that card.
- When you play a '5', skip the next two player's turns.
- When you play a card on a card and the total of the two cards
equal 13, then you must say, "Lucky Thirteen!"
- During your turn, draw a card and play two cards, effects
of the cards take place simultaneously.
- When you are calling for a card you are playing, you must
say the words in reverse order.(example- Instead of saying,
"Ace of spades," you have to say, "Spades of
- You may not touch your face.
- You may not acknowledge the music(if any is playing in the
- When you play a heart, you have to snap your fingers.
- Make a second discard pile. You can play on either stack.