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Mau Mau - card game

Type Shedding-type
Players 2+
Skills required Tactics, communication
Cards 52
Deck French deck
Play Clockwise and counter-clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Playing time Various
Random chance Medium
Related games

Mau Mau is a card game for 2 or more players that is popular in Germany, the United States, Brazil, Poland, the Netherlands and some other areas. For more than 5 players, 2 packs of cards may be used. Whoever gets rid of his/her cards first wins the game. Mau Mau is very similar to the game Uno and Flaps, both belonging to the larger Crazy Eights or shedding family of card games. However Mau Mau is played with a regular deck of playing cards.


The game is played with a regular deck of playing cards. The players are dealt each a hand of cards (usually 5). The rest are placed face down as the drawing stack. At the beginning of the game the topmost card is revealed, then the players each get a turn to play cards.

One can play a card if it corresponds to the suit or value of the open card. E.g. on a 10 of spades, only other spades can be played or other 10s. If a player is not able to, they draw one card from the stack. If he can play this card, he may do so, otherwise he keeps the drawn card and passes his turn. If the drawing stack is empty, the playing stack (except for the topmost card) is shuffled and turned over to serve as new drawing stack.

However, there are a large quantity of unusual, and confusing rules. One may not speak of the rules, and the rules vary from group to group, and even within groups. A chairman (sometimes called the "Mau Master") is usually elected before the first round, and generally whoever has won the previous round, is elected the new chairman. The chairman may edit the rules however he or she sees fit, but they still have to follow their own rules.


Rules for Mau have existed at least since the 1930s. A Swiss version of the game called "Tschau Sepp" ("Bye Joe", because that is what you have to say before putting down your last card but one) has existed at least since the early 1960s.


One wins the game by getting rid of all of their cards. Most of the time, the winner will have to say something (Usually "Mau") at this point, or they will be given penalty cards, and will have to get rid of those before winning. If their last card is a Jack, they must reply differently (Usually "Mau Mau").

Spelling variants

Popular additional rules

In Austria and Bavaria a variation on the game is known as "Neunerln".

In Portugal, a variation on this game is called "Puque" (reads as Poock, in English). The rules are almost the same, with the 2 replacing the 8 as the "skip turn" card. One must say Puque when one plays his next-to-last card, and doesn't have to say anything different from end with a Jack, still getting the double score.


In the UK, a variation on the game is known as Switch. The common rule differences are that two rather than seven causes the following player to pick up two cards, playing a jack will "jack it back", forcing the player to take another go before reversing the turn order, and that aces change the suit and can be played during the turn regardless of the present suit - the player playing the ace may state any suit as the suit the next player must play to. When the player plays his next-to-last card, he must say "last card", or be forced to pick up seven cards. Generally, numerical effects can be stacked and passed along, as with the above-mentioned variation regarding sevens in Mau Mau, though this rule also applies to eights, with the number of turns missed by the next player increasing by one for each eight played in succession. Other rules allow placing multiple cards of the same value or multiple cards of the same suit and subsequent value. e.g. on a ten of Spades, a player could play three sixes, provided that the one at the bottom of the group was the six of spades. Alternatively, the player could play the three, four and five of spades. Some variations include a "chaining" rule, where the player can link these rules together, and could play the three, four, five and six of spades, the six of hearts, and the six, seven and eight of diamonds. As Switch has generally higher pick up penalties than Mau Mau (some variants include a requirement to pick up five upon the play of a black king, which like a two can be increased and passed along with another black king, for a total of ten cards), this helps the game progress faster, especially if the deck is not shuffled when there are no more face-down cards.

Another version including the "chain rule" is that aces (again) change the suit but the black jacks make the next player pick up seven cards and a red jack is the only way of canceling it out. Kings mean you get another go, and queens swap direction of play.

David Parlett (in 'The Penguin Book of Card Games', 1978) describes a UK version of Switch where the above rule for aces applies, but an ace can only be played if the player can play no other card. In this variation, no other cards have a special purpose, which keeps it simple for children. Parlett points out that the game works fine for 6-8 players if 2 52-card packs are used.


In the UK there exists a variant known as Peanuckle (note that this is not the same as pinochle) in which players must shout "peanuckle" when they only have one card left to play, or draw a card as a forfeit. In an alternative to this, players must shout "peanuckle" when they have two cards left to play and "super-peanuckle" when there is only one card remaining in their hand. This version of the game uses many of the variations listed above.


The most popular variant of this game in Czech Republic is called "Prší" ("Raining" in Czech language). It is played with deck of 32 German cards (four card suits, values from 7 to Ace) and has almost identical rules with several differences:


In Slovakia the game is called Faraón (Pharaoh). It is the same as in the Czech Republic with the following exceptions:

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