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The Actual Draw 4 Rule: Turns Out Millions Of People Have Been Playing Uno Wrong

UNO was the favorite game at summer camps, birthday parties, and school trips when I was young. (Yes, I grew up back when kids were not attached to their phones or tablets, because we didn’t have those. Think: no internet; cassette tapes instead of iTunes; and actually having to read, play board games, or *gasp* play outside.)

‘Wild Draw Four’ was the dreaded card someone would throw down just as you were about to win. Sometimes, we even ganged up on others making someone draw 8, 12 or even 16 cards just as they were ready to win the game. Such fun times!

Turns out it was all wrong. We didn’t read the rules apparently. Because whoever actually reads the rules? Usually, some older kid just taught you how to play! Had we taken the time, we would have found out we were not allowed to use the card this way.

Perhaps you have been playing UNO wrong too. Let’s find out!

What Is UNO?

UNO is an American shedding-type card game that is popular around the world. It is played with a very specific, colorfully printed deck. UNO was developed in 1971 and has been owned by Mattel since 1992. (1,2)

How To Play UNO?

The UNO deck has 108 cards. There are four different colors: blue, green, yellow, and red with 25 cards of each color. Each color consists of cards with numbers from 0 through 9, as well as action cards, such as ‘skip’, ‘draw two’, and ‘reverse’. The remaining 8 cards in the deck are wild cards, such as ‘Wild’ and ‘Wild Draw Four’.

Each player starts with a hand of seven cards. To start the game, the dealer flips over one card from the top of the deck. This starts the discard pile in the middle of the UNO circle. Then the game begins! When it’s a player’s turn, they have to either match the color, number, or symbol of the card face up on the discard pile, play a Wild Card or Wild Draw Four Card, or draw from the deck and play if they can. Play then continues clockwise.

When a player has discarded all but one card, they must call out ‘Uno’! If they don’t say ‘Uno’ before the other players, they must draw two cards as a penalty.

The ‘Wild Card Four’ Controversy of UNO

People have been playing UNO for decades. Yet, it seems that no one has actually read the rules, or at least they aren’t following them.

As long as I can remember, we could play the ‘Draw 4 Wild’ card at any time. I played UNO in many countries with various multicultural and multiage groups, yet no one has ever questioned this rule.

Until now…

LaToya McCaskill Stallings one day decided to actually read the rules of UNO. She was shocked by what she discovered about the ‘Draw 4 Wild Card’. She shared her thoughts on Facebook and the post went viral immediately.

It turns out, I am not the only one who hadn’t read the rules. The internet was shocked. LaToya writes:

Did Y’all know that you can only play the Draw 4 Wild card IF you have NO other cards of the same color that can be played??! AND if you suspect that someone has illegally played this card, they have to show you their hand. AND if they in fact played the card illegally they must draw 4, but If not, the person who challenged the play must DRAW 6?’ (3)


Life. Changed. And the internet went crazy! She is right, though. You can check the instructions yourself.

What does this all mean?

It’s really up to you; UNO is just a game after all. To be honest, my family and I will probably continue playing the same way we always have. However, I am happy to play by the newly discovered legitimate rules with friends if they wish. It’s always ‘house rules’ anyway, right?

Do you like UNO? Did you know about this rule? Will you follow it? Share your thoughts with us. We would love to hear from you!

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