Mau-Mau (card game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Berlin Pattern Pack - Jack of Diamonds - IMG 7713.jpg
If a player's final card is a Jack, they must call "Mau Mau"
FamilyFirst-out wins
Skills requiredTactics, communication
Age range6+
Cards32 or 36
DeckFrench or German pack
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 9 8 7
A K O U 10 9 8 7
A H V B 10 9 8 7
Playing timeVarious
Random chanceMedium
Related games
Switch, Crazy Eights

Mau-Mau is a card game for 2 to 5 players that is popular in Germany, Austria, Serbia, South Tyrol, the United States, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Netherlands. Mau-Mau is a member of the larger Crazy Eights or shedding family, to which the proprietary card game Uno belongs. However Mau-Mau is played with standard French or German-suited playing cards.


Rules for Mau have existed at least since the 1930s. The game originated in Germany.


The game is typically played with a 32-card pack, either a French-suited pack from which the Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives and Sixes have been removed or, especially in Europe, with a 32-card German pack. For more than 5 players, 2 packs of cards may be used.

The aim is to be first to get rid of all of one's cards. Most of the time, the winner will have to say something at this point, usually "Mau". If they fail to say this, they do not win and instead must take penalty cards. If a player's last card is a Jack, they must reply differently, usually saying "Mau Mau".

Before the start of the game, a player who is not the dealer cuts the deck 4 times. If they cut 1-3 significant cards, they are allowed to keep them if they want. However, if four cards where the cards are cut are found to be power cards, the deck needs to be reshuffled and the cut is repeated.[1] The players are each dealt a hand of cards (usually 5 or 6).[2] The rest are placed face down as the stock or stack. At the beginning of the game the topmost card is revealed and placed face up on the table then the players take it in turns to play their cards.

A card can only be played if it corresponds to the suit or value of the face-up card. E.g. if it is the 10 of spades, only another spade or another 10 can be played (but see below for Jacks). If a player is not able to do this, they draw one card from the stack; If they can play this card, they may do so; otherwise, they keep the drawn card and passes on their turn. When the drawing stack is empty, the playing stack (except for the topmost card) is shuffled and turned over to serve as a new drawing stack.

The 7, 8, Jack, and Ace of all suits are significant cards:

  • If a 7 is played, the next player has to draw two cards but may play. (A variant of the game allows the player facing the 7 to play another 7, in which case the player to their left must take 4 cards from the pack, unless they too have a 7, then 6, then 8.)
  • Any 8 forces the next player to miss their turn. (A variant of the game allows the player facing the 8 to play another 8, in which case the next player after them must play another 8 or miss a turn, etc.)
  • A Jack of any suit is the equivalent of a Joker and can be played on any card. The player who plays it then chooses a card suit. The next player then plays as if the Jack was of the chosen suit.
  • If an Ace is played, one other card must be played with it. If the player does not have another card, or cannot follow in suit or number, then the player must take a card from the pack. If a player's final card is an Ace, they cannot win on that turn.
  • When a player has only one card left, they must say “Mau” (even if it is an Ace); if that card is a Jack, they must say “Mau-Mau”. Failure means that the player must take a card.
  • If the game is scored, and the winning card is a Jack, then all points against the losers are doubled.[3]


Austria and Bavaria[edit]

In Austria and Bavaria a variation is the 32-card game known as Neuner ("Nines") in which a Joker is added and the Nines are used as wild cards.[3]

Czech Republic[edit]

The most popular variant of this game in the Czech Republic is called Prší (raining in Czech).[4] 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:

  • Players are dealt 4 cards each.
  • Ace forces the next player to skip.
  • 7 forces the next player to draw two cards, unless he, too, plays a 7, thus requiring the next player to draw 4 cards and so on. A player who draws cards cannot play a card in the same turn.
  • In some rules, the K forces the next player to draw 4 cards. He may play 7 to pass the penalty on to the next player who must draw 6 cards or play another 7 and so on. subsequent player, etc. Similarly, K may be played on 7 instead another 7.
  • A Queen can be played on any card except a 7 or Ace and its player may then choose a suit. The next player then plays as if the Queen was of the chosen suit.
  • In some variations, a Jack cannot be played on any card (it has no special meaning).
  • There is no requirement to announce that the fact that one has only one card left. (Tho it is accepted to say Prší as a celebration)
  • In some variation, when 10 of hearts is played all other players take a card and the player who played it plays again.
  • In some variations, when a player got rid of his cards, he/she may be returned to the game if he would have taken cards because of 7 of hearts specifically (or 10 of hearts from the variation above). Thus the player truly wins only when he/she hasn't had a card in his hands for one whole additional round. (Saying Prší is acceptable every time a person loses all his cards)

Some may play with less common modifications:

Variation: Quick[edit]

Player can play multiple cards at once if these requirements apply:

  • Played cards have same rank
  • The bottom one can by played according to already known rules

When dealing with power cards usually all act as if there was only one of them but sevens in which case the next player has to draw 2 times number of played sevens or play another seven. (When playing the variation with 10 of hearts being power card all sorts of rules are being implemented by each player group, let alone of multiple decks are involved)

Be warned. With some combination of homebrew rules and 5 or more players it is possible that somebody has to draw more cards than there is on the table in total (excluding other players hands). If that happens too often during your games it is advised to add more decks to the game and/or decrease the penalties of power cards.

Variation: Blind[edit]

Players play cards in following manner. "Face-up card" is always played face down and it's rank and suit is verbally specified by the player. If the next player believes him/her it is accepted as "canon" and game continues. If the next player doesn't believe the card is revealed and if the first player told the truth the next player is penalized (has to draw a card or more or doesn't play that round or ...) if the first player lied the first player is penalized (usually takes the card back to his hand and is skipped, draw additional one or both or ...)


In the Netherlands Mau-Mau is mainly known as Pesten (meaning bullying). It is played with a deck of 54 or 55 cards (52 standard plus two or three jokers); multiple decks may be shuffled together if there are too many players to comfortably play with only one deck. The main differences with Mau-Mau are as follows, though there is typically some variation in the rules depending on the group of players.

  • All players receive between 5 and 7 cards.
  • 2 forces the next player to draw two cards.
  • Joker may be played on any other card and forces the next player to draw 5 cards. It may permit the next player to change suit, even if the following rule is applied.
  • Playing a 2s or Jokers in succession shifts the draw to the next player cumulatively. So if the first player plays a Joker and the second player a 2, the third player must draw 5 + 2 = 7 cards (or play a 2 or a Joker).
  • A 7 allows the player to play another legal card if able; if this is another 7, the player goes again (announced as Zeven: nog even or Zeven: (blijft) kleven, meaning approximately “Seven: another go” resp. “Seven: sticky”).
  • 8 forces the next player to skip the turn (Acht: wacht, “Eight: wait”).
  • Ace reverses the order of play (Aas: draai, “Ace: turn”).
  • A King has the same effect as the 7 ( heer nog 'n keer, "King, go again")
  • Jack changes suit.
  • One card left: say Laatste kaart (“Last card”) or knock on the table. (It's a common rule that if people forget to knock or announce their last card before the next player plays or draws that they must draw an entirely new hand, 5 or 7 cards). The final card may not be an effect card, the player must draw if it is.


In Portugal, a variation on this game is called Puque. The rules are almost the same, with the 2 replacing the 8 as the "skip turn" card. A player must say Puque when playing their next-to-last card, and doesn't have to say anything different from end with a Jack,[clarification needed] still getting the double score.


Variants are called Чешский Дурак (Czech Fool), Фараон (Pharaoh), Крокодил (Crocodile) or 101. Usually played with 36-card, French pack. The rules are similar to Czech and Slovak rules.

  • The players are dealt 5 cards.
  • Ace forces the next player to skip the turn.
  • 7 forces the next player to take 1 card (or more).
  • 6 forces to take 1 card (or more) and skip.
  • Queen changes suit.
  • (optional) 10 changes turn direction.
  • (optional) King of spades forces to take multiple cards and skip.


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

  • Players are dealt 5 cards initially. The loser of a hand starts all subsequent hands with one card fewer. Once a player has lost four hands they start the next with only one card. If they lose a further hand they are out of the game. The winner of each hand plays first on the following hand.
  • A player can play several cards of the same rank in succession, for example if a heart is on top of the discard pile they could play the ace of hearts and the ace of leaves on top of it. The two aces would mean the next two players miss their turns. In some versions it is not possible for players to defend against an ace as they don't have a turn.
  • If a 7 (or more together) is played, the next player has to draw three cards (or six or nine or twelve). He can pass this penalty on to the subsequent player by playing a 7 (or more) too. This subsequent player must then draw three cards for each seven played in total (unless he plays sevens himself, passing the obligation to the next player and increasing it).
  • The Unter of Leaves cancels out the obligation to draw cards due to sevens and can have other jacks played on top of it by the same player.
  • An Ober can be played on any card. The player who plays it then chooses a suit. The next player then plays as if the Ober was of the chosen suit.


A Swiss version of the game called Tschau Sepp, played with 36 cards, has existed at least since the early 1960s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Mau Mau Club card game rules". Mau Mau Club. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  2. ^ "Opening card rules". Mau King.
  3. ^ a b Parlett 2008, p. 447.
  4. ^ Omasta, Vojtěch; Ravik, Slavomír (1969). Hráčy Karty: Karetní Hri (in Czech). Prague: Práce. p. 284. OCLC 42157300.[verification needed]

Further reading[edit]