Mau-Mau (card game)
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A Mau Mau
|Skills required||Tactics, communication|
|Deck||French or German pack|
|Card rank (highest first)||A K Q J 10 9 8 7|
A K O U 10 9 8 7
|Switch, Crazy Eights|
Mau-Mau is a card game for 2 to 5 players that is popular in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, the United States, Brazil, Poland, Czech republic and the Netherlands. Mau-Mau is a member of the larger Crazy Eights or shedding family, to which e.g. the proprietary card games of Uno and Flaps belong. 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 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 (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").
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.
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. The players are each dealt a hand of cards (usually 5 or 6). 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 keeps 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 new drawing stack.
The 7, 8, Jack and Ace of all suits are significant cards:
1. 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 his left must take 4 cards from the pack, unless he too has a 7, then 6, then 8.)
2. Any 8 forces the next player to miss his 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.)
3. 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.
4. 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 your final card is an Ace, you cannot win on that turn.
5. When a player has only one card left, he must say “Mau” (even if it is an Ace); if that card is a Jack, he must say “Mau-Mau”. Failure means that the player must take a card.
6. If the game is scored, and the winning card is a Jack, then all points against the losers are doubled.
- Neuner or Neunerl. In Austria and Bavaria a variation is the 32-card game known as Neunerln ("Nines") in which a Joker is added and the Nines are used as wild cards.
Other national or regional variants
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:
- The players are dealt each four cards instead of five.
- Ace is the card that forces the next player to skip his turn, not 8. The player may play another Ace instead of skipping the turn. The obligation to skip the turn or to play another Ace is then passed to a next player.
- If a 7 is played, the next player, who would have to draw two cards, can pass this penalty on to the subsequent player by playing a 7 too. This subsequent player must then draw 4 cards. He too could play a 7, requiring the next player to draw 6, etc. The player who draws cards cannot play a card in the same turn.
- In some variations, King of Spades has the same effect as 7 except that the next player must draw 4 cards. He may play 7 of Spades to pass the penalty on to the next player who must draw 6 cards or play another 7, the penalty then goes to the subsequent player, etc. Similarly, King of Spades may be played on 7 of Spades instead another 7.
- A Queen can be played on any card (except 7 or Ace if it was played by previous player). The player who plays it then chooses a card suit. The next player then plays as if the Queen was of the chosen suit.
- In some variations, Jack cannot be played on any card (it has no special meaning).
- There is no word that a player must say if he has only one card left in his hand.
In the Netherlands Mau Mau is mainly known as "Pesten" (in English: Bullying).
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 Slovakia the game is called Faraón (Pharaoh). It is the same as in the Czech Republic with the following exceptions:
- The players are initially dealt five cards each. The loser of a hand starts all subsequent hands with one card fewer. Once a player has lost four hands they therefore start the next hand with only one card. If they lose a further hand they are then 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 together in series, 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 Lower (Jack) 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 Upper (similar to a Queen although the cards depict men) can be played on any card. The player who plays it then chooses a card suit. The next player then plays as if the Upper was of the chosen suit.
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.
- Parlett, David (2008). The Penguin Book of Card Games, Penguin, London. ISBN 978-0-141-03787-5
- Rigal, Barry (2005). "Mau Mau: Staking Out a Stock Pile". Card Games for Dummies. Indianapolis: Wiley. pp. 105–7. ISBN 978-0-7645-9910-1.
- Scarne, John (1994). "Mau-Mau". Scarne's Encyclopedia of Card Games. San Francisco: Harper & Row. pp. 336–7. ISBN 978-0-06-273155-5.