Ultimate Mao (aka Chinese Bartog)

When I was at Penn State back in the mid-1990s for a math contest, Hideo and Ben taught me, Andy and Tad this new and interesting game called Mao. Originally, they were not allowed to tell us the rules, but they told us about special cards, rules of play and the penalties for breaking the rules. In the first hand, I got so many cards because I was inexperienced and somewhat forgetful. But in the third hand, I managed to win my first game of mao. The rules here are somewhat different (a couple of extra rules) from the original version of mao they had.

Players: At least 3, but best for 5 to 7 players.

Cards: I recommend at least 2 decks of cards with the jokers taken out.

IMPORTANT! Please Read This Line! -- Since there are so many rules about special cards and things you have to do, in this version of mao, it is permitted to tell the players the rules here. This is a change from other versions of mao.

Deal: Before the deal, the dealer says: "The deal will begin with (name) and will go (counterclockwise/clockwise)." Then he deals out six cards, one at a time starting with the person named and going in the direction indicated. The players must not look at(or even touch) the cards while the cards are being dealt, or they will receive a penalty card at the beginning of play. The rest of the cards are placed face down to form the stock.

Beginning of play: After the deal, the dealer says: "The playing of Mao will begin with (name) and will go (clockwise/counterclockwise)." Then the players may look at their cards. The dealer then turns up the top card of the stock to begin play.

Rules of Play: When it's a player's turn, they must play a valid card or draw one card from the stock within 5 to 7 seconds or they get a penalty card for delay of game, unless he says "Hold on" and has a large number of cards, then he has up to a minute to play a valid card or draw from the stock. Once you touch the stock, you have to take the top card of the stock, even if it's unintentional (unless if you're giving a penalty). If you draw more cards, then you have to keep these cards in your hand. Valid cards are those that match the suit or number of the top face-up card. Jacks are also valid cards since they are wild. Important: Jacks can't be played on Jacks. Doing so would result in a misplay penalty.

Special Cards: These cards have certain effects on the game:

Ace - Reverse
2 - Player plays again (unless it's his last card.)
4 - If a player plays a 4, the next player has to play a 4 or draw 4 cards. If he players a 4, then the player after him must play a 4 or draw 8 cards, etc. The way of saying it is: If a player plays a 4, the next player must play a 4 or draw (NumberOfConsecutiveFours * 4) cards.
7 - If a player plays a 7, the next player must play a 7 or draw (NumberOfConsecutiveSevens * 2) cards.
8 - Skip
10 - Player says "Have a (Very * (NumberOfConsecutiveTens - 1)) Nice Day."
Jack - Wild Card

Whenever a jack is played, the player has to hold the card with his finger and call the suit of the next card to be played and release his finger on the card. If he releases his finger before he calls the suit, then the first player to call the suit has control on calling the suit of the next card to be played will be. Jacks may not be played on jacks. (See rule above on that.)
Spades - Any player who plays any spade must name the spade. Example: If a player plays the five of spades, he must say "five of spades."

The Multiples Rule: Whenever a card is played on the same exact card (example, a five of clubs on another five of clubs), he must say "two" if the card being played is the second consecutive one (ie if the previous card is the same one). If the previous two cards are the same one as the card he's playing, then he must say "three," etc. This is the only time where someone can play out of turn without triggering a penalty. Play continues with the next person after the person who plays the multiple in the current direction of play.

Multiple calls: If a card being played requires the player to say more than one thing, he must say all the things required. For example, if he plays the first ten of spades on top of a card that isn't a ten, then he must say "Ten of Spades, have a nice day."

Point Of Order: Whenever someone wants to ask a question, he must call a point of order (If he asks a question outside of a point of order, he gets a penalty card). During a point of order, no penalties are to be given and no one is allowed to look at their cards and any questions that need to be asked or things that need to be said can be done during a point of order.

Ending a Point of Order: The caller of the point of order or the oldest player in the group can end a point of order after talking has stopped. If talking has stopped for a period of time (say, 10 seconds) and neither the caller of the point of order nor the oldest player ends the point of order by saying 'End Point Of Order,' everyone else can agree to end the point of order by saying 'End Point of Order' together.

Ending the game: If after a player who plays a card, which results in his having one card left, he must say 'Last Card.' If he has no cards left, he says 'Mao,' unless he plays a jack, where he has to say 'Mao Mao,' and he wins the game. Note: If the card played requires you to say something, you must say every element you're required to say before saying 'Last Card,' 'Mao,' or 'Mao Mao.'

Penalties: There are lots of penalties in the game. When a player is giving a penalty card, he must say the reason for the penalty. If the penalty giver gives a bad call, the player's he's giving the penalty to gives the card back to him and says 'Bad Call.' After a penalty is given, the recipient of the penalty card must say 'Thank You,' and that includes penalty cards incurred for failure to say 'Thank You.'

Failure to name a Spade - One card penalty.
Misplay - Someone screws up and makes an invalid play, jack on jack or 9 of clubs on a 7 of diamonds or plays a card when he must be drawing cards - One card penalty and player takes back his card.
Looking At (or Touching) Cards Before Game Begins - One Card Penalty.
Delay Of Game (Taking more than 5 to 7 seconds to play or draw cards) - One Card Penalty.
Playing Out of Turn (Except to play a duplicate card that is on the top of the pile) - One Card Penalty and player takes back his card.
Failure to say "Have a nice day." - One Card Penalty.
Asking Questions Outside of a Point Of Order - One Card Penalty.
Swearing - One Card Penalty.
Malice (other than swearing) - One Card Penalty.
Rudeness - One Card Penalty.
Failure to Say 'Thank You' After a Penalty - One Card Penalty.
Giving a Penalty during a point of order - one card penalty.
Looking at cards during a point of order - one card penalty.
Failure to Say Very(s) - one card penalty per 'very' forgotten.
Failure to Say Correct Multiple - one card penalty.
Saying the Incorrect Multiple - one card penalty.
Failure to Say Last Card - one card penalty.
Failure to Say Mao - one card penalty.
Saying Mao instead of Mao Mao - one card penalty.
Failure to Say Mao Mao - two card penalty.

Multiple Penalty Calls: This is when a player breaks more than one rule in the game. He is given the same number of cards as the number of rules he has broken. (For example: If a player plays a 7 of clubs on a 6 of diamonds, and it's not his turn, he gets 2 penalty cards and takes his card back, one for playing out of turn and one for misplay.)

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Page last updated on: August 23, 2006

Links to other Mao pages

My Ultimate Mao Page
John McLeod's Mao Page
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