How to Play Crazy Eights | Rules & Special Card Meanings (2024)

How to Play Crazy Eights | Rules & Special Card Meanings (1)

Crazy Eights, also known as Crazy 8, is a Shedding Card Game, with the goal of emptying the card of hands by discarding them into the “Play” pile.

It is particularly popular in the United States, where there is a proprietary version of the game sold as “UNO”. Both games follow the same rulesets, the only difference being that UNO uses a unique deck instead of the 52-card Standard deck.

The Steps

This guide will offer step-by-step instructions and explain the special card effects that make it such a thrilling card game.


Crazy Eights is played using the Standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. The deck is shuffled and then each Player is dealt 5 cards.

If there are more than 5 Players in the game, then 2 decks should be used and combined to form one shoe (A deck made of multiple decks).

Setting Up

Once each Player has been dealt their cards, the remaining cards are placed in the center of the table, and these cards become the Stock. The Stock is the “Draw” pile of the game, from where Players will draw if they must.

The top card of this Stock is then flipped over, and revealed. This is the “Starter” for the “Play” pile. This Starter determines the first legal cards that may be played.

How to Play Crazy Eights | Rules & Special Card Meanings (2)


As the aim of the game is to discard all of the cards from the hand, Players must understand the basic rules of play. Although there are special cards with special effects in the most popular variation of the game, these will be discussed below.

Generally, the top card of the Play pile determines the cards which may be played on top of it. A 5♦ for example may have played atop it: Any 5 of any suit (♥♦♣♠) or a card of any rank (Ace, 2, 3-…K) that is the same suit (♦).

Players will then continue in order, clockwise, with the first Player to the left of the Dealer beginning the first turn of the game.

Play continues, with Players discarding their cards legally, and utilizing special cards to hamper their opponent’s ability to play the game optimally.

Traditionally, the game is played using a system of match-play scoring, which will be explained in the “Scoring” section below.

Want to put your skills to the test already? Try our free online Crazy Eights game.

Crazy 8 Rules

In short, the key rules are as follows:

  • Players must draw if they cannot make a move. However, a Player does not have to make a move, even if they are able. You are allowed to draw or pass at any time, but you must draw If you do not play a card.
  • If a special card is the Starter, then it is treated as though the Dealer played it, and the next Player is affected by the special card’s effect.
  • If the Stock is depleted, and a Player may not make a legal move, they may pass instead.
  • There are many variations, but it is always true that a played card must match the rank or suit of the top card in the play pile.

Scoring & Points

Crazy Eights is normally played in rounds, rather than a single game. If only a single game is desired, then the game does not need to be scored, the winner of that game is the overall winner.

However, if multiple games are desired, then each “game” can then be considered one “round” in an overall “match”.

If using this match-play method, where each reshuffle and re-deal of the cards counts as a new and distinct round of play, the game can be scored differently.

Rather than the Player with the most overall rounds won being the victor, each card is given an associated value.

These values are listed below:

CardsScoring PointsSpecial Card

These point values are totaled for each card remaining in the hand at the end of a round. As the round only ends when all cards have been exhausted from one Player’s hand, that Player will have no remaining cards.

Each other Player must tally the total card values remaining in their hand at the end of the round, and “pay” those points to the winner.

Any desired number of rounds can be chosen for this match-play, and the total “match” will end when this predetermined number of rounds is over.

The Player with the highest overall score at the end of the match will be considered the true winner.

Special Card Meanings

As promised above, this section will detail the “special” cards of Crazy Eights.


The Queen is a special card that skips the next Player’s turn.

If Player 1 plays a Queen, then Player 2 may not take their turn, and the next turn is Player 3’s.


When an Ace is Played, the order of play reverses.

This means if normal play, until the first Ace was played, was Player 1>Player 2>Player 3>Player 4, and Player 4 plays the Ace, then play will become Player 4>Player 3>Player 2>Player 1.

Order changes immediately after it is played. If Player 4 plays a card, then Player 3 plays an Ace, it is now Player 4’s turn once again.


Twos are special because they force the next player to draw 2 cards.

The Player may continue their turn after these two penalty cards are drawn, but they may not play either of the penalty cards. 2s may “stack”, meaning that if the Player next to you plays a 2, then you may also play a 2 on top of it.

If you do this, you do not have to draw the penalty cards, instead, the next Player must draw 2 penalty cards from your 2, as well as the original 2 penalty cards for a total of 4.

After all penalty cards are drawn, a card of the same suit may be played upon the 2.


The titular 8 is a wild card, which can be played on any card atop the Play pile, and any card can be played on top of an 8.

The only instance in which an Eight may not be played is on top of a 2, assuming that you are the Player who must draw 2.

How to Play Crazy Eights | Rules & Special Card Meanings (3)

Example Hand

The following is a possible starting hand:

5♣, K♠, Q♥, 9♣, 2♦

This is a very strong starting hand, containing both a skip (Queen) and a 2. These two special cards can make it difficult for the Player to your clockwise.

Further, there is a wide range of suits in this hand. This is beneficial, as it makes it more likely that you will have more opportunities to play a card that matches the top card’s suit.

There’s roughly a 25% chance of playing the Queen, or a 25% chance of playing the 2.

Basic Strategy & Tips

Tip 1

Save your special cards until you are near the end of the game, or if the Player clockwise to you is gathering a significant advantage.

Forcing them to draw two, skipping their turn, or placing them at the end of the turn order immediately after your turn will prevent them from winning outright.

Tip 2

If the Player two spaces to your clockwise is about to win, try to play a 2. Although it is not very likely, it is possible that if you play a 2, the Player immediately to your clockwise will also play a 2.

As 2s stack, this could make the advantaged Player suddenly draw 4 cards which they cannot play that turn.

Tip 3

If the Player to your counter-clockwise is gathering a significant advantage, do not play an Ace unless it is the last card in your hand.

When reversing the turn order, the Player to your counter-clockwise essentially gets two turns immediately, gaining two opportunities to discard compared to your one.

Discussion on strategy

Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cards do you get in Crazy Eights?

Each Player is dealt 5 cards for each round.

What happens if you don’t know what to do?

If there is no possible option for play, then the Player must draw a card from the stockpile. If there is no stockpile remaining in the center of the board, then the Player must then “Pass” or skip their turn.

What happens if no one can play?

If the entire board has taken their turn, and there is no possible move for any Player, the Play pile may be reshuffled into a stock, with its top card flipped over in order to produce the Starter for the Play pile.

What card is Skip in Crazy Eights?

Although not a part of the traditional baseline rules, in the most popular variations, the Queen skips the next Player’s turn.

Do you stack 2s?

Yes, if Player 1 plays a 2, then Player 2 also plays a 2, Player 3 must draw 4 cards from the Stock. If no cards are remaining in the stock, Player 3 must take the bottom 4 cards of the Play pile.

Can you stack 8s?

Yes. Although there would be no benefit to playing an 8 on an 8, it is allowed by the game rules. This is, however, a bad strategy, as any card may be played on top of an 8.

Can you end on an 8?

Yes, this is a legitimate way to completely empty the hand of cards.

Are Crazy Eights and UNO the same?

Almost. Uno is a specialized, patented version of Crazy Eights, utilizing a proprietary deck instead of the normal 52-card deck.

Rather than having cards stand for particular events, such as 2 reversing the course of play, or Queen skipping the next Player’s turn, UNO created special cards that directly serve this function and have that written on the card.

What is Crazy Eights Countdown?

This game is a Crazy Eights variant and is played with multiple rounds where each Player starts with 8 “Game Points.” Players lose these points as they win rounds, 1-win equating to a 1-point reduction.

A Player’s “Game Point” count determines the number of cards dealt at the start of the round, as well as which cards are their wild cards.

For example, the Player that wins round 1 will draw 7 cards and 7s will be their wild cards, while every other Player will draw 8 cards and 8s will be their wild cards.

Also read

  • Rules for Switch
  • Mao Card Game
  • How to Play Mau-Mau

External Resources

How to Play Crazy Eights | Rules & Special Card Meanings (2024)
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