How Uno Works

UNO Strategy

Some say UNO is simply a game of chance, others insist it's a game of skill. What's the real story?

Opinions differ, but you can use strategy to your advantage. The Web site UNOtips.org offers lots of tongue-in-cheek advice for winning at UNO and little-known facts about the game.

Some tidbits:

• Will counting cards help you to make the right moves? Probably not, but UNO is considered a game of chance, like the lottery, so it's safe and legal to count cards. Seasoned players use clever methods to help them remember card sequence, including the Method of Loci, a memory device of associating things with a story or sequence.
• Ever wonder why zeroes don't turn up as often as the other numbers? There's a reason: while there are eight of every card numbered 1 through 9, there are only four zeros in the deck.

If you insist on improving your UNO skill, or have something to prove to your nephew or Great Uncle Phil, try these simple strategies:

• Discard "Draw Four" cards. If you are holding any "Draw Four" wild cards, get rid of them as soon as possible. You can only play it when you don't have any other color or number card that can be played, and it will cost you 50 points if you're still holding it at the end of the round.
• Use "Reverse" and "Skip" cards strategically. Discard 20-point cards as soon as you can, but try to use your "Reverse" or "Skip" cards strategically. Keep an eye on the number of cards in the hands of the opponents sitting on either side of you, and use these cards to keep them from emptying their hands.
• Hold "Wild" cards, if you can. Hold the non-draw four wild cards as long as you can, because they are true wild cards and can be played whenever needed.
• Minimize how many cards you hold of any one color. When discarding numbered cards, discard the highest number you can, unless you have a large number of the color just played. For example, if someone plays a blue 8, and you're holding a red 8 and five blue cards with lower numbers, play one of the blue cards. That way, you'll rid yourself of extra blue cards before someone changes the color [source: PageWise, Inc.].

You'll find UNO enthusiasts with dozens of strategies to offer, but most lovers of the game agree with this one: Smile, relax, enjoy the company of people you like and play the game!