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Top Tips and Strategies to Win at UNO (Increase Your Odds!)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Woman playing Uno cards at home
MarbellaStudio / Shutterstock.com

Did you know that there are things you can do to become a better Uno player and increase your odds of winning? I am an enthusiastic Uno game appreciator, and while I will play the game at any opportunity, I never really thought that there was any strategy involved. Until I took a closer look at how I (and others) play the game, of course. 

If you are a “pro” Uno player like me, you are probably always looking for ways to win at the game. Don’t take pity on the kids and grandparents playing the game with you – it’s all about winning! Okay, maybe go easy on Grandma, but take the time to spruce up your skills to becoming a better Uno player, and you could become the champion in your family and social circle sooner than you think.

I have found over the years that winning a game of Uno is about using the right selection of cards and also strategy. The strategies that I have listed below will increase your odds of winning most of the time. Of course, you cannot expect to win every time, as luck does play a role in the game, but you can expect to start winning more. Read on to learn a few tips and tricks that will increase your win rates.

Are you ready to win at Uno? Try these tips and tricks to increase your odds

These are our top tips, tricks, and strategies to win at UNO:

1. Counting cards.

playing card game UNO for entertainment
Fertas / Shutterstock.com

Counting cards is the process of keeping track of which cards have been played. By knowing this, you can expect which cards are to follow based on what has already been played. In order to count cards, you need to pay close attention. When you are counting cards, you will notice when another player is putting down many cards of the same color. When this happens, you need to change the color being played as they may be getting rid of their cards too quickly.

When players keep drawing on the same color card each turn, you should ensure that the color stays the same. This way, the player will need to keep drawing cards which will keep increasing their hand. 

2. Quickly get rid of matched numbers in your hand.

You should aim to get rid of the numbers in your hand that match up as quickly as possible. What exactly does this mean? For instance, if you have a yellow 4, a green 4, and a red 4, get rid of at least 2 of them. This will mean that you have a great number choice to play instead of playing repetitive cards.

3. Try to keep your Wild Card until the very end.

In my experience, playing the Wild Card too early on in the game may be fun, as it makes your opponents sweat (and pick up cards of course), but it can also result in you ultimately losing the game. Try to keep your Wild Card for as long as possible. If you can, keep it right up until your very last card and then only play it.

The only time you should not keep the Wild Card until the end is if everyone else seems to be winning and you are losing. Then I would recommend using it so that you can get ahead and increase your chances of winning.

A view of a layout of Uno playing cards on a wooden surface
David Tonelson / Shutterstock.com

4. Avoid using the reverse card at the wrong time.

I learned the value of this particular tip and strategy the hard way. In my situation, the player before me put down a regular Wild Card (they had only one card left at the time), and then for some reason, I placed a reverse card down. What was the result? The previous player automatically won the game, much to my horror.

If the player before you has one card left and puts down a Wild Card, do not use a reverse card – rather hand onto it. This is the wrong time to play this card. What do you do if the reverse card is the only card you have to play? Pick up a card rather and hope that another player will change the color along the way. 

5. Play series of similar color cards first.

If you want to get rid of your cards quickly, play all the same color cards first. This will whittle down your hand quickly and spur you on to a quicker win. Another great strategy to use that relates to playing same color cards is to select all the same color cards in your hand that actually prevent the next player from having a turn and playing them first. This means that you will use your draw 2 card, skip card, or reverse card first. This will undoubtedly upset the player next to you, but it will increase your chances of winning too. 

6. Always change the color when playing a Wild Card +4.

Keep in mind that the other players will also be playing strategically. They will be watching your every move and trying to guess what color or type of cards you have left in your hand. If you use a Wild Card +4 and keep the color the same, you will be giving all the other players the answer to their question of “what card does he/she have left?”

Mattel game deck cards UNO, Wild Draw Four
lidiasilva / Shutterstock.com

You can be strategic and change the color of the round in hopes that another player will change the color back in an attempt to stump your win, thus ensuring your win. 

7. Try to keep at least one +2 card in your hand.

It is tempting to want to load your hand with +2 cards, but do not do that if you want to increase your chances of winning. You might think that it ensures you can thwart other players from winning (which it can in some instances), but in reality, it will actually limit how you can play the game and might end up in you losing in the end. Keep some +2 cards handy, but keep a maximum of 2 in your hand.

8. Play higher number cards first.

When trying to decide which cards to play first, you might feel overwhelmed. Because of how the human brain has learned to count, it is natural to try to get rid of cards in some sort of chronological order, starting from the low numbers and working your way up. Avoid doing this.

Try to get rid of the 9’s first and then work your way down. In the case you don’t win, the lower the points in your hand, the fewer points the winner of that round gets. Also, when your hand is dominated by 0s and 1s towards the end of the game, other players will be less likely to be able to match your card number and change the color as they will probably have higher numbers in their hands. This is not guaranteed but is most likely.

9. Note the last card color when players have one card left and do not play it.

Playing Uno Cards on table
Adhitama Pangestu / Shutterstock.com

When a player calls Uno and has just one card left to play, watch them. Note the color of the card on the pile, and if they do not play, you know that they do not have that particular color card. This can happen a few times, so pay attention… and keep resorting to that last card color that they could not play. 

In Closing

While Uno is a fun family game, if you are anything like me, winning is important. Of course, I will not lower my standards to cheating, but I will do whatever I can to ensure a win. I am ready to play hard, and I make no allowances or opportunities for others to win – if I can help it. That’s my competitive side coming out. If you are the same, you can really benefit from noting the tips above.

By making use of the above tips, tricks, and strategies, you can become a better Uno player and increase your overall chances of winning. Take your family by surprise the next time you play – show them your amazing new Uno skills. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.