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How to Play ONO 99 Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

How to Play ONO 99 Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Looking for a specific ONO 99 rule? | Setup | Playing the Game | Card Meanings | Player Elimination | Winning the Game | End Game 1980s Version | FAQ | Components |

This how to play features rules for both the newer 2022 version of ONO 99 (also known as O’NO 99) as well as the 1980s version of the game. While the two versions are very similar, there are a few differences. This how to play is written based on the 2022 version of the game. I will point out where the 1980s version of the game differs. The pictures below will mostly show the cards from the 2022 version, but some will also feature cards from the 1980s version of the game.

Objective of ONO 99

The objective of the game is to be the last player remaining in the game.


  • Shuffle the cards.
  • Deal four cards face down to each player. Each player can look at their own cards, but shouldn’t show them to the other players.
  • Place the remaining cards face down on the table to form the draw pile.
  • The player to the left of the dealer will start the game. Play will move clockwise at the beginning of the game.

Playing the Game

In the game the players will be playing to the discard pile which will have a running total. The pile will start at zero.

On your turn you will choose a card from your hand to play to the pile. When you play a card to the discard pile, you will add the corresponding number to the running discard pile total. You will announce this new total to the rest of the players.

You will then add the top card from the draw pile to your hand. If the draw pile runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to form a new draw pile. Your turn will then end.

Note: In the 1980s version of the game, there is a punishment if you fail to draw a card before the next player plays their card. You forfeit your ability to draw the card. For the rest of the round, you will have less cards in your hand.

ONO 99 Card Meanings

Number Cards

Number Cards

When you play a number card, it adds the corresponding number of points to the discard pile’s running total. The number cards have no other special actions.

ONO 99 Card

ONO 99 Card

The ONO 99 card can never be played in the game. It will remain in your hand reducing the number of cards that you could potentially play.

One ONO 99 Card
This player has one ONO 99 card in their hand. They are unable to play this card. They will have to play their zero, seven or Reverse card.

If you end up collecting four ONO 99 cards though, you may discard all four cards. You will draw four new cards to replace the cards you discarded.

Four ONO 99 Cards
This player has acquired four ONO 99 cards. They can discard all four cards in order to draw four new cards.

Note: In the 1980s version of the game there is no option to get rid of the ONO 99 cards if you get four of them in your hand. If they are the only cards in your hand, you are eliminated from the game. There is an optional rule that you can play with though that lets you get rid of ONO 99 cards. You can play one of the cards whenever the current total ends in a zero. If played in this way, it adds zero points to the total. You can only play one ONO 99 card per turn with this rule though.

Reverse Card in ONO 99

Reverse Card

When you play a Reverse card, the direction of play will reverse. If play was moving clockwise, it will now move counter-clockwise. If it was moving counter-clockwise, it will now move clockwise.

In two player games, playing a Reverse is treated like playing a zero card. The next player will take their turn like normal.

-10 Card in ONO 99

-10 Card

When you play the -10 card, you will subtract ten from the current total. The discard pile total can never go below zero.

Note: In the 1980s version of the game, you can make the total go below zero and into the negatives.

Play 2 Double Play Card in ONO 99

Play 2 Card

The next player in turn order is forced to play two cards on their turn. They will play the first card and announce the total. Next they will draw a new card to replace the card they played. Finally they will play the second card.

Instead of having to play two cards, you can respond by playing a Reverse or your own Play 2 card. By playing one of these two cards, you only have to play one card on your turn. The next player is then forced to play the two cards. They could also play a Play 2 card or a Reverse to avoid having to play two cards. Multiple turns can be taken before a player is forced to play two cards. No matter how many cards are played though, the player will ultimately only have to play two cards.

Note: In the 1980s version of the game, the card is called Double Play instead of Play 2. You can either use a Reverse card or a Hold card to avoid a Double Play card. The next player in turn order would then have to play the two cards. A player is unable to play a play a Double Play card as the first of the two cards that they have to play.

If you play your first card but are unable to play the second card, you are eliminated from the game. The next player in turn order is not forced to play two cards.

Hold Card in ONO 99

Hold Card

This card is only present in the 1980s version of the game.

When you play a Hold card, it adds zero to the current total.

Player Elimination

You have to play a card on your turn. The goal is to play a card that keeps the discard pile’s running total under 99. If you have no cards in your hand that you can play that will keep the total below 99, you are eliminated from the game.

Can't Play Card
The current player is unable to play a card from their hand that won’t put the total above 99. The current player has been eliminated from the game.

Instead of playing a card, you will lay out all of your cards in front of you. This will show you and the other players that you have been eliminated from the game. You will skip your turn for the rest of the game.

The next player will then take their turn.

Winning the Game

The last player remaining in the game wins.

If none of the players can play a card, the last player to play a card wins the game.

End of Game for the 1980s Version

The 1980s version of the game includes two ways of scoring the game.


The game includes chips/tokens. If you choose to use this rule, each player is dealt three tokens at the beginning of the game. If you can’t play a card and keep the total below 99, you will lose one of your tokens. Another round is then played. Once you have lost all of your tokens and lose another round, you are eliminated from the game. The last remaining player wins the game.


Otherwise the game has a numerical scoring option. Players will choose a number of points to play to. Each time a player plays a card that puts the total above 99, they are eliminated from the round. They will draw a card to add to their hand so they have a total of four cards. The one exception is if the player has four ONO 99 cards in their hand. Their turn will end immediately without them playing any cards. The round continues until all but one of the players have been eliminated.

All of the players will score points for the cards in their hand as follows:

  • Number cards: Face Value
  • ONO 99 card: 20 points each
  • Hold, Revere, Minus Ten, Double Play: 15 points each
  • Players with less than four cards in hand (lost a card due to not drawing one quick enough): 15 points per missing card
  • Being eliminated from the round (playing a card that raised the total above 99): 25 points
Scoring Cards
These are the cards left in a player’s hand at the end of a round. The ONO 99 card will be worth 20 points. The Double Play will be 15 points. The two number cards will total 9 points. This player will score a total of 44 points from the cards in their hand.

There are two ways to play with scoring that you can choose between.

First if a player reaches the chosen number of points, they are eliminated from the game. The last remaining player, wins the game.

Second when a player reaches the chosen total, they are eliminated. The rest of the players will compare their scores. The player with the least points, wins the game.


If you have any questions about how to play the game, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.


1980s Version

  • 24 number cards (3 of each number 2-9)
  • 4 Hold cards
  • 6 Reverse cards
  • 10 Ten cards
  • 4 Minus Ten cards
  • 2 Double Play cards
  • 4 99 cards
  • Instructions

2022 Version

  • 8-0s
  • 6-1s
  • 6-2s
  • 6-3s
  • 6-4s
  • 6-5s
  • 6-6s,
  • 6-7s
  • 6-8s
  • 6-9s
  • 10-10s
  • 10-ONO 99s
  • 10-Reverses
  • 10- -10s
  • 10-Play 2 cards
  • Instructions

Year: 1980, 2022 | Publisher: International Games, Legendary Games Inc, Mattel | Designer: NA | Artist: NA

Genres: Card, Family

Ages: 7+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 5 minutes per hand

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: High

Where to Purchase: Amazon, eBay Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.

For more board and card game rules/how to plays, check out our complete alphabetical list of card and board game rules posts.

Friday 25th of August 2023

There's just one thing I'm curious about when it comes to this game. What happens if you only have negative 10s but the total is less than 10? Obviously, you can't play the negative 10 if doing so makes the total a negative number. Does that mean you're eliminated from the game similar to being unable to avoid going 99 or above? I wish the rules addressed that.

Eric Mortensen

Saturday 26th of August 2023

ONO 99 has actually had a couple different versions released over the years and the rules actually changed a decent amount between the older and newer versions of the game.

As far as I can tell the newer instructions do not specifically mention what happens in this situation. The older rules do actually address this situation.

The newer rules do specifically say that you can't make the total negative. Therefore if you only have negative 10 cards and the total is lower than 10, I would assume that you can't play any of the cards from your hand. Whenever you can't play a card from your hand, you are eliminated from the game. Therefore I would probably play it where you are eliminated from the game.

If you wanted to play with the older rules, they specifically allow you to make the total negative. Under these rules you would be able to play the negative 10 taking the total below zero.

So how you handle this situation comes down to whether you want to use the newer or older rules for ONO 99. If you want to just use the newer rules, I would play it where you would be eliminated from the game. If you wanted to use the older rules though, you could play the negative 10 and take the total below zero.

I hope this helps. I sometimes wish the official instructions were a little more clear in these types of situations.

Sunday 11th of June 2023

If you are down to 2 players, one plays a play 2 and the next plays a reverse, does the play 2 go back to the other person or does it act as a zero and you have to play two cards?

Eric Mortensen

Monday 12th of June 2023

The official instructions do not specifically address this situation.

In my opinion I would handle the Reverse in the same way as you would if there were more than two players. I would play it where the Play 2 then moves onto the other player (the player who first played the Play 2) who has to play two cards.

The Reverse rules for two players I think were mostly added to the game since a Reverse card has no real value in a two player game. When there is only two players changing the direction of play has no impact on the game. Therefore the game makes it equal to a zero so it has a use in two player games.

Since the rules do not specifically address this situation though, the players can choose how they want to handle it.

Lola Sunset

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Great tutorial! Easy to understand

ONO 99 Card Game Review - Geeky Hobbies

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

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