So my friend had an Uno dilemma over the weekend...

They ran out of discards and draw pile somehow. Then what?

I'm guessing this is impossible "mathematically" or they were missing cards, but is there a solution?

  • 2
    They must have been missing a lot of cards since the Uno deck is huge...
    – Ola Ström
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 12:29
  • 1
    Thanks for nerd-sniping me. Now I will spend the next couple hours contemplating whether or not it's mathematically possible for this to happen. (trivial solution: play with so many players that the draw pile is already almost empty when the game begins. But the rules say 10 players is the maximum)
    – Philipp
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 16:08
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    OK, I posted a question asking if this is actually possible. I hope someone answers it in the next couple hours, or I won't be able to sleep tonight.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 16:52

3 Answers 3


There's always a card on the discard pile. Even when you reshuffle, you have to leave the top card of the former DISCARD pile as the start of the new DISCARD pile. (That is: you always have a card there showing what needs to be matched.)

Even if all the other cards are in players' hands, that card is still there. At this point, players can pass, but they draw nothing for doing so. Eventually someone will play.

If no one wants to play for whatever reason, then call it a draw: there's no point to playing when no one playing wants to play.


I don't think the rules contemplate this.

If you have to draw cards until you can play, and there are no more cards to draw, I would say your turn is over, next player goes.

It's not like this is going to go in a loop, at least one player CAN play a card.

  • This approach just makes good sense, even if it isn't a part of the rules. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 15:41
  • If you have to draw cards until you can play - I suspect that is the problem in this game. Some people play where you have to keep drawing card after card until you can play, but that is actually a made up rule. The official rules say you only draw one card and your turn is over when you don't have a match in your hand.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 17:20

Logically this is not possible. If no card can be played on top of the current card even after drawing the whole deck into hands, then logically that card could not have been played in the first place.

Uno reuses the Discard Pile as the Draw pile

At any time during the game, if the Draw Pile becomes depleted and no one has yet won the round, take the Discard Pile, shuffle it, and turn it over to regenerate a new Draw Pile.

Even if somehow you ended up in a situation where the top card of the Discard pile had no matches either of colour or face value left (or wilds) in the draw pile, then after the whole pile was drawn the discard pile becomes the new Draw Pile. At this point all the matching colour cards and values that were used before become available.

The only way for this to happen would be an incomplete deck that had no wilds and included a card that was the only card of its colour and number and was the first card drawn. At which point, your Uno set needs replacing not house ruling.

  • Wild cards make this not true. If a wild card is played on top of a red card and "Blue" is called, then the red card it was played on isn't a valid response to it. An incomplete deck with one wild and a whole color missing could be jammed by calling the missing color (but there's an obvious houserule to prevent that).
    – Brilliand
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 22:15
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    I think it is theoretically possible actually, but of course extremely unlikely. Let's say the discard pile only holds the red 4, the draw pile is empty. Player A has all wild cards, red cards, and all 4s, and player B has the rest. Then on player B's turn he's not able to play anything and also not able to draw a card
    – Ivo
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 9:16
  • Yes, the argument in this answer only applies to the situation where all players are unable to play, not the situation where one player is unable to play. That makes it not quite an answer to the question, or at least, only an answer when combined with Scott's "players can pass" answer.
    – Brilliand
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 20:53

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