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How to Win $1000 Playing Uno

| 10 Aug 2009 18:27

Shattered tables, broken hearts and Draw Four cards were in no short supply at Gameloft's raucous charity Uno tournament last week, where I had to show the world that when it comes to Uno, losing is not an option.

Confession: I'm utter crap at card games. I don't know the difference between a full house and a straight flush. I can play Black Jack, and that's about it. All I need to do in that is put down a number that's bigger than one number but lower than another. That's doable. Well, that's not entirely true. Apparently I'm pretty good at Uno, too, if that counts. I mean, I won a $1000 for charity playing the game, so it should, right?

No, there's no World Series of Uno starting up. Last week Gameloft, purveyor of downloadable games and publisher of seemingly every other major iPhone game these days, threw a shindig to promote their newest line of Uno games on iPhone, PSN, WiiWare and DSiWare. The game's already proved a hit on XBLA, and I suspect it'll do the same on these services. Like the XBLA game (minus sketchy camera shows), it's basically just Uno adapted sleekly to these platforms - and who can deny Uno?

I certainly can't, so when it came time to throw down in the main event of the night, a charity tournament with real Uno cards, it was time to show people who the king of color coded cards really is.

The competition was fast, fun and surprisingly serious. My team, dubbed Whale Podcast in a brilliantly nonsensical mind fart, breezed through the first round in a flurry of red, blue, green and yellow cards. The second round found us against a team from IGN. These kids did not joke around, laying down seriousUno ground rules like "no colluding on Wild card colors." When I handed them their elimination after two straight wins, the table mysteriously collapsed on itself, spilling cards and drinks to the floor. Maybe the table was faulty, maybe somebody got mad they lost. I wonder how big the broken controller pile is at the IGN offices.

After sending IGN to the loser's lounge it was onto the semi-finals, where Whale Podcast was handed its first lost round. We came back with a strong round to take the contest, however, and were on to the finals. Things were getting intense.

Our opponents, Team Numero Uno, had clearly come to win. One member called himself "Ice Cold," and wore a sleek suit and stunner shades. The other, who went by the moniker "Ice Queen," had the most unreadable poker face I have ever come across. And win they did, taking the second round from under our feet after we casually won the first.

Whale Podcast, however, was unshakable. My teammate and I had been all cheer and exuberance up until then, but now it was time to get down, as they say, to biznass. Uno faces on, cards held close. Reversals got thrown down back-to-back-to-back, Draw Four cards were deployed with fierce calculation.

"Uno," my teammate Dillon called, two minutes into the round. Ice Cold and his queen stayed strong, but when it came back to Dillon, he laid down the final card, sending the critical blast into the thermal exhaust port of Team Numero Uno's hopes for victory. Whale Podcast was triumphant.

Now, I'll tell people that I won a thousand bucks at Uno - we have the over-sized novelty check to prove it. But in the end, the contest was for charity. The Boys and Girls Club has got a grand on the way thanks to my luck at drawing cards with the right numbers and colors. But hey, I won, and I have a reputation as a winner among Escapist staff that I had to maintain. In Uno, as in Street Fighter, as in life, losing is clearly not an option.

Uno will hit PSN, WiiWare and DSi in September.

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