Go Fish

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Go Fish (or simply Fish) is a simple card game. It is usually played by two to five players,[1] although it can be played with up to ten.


Basic game

Using a standard 52 card deck, five cards are dealt to each player, or seven if there are four or fewer.[2] The remaining card pack is shared between the players, usually sprawled out in a non-orderly pile referenced as the "ocean" or "pool".[2]

The player whose turn it is to play asks another player for their cards of a particular rank. For example, "Steve, do you have any threes?" Players can not ask for a card they are not holding.[3] The recipient of the request must then hand over all cards of that rank, if he has any. If the recipient of the request has none, he tells the player to "go fish," and the player draws a card from the pool. If the player receives the card he wanted (through either means), he may take another turn. If the player is now holding all four suits of one rank, he may play the cards face up in front of himself.

Play proceeds to the left.[4]

If the player who was asked has no cards of that rank, they say "go fish", and the asking player draws a card from the ocean. The turn then passes to the player who was asked.

Winning: When one player runs out of cards, they are the winner.


There are a number of variations of these basic rules:

  • Each player only gets one turn even if the call is successful.
  • Players form pairs instead of books of four.
  • Players form books of three, enabling any other player to place the same number card down as their own. For example, if John places down three 5s, and Annie has the last 5, she can play it to get points.
  • Extra conditions are added under which a player's turn continues. For example, if the card fished from the pack matches the rank that was asked for, or if it completes a book.
  • With three or more players, all players must respond to each call. A player draws a card from the pack only if no opponent has a card of the requested rank, and then the turn passes clockwise.
  • Players ask for a specific card instead of a rank. A player must still have at least one card of the named rank in order to ask, and must expose that card when asking. This is similar to Happy Families.
  • In the event that a player runs out of cards he should draw a new hand from the top of the pack.
  • If a player runs out of cards he must wait until the game is over and cannot gain any more cards or books.
  • When a player is told to "Go fish!" they then draw a card directly from their opponent's hand, not from the card pack. Then the player who has been "fished" draws a replacement card from the pack and play continues.
  • Instead of cards being placed in a stack, they can be spread out to form a "pond" on the table.
  • "Fisherman's Luck" variation: If the card drawn is what the player asked for, then it is shown to the other players and then the player draws another card.
  • "KP" variation: The game ends when any player runs out of cards. Players count their pairs but deduct one pair for every card they are holding. The player with the highest number of pairs AFTER the deductions is the winner.
  • "KP Advanced" variation: Same as above, but if the last player to ask for a card is not the first person to run out of cards, then the asker of the card is exempt from having to take deductions.
  • "KP Tournament" variation: After each round of a KP variation game, players receive a point for every pair. However, if they have more cards in their hands than they have pairs, they go into negative points during deductions. First player to 52 points wins the tournament.
  • If the other players got all their matches and one player has a card left while no more Go-fish cards to draw, he loses the game.
  • Books are saved by each player face-down. When the main play is finished, a further stage of play starts, with the player who has most books. They may ask another player for a rank that they remember that player has; if correct they win the whole book; if incorrect, play passes to the other player. The winner is the player who eventually has collected a book of every rank.

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