Go Fish Rules

Go Fish is an easy-to-learn card game that is best played with 3-6 players. It’s played with a standard deck of 52 cards and the object of the game is to collect the most sets of four cards.

Every time a player collects four cards of the same rank, those four cards are placed face down on the table in front of that player. These piles are called “books.” The player with the most books at the end of the game wins the game.

Deal and Game Play

If there are 5-6 players in a game of Go Fish, the dealer gives each player seven cards. If there are 4-6 players in the game, the dealer gives each player nine cards. The remaining cards are placed in the middle of the table and serve as a drawing pile.

After the cards have been dealt, the players take turns asking each other for certain ranks of cards. For example, a player who has two Jacks in his hand would probably want to ask another player if that player has Jacks. Remember – the goal here is to be the person who collects the most sets of four cards.

If a player has the cards asked for, that player must give the asker those cards. The asker then gets another turn. If the player does not have the requested cards, that player tells the asker to “Go Fish!” and the asker must draw a card from the drawing pile. The player who was asked now gets to act as the asker. Play continues in this manner until all the cards in the drawing pile have been used or until a player runs out of cards.

The player who has the most books at the end of the game wins.

Optional Go Fish Rules

  • One common Go Fish variant is one in which the asker must ask for exact cards rather than just ranks. For example, a player in this variation would have to ask for the “Jack of diamonds” rather than just all Jacks.
  • Another popular house rule for Go Fish states that if the asker has to Go Fish but the asker draws one of the cards he was just asking for, that player gets another turn.
  • Some people play Go Fish so that the game only ends when the entire pile of cards in the middle of the table has been depleted. If anyone runs out of cards, that person takes a card (or 5 cards in some games) from the drawing pile.

Many people like to play with the drawing stack spread out randomly like a pond rather than in a pile