How to Play Go Fish

For many of us, Go Fish was our first card game, and for some of us, it may still be the one we play best! A popular card game for kids, Go Fish requires a good memory -- and good luck! Here's how to play:

Number of players: Two to six

Object: To win the most sets of four cards (books) by asking other players for them.

Card Term Glossary
Here's a quick reference for some of the card language you will find in this article.

Deal: The act of portioning out the cards to the players; also, the period of play in the game between one deal and the next.

To take a new card or cards.

Game: A total number of points to achieve; also, what constitutes winning or ending a game.

For a complete listing of card terminology, click here.
The cards:
A regular 52-card deck is used, but you might shorten the pack in order to have a quicker game by removing all cards of a few different ranks.

To play: When two people play, deal seven cards each; otherwise, deal five cards each. Leave the undealt cards face down as a draw pile. Starting with the player at dealer's left, each player asks another for cards of a specific rank. For example: "Kevin, do you have any 6s?" In order to ask, you must already have at least one 6. Kevin has to give you all the 6s he holds, but the other players do not.

Whenever your request for a card is filled, it remains your turn. Continue with your turn, asking any player for cards of a specific rank. When the player you ask can't oblige, you'll be told to "Go Fish." Pick up the top card of the draw pile. If it's the rank you called for, show the card at once, and your turn goes on. Otherwise, your turn ends.

Play proceeds to the left in this fashion. Whenever you have collected all four cards of one rank (a book), show the other players, then place the book next to you in a compact pile.

For many of us, Go Fish was our first card game.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
With this hand, you can ask for 2s, Qs, 10s, 3s or 4s.

Scoring: When all the cards have been drawn and all the books collected, whoever has gathered the most books wins.

Tip: Pay attention to who seeks which cards, for you will inevitably draw a card someone was looking for earlier. You can capture those cards at your next turn if you can remember whom to ask!

Variations: Call for cards from all players at once -- the game moves faster when everyone must give up the wanted cards. This also makes it a better move to ask for a card when your book lacks just one, since whoever might have drawn the fourth one must give it to you. An interesting scoring variant is to assign each book a value equal to its rank. Aces would then count 11, picture cards 10, and all other cards would be worth their face value.

©Publications International, Ltd.