What is Go Fish?
Go Fish is a classic card game that’s well-known across the world for its easy-to-follow rules and addictive game-play. The following guide will cover all the rules used in Go Fish.
How to Play Go Fish?
The Go Fish card game is designed for 2-5 players. All you need to play Go Fish is a standard 52-card Anglo American deck with no Jokers.
The dealer is determined by deck-splitting. The player drawing the highest card will become the dealer. However, the dealer does not affect gameplay in any way.
- For 2-player Go Fish games, each player is dealt 7 cards each.
- For 3-5 player games, each player is dealt 5 cards each.
The remaining cards are then set aside, forming the draw pile, sometimes known as the stock.
The main gameplay in Go Fish revolves around a similar ruleset to matching games.
The dealer goes first, and asks a specific player whether they have a certain card rank (Aces-Kings). The requesting player must have at least 1 card from that specific rank in order to make a request.
For example, if Player 1 does not have any 7s in hand, he/she is not allowed to ask another player for 7s.
An example request is as follows: Player 1 asks, “Player 2, do you have any sevens?”
In this case, Player 2 will give all the sevens they have in hand to Player 1. Player 1 then gets to make another request to any player.
If Player 2 does not have any sevens, they will say “Go Fish.”
When asked to Go Fish, a player will draw 1 card from the stock. The turn then passes to the next player in clockwise order.
Since the Go Fish card game, at its core, is a matching game, the goal of the game is to make four of a kind sets.
Once a player manages to complete a four of a kind, they will set those 4 cards face up on the board in front of them.
Completion of a four of a kind can happen either through a request, or through a draw from the stock. The completion of a set does not force the turn to end.
Once a set is completed, no more cards of that rank exist in the stock or hands. Thus, players are not allowed to call for said rank. The sets can no longer be used in play.
How to Win?
The round ends once all cards are cleared from the stock and all hands. The final tally of all sets owned by each player will be their score for the round.
Running Out of Cards
If a player runs out of cards, there are 3 possible courses of action:
- If there are still cards left in the stock, the player draws 5 cards from the stock.
- If there are less than 5 cards left in the stock, the player draws all cards from the stock.
- If there are no cards left in the stock, the player does not play for the remainder of the round.
The instructions for Go Fish rules are:
- Each player is dealt 5 cards each (7 in 2-player games).
- The dealer goes first, and asks a player of their choosing for a certain card rank.
- If the player asked has cards from that rank, they give them all to the asking player.
- If the player asked does not have cards from that rank, they tell the player to Go Fish, and the asking player has to draw 1 card from the stock.
- Play continues clockwise.
- When each player completes a four of a kind it is set aside face-up.
- Play ends when all cards have been merged.
Go Fish scoring is based on the number of four of a kind sets owned by each player at the end of the round. Each set is worth 1 point.
The player with the highest number of sets wins the round.
The following is an example hand of a 2-player Go Fish game.
Player 1: A♥ 10♥ Q♦ 9♦ 9♣
Player 2: K♥ 6♦ 10♦ 10♣ 4♦ 4♣
Player 1 takes his/her turn, asking player 2: “Do you have any Aces?”
Player 2 does not, and says “Go Fish”. Player 1 draws the 9♥.
Player 2 takes his/her turn, asking player 1: “Do you have any 10s?”
Player 2 hands over his/her 10♥.
- Go Fish strategy is about making reads on your opponents.
- Try hiding cards you have if possible by not asking for those cards until you know other have the cards you need.
- Count cards if possible (though this is harder than in other games).
- Remember, you can continuously ask for the same cards to force more draws from the stock.
- Clearing your hand as early as possible enables you more chances to win.
- Keep a poker face, especially in games with more than 4 players.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I play Go Fish online for free?
Simulators of Go Fish are available online, as a downloadable executable, and also as Android or iOS apps. There’s a ton to choose from, though the online simulator on CardGames.io is the most popular.
How many cards do you get in Go Fish?
In 2-player games, each player gets 7 cards each. In 3-5 player games, each player gets 5 cards each.
What happens when you run out of cards?
If you run out of cards in Go Fish, you draw 5 from the stock if possible. If no cards are left, you wait until the round ends.
How to play Go Fish with 3 players?
With 3 players, each player gets dealt 5 cards each at the start of the game, and play continues as usual.