Go fish or Fish is a fun card game usually played by 3 to 6 players, but it is possible for 2 to play. A standard 52 card deck is used. The dealer deals 5 cards to each player (7 each for 2 players). The remaining cards are placed face down to form a stock.
The standard 52-card pack is used. Some cards will be dealt and the rest will form the stock pile.
Object of the Game
The object/goal is to collect the most “books” of cards, which are sets of four cards of the same rank, such as four kings, four aces, and so on by asking other players for cards you think they may have. Whoever collects most sets wins.
Any player deals one card face up to each player. The player with the lowest card is the dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards, and the player on his right cuts them.
The dealer completes the cut and deals the cards clockwise one at a time, face down, beginning with the player to his left. If two or three people are playing, each player receives seven cards. If four or five people are playing, each receives five cards. The remainder of the pack is placed face down on the table to form the stock, also referred as the “ocean” or “pool”.
Rules of Play
- The player to the left of the dealer asks another player for cards of a particular rank. The player who is “fishing” must have at least one card of the rank he has asked for in his hand.
- If the asked player has cards of that rank, he must give all her cards of that rank to the asking player. That player then gets another turn and may again ask the same or another player for a card of any rank already held by him.
- If the person asked does not have any cards of the named rank, then he says, “Go Fish” and the player who made the request draws the top card of the pool and places it in his own hand. If the drawn card is the rank asked for, the asker shows it and gets another turn.
- If the drawn card is not the rank asked for, the asker keeps it, but the turn now passes to the next player who said “Go Fish”.
- Whenever a player has 4 cards of the same rank, those cards are placed on the table face up in front of him and plays again.
- During the game, if a player is left without cards, he may (when it’s his time to play), draw from the stock and then ask cards of that rank. If there are no cards left in the stock, he is out of the game.
- The game continues until all hands are empty or there are no more cards to dram rom the pool.
- The winner is the player with the most books at the end of the game.
There are a number of variations of the basic rules:
Variant One: Specific One
Some people play that rather than asking for a rank, you must ask for a specific card. You must already hold at least one card of that rank. For example, you say: ‘Tom, please give me the seven of diamonds’. If Tom has it he gives it and you get another turn. If he doesn’t, he says ‘Go Fish!’ and you draw from the stock. In the unlikely event that you draw the seven of diamonds you get another turn; if you draw anything the turn passes to the left.
If you play this variation, you need to agree whether it is permissible to ask for a card which you already hold in your hand. Obviously you’ll have to fish and your turn will end, but you might do this deliberately to mislead the other players into thinking that you didn’t hold that card.
Variant Two: Keep Playing
Some people play that when the stock runs out, you carry on playing until all the cards have been made into books. Obviously after the stock has run out there is no ‘Go Fish!’. If the person you asked doesn’t have the card asked for, the turn passes on.
Some people play that when a player runs out of cards, the play does not end, but the player draws a new hand of 5 cards from the stock (or the whole stock if fewer than 5 cards remain there).
Some people play that after a player fishes unsuccessfully, the turn passes to player who was asked and said “go fish” rather than to the next player player to the left.
There are various ways of scoring. For example, you may play a series of hands, scoring one point for each book you make. The game continues until someone wins by reaching an agreed target score – for example, 10 points.
A few people score according to the cards in the books, for example 2-10 face value, 11 for jacks, 12 for queens, 13 for kings, 15 for aces.
Winning at Go Fish takes luck, a decent memory, and a good sense of timing. The luck part we can’t help you with. Ditto for a decent memory (actually, you can read the strategies section in Memory Match for some mnemonic aids). Try to remember what people have asked for in previous turns. This is especially important if someone has captured two cards of a specific rank. If you have the opportunity to ask for that rank, make sure you take it— you’ll get a warm feeling when you lay down four cards.
This hand contains six points (A, J, J) and at least the minimum three cards in spades, hearts, and diamonds. If your partner bid one club, however, your hand is too weak, and you should pass.
Any suit of five or more cards is always biddable.