How to Play Go Fish

The object of this game is to collect the most "books"—or sets—of four of a kind, like four kings, four nines, and so on. How do you collect them? You go fish!


  • Step 1: Sit & pick dealer Sit in a circle, on the floor, or at a table. Pick someone to deal out the cards.
  • TIP: Can't decide who's going to be the dealer? Flip a coin or, with the deck face down, have everyone draw a card. Whoever gets the highest card deals.
  • Step 2: Deal cards If there are just 2 people playing, the dealer gives each player 7 cards. If there are more players, everyone gets 5 cards.
  • TIP: This game is the most fun with 3 to 6 players.
  • Step 3: Place draw pile When everyone has his or her cards, the dealer places the rest of the deck face down in the middle of the circle where everyone can reach it. This is the draw pile.
  • Step 4: Organize cards As you get your cards, organize them, putting any that are the same rank or number together—but don't let anybody else see what cards you have!
  • Step 5: Ask for card The player on the dealer's left goes first. The goal is to collect as many books as possible. The first player starts by looking at the cards in her hand. She then asks one other player for a specific card—but it must be a card that she already has at least one of. So if the first player has a nine in her hand, she can ask "Got any nines?"
  • TIP: It's a good idea to ask for the cards that you have the most of.
  • Step 6: Hand over cards If the player who gets asked has any nines, she has to give all of them to the player who asked for them. That same player then gets to go again, and ask any other player for a card.
  • Step 7: Go fish If the player who gets asked doesn't have any nines, she says, "Go fish!" The first player then takes the top card from the draw pile, adds it to her hand, and her turn is over.
  • Step 8: Next player asks The person sitting to the left of the first player goes next. She asks anyone she likes for a card that she already has one of. If she gets a card, she can ask for another. If she doesn't, she has to go fishing from the draw pile.
  • TIP: If someone asks another player for a card that you also have, remember it—when it's your turn, you can ask the asker for it. You know she must have at least one!
  • Step 9: Go around in circle Keep going around the circle this way. When a player gets the fourth card of a book—let's say all 4 nines—she shows them to the rest of the players, takes them out of her hand, and places them in a stack in front of her.
  • Step 10: Game over The game is over when all the books have been collected, or all the cards are divided up into their groups of four. The winner is the person who has "caught" the most books.
  • FACT: Look carefully—in every deck of cards, the King of Hearts is the only king who doesn't have a mustache.

You Will Need

  • A deck of cards
  • without the jokers
  • At least 2 players

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