Go Fish Card Game: Rules & How to Play

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Go Fish is a simple yet entertaining tabletop card game that’s much like the game Authors. In this guide, we’ll take you through the Go Fish card game rules and gameplay so that you can start playing right away!

Your main objective is to collect the most ‘books’ of cards. A book is a set of four cards of the same rank, like four aces, four kings, or four 2s. You do so by asking others for specific cards.

The player with the highest number of books at the end wins the game!

In the next section, we’ll teach you how to setup this fun card game.

Your Game Information




20-30 party cups, 2+ ping pong balls


5-10 minutes







Setting Up

To play Go Fish, you’ll need a standard deck of 52 cards. The game starts with dealing cards to each player.

The number of cards each player gets depends on the total number of players:

  • seven cards for 2-3 players
  • five cards for 4-5 players.

One player shuffles the deck and deals the cards, starting with the player to their left and continuing clockwise.

The remaining cards are placed face down on the table and form the stock pile.

In the next section, we’ll take you through the gameplay.

Go Fish Card Rules

The gameplay begins with the player to the dealer’s left and proceeds following these Go Fish instructions:

  1. Ask another player for cards of a specific rank, like “Do you have any threes?”. You must have at least one card of that rank.
    • If the asked player has cards of that rank, they must give all of them.
    • If not, they say “Go Fish!”, meaning you must draw from the stock pile.
  2. Getting the requested card(s), either from another player or the stock, is also known as ‘making a catch’. After you make a catch, you get another turn where you can ask any player for any rank.
  3. If you fail to make a catch, your turn ends.

This continues in a clockwise manner.

Important note: If a player runs out of cards, they can draw from the stock pile on their turn and ask for cards of that rank. If the stock runs out and a player has no cards, they are out of the game.

Winning the Game

When you collect all four cards of the same rank, you can make a ‘book’. Lay these books face up on the table for everyone to see.

The game of Go Fish ends when all thirteen books have been laid down. At this point, all players count their number of books

The player with the most books wins the game!

Important note: If a player runs out of cards, they can draw from the stock pile on their turn and ask for cards of that rank. If the stock runs out and a player has no cards, they are out of the game.

Go Fish Drinking Game

Go Fish is an easy-to-learn yet entertaining card game. The simplicity of card games like this usually allows you to turn it into a fun drinking game. To do so, simply add the following Go Fish card game rules:

  • If you ask for a card and the other player has it, they take as many sips as cards they have of that rank.
  • If you have to ‘Go Fish’ from the stockpile, take a sip.
  • When you complete a book, choose another player to take four sips.
  • If a player runs out of cards and has to draw from the stock, they take a sip.
  • If you have the fewest books at the end of the game, finish your drink.

Useful Go Fish Tips

While Go Fish is mainly a game of luck, there’s some things that can help you in your game. Here are some tips to increase your chances of winning:

  • Pay attention to the cards being asked for and given throughout the game. This helps you make educated guesses about what cards other players might be holding.
  • Be strategic about which cards you ask for; if you know a player has just drawn from the stock, they might have the card you need.
  • Vary the ranks you ask for to keep opponents guessing.

Go Fish’s simplicity makes it perfect for any setting. If you love this card game, then you will definitely love one of the games in the next section.

Other Fun Card Games

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