OBJECTIVE OF GO FISH: The objective of the game is to win more sets of four cards of the same rank than your opponents.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 6 players (Best with at least 3 people)

MATERIALS OF GO FISH: Standard 52-card deck

TYPE OF GAME: Card game

AUDIENCE: All ages

For those who don’t like to read


Probably one of the most classic card games for players of all ages is none other than Go Fish! Like Snap and Old Maid, Go Fish is one of those games you can easily play with a standard deck of cards when you want to have some fun and don’t have much else on hand. Everybody has probably played Go Fish at some point in their lives. While there may be some slight variations in terms of house rules when you play Go Fish, we’ll cover the rules of Go Fish so that you know exactly how to play this beloved card game.


First things first, you’ll need to properly set up the game before you get fishing! To play Go Fish, you’re going to want a standard deck of 52 cards (make sure to remove any jokers!). You can play this classic card game with as few as 2 players and as many as 6, but we recommend playing with at least 3 people to get the most out of this game!

Top tip: If you want to double the fun, play with 2 decks of cards! This will help make the game last even longer.


Pick a player to thoroughly shuffle and deal the cards. The dealer hands out 7 cards if there are only 2 to 3 players and 5 cards if there are 4 to 6 players in the game. Place all the other cards face down to create the draw pile where you will go fishing as the game begins.

All players may look at their hand, but take care not to show the other players what you have!


go fish

So, now that you’ve got your cards set up, let’s get into the rules of Go Fish!

Choose any player to start first. This can be the player on the left of the dealer (the traditional way) or the last winner of the previous game—however you want to decide.


To start the game, the first player asks another random player for a particular card. The goal of the game is to collect all 4 of a rank – as many as you can. A rank refers to the number on a card, not the suit. Keeping this in mind, take a look at your hand. If you already have a couple of queens, for example, ask another player if they have any queens.

Here are a couple of rules to keep in mind:

  • You can only ask one person at a time.
  • You can only ask about one rank at a time.
  • You can only ask for a rank you have in your hand already.

If the player you ask has even a single queen, they must hand it over to you. The player cannot keep any queens back, and they cannot lie.

Remember: Once you ask another player for a specific card, other players will know what card you have and may ask you in the future. Counting cards in this manner is a great strategy to keep in mind to help you win the game!


If you manage to get the card(s) you ask a player for, congratulations! You can continue to ask your fellow players for other cards you need to make up a set. You can either ask the same person for a different card or ask another player altogether. As long as you keep getting the cards you ask for, your turn continues.

Your turn generally comes to an end when the player you ask doesn’t have the card in their hand. When this happens, instead of handing over a card, that player will say, “Go fish.”


A player must draw a card from the draw pile when they do not receive the card they asked for from their opponent. AKA when that player says, “Go fish!”

If they happen to draw the exact card that they asked for, they must hold it up for other players to see, and then they may take another turn. If you draw a different card than the one asked for, then your turn is over, and play moves to the player to your left.


go fish book

Any time you get all four suits of a rank of a card (also called a “book”), show it to the other players to confirm that you have collected all four. Then, put it down by your side, face down. Keep matching all four suits of a rank one by one throughout the game – as many as you can!

When you collect a book, you get to take another turn.


There are a couple of different variations to how you end a game of Go Fish. Traditionally, the game continues until one player has managed to get rid of all the cards in their hand. Alternatively, you can keep going until the draw pile is empty.

And who wins the game? This also depends on how you want to play. The winner is either:

  1. The first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand, or
  2. the player to collect the most books.


Do You Always Keep 7 Cards in Go Fish?

You will have 7 cards to start the game if you are only playing with 2 or 3 players. And throughout the duration of the game, you can have anywhere between 1 to 10+ cards, depending on how many cards you get rid of and how many cards you fish from the draw pile!

Can You Ask for a Card You Don’t Have in Go Fish?

According to the official Go Fish rules, no, you must have that card in your hand in order to ask for it. So, if you don’t have an 8 in your hand, you cannot ask for an 8.

Can a 3-Year-Old Play Go Fish?

Yes, certainly! Go Fish is a simple enough card game that a 3-year-old may understand. But to make the game even more enticing for the younger players, try playing with a more colorful deck of cards made for children.

Are you looking for some other variations of Go Fish to play? Here are the rules for Quantum Go Fish and Sexy Go Fish.


Mia Kim