Go Stop

OBJECTIVE OF GO STOP: Capture cards and score points for combinations.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-3 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 48 or 50 card deck of Korean flower cards

MATERIALS: Poker chips




Go Stop is a Korean fishing game which uses a Korean deck of flower cards. These cards, originally invented in Japan, have depictions of various flowers which correspond to a certain month. This style of deck was invented in Japan as a response to the outlawing of traditional 4-suited decks. Currently, flower card games are more popular in Southern Korea.

The goal of Go Stop is to capture cards in the central layout while scoring points for combinations among those cards. To capture cards, players must use a card from the same month, or a card with the same flower on it. Once a player has acquired a sufficient amount of points. they can choose to stop the game and claim their payments OR they can continue to go, and play more in hopes of winning big. This aspect of the game is where it gets its namesake.


Go Stop can be played with 2 or 3 active players. All other players may observe while waiting for their chance to play at the next deal.

A Korean pack of flower cards is used in this game, or hwatu. Since these cards are rather popular, you can find them online or in-store at a local Korean market. There are 4 groups of 12 cards, each with a corresponding flower and month.

Cards may also depict a ribbon, animal, or another kind of object to indicate it has a higher value.

The cards are split into 4 groups of unequal cards: 24 junk (pi), 10 ribbons (tti), 9 animals (yul), and 5 bright (kwang). To identify these, examine the cards. Ribbons cards have a ribbon with text inscribed on them with the flowers. Bright cards typically will have a red disc with ‘guang’ in Chinese script. And so on.

Below is an image of what to visually expect from a deck of Korean flower cards.

These decks also contain jokers with differing qualities and vary from deck to deck. Go Stop can be played none or some of them, considering a deck can come with as many as 5 jokers.


The player who is dealer initially is chosen by lot. After the first game, the winner of the previous hand deals the next.

The dealer shuffles the deck and the dealer’s opponent, or the player to their left if there is more than 2 players, cuts the deck.

Two Player Game: The dealer deals each player 10 cards and 8 cards face-up, the center of the table. The scheme is as follows: 5 cards to the opponent, 5 cards to the dealer, 4 cards to the center, 5 cards to the opponent, 5 cards to the dealer, and the remaining 4 to the center of the table.

Three Player Game: The dealer deals each player 7 cards and 6 face-up to the table. The mechanism is as follows: 4 cards to each player, 3 cards to the center, 3 cards to each player, 3 cards to the center. The dealer deals the first set of 3 to the player to their right and ends with themselves.

The cards that remain in the deck are placed in the middle of the table, this will be the stockpile. 

Players pick up and examine their hands, holding them so they remain secret to the other players. The cards dealt to the table form the centre or center layout. Cards will be added and captured from this spot. Captured cards remain in front of the player, face-up, and visible to their opponent(s). This is called the capture area. Below is an example diagram of a game layout:


Prior to starting the game, players should check their hands for triples or quads (3 or 4 cards from the same month).

  • If 4 cards of the same month are on the table, the deal is voided. Cards are reshuffled and redealt by the same dealer.
  • If you have 4 cards from the same month in hand you must immediately reveal them and win the game. Each opposing player must pay the winner 5 chips. However, in a 3 player game, if everyone has a quad NO ONE gets paid since they would cancel out.
  • Triples on the table are combined into a stack in the center layout, they are to be captured as a single unit by the 4th card.
  • A player with 3 cards from the same month may declare them before any turn. This is done by revealing them to the other player(s). This is referred to as heundeum (which translates literally to ‘shaking’). It is considered disadvantageous to have 3 cards from the same month, especially if the other player(s) are aware. However, if you show them prior to playing them, you can get bonus points if you win the game.

The dealer takes the first turn. A typical turn consists of:

  • Playing a card from hand to the centre layout, and
  • turning the top card from the stockpile face-up and also adding it to the centre layout.

This can result in capturing cards. After a turn is completed, the play moves to the right or counter(anti) clockwise.


The main objective of Go Stop is to capture cards from the layout that match a card in hand or is a card from the same month (flower).

  • If you play a card which does not match any cards, you simply add that card to the layout as a single and separate card. After, turn over the top of the stock, as detailed before.
    • If the card from the stock matches a card in the layout you may capture both cards.
    • If the card from the stock matches 2 cards from the layout, pick one to capture with the stock card.
    • If the card from the stock matches 3 cards, in a stack, in the layout, then you capture the stack and place all four in your capture area.
    • If the card from the stock matches NOTHING in the layout, place it in the layout as a separate card.
  • If you play a card from hand which matches a card in the layout, place your card on top of the matching card. If two cards match it, pick one to capture with your card. After, turn over the top card from the stock. This will introduce multiple possibilities:
    • The stock card doesn’t match any of the cards in the layout, so it is added to the layout individually, while the pair is captured. The captured cards are put in your capture area, face-up.
    • The stock card matches a card in the layout, however, that card was not the one in hand. Place the stock card on the match and take (capture) both pairs.
    • If the stock cards happens to match the pair already created with the card from hand, and the last (4th) card is not in the layout, you have hit an unlucky break. You are unable to capture anything. However, you must add the card from the stock to the pile of three, and leave it in the middle of the table. This circumstance is referred to as a ppuk. The stack of three cards remains in the layout until a player with the fourth card is able to capture it.
  • If the card played from hand matches a stack of three in the center layout, capture them and move them to your capture area. Turn the stock card and capture if possible.

Play will continue in this fashion until someone stops the game or until all the cards run out.


During gameplay, one of the following circumstances may occur. If so, the current player is allowed to capture 1 junk card from their opponent(s).

  1. There are 2 cards left in the centre layout, from different months, and a player captures them both.
  2. The centre layout has 2 cards from the same month, and the player captures them both with the two other cards from that month.
  3. The player plays a card form their hand that doesn’t match anything in the centre layout, but then draws the matching card from the stock, capturing the card they just played.
  4. The player captures a triple stack with the fourth card from either their hand or from the stockpile.

If you capture a triple stack you created in the previous turn, this is called a ja-ppuk, and earns 2 junk cards from the opponent(s).


If you have a triple in hand at the beginning of your turn, and you have not declared them, while the fourth card from that month is on the table, play them all at once and capture the whole month. This is called bombing the field. You complete this turn as usual by flipping over a card from the stockpile.

Playing the bomb leaves you with 2 fewer cards than normal. To compensate for the decreased number of cards, you may choose to not play cards from hand for 2 turns and just use the stock.


Jokers, while not necessary, can be used during play- they are bonus cards which make the game rest more on luck than skill. If you play a joker, either from your hand or from the stock, you place it in the capture area at once, face-up. After, flip a card from the stock to play as a substitute for the joker. So, if you play a joker, you flip the stock twice. 

Jokers dealt to the table at the beginning of the game are moved into the dealer’s captured area and replaced with an equal number of cards form the stock. Typically, the game is played with 2 jokers- 1 = 2 junk cards, the other joker = 3 junk cards.


Prior to playing the game, players must agree upon a target score to stop the game. For games with 3 players, the goal is generally 3 points. Two player games have a higher target, between 5 and 7 points.

Certain card combinations within the captured cards score points, which are listed below. Once a player reaches the target score, they may choose to stop the game or continue and score more points If they choose to stop, payment begins.

If you choose go and keep playing, you do not get another chance to stop until your score surpasses the score you had when you said go. At this point, you must again choose to stop or go.

Scores for combinations are as follows:

Bright Cards

A set of 5: 15 points

A set of 4: 4 points

A set of 3 (not including rain): 3 points

A set of 3 (including rain): 2 points

Animal Cards

A set of 5: 1 point

Each additional card after 5: 1 point

The godori- 3 bird card combination: 5 points

Ribbon Cards

A set of 5: 1 point

Each additional card after 5: 1 point 

A set of 3 red ribbons with poems: 3 points

A set of 3 blue ribbons: 3 points

A set of 3 red ribbons without poems (not including rain): 3 points

Junk Cards

A set of 10: 1 points

Each additional card after 10: 1 point 

The player who stops the game is paid chips by their opponent(s) equal to their score.

Play can end without a winner, either if no one reaches the target or if the player who said “go” did not increase their score. This is referred to as a nagari. In the event of a nagari, reshuffle to the cards and redeal. No one is paid out.

There are certain cases when players are paid out more chips.

  1. The winner showed 3 cards of the same month (heundeum). Each opponent pays out double. If they have two sets, then quadruple.
  2. The winner has a scoring set of bright cards and no other player captured any bright cards, they must pay out double.
  3. The winner has seven or more animal cards, players pay out double.
  4. The winner has ten or more junk cards and opponents have five or less, they pay out double.
  5. The last deal has no winner, the pay out is doubled.
  6. The winner said Go previously, 1 extra chip per time they said go and still won.
    1. If it is greater than 3 times, payout is doubled.


Nakoa Davis

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