OBJECTIVE OF KEMPS: Acquire a four of a kind and cue to your teammate to declare Kemps.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6 players (even number of players)

MATERIALS: Alcohol (beer & liquor), cards

NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card deck

RANK OF CARDS: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

TYPE OF GAME: Drinking



Kemps is a team-based card game infused with alcohol for extra fun. All active players pair up and create teams of 2. When a player acquires a four of a kind, that team will try and call “kemps.”

All that is needed to play is a deck of cards and some alcohol. Players sit in a circle around a table so that no one is sitting next to their partner. Each player is dealt four cards face-down, these cards should be kept secret. The remainder of the deck is piled beside the dealer.

Finally, teams need to decide on a non-verbal cue that is secret to other players but each other. You may also devise fake cues to throw off attentive competitors.

If there are more than 6 players, add a second deck of cards.


The goal of the game is to have four cards in hand of equal rank. For example: four 2s, four 5s, etc. After you have a four of a kind signal to your teammate, using your secret cue, that you have acquired it. They must declare “Kemps!” before the opposition calls “Counter Kemps!” on them.

Rounds last about 5 minutes. The catch is to not be so consumed with acquiring your own four of a kind you miss your partners signal before being countered.

Starting the Game & Exchanging

The game starts with the dealer flipping the top four cards from the deck face-up and placing them in the center of the playing table. After the cards are on the table, players race to pick up cards while discarding their own cards in exchange. Players can have no more than four cards in hand.

It is common to fake out opponents into thinking you are grabbing certain cards to ascertain what they are trying to collect.

This continues until players no longer wish to exchange any more cards from the center. Once everyone is content with their hand the dealer wipes the table clean. The four cards left on the table form the dead card pile. Next, the dealer deals out four fresh cards from the deck and the game resumes as usual.

The Four of a Kind

Once a player has acquired a four of a kind they must cue their partner to declare Kemps. This should be done so that other players are unaware of what you are doing.

If you believe your teammate is signaling you and you mistakenly declare Kemps, you lose.

However, if you are under the impression your competitors are trying to signal their partner, yell Counter Kemps to foil them. If they show their hand and you are correct, you win the round and pour shots for the team who was Counter-Kemped. But, if you are wrong, you lose and must drink a beer.

Members of the losing teams drink at the end of each round. If two people yell Kemps correctly at the same time, everyone drinks twice.

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