How To Play Go Fish: Rules And Winning Tips


Get ready for some easy and enjoyable card game fun with our beginner-friendly guide on how to play Go Fish. This classic game is perfect for everyone, whether new to card games or just looking for a relaxed time with friends and family. In this article, we’ll break down the rules, give you some simple strategies, and share tips to make your Go Fish experience even more fun. Let’s dive into the basics and discover why this game has been a favourite for so long.

Let’s Explore Go Fish: A Simple Guide. 

Imagine a fun card game perfect for kids called Go Fish, where luck and smarts come together. The goal is to gather sets of four cards with the same number, like having all four 4s – one from each suit. You do this by asking others for specific cards and drawing new ones on your turn.


You want to collect more sets of four identical cards in Go Fish than your friends. Think of it like gathering all the 4s – hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades.

How Many Can Play

You can enjoy Go Fish with just two people or more.

How Long Does It Take

Don’t worry about spending too much time – a game of Go Fish usually lasts around 5 to 15 minutes. It’s quick and a lot of fun.

Getting Ready to Play

To have fun with Go Fish, you only need a regular deck of cards. If you want more excitement, you can use a special Go Fish card deck or try out a set of six different card games, including Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Monster Match, Slap Jack, Old Maid, and War.

Skills You’ll Learn

Playing Go Fish helps you learn and practice different skills:

  • Mathematics: You get better at understanding numbers, matching, counting, and even a bit of padding.
  • Listening and Memory: You practice listening and remembering as you keep track of which cards others are asking for.
  • Basic Game Rules: You learn how to take turns, match cards, and other important game rules.

Who Can Play

Go Fish is a great game for kids who are three years old or older. As you get closer to 5 years old, you might start using more thinking and memory skills to play.

Why It’s Good for You

Go Fish is a cool game that helps you move from games based entirely on luck (like Old Maid or War) to games that need a mix of luck and skill. It encourages you to listen carefully to what cards others want and remember them for your turns.

How To Play Go Fish

Get Your Friends and Cards Ready

To start playing Go Fish, get your friends together – you need at least two people. Make sure you have a regular deck of cards.

Decide Who Goes First

To figure out who starts the game, you can choose in different ways. It could be the youngest person, or maybe use rock-paper-scissors or draw cards and let the one with the highest value go first. The person on the left side of the dealer gets the first turn.

Set Up the Game – Deal 5 Cards to Each Player and Make a Pile

To set up the game, shuffle the deck of cards well and give each player five cards one by one, facing down. Everyone can look at their cards but don’t show them to others. Put the remaining cards in the middle to create a pile for drawing more cards.

Note: If only two people are playing, give each person seven cards instead of 5.

Check for Sets of Four

Look at your cards to see if you have four cards of the same kind. If you do, show them to everyone by placing them face-up on the table. That’s how you play Go Fish.

Guiding Your Turn

In the world of Go Fish, the first player is the one sitting to the left of the dealer. Let’s break down what happens during a turn:

  • You pick someone to ask if they have a certain card. For example, you might ask, “Steve, do you have any 7s?”
  • If Steve has those cards, he has to give them to you. Then, you can ask someone else for more cards.
    •  If Steve doesn’t have the cards you asked for, he says, “Go Fish” You then pick a card from the pile in the middle. Two things can happen: If the card you pick is the one you asked for, you show it to everyone, and your turn continues. You get to ask for more cards.
    •  If the card is not what you asked for, you keep it a secret in your hand, and your turn is done. Even if the new card helps you make a set, you can’t play it right away.

Important Things to Remember:

  • When you ask for a card, you must already have one of those cards in your hand.
  • You don’t get more cards unless you’ve used up all the cards in your hand.
  • Always be honest; don’t lie.

Passing the Turn Around

After you finish your turn, the game moves to the next player in a circle. They ask someone else for a card in the same way.

Keep Playing Until All Cards Make Sets of Four

Keep having fun in the game until every single card in the deck finds a match and makes a set of four, played by one of the players.

Note: If a player runs out of cards in their hand, they should pick five more cards from the draw pile. If there are less than five cards in the draw pile, they can take whatever is left. If no cards are in the draw pile, that player finishes their turn and waits for the others to finish. When there are no cards in the draw pile if a player would normally say “Go Fish,” their turn ends, and it’s the next player’s turn.

Find the Player with the Most Sets of Four – They’re the Winner

Count how many sets of four each player has. The player with the most sets is the winner.

How To Play Go Fish: Rules

  1. If you use up all your cards in a game with three or more players, just grab five more cards. In a two-player game, take seven cards. If there are less than five cards in the middle (for games with three or more players), take whatever is left.
  2. If there are no more cards in the deck, just keep playing until every card has been played in sets of four.
  3. When you run out of cards and there are none left, your turn ends, and you wait until the game finishes.
  4. Remember, you need to have at least one card of a certain kind to ask another player for the same kind.

Go Fish Beginner Strategies

  • Make an effort to remember the cards other players have and the ones they are asking for.
  • If you pick up a card you didn’t have before, try guessing the same kind on your next turn.
  • Focus on “Go Fishing” more at the beginning of the game. This helps you get more cards and increases your chances of forming sets and matches later on.

Different Ways For How To Play Go Fish

  • Keep playing until all the cards are gone. When there are no more cards, you don’t “Go Fish” anymore; it’s the next player’s turn.
  • Try going for pairs of cards instead of getting sets of four.
  • Mix it up by asking for a specific card, like the nine diamonds, instead of just asking for all nines.
  • At the end of the game, subtract a point for each card you have. This way, players need to decide between collecting lots of cards for matches and getting rid of cards before the game ends.
  • Make it more interesting by using two decks and giving more cards to each player.

Winning Tips For Go Fish

In Go Fish, the game doesn’t end just because someone runs out of cards – that doesn’t make them the winner. The real winner is the person who collects the most sets of four cards that look the same. Unlike some other card games where you want to finish quickly, in Go Fish, it’s a good strategy to stay in the game and gather more cards to increase your chances of winning. So, have fun collecting those sets and enjoy playing Go Fish.

How to play Go Fish with 2 players

Before diving into a game of Go Fish, it’s crucial to set up the playing cards. Here’s a simple guide:

Shuffling and Dealing

  • The dealer should distribute seven cards to each player if there are two players.
  • For games with three or four players, deal five cards to each participant.
  • The unused cards should be placed face down.

Taking these steps ensures a fair and balanced start to your Go Fish adventure.

How To Play Go Fish: Video Tutorial

How Many Cards Do You Start With In Go Fish

Participants come together in a circular arrangement, and the dealer skillfully shuffles the cards. Afterwards, the dealer distributes the cards face down in a clockwise manner, ensuring each player receives their cards individually. In games with fewer than four participants, each player is dealt seven cards, while in games with more than four players, each participant receives five cards.


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Embark on a journey of easy and enjoyable card game fun with our beginner-friendly guide on how to play Go Fish. This classic game offers a perfect blend of simplicity, making it an ideal choice for those new to card games or looking for a relaxed time with friends and family. We’ve decoded the rules, shared straightforward strategies, and offered tips to enhance your Go Fish experience. As you delve into the world of this timeless card game, it becomes evident why Go Fish has stood the test of time as a favourite. Prepare for moments of easy-going fun and shared joy with Go Fish – a game that transcends generations.


Q: What are the rules of Go Fish?

A: The game comes to an end once all thirteen books have been won, and the player with the highest number of books is declared the winner. During gameplay, if a player exhausts their cards on their turn, they have the option to draw from the stock and request cards of the same rank. If the stock is depleted, the player is eliminated from the game.

Q: Do you always keep seven cards in Go Fish?

A: Each player is dealt either five cards from a standard 52-card deck or seven cards if only two players exist. The remaining cards are then distributed among the players, often arranged in a disordered pile referred to as the “ocean” or “pool.”

Q: Is Go Fish a skill or luck?

A: Go Fish is a traditional children’s card game where players use a combination of luck and skill to match cards and form complete sets of four cards of a specific rank, like 3, 3, 3, 3. Players achieve this by asking others and drawing cards on their turn.

Q: Do you put down pairs in Go Fish?

A: In the game of Go-Fish, a standard deck of cards is employed. After a thorough shuffle, cards are distributed alternately until each player holds a hand of five cards. The remaining deck is then placed face-down on the table. If a player possesses a pair of cards with identical face values, they promptly place this pair into their own collection.