Learn Go Fish Card Game: How To Play, Rules, Strategies, Setup And More

Learn Go Fish Card Game: How To Play, Rules, Strategies, Setup And More

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Go Fish is a playing cards game that is very popular among children. The premise of the game is simple and kids find the terminologies amusing. This game is not to be confused with the board game fishing go, go.

The objective of this game is to collect sets of certain numbers such as all the 5s in four suites, or all queens in 4 suits, etc. You do this by asking players if they have the cards you need, otherwise, you can fish them out of the stockpile

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How to play Go Fish card games?

Despite the popularity among kids, it is a game that involves strategic thinking, sharpened memory, and a little card counting. Therefore, Go Fish is an inviting game for any age group. Go Fish can be played by adults for entertainment and practice. The gameplay is interesting so give it a try.

Go Fish playing cards are the same as regular cards, so all you need is a deck of 52 cards and at least three players. You distribute the cards equally among the players at the table and an imaginary player. This imaginary player’s hand, i.e., the stack dealt for them is used as the stock.

For instance, in a game with 5 players, the cards are distributed to 6. Thus, each player gets 8 cards, including the imaginary player. The remaining 4 cards are also added to the imaginary player’s pile and set aside.

The player on the left of the dealer initiates the game by asking another player if they have a certain card. Let’s say they ask, “Do you have any 6s?”

If they do, then the player who was asked must hand over the card, or cards if they have multiples, to the one who asked. If they don’t, they say ‘Go Fish, Go Fish.’ The player who is instructed to go fish then waits for the other people on the table to ask questions till it is their turn again.

The way to go fish is to pick a card from the extra pile. Whether or not it matches your requirement, you must hold on to it while playing Go Fish.

The player who was asked in the last round is now in a position to ask questions and the turns pass this way. If a player completes a set by acquiring all the cards from their opponents or the stock, they put it on the table. The player with the most number of complete sets wins the game.

What are the rules to Go Fish?

Here are the Go Fish card game rules:

  1. The cards are dealt equally to all the players present at the table and an imaginary player. If there are extra cards remaining after an equitable distribution, then they are added to the imaginary player’s pile.
  2. A player can ask for their desired card from anyone at the table. The asked player must answer honestly and hand over the card.
  3. If a player has to go fish cards from the stockpile, they lose their turn and must wait till the other players are finished with theirs.
  4. The player who answered the question by sending the asker to go fish gets the next turn. Therefore, it is possible for two players among a group to play between themselves for a while.
  5. The rules can be modified for the sake of variation so that if a player is asked for a card, they only need to hand over one even if they have two or more of that set.
  6. If an asker had to Go Fish then even if they completed their set from a card they just picked, they must wait their turn to present the set.
  7. If a player has finished all the cards in their hands by completing sets, they automatically win.

Strategies to win Go Fish

As simple as the game is, a little strategizing could help you win a game of Go Fish much faster.

  • Always check to see if you have three of a set at the beginning of the game and aim to complete those sets first.
  • Don’t shy away from giving away cards of sets if you have one or two of them. It would bring you closer to finishing the sets in your hand and end up with no cards before everyone else.
  • Remember the cards other players wanted. Based on that, you can make educated guesses as to who has which cards and which ones are in the pile.
  • It is good to Go Fish during the first few rounds so you can collect as many cards from the pile as possible.

It is a fun and easy game that helps children develop memory power and inculcates strategy. Grown-ups also play it to sharpen their brain and learn how to keep track of cards. This is a particularly helpful precursor to playing poker or rummy.


  • How many cards in go fish?

The game uses a regulation deck of 52 cards.

  • How many cards do you get in Go Fish?

Depending on the number of players at the table, you can have varying number of cards. For 2 players, each gets 17 cards. For 3 players, each gets 13 cards. For 4 players, each gets 10 cards.

  • How many cards for Go Fish?

When you have to go fish for cards in the deck, then you have a stack depending on the number of players. For 2 players, there are 18 cards. For 3 players, there are 15 cards, and for 4 players there are 12 cards in the stack.

  • How do you win Go Fish?

You can win a game of go fish by collecting as many racks of 4 suites in each number as possible. That means, if you have eights then get all the 4 eights in the pack. Same goes for other numbers. The sooner you finish racking your cards in sets and run out of individual fish playing cards, the sooner you win.

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About The  

Kanchan Sharma
Kanchan Sharma

Kanchan Sharma started her career as a learning designer at an MNC while pursuing poker as a hobby. However, she soon pivoted to becoming a professional MTT (Multi Table Tournaments) player. She is currently a leading player, who has taken the male dominated poker world by storm. During her stint as a poker player, she has bagged many titles including India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) for Rs. 17,98,906, Winter Celebration Series for Rs. 6,62,500 and has final tabled multiple tournaments. She continually seeks to improve her poker game and work on her mindset to win the WSOP title soon. Her journey from being a recreational player to a poker pro is inspiring for many people out there.

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