Go Fish Card Game

Go Fish Card Game

The main objective of the Go Fish Card game is to make maximum books, which is a set of four cards of same rank. The player which makes it possible to make the maximum number of books is announced as a winner. To make a book, the player in turn asks the other player for a particular rank of card.

The game first developed in the mid 1850s. At that time the game was only played with a few specific set of cards. In UK, the players were asked to make a happy family of cards which was made with four cards.

This card game is also known as Fish, in which the maximum number of players counts to 10, but usually only 2- 5 players’ take part in it.



The game needs a deck of 52 cards for commencement. If there are a minimum of 5 players, each player is dealt with 5 cards, and if the number of players are four or less, each player would be dealt with 7 cards each. The left out cards will be piled up facing downwards, denoted as pool.

The game starts form the left side. The player in turn currently would ask the next player for a specific rank of card. Say for instance, If player A’s turn is going on currently, he would ask to Player B for a specific rank of card say, ‘threes’. To ask for a rank the only criteria is that, A shall have at least 1 card of rank three in his hand. Also, player A would be asked to Go Fish if Player B would not have at least one card of the asked rank. In such case, he can draw a card from pool and add it up in their hand. Then the turn passes on to player B.

If player B has cards of the rank Player A asked for, and then be is asked to handover all the cards of that particular rank to player A. Player A would then be granted with another chance, where he can ask for another rank. And then, similar to the last time, the whole process cycle would be repeated step by step, and then the chance would pass on to the next person.

By collecting all the cards of specific ranks in every round, all the players try to make a book of four cards of similar rank. The game ends when there is no card left in the players hand or in the pool. The player with maximum number of books wins the game.

Go Fish Variations

Some of the variations in Go Fish are as follows.

  1. Rather than only asking for ranks, players may also ask for a particular card. The only criterion to ask out for a particular card is only that the player asking out for the card, must have at least one card of that value in their hand. Suppose for example, player A has asked for a 3 of hearts. Now if player B has a 3 of heart he would give A the card and another chance. But if by chance, he doesn’t get the desired card, he would go fishing. The chances for Player A getting the desired card is very rare.
  2. The game will terminate when books will be created for all the cards. There won’t be any option, other than Go Fish when the pool runs out of cards. If the player does not get the asked rank, his turn would be terminated right away, and the turn will be passed on to the next player without an option for Go Fish.
  3. If the player runs out of cards, and the players involved in the game are 5 or more he can draw 5 cards from the pool. When the players in the game are less than 5, a player can withdraw 7 cards and if in case the cards are less than 5 or 7 then the player is allowed to take all the cards in the pool.
  4. If the player’s fish goes worthless, then the next turn would be passed on to a player sitting in left to the former player, and not to the person who declares the go fish.
  5. Scores can be made via different ways. Some pre set the points criteria, say for example 3; and then they count on the points on every book they make. The player who makes it possible to reach the preset criteria is declared as the winner of the game.
  6. In some cases face value is declared for each of the cards like, king, queen, jack and ace can be granted the value in numbers as, 12, 13, 11, and 14.
  7. The player owning maximum card is declared as a player when the pool cards go empty.
  8. If there are no cards leftover in the Go Fish pool, and one player is left with one hand and the other is done with making books, the player left out with one card loses the game.

Australian Go Fish

This version is the special Australian variant of this game, in which rather than books, the players are asked to make pairs. This game is commenced with single deck, in which each player is distributed with seven cards. The game is started by the player who has the maximum number of pairs. The game is played turn by turn in which every player at their turn asks from any other player, for a particular card which they already have, to complete the pair of that card. Every time a card is made it is placed facing downwards. If any player runs out of card, HE can withdraw seven more cards from the pool. The game terminates when all the players run out of cards. 

Generally, this game is always played with the standard single deck. But sometimes the joker cards are also involved to complete the number of cards to a sum of 54, as two cards of joker are considered as a pair.

Another version of this game which is enjoyed in U.S. comprises of slightly different rules, which says that a person earns 1 point for making every ordinary pair, and 2 points for making a pair with jokers; as they are slightly considered to be as the difficult ones to form a pair of.  Also, in some places 3 points are granted instead of 2.

The most uncommon Australian version of this game is the Backstab Fish, in which two decks are used to play the game. The two decks comprises of total 108 cards which includes 4 jokers in it. Each player on their turn can ask for a specific rank from the other players to complete the book of 4 cards. The regulation here is that the asked player must have two cards of that. If the asked player has only one of the asked ranks, then the player in turn is allowed to drag a card from the pool cards, after that the next turn passes on to the player who was previously asked for the rank by the former player. 



This is the Japanese version of the Go Fish games, which is named as Minuman, and the Indonesian variant of this game is known as Obmen. Both of them are known as Drink.

This game is commenced with the involvement of two players, unlike the rule of Go Fish game in which the game is played with four to seven players. If a player asks for any particular rank, the other player shall give all the cards comprising of that rank. If the asked player does not have any card of the asked rank, then the former player needs to have a drink and withdraw a card from pool cards. The turn goes to another player one after the other, irrespective of the fact whether the player has withdrawn the desired card or not.

The player holds on to the books he has made, by keeping those four cards aside. The winner of the game is decided by analyzing who amongst both the players got rid of cards at first. 

In case of the pool going empty, the player who has the minimum cards in hand is considered as the winner of the game.


The Game of Authors

This version of Go Fish games is played without the concept of pool. This game does not comprise of any 4 cards rule. All the players are given out with the equal number of cards. The game terminates when all the cards are transformed into books by the players. Going slightly different from Go fish, in this variant of the game a player can ask out for any rank irrespective of the situation whether the player’s hand comprises of that card or not. The player with the maximum number of books is proclaimed as the winner of the game.

This game is named before authors with the reason that this game is played with such cards who hold the pictures of Authors, Famous women, Composers and Investors.



This is the Thai version of this game which is almost similar as the Go fish. Among the four cards set which is recognized as Books in the go fish version is stated as Hong in the Thai version of the game. The cards are distributed evenly among all the players. The game winds up when the players complete all the hongs. The player which holds the maximum number of hongs is declared as the winner of the game. 


Happy Families

The game is played with the help of 44 cards. The family involves four members in it, stated as father, mother, son and daughter. There is a sum up of 11 families in total. The cards are distributed equally among all the players. The cards leftover are conserved as pool cards. One player has to ask to another player for a particular position in the family. If the asked player’s hand comprises of that particular card, he passes on that particular card to the former player. After this, the turn of former player goes on in continuation, and he has is supposed to ask for a card again. He is allowed to ask for another card from any other player or from the same player again. The asked player is supposed to say “NOT AT HOME” if the does not have the card, the former player asked for. The cards are kept down, as soon as a family is scored by a player, of any particular cards.

Here, another round for the game begins and this time, the entire families are asked by the player. The game is commenced by the winner of the previous round. At the end of both the rounds the player who has the entire families wins the game. The French model of this game is played in a slightly different way, where two more players are also involved, stated as the grandparents, who make the family of six members.



The player shall request for the position which is the closest in terms of making a book. Other player’s rank of card shall be memorized by the player, as much as possible. In other vocabulary, if we conclude, it requires to memorize and complete a book at the earliest possible.

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