How to Play Goldfish

By Flora Richards-Gustafson
Play Goldfish with a deck of cards.

Goldfish is a simple card game that can have two to five players. Formally called “Fish” or “Go Fish,” people often call this game “Goldfish” because the phrases “go fish” and “goldfish” sound similar. Goldfish, because of its simplicity, is popular with children. Goldfish is similar to the game “Authors” in that the object of the game is to collect as many “books” of cards (four cards of the same rank) as you can. There are 13 books in a deck of cards.

Shuffle the deck of cards.

Pick a dealer. Each player picks the top card off the deck. Whoever has the lowest card is the dealer. The dealer then reshuffles the cards, and the player to the right cuts the deck by separating the deck into two different piles. The dealer then places the bottom half of the deck on top of the other pile.

Deal the cards. Starting with the player on the left, the dealer should give each player one card, face down, and continue handing out cards until each player has seven cards. The dealer should then place the remaining stack of cards face down on the table.

Start with the player to the left of the dealer. That person chooses players as an opponent and asks the chosen one for all her cards of a certain rank. For example, the player can ask the opponent for all of her 3s. However, the player making the request must have at least one card of the same rank. If the opposing player has any of the requested cards, she must hand the card(s) over to the other player. The demanding player can ask the same opponent, or a new one, if she has a specific rank of card again. As long as the demanding player keeps getting cards from opponents, the turn continues.

Go fish! If the opposing player does not have the rank of card requested, he tells the demanding player “Go fish!” or “Goldfish!” The player that made the demand must then draw a card from the top of the deck, ending the turn. The next player begins the same card-seeking process.

Reveal your books. When you are able to complete a book of cards, place the cards on the table, face up.

Win the game. When all 13 books are complete, the person with the most books wins.

Tip

The ranks of cards include (in descending order) aces, kings, queens, jacks and the numbers between 10 and two. The symbol on a card, such as diamonds, indicates the suit.

The US Playing Card Company states that if there are four or five players, each person should receive five cards instead of seven.

If a player runs out of cards during the game, she can draw a card from the deck when it is her turn and ask another player if he has cards of the same rank.