Kemps Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(Above is the set up for the card game Kemps)

(Above is the set up for the card game Kemps)

Card Game Rules

Kemps is a matching card game for four, six, or eight players. Teams are made up of two players each. Kemps requires a standard 52 playing card deck and is suitable for ages 8 and up. The objective of Kemps is to be the first team to have a four of a kind.

For more classic card games, check out our guides for Devil's Grip and Crazy Eights.

If you are looking for cards to play Kemps with, check out a standard deck here or check out one of our more recent arrivals here.


Set Up

Teammates should devise a non-verbal gesture/signal that only they know. This can be a wink, a sniff, a face scratch etc.

To set up a game of Kemps, players sit around a stable gameplay area, across from their teammate. Before gameplay can begin, every player draws a card from a shuffled deck. The player with the highest card becomes the first dealer. Ties are broken by a redraw. The dealer then shuffles the deck and passes out four cards faced down to each player. The remaining deck becomes the stock.


How to Play

Gameplay begins when the dealer flips over the top four cards of the stock pile and arranges them in a 2x2 grid, face up, in the middle of the gameplay area. Once the dealer finishes arranging the grid, players can begin swapping their cards with the cards in the grid. The goal is to have a four of a kind in your hand. There are no turns. Players swap cards as they please. Players must always have four cards in their hand and there must always be four cards in the middle. If no player wants to swap with the cards in the middle, then the dealer discards the grid and forms a new one with the next four cards in the stock.

Once a player has a four of a kind, they try to signal to their teammate with the non-verbal gesture they arranged before the game began. When the teammate picks up on the signal, they say “Kemps” and the round ends.

After each round, teammates devise a new secret gesture. 



A team that successfully says Kemps receives one point.

If a player says “Kemps” without their teammate having a four of a kind, one point is subtracted from their score.

If a player believes an opposing team has a four of a kind and they say “Cut” before the other team says “Kemps”, they receive a point. If they say “Cut” and the other team does not have a four of a kind, they lose a point.

Gameplay continues until a team receives an agreed upon number of points to win.

Looking for more card games to play?  Check out this article:

40+ Great Card Games For All Occasions

About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 08/29/20


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