Kemps game

Kemps Rules

Kemps consists of collecting a four of a kind and signaling it to your partner without your opponents noticing. Here, we’re going to be describing the rules of this party classic.


To play Kemps, you need:
– a number of 4 to 6 players
– a deck of 52 cards
– a paper and a pencil to keep the score


  • Form teams of 2 players
  • Each player positions themselves on the table so that each player is facing their teammate
  • Decide on the score to be reached by a team to win the game
  • The 2 members of each team secretly discuss the signal they’re going to make when either of them has a kemps.

Important! It is forbidden to form a signal that the opponents will not be able to see (example: touching each other’s legs under the table, texting each other, etc.).

  • After the the signals are determined, each player returns to their place


  • Shuffle the cards.
  • The dealer deals the cards one by one face down and gives 4 to each player in a clockwise direction.

Note: If a player receives a three or four of a kind in the deal, they show them and discard all their cards face down. After that they will have to draw 4 new cards from the deck.

Drawing cards in Kemps

In this image, the player has received 3 kings during the deal, therefore they must discard them and take 4 new cards.

  • Once all the cards have been dealt, the dealer turns over the top 4 cards from the draw pile and spreads them face up on the table.
  • When the dealer says “go”, the players can start exchanging cards from their hand with those on the table.
  • A player chooses a card from their hand, lays it on the table and takes one of the 4 cards spread out on the table in exchange, with the aim of collecting a four of a kind.
  • All players can exchange a card from their hand with one that’s on the table at the same time. The player just has to be faster than the other to get the card they want.

Important! It is forbidden to have more than 4 cards in hand

  • When there is no more exchange of cards for a few seconds, the dealer removes the 4 cards from the table, discards them face down and returns 4 new ones from the draw pile

Note: the discarded cards must always remain hidden

  • When the dealer has finished turning over the 4 new cards face up on the table, they again announce “go” to begin the exchange of cards
  • The game continues like this until a player manages to get a four of a kind and their partner notices it and shouts “Kemps!”

Note: When the draw pile is exhausted and no player has yet announced “Kemps”, the discarded cards will be shuffled and will act as a new draw pile

End of the Game

  • The game ends when a player manages to form the first four of a kind. At this point, they will have to make the signal that they have worked out with their partner at the start of the game. If their partner has noticed the sign, they shout “Kemps” and their team wins the round.
  • When a player manages to form 4 identical cards and their partner manages to announce “Kemps”, the team receives 1 point which will be noted on the paper. 
  • The first team to reach the score determined at the start of the game is the winner.
Winning in Kemps


  • If the two teammates manage to form two fours of a kind at the same time, the first who notices the signal announces “Kemps”, the second to notice the signal of their teammate announces “double Kemps” causing the team to receive 2 points instead of 1 and the round ends.
  • If a player announces “Kemps” and their partner has not yet succeeded in forming a four of a kind, the round ends and the opposing team gains 1 point.
  • If a player notices that an opponent has succeeded in forming a four of a kind or notices a team is exchanging signs, they can announce “Stop Kemps” causing them to receive 1 point (only if their call was correct and they did in fact catch the opponents).
  • If a player announces “Stop Kemps” and their opponent does not actually have a four of a kind, they will no longer have the right to announce “Stop Kemps” until the end of the round in play.