How to Play Kemps

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Kemps Rules & Instructions

kemps gameplay demonstration


Number of Players

  • 4, 6, or 8 (teams of two)

Supplies Needed

  • A standard deck of 52 playing cards (no jokers)

Set Your Secret Signal

Meet with your partner to determine a non-verbal gesture that will be used later in the game to signal that your team has won. It can be anything from a head scratch, wink, etc. It shouldn’t be obvious!


The objective of kemps is to get four of a kind in your hand. Once you do, send your secret signal to your partner. Once your partner yells out, “Kemps”, you win!


After distributing four cards to every player, the dealer will flip the top four cards from the stock. These cards will make a two by two grid and are placed face-up.

The game begins by the dealer saying, “ready, set, go!”. After that, any player can take and swap a card from the ones in their hand without ordered turns. It’s truly a free-for-all. However, it is necessary to always have four cards in your hand and four cards in the middle.

If no one wants to take a card from the grid, the dealer can discard them and create a new one from the stock.

The game continues until one player has four-of-a-kind in their hand (i.e. four eights). Once they do, they are able to use the signal they chose to secretly let their partner know they can declare “Kemps”.

Be careful! If you call “Kemps” and your partner doesn’t have four-of-a-kind, you lose a point. Also, if another team intercepts your signal and calls out “Kemps” before your partner, their team wins a point. If they incorrectly make the accusation while you don’t have four-of-a-kind, they lose a point.

Each round is worth one point and you can play to any set amount (we recommend five).

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