Kemps Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Kemps is an ideal card game to play if you’re after an ultra-competitive yet easy-to-learn game you can set up in an instant. And this guide will explain all the Kemps card game rules.

All you’ll need to play is a deck of cards and 3 good friends, and once you have that, you can almost begin to play.

No talking is a vitally important part of Kemps, so it requires good chemistry with your teammate before you can succeed. 

The challenge is not just getting a winning hand – getting your teammate to shout out ‘Kemps’ at the right moment is also part of the challenge.

Does this sound like a card game that you’d like to know more about? 

Then learn how to play Kemps by continuing to read our informative guide that’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know before playing. 

What Is the Kemps Card game?

Kemps Card Game Info Image

The initial goal of Kemps is to have 1 member of your team match 4 cards of the same value, 4 Kings, for example.

The player’s partner who manages to match 4-of-a-kind is the person who must shout out ‘Kemps’ when the time is right. 

Before you start playing Kemps, you’ll need to discuss with your chosen partner a signal to use so that you can communicate with one another without talking.

Kemps combines the matching cards aspect of the kid’s game Memory and mixes it with the teamwork needed in a game like BANG! (see BANG! card game rules) to create a card game that is great fun to play. 

Number of Players Required: 4 players.

Who Can Play It: Kids, Pre-teens, Teens, and Adults. 

Difficulty: Easy.

Length of Play: 10 – 20 minutes. 

Similar to: Commerce; Authors; Spades

Main Objective: Match 4 of a kind and successfully signal to your partner non-verbally that you have 4 of the same card. 

Why We Love It: Although unorthodox in its gameplay, Kemps is an easy-to-learn game where the real challenge comes from working with a partner. Prove how good your communication skills are by winning this one. 

Playing Kemps – What You’ll Need.

Some of the best card games get played with just a simple deck of cards, and Kemp is no exception to this.

Any standard pack of 52 playing cards will do, but if you like to play cards often and are after something a little bit more robust, invest in a quality waterproof deck like these from Acelion.

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08/15/2023 09:07 pm GMT

Another important aspect to consider is the table and chairs that you play on.

Kemps requires players to sit opposite their partner, so if you have a table where both pairs can sit across from one another, that would be ideal. 

How To Set Up Kemps

Kemps is a straightforward set-up; start by nominating a player at random to shuffle the deck of cards and hand out 4 cards each to every player. 

The rest of the cards you’ll need to place in the middle of the table, and then take the top 4 cards and place them next to the pile face up. 

These 4 cards need to be in a 2×2 formation and always be face up. 

The rest of the cards stay in a pile face-down next to the grid as the draw pile

Kemps Card Game Rules

There are no turns in Kemp; all 4 players are in play simultaneously, so make sure you’re quick if there’s a specific card you have your eye on. 

Starting the Game

Before you start playing, you’ll need to decide on your 2 teams. Give each team 2 minutes to come up with a non-verbal signal for their team to use to communicate with one another. 

The signal is a non-verbal sign that the pair uses when 1 of them has 4 of a kind. 

This signal can be anything as long as it’s non-verbal, and it cannot be under the table; all signals must be above the table where every player can see.

When both teams are happy with their chosen signal, make sure they’re sat opposite one another throughout the game. 

How to Play Kemps

Once the initial stage of Kemps is over, the game can properly begin.

The goal is for at least 1 player on each team to get 4 cards of the same value in 1 hand.

Each player gets to swap 1 of their cards with 1 of the 4 face-up cards in the middle of the table.

Players must always have 4 cards in their hands at all times and can only swap their cards for 1 of the cards displayed within the 2×2 grid. 

Once the game gets to a stage where no player can make any more moves with the cards in the grid, those 4 cards get added to a discard pile

The top 4 cards get taken from the draw pile to form a new grid, where players again rush to grab the cards they need to match 4-of-a-kind.

Once a player manages to have a hand where all 4 cards are the same value, they must indicate this to their teammate by doing their signal.

Once the teammate notices the signal, they shout out ‘Kemps’ so that the game stops and the other player must reveal their hand.

If the player does not have 4-of-a-kind, the game continues as normal. If they are successful, however, the round ends with that team winning. 

Either member of the other team can yell out ‘Cut’ at any point if they suspect that a player from the other team has 4-of-a-kind.

If they shout this out and is correct, then they steal the win for that round instead. 

Scoring In Kemps

As each round of Kemps can be over fairly quickly, it’s a good idea to implement a scoring system per round so you can crown an overall winner at the end of the game. 

Agree upon an end-of-game score at the beginning of the game, and award each team 1 point for every round that they win.

For every incorrect call of ‘Kemp’ or ‘Cut,’ the offending team gets 1 point deducted from their total.

The first team to reach the agreed-upon score wins Kemps overall. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you play the Kemps card game with 2 people?

Unfortunately, you do need at least 4 players to play Kemps as the key aspect of the game is the fact that your teammate must call out Kemp rather than the player who has the winning hand. 

You can play with more than 2 pairs, however, if you have the space big enough for each team to be able to sit opposite one another. 

What’s another name for Kemps?

Kemps is also known as Camps, Cash, Kems, and Kent, with each of these games following the exact same rules as Kemps. 

What are some good examples of signals to use in Kemps?

The best signals are the ones that are subtle so that the other team doesn’t immediately realize you are doing the signal but obvious enough for your teammate to notice it.

Anything like touching your hair, scratching your nose, or a sly wink work well. Be aware that every signal must be over the table for all players to be able to see. 

Alternative Games to Kemps

Hopefully, now you’ve learned all about Kemps, you now have another brilliant card game that you can introduce to your pals next time you need a card game to play,

But why stop there? We also have guides to some other great games you can play with just a 52 card deck.

Learn all about the different versions of Rummy by reading all about the Tonk rules, the Sheepshead rules, or even the Pitch card game rules

If you’re looking for card games to play with novices or youngsters, take a look at the Go Fish rules or the Pitty Pat card game for easy games that act as a great starting point. 

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