Home » Cards and Dice » How to Play Kemps Card Game – Rules and Strategies

How to Play Kemps Card Game – Rules and Strategies

The Kemps card game is a matching game with a difference. The rules are simple but winning requires good teamwork and some clever tactics. If you’re looking for something new to play and enjoy working alongside a teammate, then you’ll likely love Kemps. 

What is Kemps?

Kemps, also known as Camps to some, is a deceptively simple card matching game. The aim of the game is simple. You need to be the first team to get four of a kind. But of course, things aren’t quite so straightforward. 

Teammates must sit opposite each other and can only use gestures to communicate. This adds an extra layer of strategy and challenge to the game. Kemps is played with teams of two people, and you’ll need at least two teams to play. 

However, it can be played with up to six teams, as long as you have a large enough playing space. If you’re bored of games like Monopoly where you work against each other, then Kemps can be a nice change of pace. 

It’s a game that puts the focus squarely on teamwork. If you enjoy other team-based card games like Spades, you’ll likely enjoy Kemps as well. We’ll talk more about the rules in the gameplay section below. First, let’s look at what you need in order to play Kemps.  

What You’ll Need To Play 

Kemps like Rummy 500 and Garbage only needs a deck of cards to play, and the Joker cards aren’t used. If you want a game you can set up (and clear away) quickly, it’s a fine choice. Any type of playing cards will do as long as players can tell their face value quickly. 

Themed-decks are like these Star Wars cards are very popular. But while they could be used in Kemps, sticking with a traditional deck will likely be the better option. These Maverick playing cards would make a good choice. 

On Sale ”Maverick

Whether you opt for traditional or themed playing cards, the gameplay remains the same. So, let’s take a look at how you play Kemps in more detail. 

Kemps Rules and Gameplay

Kemps Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

The aim of Kemps is to win! To do this, you’ll need to get a hand of four of a kind. But once you have this, your teammate will need to need to call your win. But since teammates can’t talk to each other, you’ll need to use gestures to communicate. 

If your teammate correctly calls your win, you’ll score a point. However, if they incorrectly call a win, you’ll lose a point. Other teams can also score points if they realize another team has four of a kind as well! So, in Kemps, you’ll need to observe everyone while also building your own winning hand.

Setting Up 

Before any cards are dealt, teams should have a couple of minutes to talk. In Kemps, teams can only have two people. There can be up to six teams competing against each other as well. Quickly decide what gesture you’ll use to signal each other if you have a winning hand. 

The signals can be anything as long as you’re not talking. Things like tapping the table or holding your cards in a certain way are common choices. The gesture must be non-verbal and can’t take place below the table/ playing space. 

Then players must sit opposite each other when the cards are being dealt. If possible, they should be diagonal from each other as well. This way, they won’t have a direct line of sight to their teammate. This will also make it easier for players to monitor each other. 

Once everyone is in position, one player should shuffle the deck. Then deal every player four cards. They’ll then place the remaining cards in the center and take four more cards from the top. Finally, they put these cards face up in the center. The game can then begin! 

Kemps Gameplay 

Once the four cards have been placed in the center, each player should quickly check their hands. Players can then swap a single card with any card from the center. This isn’t done in turns, so players will often find themselves racing against their opponents. In fact, things can (and will) likely get quite hectic. 

Once all players are done making swaps, the four cards left in the middle are removed. These cards are placed into a discard pile. These cards will not be used for the remainder of the round. So, make sure you don’t accidentally leave something in the center. 

This continues till a player has got four of a kind and can signal their teammate successfully. If you believe your teammate has four of a kind, you should shout out “Kemps”; this stops the round. Your teammate will then reveal their cards if they have succeeded. 

This will award your team a point, and all cards will be returned and reshuffled for the next round. Teammates can quickly leave the table to talk again before this as well. This can be helpful if you want to change your gesture/ signal for the next round. 

However, if Kemps is called incorrectly, then your team will lose a point. But the game will continue. If you suspect another team has four of a kind, you can call “Cut,” if you do this, the player you suspect will have to reveal their cards. 

If you are correct, the round ends, and you score a point for your team. However, if you are incorrect, then you lose a point, and the game continues. Kemps is generally played to an agreed-upon score. 

For example, you can say the first team to score five points wins. Or if you want a shorter game, you can just play a single round. So, that’s how you play Kemps with the traditional rules. Let’s take a look at some popular rule variants worth knowing. 

Rule Variants 

There are many different rules you can add to Kemps to add a new twist to the gameplay. One of the most common is to add the Signal Rule. With this rule, once a team has won a round, the other teams can guess what their signal was. 

If they are correct, the winning team loses their point. However, this can only be done once per game. It’s designed to ensure teams don’t use obverse signals. Another fun rule is to add the Joker cards to the deck. 

The Joker cards can be used to do many different things as long as all players agree. However, they are commonly used as Wild cards, just like in Uno. So, they can represent any other card. This rule makes the Joker cards very valuable, especially since only two are in the deck. 

Finally, another popular rule variant is to deal every player with five cards instead of four. This rule will make it more challenging to spot players who already have four of a kind since these players won’t be swapping any cards, making them relatively easy to spot.  

Kemps – A Terrific Team Card Game 

So, that’s everything you need to know about how to play the Kemps card game. It’s always nice to play a game that prioritizes teamwork, and in Kemps, teamwork is the key to victory. Building your four of a kind is just part of the challenge. 

The gameplay loop is simple, making the game ideal for younger players as well. So, if you’re looking for a fun, team-based card game for your next game night, be sure to give Kemps a try! 

About Bar Games 101

Bar Games 101 is a website devoted to helping you learn about the best games to play with your friends. We review the games, research the rules, and uncover helpful tips and strategies.

Get our free guide to the 50 Best Bar Games.