Kemps is a fun card game played in pairs with members of the same team sitting opposite each other. Each player tries to create a four-of-a-kind (four cards of the same rank) hand. When a player successfully creates a hand of four-of-a-kind, they give an agreed signal to their partner who must yell “KEMPS”. More on how the game is played is revealed in this post.
There are two objectives in this game. The first is to create a four-of-a-kind hand, give a sign to your teammate and have them yell “KEMPS”. A team that does this successfully earns a point. The second objective is to be the first team to score five points and spell the word “KEMPS” with each point standing for a letter. The first team that does this wins the game.
Players do not take turns when swapping cards.
There is no limit to the number of cards a player can swap but a player is allowed to swap only one card at a time.
Number of Players Needed
At least 4 players. The players are paired to make a team as Kemps is a team game.
A standard 52-card deck.
Paper and pen for tracking scores.
First, a dealer is selected from the players. The dealer shuffles the card deck and deals four cards to each player, one card at a time. After this, the dealer places the undealt cards (the remaining cards not shared) on the playing surface face-down. This pile of undealt cards forms the draw pile for the game.
How to Play Kemps
The game opens with the dealer flipping the top four cards of the draw pile and laying them face-up side by side in the middle of the playing surface. Immediately the fourth card is placed, players begin to swap the revealed cards with the cards in their hands in an attempt to create a four-of-a-kind hand. Players do not take turns and must swap their cards as fast as possible. There is no limit to the number of cards a player can swap but a player can only swap one card at a time.
Players continue to make swaps until everyone is satisfied after which the four cards in the middle of the playing surface are discarded. The dealer flips another four cards from the draw pile and the players again begin to swap their cards with the ones placed face-up in the middle of the playing surface.
The process is repeated until one player yells either “KEMPS” or “STOP KEMPS”. Once this happens, that round is over and it is time to award a point. A single point is up for grab at the end of each round but none of the teams may win the point. I’ll explain.
Remember that the first objective is for a player to create a four-of-a-kind hand and then signal to their partner who must shout “KEMPS”. If a team can do this successfully, then they are awarded a point. The point is awarded only after it is confirmed that the player indeed has a four-of-a-kind hand.
In the case that a player is yet to create a four-of-a-kind hand but their partner shouts “KEMPS”, the player’s cards are still checked for confirmation. If it is found that the player does not have a four-of-a-kind hand, their team loses one point as punishment. No team is awarded a point in this case but the team that shouted “KEMPS” falsely loses a point as stated previously.
If a player is suspicious that an opponent has created a four-of-a-kind hand, the player must shout “STOP KEMPS” before the partner of the player with the four-of-a-kind hand shouts “KEMPS”. In the situation that a player shouts “STOP KEMPS”, two things are possible.
The first is that their suspicion is right and the player they suspected indeed has a four-of-a-kind hand. In this case, the team of the player that shouted “STOP KEMPS” is awarded a point. The team of the player with the four-of-a-kind hand gets no point.
The second is that their suspicion is wrong and the suspected player does not have a four-of-a-kind hand. In this case, the team of the player that shouted “STOP KEMPS” loses a point. No team is awarded a point in this case.
Winning the Game
The overall objective of the game is to spell the word “KEMPS” by scoring five points. The first team to do so wins the game. Teams can agree to increase the total number of points needed to win the game overall to make the game last longer.