Koi-Koi is a traditional Japanese combination card game for two players using the Hanafuda deck. The phrase “koi-koi” (Japanese: こいこい) roughly translates to “come on” in Japanese and recurs during the game.
The Hanafuda deck consists of 48 cards divided into twelve suits, each representing a different month of the year and featuring unique patterns and symbols. Each suit in the Hanafuda deck typically includes a ribbon, an animal, a flower, and a special card, which can be a full moon or phoenix.
The objective of the game is to score the most points by collecting groups of cards with similar patterns, called yaku. You play over multiple rounds (usually twelve).
To set up the game, the dealer shuffles, then deals eight cards to the non-dealer, eight cards face-up to the table, and lastly, eight cards to themselves. The remaining cards become the face-down draw pile. Then, the dealer begins playing.
During their turn, each player follows the same steps:
- You can match a card from your hand with a card on the table. The suit (month or flower) must match. If you find a match, get to take both cards and place them in your point pile. If the played card matches two cards on the table, you choose which one of them to pick up for your point pile. In case three cards of the same suit are on the table, and you play the fourth one, you collect all cards of that suit for their point pile.
- If you can’t play any match, you must discard a card face up to the table.
- After matching or discarding a card, you draw one card from the draw pile and place it face-up on the table. If this card matches any card now on the table, you can match them and take both for your point pile. Otherwise, they remain on the table for other players.
- If you made at least one yaku in your turn, you must choose to end the round or continue playing. To end the round, you must call “agari” and get to add the value of your yaku in the point pile to your score. To continue playing in an effort to gain more points, you must announce “koi-koi”.
A single yaku can have a value from one to 15 points, depending on the cards in it. Please note that the exact number of yaku and their value can vary depending on the specific rules of the game.
If a player has yaku scoring seven or more points when the round ends, that player earns double the value. If a player scores seven or more points and their opponent called koi-koi, they both get doubling bonuses quadrupling their scores.
The player with the higher score wins the round and becomes the next round’s dealer. After all twelve deals are played, the game ends, and the player with the highest total score wins! These are just general guidelines, as details may vary depending on the specific ruleset per region.
If you enjoy combining cards according to specific criteria, come have a look at our games at the Rummy Palace and the Canasta Palace!