Go-Stop (고스톱) is the most popular hanafuda game in the Korean-speaking world, most often played using plastic hanafuda known as hwatu. It is named for its characteristic gameplay mechanic that allows a player to stop the round after collecting a yaku, or to continue the round to attempt to increase their score further, at the risk of their opponent scoring in their stead. It is usually played with 2-3 players, and may involve gambling for small sums of money. Go-stop is also known as Godori, meaning “5 birds,” which is the name of a yaku used in this and some other games.
In many ways, Go-Stop resembles a more complex version of Koi-Koi, and undoubtedly both games are related, although the precise nature of this relationship is a topic of some debate.
This page describes the common 2-3 player version of the game first; the variation for 4-6 players is given further down.
Game setup involves choosing a dealer - ‘선’ [seon] or 親 [おや, oya], shuffling the deck, and distributing the initial cards.
A decision must be made as to how long the game will last - 12 rounds is traditional, though other common options are 6 rounds, 3 rounds, or as many rounds as it takes for one player to reach 50 points total.
Conventionally, each round corresponds to a month of the year; the first round is January, the second February, and so on. 12 rounds is thus a year, 6 rounds a half-year, and 3 rounds a season.
Furthermore, the exact number of jokers in the deck, and their unique properties (if any), should be agreed upon, as should the required stop minimum.
Any other house rules should also be established at this point, in order to keep gameplay smooth and fair.
A Korean hwatu deck is structurally almost identical to a typical Japanese hanafuda deck. There are only two differences:
The number of jokers and the properties thereof should be agreed upon before the game begins. The presence of jokers is not important in itself - the game can just as well be played without them - but they are often included to add variety and an extra element of luck to the game.
When playing with a Japanese hanafuda deck, the blank white card included in most decks can be used as a joker if desired.
There is no required method for selecting who is the first dealer, though a typical method in hanafuda games is to shuffle the deck and have both players draw one card each. Often in Korea, the player who drew a suit from the earliest month becomes the dealer in the night, and if both players drew from the same suit, the player drawing the lower point card becomes the dealer in the night. Vice versa in the day. This practition is called [밤일낮장 - bam-il naj-jang] and is used in other games, such as Minhwatu or Seotda. In cases where there is a tie, this process can be repeated.
The winner of each round becomes the dealer for the next round.
Remember that the order of November and December is swapped in Korean decks!
In a two-player game, the dealer shuffles, and their opponent cuts. Then, 10 cards are dealt to each player, and 8 to the table. Typically, this is 4 to the table, 5 to the opponent, 5 to themselves, and repeat.
In a three-player game, the dealer shuffles, and the player to their left cuts. Then, 7 cards are dealt to each player, and 6 to the field. Usually this is done as for other 3-player hanafuda games; 3 to the table, 4 to each player (starting with the player to the dealer’s right and moving anti-clockwise), another 3 to the table, then 3 to each player in the same order.
The remainder of the deck is placed face-down to form the draw pile.
After the deal, players check their hands to see if they hold any four of a kind (4 cards of the same month).
In some variations, a triplet of November or December cards may quadruple the score!
If a player holds 4 of a kind (known as ‘총통’ - [chongtong] in Korean or [大統領 - だいとうりょう, daitouryou], which means ‘president’), then they may reveal the hand to immediately win the round and steal the predetermined value of points from each opponent (usually 3 points which is equal to the minimum limit of Go). Revealing the hand with a 4 of a kind may be mandatory in some variants.
In a three-player game, it is possible that two players may hold 4 of a kind. How to treat this situation varies according to the rule sets (dealer wins, the higher month wins, draw, etc.).
If all players hold 4 of a kind the round ends in a draw.
If any jokers are in the field at the beginning of the round, then they are immediately captured by the dealer, who then draws cards from the draw pile to replace them.
If any triplets are in the field, then they are stacked together, to indicate that all three cards will be captured together.
If 4 cards of the same month are dealt to the table, then the cards are thrown in, shuffled again, and re-dealt, since these 4 cards are impossible to capture. This may be considered as the same as the dealer’s a four of a kind in hand, or as a draw.
In each round, the dealer is the first to play, and turn to play passes anti-clockwise around the table. While still fairly similar to other Hana-Awase fishing games, the turn structure of Go-Stop has a few additional quirks that merit being spelled out in full. Notably, matched cards are not captured immediately, but only at the end of the turn.
A turn in Go-Stop consists of four distinct phases. Firstly, the player plays a card from their hand. Then, they play a card from the draw pile. Then, they collect their captured cards. And finally, they check for any yaku (scoring combinations) they may have formed.
A player may reveal any number of triplets and/or jokers (and/or four of a kinds if continuing the round while holding them is allowed) before playing a card.
If a player holds a triplet, then they may choose to reveal it to the other players before playing a card. If the player manages to win the round, their score will be doubled. This is known as ‘흔들기’ - [heundeulgi] (lit. ‘shaking’). Should the player hold multiple triplets, they may reveal as many as they like, and the
x2 multipliers for each will stack.
If a player holds a joker, then the player may reveal and capture it immediately. They then draw a replacement card from the draw pile, and treat that card as though it were from their hand. If this completes a triplet, it can be also revealed during this phase. If the player reaches stop minimum or improves the score by capturing a joker, the player may call go or stop during Phase 4 as well.
If a player holds a four of a kind, then they may choose to reveal all four cards and double the score as the same as revealing a triplet. Also, after playing a revealed card the player may bomb the field too (accumulating ‘x4’ multiplier and stealing a chaff as the result, see below).
Firstly, a player chooses a single card from their hand and plays it to the table, or bomb the field with a triplet in hand (see ‘Bombing the Field’).
If a card is played that matches something on the table, then the player must capture, as described above. However, there is no obligation to play a card that matches something, even if the player has one in their hand; they may, if they wish, elect to play a card that matches nothing on the table.
After playing a card from hand, the player then takes a card from the draw pile and plays it to the table in a similar fashion.
After playing both their cards - one from their hand, and one from the draw pile - the player takes any captured cards into their score pile. As a rule of thumb, the captures will be stacks of either 2 or 4 cards (but not 3 cards, excluding jokers).
Any special events should also be checked for and handled at this time.
As is typical of hanafuda games, each player’s score pile should be kept face-up and laid out on the table, so that its contents are fully visible to all players. Ideally, the cards should also be arranged by type (Brights, Animals, Ribbons, and Chaff) to make detecting yaku easier.
Finally, the player checks their score pile for ‘족보’ - [jokbo], or yaku [役 - やく] (scoring combinations); a list of these is given further down the page.
If the player has either formed a new yaku, or improved an existing one, then they have the choice to either end the round by calling ‘스톱’ - stop, or to continue in pursuit of a higher score by calling ‘고’ - go.
If they have not, then their turn simply ends, and turn to play passes to the opponent.
Typically, a stop minimum is imposed; if the total value of a player’s yaku is less than some agreed-upon limit, then the player cannot call go or stop. Instead, their turn simply ends, and the round continues. Typical values for the stop minimum are 3 points in three-player games, and 7 points in two-player games.
If the player declares go, then the round continues. Their turn ends, and turn to play passes to the opponent. This is a calculated risk; continuing the round allows the opportunity to capture more yaku and earn valuable score bonuses, but forfeits all points should the opponent win first.
Note that each player may call go as many times as they desire during the round, with increasing bonuses for each.
If the player declares stop, then the round immediately ends, and scores are calculated. This is a safe bet, which allows the player to immediately cash in on their yaku.
If a player holds three cards of a given month, and the fourth card is in the field, then the player may, during their turn, announce this fact and immediately capture all four cards, in a move known as ‘폭탄’ - [poktan], or bomb.
Bombing counts as Phase 1 of the player’s turn. After playing the bomb, the player continues their turn from Phase 2.
After bombing the field, a player’s hand will be two cards short (they played 3 cards on one turn). To compensate for this, on any two subsequent turns of the current round, the player may elect to skip Phase 1 of their turn.
Certain events that occur during the turn may allow the player to steal Chaff cards, or sometimes points, from their opponents. These should be checked for during Phase 3.
The player receives one Chaff card from each opponent for each of the following that occur:
The opponents may choose which Chaff card to give. If they possess no regular Chaff cards, they must surrender a 2- or 3-Chaff card (such as Lightning, the Yellow Paulownia, or a joker). If they have no Chaff cards, they do not have to give anything.
Items 3, 4 and 5 on this list do not apply during the final turn of the round.
The round ends when either a player calls stop, or when all players run out of cards in their hands.
If the cards run out without anyone calling stop, then the round is a draw. All players score nothing, regardless of any yaku they hold, and the next round begins with the same dealer.
Otherwise, the player who called stop is the winner of the round, and becomes dealer for the next round.
The winning player calculates their score as follows:
Winner's Score = (Total Value of Winner's Yaku + Bonus Points) x Multipliers.
This amount is then paid to the winner by their opponents, in zero-sum fashion. Note that only the player who called stop earns points; the other players earn nothing, even if they hold yaku.
Bonus points and extra multipliers come from a variety of sources, as listed below.
x2multiplier. If they called go four times, they earn a
x4multiplier, and so on, with an additional
x2multiplier for every call of go from the third go.
The winner earns a
x2 multiplier for each of the following:
There are certain situations in which an opponent must pay double the score as calculated above. These are:
There are some situations in which a opponent is considered liable (‘독박’ - [dokbak]) for the winner’s victory. In these situations, the liable opponent pays for both opponents, while the other opponent pays nothing. These are most typically used in the three-player version of the game.
If one of the opponents has previously called go, then the opponent who called go is liable (‘고박’ - [gobak]). If two opponents has previously called go, the first caller is liable. This condition trumps liability from refusing a draw offer (see below).
A player who have no safe play (in other words, a player cannot capture any cards by playing a card in hand and cannot reach stop minimum by flipping a card in Phase 3) may expose their hand at the start of their turn and offer a draw (‘쇼당’ - [shodang]). Each of the other players must then decide whether to accept or refuse.
This decision is made in turn order; if the player to the right accepts, then the player to the left must decide to accept or refuse. If the player to the right refuses, then the player to the left automatically accepts.
If both players accept, then the round ends in a draw. Nobody scores anything, and the next round begins with the same dealer.
Otherwise, play continues as usual. However, for the remainder of the round, the player who refused the draw will be considered liable if either of the other players wins.
If a player has no cards at the end of a round (captured nothing at all or captured only chaffs and lost all of them during a round), the player pays nothing even if the player lose the round.
The scoring in Go-Stop is surprisingly complex, especially when three players are involved! To break it down:
After the desired number of rounds have been played, the player with the highest total score at the end of all the rounds is the winner of the game.
Go-Stop possesses a fairly typical repertoire of yaku. Note that the Bright Yaku are mutually exclusive with one another, but all other yaku may be combined freely.
¶ Bright Yaku
|4||Four Brights||Any 4 of:
|3||Three Brights||Any 3 of:
|2||Rainy Three Brights|| plus any 2 of:
¶ Static Yaku
|3||Grass Ribbons||The three Plain Ribbons, excluding the Willow Ribbon:
¶ Generic Yaku
|1+||Animals||Any 5 Animal cards. This yaku is worth 1 extra point for each additional Animal card.|
|1+||Ribbons||Any 5 Ribbon cards. This yaku is worth 1 extra point for each additional Ribbon card.|
|1+||Chaff||Any 10 Chaff cards. This yaku is worth 1 extra point for each additional Chaff card.
Note that the Sake Cup (if treated as a Chaff), Yellow Paulownia, and Lightning count as two Chaff each!
While at most three players can participate in each round, up to six may participate in the game as a whole. At the beginning of each round, the players decide whether they will stay in or drop out, in a process similar to Hachi-Hachi.
The deal is the same as for the three-player variation - 7 cards to each player, and 6 cards to the field. The difference here is that the field cards are dealt face-down. The remaining cards (if there are any) from the draw pile, as usual.
The dealer is obliged to participate in the coming round. Starting from the player to the dealer’s right and moving anti-clockwise, the remaining players announce whether they intend to stay in, or drop out.
This process ends as soon as there are three active players, i.e. when two people (not including the dealer) have elected to stay, or when all but three players have dropped out. Once this happens, any players who have not yet had their turn to decide will be either forced to play, or forced not to play, as appropriate.
Players who are forced not to play may claim compensation for their hand. This is to ensure that players with good hands who were eager to play will still earn some points.
A player earns 2 points of compensation for each of the following cards in their hand:
If the player holds 3 cards of the same month, the compensation is doubled.
To claim compensation, the player must reveal all relevant cards (including the 3 of a kind, for double compensation). The compensation value of their hand is then paid to them by each of the two non-dealer active players.
In a 4-player game, if a player holds only the Rain Man and no other Brights, then they may not claim compensation for the Rain Man. This fiddly exception applies only to the 4-player version of the game.
Once the active players are determined, the non-active players return their hands to the dealer, who shuffles them into the draw pile. The field cards are turned face-up, misdeals are checked for, and play proceeds as in the 3-player version of the game.
If the round ends in a draw of any kind, then the cards are re-dealt amongst the same three active players. A fresh dropout phase only occurs once the current round has been definitively won!
The method described above for 4-6 players works equally well for 7 players, with a few adjustments.
7 cards are dealt to each player, and none to the field. There must be at least one joker in the deck in order to have enough cards to do this!
The dropout phase is then played as normal. Once three active players are determined, the non-active players return their hands to the dealer, who shuffles them to form the draw pile. 6 cards are then dealt to the field from the top of the draw pile, and play proceeds as usual.
Much like its sibling, Koi-Koi, Go-Stop has a great number of variations and optional rules, which we will try our best to collect here. Feel free to add or remove these rules as you like!
The jokers included with hwatu decks vary tremendously in their design, and are often intended to fulfil various special roles (which are just as often ignored by the players themselves). Common functions of joker cards are:
Every joker can behave the same way, or each joker can have a unique special ability, whatever the players agree on at the beginning of the game.
Sometimes, a variant rule when drawing jokers is applied:
If a player holds two cards of a given month, and the third and the fourth card are in the field, then the player may, during their turn, announce this fact and immediately capture all four cards, in a similar fashion as bomb - this is called ‘콩알탄’ - [kongaltan] (lit. very small bomb), or ‘수류탄’ - [suryutan] (lit. grenade). How to treat this may differ (allow the move only, steals a chaff like bomb but does not apply x2 multiplier, or treats like a regular bomb).
If a player fails to capture any cards for 5 consecutive turns, the player wins that round and scores the predetermined points (usually equal to stop minimum). This is called ‘허당’ - [heodang], or ‘헤딩’ - heading.
If players draw for 5 consecutive rounds, the game ends immediately with no contest (or resets any multiplier).
In Korean online Go-stop platforms, one or more bonus objectives (‘미션’ - lit. mission), which multiplies score like other multipliers (x2 ~ x8) on completion, may be added at the beginning or during a round.
The following different scheme for go bonuses is sometimes used:
x3multiplier. If they called go four times, they earn a
x4multiplier, and so on, with the multiplier being equal to the number of times the player called go.
(todo: make pretty!)