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20 Great Two Player Card Games

If you’re getting tired of playing continuous games of pool or darts, why not try one of these two player card games to mix things up?

People have been playing cards for nearly a thousand years now, and it’s easy to see why.

A deck of cards is small and portable, the games challenge the mind, and the art printed on them is attractive to the eye.

You can play tons of fun card games with just a single deck.

But what if you just have two people?

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of great games to choose from. To get you started, below are ten of our favorite card games for two.

The Best 2 Player Card Games

Feel free to use the navigation below to jump to a specific card game on the list

  1. Nerts
  2. Gin Rummy
  3. Egyptian Rat Screw
  4. Golf
  5. Idiot
  6. Slap Jack
  7. Speed
  8. Beggar My Neighbor
  9. James Bond
  10. Crazy Eights
  11. Old Maid
  12. Garbage
  13. Go Fish
  14. War
  15. Kings in the Corner
  16. Double Solitaire
  17. Blackjack
  18. Five-Card Draw Poker
  19. Scrimish
  20. Uno

1. Nertz

Brybelly Nertz Card Game

Nerts is a unique, energetic two player card game game where each player attempts to get rid of a 13-card “Nerts” pile.

This game combines a couple of skills, as you’ll be doing several things at once: stacking, sorting, and playing a mini-game of Solitaire, all at the same time.

How to Play Nerts (aka Nertz)?

To start, each player shuffles an entire 52-card deck, and it’s important that both have a unique print to the back facing of their cards.

Each player then deals 13 cards face-down to themselves, then four cards face-up side by side.

The stack of 13 is the “Nerts” pile and the objective is to get rid of all of these cards.

The 4 face-up cards are the work piles.

The remainder of the deck is then held face-down as the stock, and when play begins you may sort through the stock three cards at a time, like in Solitaire.


Leave an open space in between the players and their decks, this becomes the common play area.

To begin the game, each player turns over the top card of their “Nerts” pile face-up.

You remove these cards by placing them on top of either your work pile or by creating piles in the common area, starting with Aces.

More cards can be added by either player to common area piles, but they may only stack in numerical order (Ace low) and by matching suit (Ace of Spades, then two of spades, three of spades, and so on).

There are no turns, play is simultaneous and frantic.

The first to eliminate their “Nerts” pile calls out “Nerts!”, which stops play and players tally their score.

Here is where you need different prints to your decks, so you can separate whose card is whose.

Players gain a point for each card they played to the common area piles, but subtract two points for each card remaining in their “Nerts” pile.

Reset and deal again, and further hands are played until someone reaches an agreed target score, typically 100 points.

Things get chaotic as you play. Usually, players are reaching across one another, or waiting for certain cards to get played in the center, or running through their stockpiles frantically to find one particular card they passed a moment beforehand, and so on.

This excitement is what makes it one of the most entertaining two player card games.

The scoring system both rewards players for consistently placing cards to the common area, and also for getting through the “Nerts” pile quickly, but the 4 work piles do come in handy as well.

Like any good card game, there is a lot of skill and strategy involved in Nerts.

For more information, here’s our guide on how to play Nerts

Just remember to place your drinks in a safe zone to avoid spills 🙂

2. Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy Card Game

Next on our list of the best 2 player card games is Gin Rummy.

The game of a thousand variations, most people know how to play some version of the classic Gin, Rummy, or Gin Rummy.

The name of the game itself suggests it should be played in a bar.

Gin is played one hand at a time, and then Rummy is played over several hands to a certain score.

The object of this card game is to fill your hand with combinations of three or more cards in either the same value (three kings) or in runs of the same suit (3, 4, 5, and 6 of clubs).

How to Play Gin Rummy?

First, choose a dealer. They deal out 7 cards to each player, then place the rest of the deck in the center, and flip the top card face-up into a new pile next to the rest of the deck.

The opposite player has the first turn. They can either choose to take the revealed card into their hand or take a face-down card from the pile. Then, they discard a card from their hand into the face-up pile.

Players continue to alternate picking up and discarding cards until their hand is full of matched cards.

When their hand is full, place the final discarded card face-down on top of the revealed discards and reveal their hand.

In Gin, the winning player then becomes the new dealer and can re-deal a new game.

In Rummy, tally up the values in each hand for only the matched combinations.

Face cards are worth 10 points each, and the other cards are worth their indicated values (a five of diamonds is worth 5 points, an eight of hearts is worth 8 points, etc.).

Continue playing hands until your cumulative score reaches an agreed-upon total (100, 500, or 1,000 even!).

You can practice these gin rummy strategies to get a leg up on your opponent. 

Variations on the game differ from region to region:

  • You can play Gin with 10 card hands.
  • Some declare a null game when the face-down card pile has been depleted and then re-deal.
  • You can play with no maximum on the hand size and a scoring system that involves placing combined cards down on the table in front of you throughout the game to lock points in.

Whichever version you play, Gin Rummy is a classic card game for two that’s easy to play at a table or up at the bar.

Other Rummy games you might enjoy:

More Gin Rummy resources:

3. Egyptian Rat Screw

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Funny names aside, Egyptian Rat Screw is a fast-paced card-slapping two player game that can be played very quickly.

The object of the game is to collect all of the cards in the deck.

How to Play Egyptian Rat Screw?

Start with a 52-card deck and deal out the whole deck evenly to each player face-down.

Players do not look at their cards.

The player to the left of the dealer pulls the top card off their pile and places it face-up in the middle.

If the card is a number card, the next player puts down a card, too.

Continue until someone places down a face card or ace.

When a face card or ace is played, the next player in the sequence must play another face card or ace.

If they do, play continues.

If they don’t, the original player to lay down a face card or ace adds all of the played cards to their pile.

To add to this, there are several card-slapping rules to Egyptian Rat Screw.

  • Doubles are slappable (two 9’s in a row)
  • Sandwiches are slappable (when two cards of the same value are laid down with another in between them. Example: 4, Queen, 4), and
  • Tens are slappable – not the 10’s of each suit, but when two cards played consecutively add up to ten (i.e. 3 & 7, 2 & 8, or Ace and 9).

The first person to slap the pile of cards gets the pile.

If someone slaps a pile incorrectly, they must add two cards to the pile.

If you’re playing Egyptian Rat Screw with more than 2 players, eliminated players can still wait around and slap in to get cards.

Continue playing until there is just one winner with all of the cards in the deck.

You can even propose a House rule that the winner has to buy the player with the reddest hand at the end of the game a drink.

In fact, in most two player card games, the loser should always buy a drink.

Another card game you might like: How to Play Spades: A Classic Trick-Taking Card Game

4. Golf

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One of the simplest two player card games, I learned this game as “Mini-Golf.”

But as the title implies, Golf is a game of trying to get the lowest score.

This 2 player card game is neat in its simplicity, and actually follows the idea of the sport very well.

How to Play Golf Card Game with Two Players?

Each player is dealt 6 cards face-down, which they arrange into 2 rows of 3 cards each.

The remaining cards are placed face-down and the top card is flipped face-up to start a discard pile.

To start the game, each player flips two of their cards face-up and the remaining cards stay face-down (no peeking).

Starting to the dealer’s left, each player takes turns drawing a card from either the discard pile or from the face-down stockpile.

The card picked is then either swapped out for one of the six cards in front of you or placed in the discard pile.

When swapping out one of the 4 face-down cards in front of you, place it face-up in the discards.

The object of the game is to have the lowest value of cards, and you achieve this by swapping out high-value cards or by matching cards of equal value.

Matches are paired by columns, so there can only be a maximum of 3 matches out of the 6 cards in front of you.

Continue play until all of the player’s cards in front of them are face-up, and then add up scores.

An ace is 1 point, cards 3 through 10 are worth their face value, and then jacks & queens are 10 points (remember points are bad).

Each 2 card is worth negative 2 points, kings are worth zero points, and matching cards of any value are worth zero points (all of those are good).

A game is 9 holes (deals), and then tally the scores at the end of 9 holes to find the lowest scorer, who wins!

6 Card Golf is easy to learn, yet can be challenging – a game perfect for drinks & relaxation.

5. Idiot

Be careful who you challenge in a game of Idiot, it just might be you!

Idiot is a relatively simple, two player card game that has a unique style.

In this game, each player is trying to get rid of all of their cards.

How to Play Idiot?

Shuffle a 52-card deck, then deal each player 3 cards face-down, followed by 3 cards face-up on top of the face-down cards.

And finally 3 cards to each player’s hand.

Each player may switch out cards from their hand with the face-up cards in front of them (you will want to place high-value cards, 2’s, or 10’s here, the reasoning to follow, keep reading).

Put all the remaining cards face-down as a draw pile.

Start with the player opposite the dealer, who places down the lowest card in their hand, and then draws a new card, as you must hold three cards in your hand until the draw pile runs out.

The next player must then meet or beat that card’s value (aces are high), places it down, and then draws a card.

When a player cannot meet or beat a card played previously, they take the whole pile into their hand.

Multiples of any card value may be played at the same time (you may place two 4’s in one turn), and if you play a card and then draw the same value card (if you place down the jack of clubs and then draw the jack of hearts), you may also play that instantly and then draw cards back up to three in your hand.

Continue the game until you run through the draw pile. This is where things get interesting.

First, though, some special notes: all of the 2’s in the deck are considered wild (they may be played as any value) and the 10’s in the deck clear out the pile in play.

When you play a 10, take the whole pile and place it aside. All of those cards are considered removed from the game.

The same happens is someone plays all four cards of the same value (if you play all four 7’s at once, clear out the pile from play).

Now that the draw pile is gone, players run through the cards in their hands. They then play from the three piles in front of them. This is why you wanted 2’s, 10’s, and high cards in front of you to begin the game.

Play through the face-up cards, and then play blindly from the face-down cards. 

First to play their last card successfully wins the game!

Some play that the last person holding cards becomes the village idiot, and has to purchase the next round.

6. Slapjack

Slap Jack Card Game

Simple and easy to play, Slapjack is the classic two player card game good for all ages (and can be played comfortably with 2-5 players).

The goal of the game is to win all of the cards in the deck by slapping down on the jacks in the deck as they are played.

How to Play Slapjack?

Begin by dealing all of the cards out evenly. Players do not look at their cards, and square them up into a pile in front of them.

Starting from the dealer’s left, players lift one card from their piles at a time and place them in the center of the table.

When any player lays down a jack, the first player to slap it takes the jack and all of the cards beneath it. These cards are shuffled into their pile, and play resumes.

Now, if a player slaps a card that is not a jack, they must give up one card, face-down, to whoever played the non-jack they slapped.

If more than one player slaps a jack, the hand that is touching the most of the card wins the pile.

If a player runs out of cards, they may stay at the table until the next jack is revealed, but if they fail to slap in to collect that jack and its pile of cards underneath, they are fully out of the game.

Play continues until one player has all of the cards.

Straightforward & classic, Slapjack is a fantastic game to be enjoyed with spirits and friends.

7. Speed

On Sale Split Card Game

Part reflex game, part organization, Speed is a quick and challenging game for two players.

The goal of the game is to run through your pile of cards before your opponent.

Speed, also known as Spit or Slam, takes a minute to set up, but then game-play is lightning fast.

You might be done in as much time as it took to set up!

How to Play Speed?

Start by dealing out two piles of five, with two single cards face-down between the two piles, and then dealing out the rest of the cards evenly to the two players (20 cards each).

Each player takes the top five cards from the twenty dealt to them and may look at these, then leaves the remaining 15 as a reserve pile.

When ready, the two players agree to count down from three, then turn over the two cards left in the middle at the same time, and play begins.

Speed is played hectic & simultaneous, there are no turns. From their 5-card hands, players place down cards that are either one value above or below the card in the center. 

For example, if the two cards in the center are a Queen and a Five, then a Jack or King may be placed over the Queen and a Four or Six over the Five.

Players do this frantically while also keeping five cards in their hand from the reserve pile in front of them.

If at any time both players have run out of moves, but still have cards in their hands, play stops momentarily and each player flips one card from the pile of five in the center, much like how the game began, and then play starts again.

Continue until one player has sped through all of their cards!

If you’re looking for a fun and strategic card game designed for just two players, we just learned about this new game called “The Challenge”. You can learn all about the rules and game instructions right here.

8. Beggar My Neighbor

The game of Beggar My Neighbor has been around since 19th Century Britain and is a unique variation on the classic card game, War.

How to Play Beggar My Neighbor?

Start the game by dealing out the complete deck evenly to each player.

As in War, players take turns revealing the top cards of their deck but place the cards in play on top of each other until someone reveals a face card or ace.

These cards are the penalty cards, and once played an opponent must pay the penalty for the cards: four cards for an ace, three for a king, two for a queen, or one for a jack.

Once their opponent has paid the penalty, whoever who played the penalty card collects the entire pile of cards from play and adds them to the bottom of their deck.

However, if a player paying a penalty reveals another penalty card, their payment ends and the opposite player must pay the penalty.

This changing of the penalty can continue indefinitely until one player cannot play a penalty card. Whoever laid the last penalty card to go unanswered wins the pile.

Continue to play until one player acquires all of the cards in the deck.

More players can be added to this game, play just continues in a clockwise fashion.

9. James Bond

James Bond Card Game

Bond, James Bond. This is a fun game of speed & memory for 2 or 3 players that’s easy to set up and enjoy.

The goal of the game is to collect four of a kind in each of the piles laid before you (6 piles each for two players, 4 piles each for three players).

How to Play James Bond Card Game with 2 People?

Begin by dealing six piles of four cards face-down to each player, then lay the remaining four cards face-down between the two players.

When ready, flip the four cards in the center over, and play begins. James Bond is played at a fast pace with no turns (very much like Speed). 

Players may only look at one pile of four at a time, and may only exchange one card at a time with those in the center.

Using their memory of which pile contains which cards, play consists of continually exchanging cards from the middle to your piles until you collect four of a kind into that pile.

Once you collect four of a kind, you may then flip the entire pile face-up. Continue to play until you have 6 piles of four of a kind, and then shout “James Bond!” to win!

This sounds simple enough, yet your opponent may be collecting the cards you place in the center, or placing cards they need in the center as you collect them just as quickly.

It’s all great fun, and an added plus is that this game is especially good when played with a martini – shaken, not stirred, of course.

10. Crazy Eights

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One game everyone should learn how to play is Crazy Eights – it’s a classic game appropriate for all ages at any playable location.

How to Play Crazy Eights?

Start by dealing each player 5 cards face-down, then place the remainder in the middle of the table to form a stockpile.

The dealer then turns up the top card of the stockpile (shuffle any eights back in if they are turned up, then turn up a new card).

Players may look at their cards now. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of their cards.

Play goes in clockwise order. Each player must place a card that either match the card turned up by its value or its suit.

For example, if a ten of spades is turned up, you may play any ten or any spade. The next player follows suit and so on.

In the event a player cannot play any card from their hand, they must pick cards from the stockpile until they find one they can play.

If the stockpile is depleted, the player must pass their turn.

As the title suggests, all of the eight cards in the deck are wild!

When someone plays an eight, it fills in for any card that may have been played and the player must specify which suit of eight they are playing (for purposes of the player playing after them).

Once someone has run through their hand and won the game, they collect points from their opponent depending on what is leftover in their hand.

Each eight card is worth 50 points, each King, Queen, Jack or Ten is worth 10 points, and all other cards are worth their face value (Aces are low and equal to 1 point).

Play to 100 points, or 500, or 83!

Crazy Eights is easy, and enjoyable with any crowd.

11. Old Maid

University Games

We’ve seen a lot of modern games on this list so far, but if you’re looking for a two-player card game with a traditional feel, look no further than Old Maid.

Harkening back all the way to the Victorian era, this enjoyable shedding-type card classic is said to have its roots in ancient gambling games where the winner would often be forced to shell out for the next round, making it a more subdued alternative to rowdy drinking games like King’s Cup.

The object of the game is simple:

Make pairs from the deck of cards until one player is left with the Old Maid. That player loses the game.

How to Play Old Maid?

To make things easy, you can buy specially designed Old Maid card sets. This if often a great choice if you want to keep things simple so that you can introduce your kids to the game.

Alternatively, you can simply use any standard 52 card deck, in which case your first task is to set things up so that you can have one unmatchable card in the deck.

The most common way of doing this is to remove a queen so that you’re left with one queen in the deck which can’t be matched.

With that done, you’re ready to play:

First, choose a dealer.

The dealer shuffles the deck and divides all the cards equally. 

Each player looks through their cards without revealing them to the other person and removes any pairs.

Next, the player who didn’t deal goes first. They take one card from their opponent without seeing what it is, and bring into their own hand. If that card creates a pair, they lay that pair face-up on the table and it is removed from the game.

This continues until one player is left with the Old Maid. That player loses the game.

Top Tip:

It’s important to remember that three-of-a-kind doesn’t count in this game. If you have three cards of the same value, you’d make a pair and keep the third card.
Looking for more traditional games to enjoy? Give Backgammon a try.

12. Garbage

In our guide to the unexpected benefits of playing board games, we mentioned that one of the great advantages of playing games is that it can help children develop their math skills. 

Don’t have a board game to hand? The Garbage card game will do the job just as well.

Sometimes known as Trash, this straight-forward game sees two players race to line up their cards in a set sequence from 1-100.

What we love about this game is that it’s so simple pre-schoolers can get to grips with it, yet it still offers enough of a challenge to keep older players engaged.

How to Play Garbage?

As with most games, this one starts with a standard 52 card deck. 

One player is designated as the dealer. They shuffle the cards and deal 10 cards to each player.

Each player places their cards facedown on the table in two rows of five, with the remaining cards forming a neat pile to the side.

The cards in each row are designated a number, so you’ll start with the top-left card as 1 moving down to the bottom right card as 10.

The game begins with one player drawing a card from the top of the pile and places it, face-up in the appropriate position among their two rows of cards depending on its numerical value.

They then take that face-down card, look at its number, then repeat the process.

For example, a player originally draws a 2 of Clubs from the pile, so they place that card face-up in the second position in their row of cards, then pick up the face-down card that originally sat in that position, revealing that card to be an 8 of diamonds. They put that card down in the 8th position, pick up the 8th face-down card which turns out to be a 4, places that card in the 4th position, and so on.

In this game, Aces are 1 and kings are a wildcard,s which means they can be used to represent any number.

Queens and Jokers are the ‘Garbage’ which gives the game its name. This means that if you draw a Queen or Joker, you simply discard it and end your turn.

Your turn is also over if you get a card that you don’t need. For example, if you turn over a 3 of hearts but you already have a 3 of diamonds, you don’t need that new card and your turn is done. That 3 of hearts is then added to the garbage along with any Queens or Jokers.

When the next player takes their turn, they can either draw from the remaining deck or sift through the garbage to find a card they need.

The first player to complete a sequence of 1-10 wins the game.

13. Go Fish

On Sale Peaceable Kingdom

Seriously, how have we made it this far into a guide about the best two-player card games without mentioning Go Fish?

OK, so it may not be the most mentally taxing of games, but if you’re looking for something to play with the kids and find they’re not so keen on Garbage, teaching them how to play Go Fish is bound to keep them thoroughly entertained.

How to Play Go Fish?

If you really want to make the game appealing to your young ones, a purpose-made card set like this playfully-designed Go Fish set may do just the trick.

Otherwise, any old pack of cards will do just fine.

To begin, each player is dealt seven cards, with the remaining cards scattered across the middle of the table between them. These cards then become known as the “pool”, or to keep with the fishy theme, the “lake” or “pond.”

Both players then go through their hands and match up as many cards as they can. For example, a player with multiple threes would put them together.

At this stage, it also makes a lot of sense to organize your cards in numerical order to keep track of where you’re at.

The aim of the game is to make as many four-of-a-kind matches as you can (so four threes, four kings, etc.).

To do that, the first player will look at their cards and ask the player for a specific numbered card that will help them create a match.

For example, if player 1 has two fours, they might ask “Do you have any fours?” If the other player does, then they have to hand them over. Player 1 gets to ask again and again until player 2 doesn’t have the number requested.

At that point, the player says “Go Fish!” Player 1 then draws a card from the pond/pool/lake and Player 2 starts their turn.

This continues until all the cards have been grouped into sets of four. The player who has the most groups of four wins the game.

14. War

Imperial Kids Card Games

War! What is it good for?

A thoroughly entertaining game of cards, that’s what.

Suitable for kids and grown-ups alike, this long-time favorite puts you and your opponent against each other in a battle to collect the most cards.

It’s fast-paced, it’s exciting, and best of all, it’s incredibly easy.

How to Play The War Card Game?

Start by shuffling the deck and dividing it equally so that each player has 26 cards.

Without looking at the cards, each player then turns over the top card from their hand.

The player who has the highest card wins that round.

They collect both cards and add them to the bottom of their pile.

This continues over and over until both players play a card of the same value, for example, two kings or two fives. At this point, war breaks out.

Each player takes three random cards from their pile and places them face down in the center of the table, along with a fourth card which they place face up. Again, the player with the highest card takes all the cards and adds them to the bottom of the pile.

This continues until one player has collected all 52 cards and wins the game.

Need a more detailed explanation? Check out our complete guide to playing the War card game.

15. Kings in the Corner

Kings in the Corner

If you’re a fan of Solitaire but prefer a little company when you’re playing card games, Kings in the Corner is worth a look.

Like other games in this guide, the goal is simply to get rid of all your cards before your opponent can do the game.

To do this, you’ll need to devise a sound strategy as you lay out those cards in a solitaire-like sequence.

How to Play Kings in the Corner?

As usual, designate a dealer and shuffle those cards.

At the end of the round, players score 10 points for each King left in their hand and one point for each additional card they have left.

A new round then begins and this continues until one player reaches 25 points. At that point, they’re out and the player with the lowest score wins the whole game.

The dealer then divvies up 10 cards per player, using the remaining cards to create a “balance.”

This balance is set out as follows:

The majority of cards go face down, creating a stockpile in the middle of this table

This stockpile is surrounded by one face-up card per side.

The dealer then starts the game by taking a card from the stockpile. They then check to see if and where that card (or any from their original seven) can be placed onto the face-up cards in the middle of the table.

Cards can be placed on top of cards of a higher value and the opposite color.

For example, a red four can be placed on top of a black five and a black six can be placed on top of a red seven.

If a player has a king, they lay that king in one of the corners of the card balance. This king then comes into play and can be built on in the same way. So, if you play a red king, a black queen would be the next card to play on it.

An entire pile of cards can be moved onto any other eligible pile. For example, if you have one pile containing a two and an ace, and another pile currently ending in a three, you can pick up that ace and two and add it to the three. That space is then filled with another card from the player’s hand.

Each player can play as many cards from their hand as they want to or can before announcing that they are done.

At that point, play moves onto the next player.

This continues back and forth until one player has used up all their cards. They win that round.

16. Double Solitaire

Still can’t get enough of Solitaire? Find playing Kings in the Corner isn’t enough?

Then as well as checking our guide to the five types of Solitaire you can learn in five minutes, go grab yourself a friend and learn this fun doubles version of the game.

How to Play Doubles Solitaire?

For this game, you’ll need two standard 52 card decks, with both players receiving one deck each.

Each player takes seven cards from their respective deck and uses these as the foundation for creating seven piles known as the tableau, with each pile having one more card than the last one. In other words, your piles will include:

Pile 1 – 1 card

Pile 2 – 2 cards

Pile 3 – 3 cards…

..and so on up to seven cards in pile 7.

The top card in each pile goes face up, with the rest face down.

The remaining cards form each player’s stock.

The rules then follow those of standard Solitaire, with the aim of the game being to start and build up your foundations.

Foundations start with an Ace, with cards being added to them in order of sequence.

You should have one foundation for each suit.

Both players can play at the same time or take turns, with the winner being the first player to build up all of their foundations with no cards remaining in either their stockpile or their tableau.

17. Blackjack

Decks of Cards

We often think of Blackjack as a group game, but it can easily be played with just two players.

A member of the Twenty-One family of card games which also includes the likes of Pontoon, Blackjack is said to be the most widely-played casino game in the world. 

Don’t fancy heading all the way to Vegas to try this one out? Here’s how to play Blackjack at home.

How to Play Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of those few multi-player card games in which players usually don’t compete against each other, instead pitting their wits against the dealer.

In the two-player version, you’ll need to modify this a little with one player taking on the dealer role while also playing along.

The dealer gives both players two cards, one face up and one face down.

Players can take a look at their face-down card without showing it to the other player and add the value of that card to the value of their face card.

In Blackjack, kings, queens, and jacks all have a value of 10 while aces can be either 1 or 11. 

The overall goal is to get as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it.

So, once a player has totaled up the value of their cards, they can decide whether to hit – take another card- or stay, keep the same number of cards, and their score.

When both players are happy with the value of their cards, they turn them over. The player who gets closest to 21 without going over wins the round.

The game can continue either in a best-of-three format or as a gambling game with players betting money, candy, or simple tokens on the outcome of each round.

18. Five-Card Draw Poker

5 Card Draw Poker

Sticking with the casino theme, if you’re up for a gamer of poker but don’t have enough people around, Five-Card Draw is a great two-player variation you can break out.

Sometimes known as Cantrell Draw, the game is often considered to be the easiest version of poker to learn, making it a great choice for novice players.

How to Play Five-Card Draw Poker?

A great choice to add to your night of playing two-player drinking games, Five-Card Draw sees both players putting a small amount of money, tokens, or even candy into a pot. This will be awarded to the winner of the round.

Each player is then dealt five cards.

The goal is to get the strongest hand and win the round. In normal poker, if you’re not happy with your round, you can simply fold and sit out that round, but let’s be honest, that kind of ruins all the fun in a two-player game.

Instead, go straight to the drawing round.

Here, each player will take turns discarding one or more of their cards and replacing them with another one from the dealer. Each player should have no more than five cards to their hand.

Once all players are happy with their cards, they bet again before revealing their cards.

At that point, the player who has the strongest hand wins the round.

The following is a list of strong hands, ranked in descending order from best to worst.

  • Royal Flush (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace from the same suit)
  • Straight flush (5 cards in a row of the same suit)
  • 4 of a Kind (4 cards of the same value such as 4 kings or 4 fives)
  • Full House (a pair + a three of a kind)
  • Flush (5 cards of the same suit but not in a row)
  • Straight (5 cards in a row of different suits)
  • Three of a kind ( cards of the same rank, such as 3 kings or 3 fives)
  • Two pairs 
  • One pair
  • Highest card (when neither player has any of the above, the highest card wins). 

19. Scrimish

Like Nerts and others on this list, Scrimish is a fun two-player card game that uses a set of special playing cards designed exclusively for this game.

An intense fast-paced game of strategy and recall, the goal is to figure out where your opponent’s Crown Card is and carry out a successful attack on that card.

How to Play Scrimish?

Cards are divided equally between players. Each player then lays out five piles of cards face-down on the table in front of them.

As they’re doing this, players should hide their crown card on the bottom of one of the piles, taking great care that the other player doesn’t see it.

Players then take turns to select the top card from one of their piles and place it in front of one of their opponent’s piles. This is known as an attack.

The player who is defending then turns over the card being attacked. Whoever’s card has the highest value wins that battle. 

The winning card is returned, face-down to the top of the pile it came from while the losing card is discarded.

If both cards in a battle have the same value then they are both discarded.

This continues until one player finds and attacks their opponent’s Crown Card which wins them the game.

20. Uno

UNO Card Game

While Uno is often thought of as a group game, this all-time family favorite is perfect for duos too.

Renowned for its simplicity and, of course, it’s tremendously fun gameplay, the objective is to get rid of all your cards in the most effective manner possible. 

Get rid of all your cards first, and you win the game. 

How to Play Uno?

Both players receive seven cards which are dealt face-down.

All remaining cards form the draw pile.

The top card from the draw pile is then removed and placed face-up. This starts the discard pile.

Play then begins with players looking to add their cards to the discard pile.

If the on the discard pile is an action card, then the player carries out that action. 

If not, you play a card that matches that top discarded pile. You can match a card either by its action, number, or color, or you can play a wild card that changes the color currently being used.

If you can’t play any cards from your hand, you have to draw a new card from the draw pile.

This continues until one of the two players only has one card left, at which point they shout out “Uno!”

That player then plays that card and wins the game.
For a more detailed explanation, check out our  How to Play Uno in 5 Simple Steps guide.

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    Why We Love Two Player Card Games

    There you have it: ten great ways to play a game of cards with just two people. And there are countless other ways to play cards with just one other person, whether as fast, simple, and friendly games or long, complex, and strategic games.

    You can play these games with basic win-lose-or-draw outcomes, or complicated scoring calculations.

    A card game for two is a great way to spend quality time with an old friend or break the ice and get to know someone new.

    The hard part is sitting down with someone and saying, “OK, what two player card games do you know how to play?” 

    Hopefully, this article gives you a place to start.

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