Whether you’re looking for something to do with your partner on a cozy night in, or trying to teach your kids some new indoor games that will keep them off of their computers, gaming equipment and other devices, the following card games for two players are guaranteed to be a hit in any household.
Here we have listed several of the most popular and oft-played card games for two players, and we’ve included a brief introduction about the rules for each game.
1. Go Fish
Go Fish is a classic game that has been played among two players for decades. The goal of the game is to create as many piles or sets as you can, with those piles or sets being two cards of the same value—2s, 5s. Kings, etc.
In Go Fish each player is dealt seven cards to start, for a total of 14 cards being distributed. The remainder of the cards—38—are placed in the center between the two players. This is the stack from each of the two players will draw.
After seven cards are distributed to each player, the non-dealing player gets to go first. He or she will ask the opposing player if they have any 2s through Aces, but they can only ask that player for a card that they also possess in their hand.
For example, if the asking player has a seven card hand of 2, 6, 9, 10, Q, K, A, they can only ask their opponent for one of those cards. If the opposing player does indeed have the card that was asked for, they must then give it to the asking player, who will then put that card and their card (of the same value) in a 2-card pile or set in front of them.
On the other hand, if the opposing player does not have the card that was asked for, he or she will say “Go Fish” and the asking player must draw a card from the pile. After that the roles of the two players switch and the other player becomes the “asker.”
This continues throughout the game—back and forth—and the winner in the end is the person with the most 2-card sets in front of them.
2. Crazy Eights
Crazy Eights is a great and exciting game for kids and adults alike. The game is played very similar to the card game known as UNO, only with a standard deck of cards.
In Crazy Eights, the primary object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all the player’s cards to a discard pile by matching the number or suit to the current card in the discard pile.
When a player plays one of the four “Crazy Eights,” that card is wild and the player can place it on any number or suit while simultaneously changing the suit to something he or she has a lot of in the hand.
3. Gin Rummy
An easy game to learn, play and teach, Gin Rummy is a two-handed form of the card game rummy in which players are dealt ten cards each and attempt to produce a hand in which the point value of unmatched cards adds up to ten or less.
The game is very challenging and fun and we bet you will not be able to stop after just one game!
4. Slap Jack
The game of Slap Jack is also known as “Heart Attack” due to the fast-paced action and the all-out energy of the game.
In Slap Jack, cards are turned over one-by-one until a Jack appears on the top of the stack.
When that happens, each players tries to be the first one to “slap the Jack” with their hand, and thus collect all of the cards below.
War is the quintessential game in which the high card always wins. Players are dealt 26 cards each—half of the deck—and then one-by-one they begin turning over their cards.
Each time this is done, the player with the higher card wins, and then stacks those two cards in a pile in front of them. Once all 26 cards have been turned over, the player with the largest stack of cards wins.
One fun caveat in the game of War is when both players turn over the identical card (8 and 8, K and K, etc.). In this eventuality, each player lays three cards from their stack face down, and then reveals the 4th card.
The player with the higher 4th card gets to keep all of the cards in play, rapidly adding to their pile. However, if this process leads to another tie, the process is repeated, allowing the winner of the “War” a chance to win a sizable portion of the deck.
6. Double Solitaire
Most people think of Solitaire as a one-person game, but in this exciting version of the game the fun is actually doubled when two players play together.
The object of Double Solitaire is to use up all your cards by re-ordering the deck by suit and rank through a series of moves.
Double Solitaire is also known as the game of “Patience,” largely because it can take a lot of time to conclude a single game.
As such, it is the perfect rainy day game for kids when you’re looking to kill as much time as possible.
Golf is another fun card game that can be played by 2-6 players.
In this fast-paced game, the object is to try to get your best (lowest) golf score over the course of nine deals with 9 cards in play.
This game also teaches counting skills (good for teaching your kids) and forces players to think on their feet.
The game of Speed is all about, well, speed.
This wild and crazy game is all about quickness of the mind and hands; it helps develop important counting and sequencing skills while also burning off all that pent-up energy.
The object of the game is to see who is fastest when putting cards in a sequencing order.
Also known as “21” the game of Blackjack can be played by two players or multiple players. In this standard casino game, which even rivals poker in terms of popularity, one player acts as the dealer or house, while the other player plays against the house.
The dealer deals two face-down cards to the player and two cards to himself, one face-down and one face-up. The object of the game for the player is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over.
All cards are counted at face value, the jacks, queens and aces are worth ten points and the aces can be counted as 1 or 11. The player can hit (take a card) or stand, but if he goes over 21 (busts) he must flip up his cards.
If the player does not bust while hitting, the dealer will then take his turn. The dealer must hit on any hand that adds up to 16 or lower, and he must stand on any hand of 17 or above.
The winner is the person with the hand closest to 21 without going over.
10. Kings Corner
Played for years upon years, Kings Corner is a tactical and snappy card game in which all four kings are placed in a square and it feels like everybody’s playing a single game of solitaire — but there’s only one winner!
11. 5-Card Draw
5-Card Draw is a form of poker in which each player is dealt five cards. The players can then either keep the hand they were dealt, or draw up to four cards (you must hold at least one original card) from the deck to try and improve their hand.
In the end of 5-Card Draw, the player with the best hand wins.
As in all poker, players are trying to get the following hands, which become more valuable as the list goes on: one pair, two pair, three of a kind, a straight (five cards in numerical order), a flush (five cards of the same suit), a full-house (a three of a kind and a pair in the same hand), four of a kind, a straight flush (five cards of the same suit in numerical order), and the granddaddy of all hands, the Royal Flush (10, J, Q, K, A, all in the same suit).
In some variations of 5-Card Draw an agreed upon wild card can be named—a card that can represent any face value and/or any suit.
Although usually played with a group, Canasta can be equally fun with two players.
In this game players will use a combination of three card decks.
The object is to meld cards just like you would do in games like Hearts and Spades and score points to be the winner.