13 Easy and Underrated Card Games You Can Play with 2 People

updated now
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Hands of someone playing cards at table. The cards are bright and colorful. Snacks and other games on table
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

I’m lucky. I grew up with two siblings, so on game nights we had a full group of five people — me, my brothers, and our parents. Our go-to was often one of three games: Monopoly (my dad sat on his cash so we didn’t know how much money he had), Nightmare (the VHS game from the ’90s with the scary-faced demon guy), and Spoons (the best card game on earth). But like I said, I was lucky. I didn’t know the struggle that comes with finding card games for only two people until I moved out on my own. If you face the same challenge, never fear. These two-player card games are perfect for an intimate game night of cards with you and just one other person.

Credit: stockfour/Shutterstock.com

With a Regular Deck

You only need a standard deck of 52 cards for these games.

1. Golf

Just like regular golf, the goal in Golf the card game is to get the lowest score over nine deals (or holes, if you want to keep the metaphor). Players each place two rows of three face-down cards in front of them and turn any two cards in their layout face-up. Then, taking cards from the remaining pile, each player tries to replace every card with a lower numbered card. Face-down cards can be replaced with a face-up card drawn from the pile. Once all six cards in front of you are face-up, the round is over. Do this for nine total rounds, keeping track of the amount the cards add up to for each round. If you have the lowest total after nine, you win.

2. Speed and Spit

Speed was always my favorite game to play with my brothers (one or both), because the goal is to get rid of your cards the quickest — and we’re very competitive people. Here’s how it works: You put stacks of face-down cards in a row across the table: five cards, then one card, then one card, then another five cards. Then, give both players 15 cards each, and both of you draw five cards from that 15.

To play, you each flip over one of the single-card stacks in the middle. You have to play a card higher or lower than the visible cards. Place it right on top of the visible card, and continue building off that new card. If no cards are playable, flip a card over from the pile of five and place it on the top of one of the middle piles. Remember to keep five cards in your hand at all times. The first person to run out of cards wins.

Spit is a similar two-player card game, but with a different arrangement of five stock piles instead of one. 

3. Steal the Pile

To start playing Steal the Pile, each person is dealt four cards, and four cards are placed face-up in the middle of the table. With each hand, you have three options: If you have a card in your hand that matches one of the face-up cards, you take that card and place the pile in front of you; if you have a card in your hand that matches a stack of your opponent’s cards, you take that stack and place the pile in front of you; or, if you don’t have a match, you lay any card face-up on the table. Play continues until each player has played their four cards, then four more cards are dealt to each person and the game continues. It’s over when all the cards are gone. Whoever has the biggest pile wins!

This was my favorite card game to play with my grandpa when I was little and visiting him in Ohio. It was easy for my little-kid brain to understand, and being able to take his pile was particularly satisfying, as he always won everything else!

4. James Bond

The goal in James Bond is to get four-of-a-kind rank matches in all your card piles. Each player will get six piles of four face-down cards each. The last four cards in the deck are placed face-up between the players. Going pile by pile, in any order but only one pile at a time, players can swap cards out with the face-up cards in the middle to create four-of-a-kind in that pile. Once all your piles are four-of-a-kind matches, you say “James Bond!” and show your cards for the win.

I love this game because it’s fast-paced and easy to learn. You don’t need to do any intense math, or really any math at all, and you can go at your own pace (as long as that pace is, of course, fast).

5. Crazy 8s

With Crazy 8s, you want to be the first person to run out of cards in your hand (it’s pretty similar to Uno). Deal each player seven cards, then put the rest of the stack face-down in the middle of the table. Turn the top card face-up next to the pile for a starter. Turn by turn, each person places a card on top of the starter card, which has to match either the suit or the number. If you can’t place a card, you keep drawing from the pile until you can. If the pile is gone and you still can’t play, you pass your turn until you can. Eights are wild — they’re good for any suit or any number.

I’ve played this card game with friends and family of all ages, and it’s always a good time. It doesn’t take a long time to figure out how it works, but strategy might be a bit difficult to figure out. Crazy 8s puts everyone on a level playing field.

6. Double Solitaire

It’s like solitaire … but for two! This two-player card game turns standard Klondike solitaire into a competition. Each person sets up their own solitaire layout, using a deck of cards each. You share the eight foundation piles (four for each player, where you build the suits from Ace to King). Play is turn-based. The first person plays until they can’t make any more moves, or they choose not to. Then the second player makes all their moves, and it switches back to the first player. Keep playing until someone’s layout is moved completely into the foundation piles, or until both players can no longer make any moves. The person with the least amount of cards remaining wins.

With a Purchased Deck

For these games, you’ll need to purchase the card pack. It’s worth it, though!

7. No Wrong Answers

This is more of a bonding game than anything else — there’s no competition involved. Each card in No Wrong Answers has a question you ask the person you’re playing with to learn about them. Examples: “Which cereal mascot would be the best kisser?” “Your nose is broken, and you can only smell one thing for the rest of your life. What is it?” “What ultra-specific skill would you bring to a heist?” The questions (and answers) are hilarious.

8. In a Pickle

This game would be fun with many players, but my fiancé and I played it on our own the other night and had a fabulous time. For In a Pickle, all the cards have objects or concepts on them. The goal is to make stacks of four cards ascending in size based on the object and what it fits inside. For example, a set could look like this: pickle→jar→kitchen→house. To win, collect five sets.

9. Love Letter

Love Letter is super quick and easy to learn — especially because the deck itself is only 16 cards. The goal? To be the first to get your love letter to the princess. Each card has an action, like looking at another player’s hand, or discarding a specific card. You win by being the last one standing when the pile runs out.

10. Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters is for up to six people, but it’s equally fun to play with two. In the game, you’re hosting a dinner party — one dinner party per player. Each guest (there’s five) has a list of food they love, like, dislike, and hate. You want to make your menu the most accommodating for all the guests in attendance. It’s harder than you think, especially when you can sabotage the other player’s party. As an extra bonus, you get to learn about all sorts of new foods and recipes!

11. Man Bites Dog

Man Bites Dog is a game about creating headlines. You’ll get dealt Headline Cards, or cards that have a single word on top and have a point value on the bottom. Make the funniest headline (one that actually makes sense) out of your cards and you win the points. First person to 500 wins!

You can play this with a larger group, but I find that playing one-on-one is a fun way to take a deep dive into the creative mind of the person you’re playing with — especially when they have to defend their headline’s feasibility. Who knew there could be so many laughs in a single deck of cards?

12. The Light in the Mist

Tarot enthusiasts, The Light in the Mist is for you. Essentially, you’re searching for a friend who’s lost in the woods. You’ll follow clues told through a tarot-like deck of cards that have puzzles on them. Solve a puzzle, unearth a new clue. You’ve also got a backpack to carry that helps you keep track of items you retrieve from the cards. The best way to play it is to have one player solely in charge of the backpack — otherwise it can be a lot of shuffling cards around.

This game is the perfect puzzler. Some of the puzzles are pretty difficult, so putting your heads together to find the solution is a valuable part of the game. But there are plenty of easier ones that will make you each feel like expert sleuths!

13. Tussie Mussie

This 20-minute game only has 18 cards and teaches players about the Victorian language of flowers. In Tussie Mussie (made by the designer who made Wingspan, Elizabeth Hargrave!), you trade cards with the other player to create bouquets that are full of meaning. Each player has two turns to build a four-flower bouquet. Whichever one scores the most points based on the rules on each card wins the game. It’s short and easy to learn, perfect for a quick round when you have a time crunch.