Trying to find something fun for just two people can be a bit daunting. If you are well acquainted with your partner then you might find yourself at ease, but breaking the ice with a new potential friend can be a whole different story. Many activities that can occupy two people, like watching a movie, don’t leave a lot of room for socializing. But it isn’t in peoples’ nature to simply sit across from each other and talk, socially awkward creatures that we are. A deck of playing cards can be a great method to break the ice since it is easy to carry and can be used in an endless variety of games. Players tend to struggle with two player card games though. Few people can name more than one off the top of their head. The game War for instance tends to be most people's standby. We thought a list of good go-to two player card games would do our readers a lot of good when it comes to filling that empty niche in their card game repertoire.
Let's start with something simple, an adaptation to a well-known game: Double Solitaire. To start, you will need two decks of cards, one for each player. The players deal themselves in the traditional Klondike Solitaire style.
If you are unfamiliar with Klondike Solitaire, check out our how-to play article here.
The key difference between Double Solitaire and regular Solitaire is that both players share and can play to the same foundation piles. Each player then takes turns, starting with the one whose first card from their draw pile is lower. A player's turn goes until they cannot make a move or choose not to move and flip over there next card.
Play continues until either one player has played all of their cards to the foundation piles, in which case they are declared the winner, or neither player can make a move. When both players cannot make a move then whoever played more cards on the foundation piles wins. For easy counting and scoring it is recommended to use playing cards with two different styles.
Another card game that works well for two players is called Trash. Now don’t let the name fool you, this can be one of those “realize you’ve been playing for hours” types of games. You only need one standard deck of 52 cards for Trash. Each player is dealt ten cards, face down in two rows of five. Players are not allow to look at these cards. The rest of the cards are set aside for the stock. The goal of the game is to fill out this layout with Ace (low) in the top left and 10 (high) in the bottom right
Play begins with one player drawing from the stock. If the card can be placed in the Ace through 10 slots, then the card is placed there, and the card that was there is picked up. The face-down card that was picked up is then placed on the grid, if possible. This continues until the player can no longer play. This occurs when the spot is already occupied by the number or the card is a King or a Queen. The first unplayable card becomes the start of the discard pile. The second player may draw a new card or the top card of the discard pile to begin their turn.
The face cards are the outliers. As stated before, the King and Queen will end the player's turn immediately. The Jacks are the exception. They are wild and can be placed anywhere. Jacks can also be replaced by any card that it is appropriate for the position. This makes Jacks not only highly coveted, but possibly a game winning card.
How is Trash won? When the sequence is completed the game is re-dealt, but the player who won is dealt a nine sequence instead of ten. Each time a player wins a round, that player loses a card from their sequence. The first player to reduce their sequence to zero has won the game. Simple, but exciting. Fun and with just enough luck and skill to keep your friends coming back for more.
For a more comprehensive list of rules, check out our how-to-play article here.
Another good two-player card game famous for stealing hours from people's lives is Kings Corner. Kings Corner is also played with one standard deck. To set up, both players are dealt seven cards. The remaining deck is set aside for the stock. From the stock four cards are drawn and placed to the north, south, east, and west of the stock. These are the start of the foundation piles.
These foundation piles function similar to the ones in Solitaire. Starting with the one who didn't deal out the cards, a player begins their turn by drawing from the stock. They then try to build up the foundation piles in alternating color and decreasing rank. New piles can be made with kings. A pile can be moved onto another pile if the sequence is followed. If this happens then the top card of the stock replaces the moved pile. The first player to get rid of their cards wins the game.
These are just a few of the countless two-player games that can be played with a deck of cards. We hope these will help you occupy your mind on a sleepy afternoon or break the ice while hanging out with a new group of friends. Playing cards bring people together and that is what we love most about them.
Looking for more card games to play? Check out these articles:
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.