Card Games for Two Players

Two Player Card Games

There are lots of card games for multiple players–poker just isn’t as much fun with less than four people. Games like cribbage require a board, complex rules, and a large number of players. Games of dominoes can be played with two people (I’m thinking of Moon and other games that are light on rules) but require a set of dominoes and have a pretty high learning curve.

What card games are good for just two players? Here are three of my favorite two-person card games that require little or no setup and very few people to play.


Sometimes called “War” or any number of other regional nicknames, Battle is the most basic two player card game.

To play Battle, shuffle a standard deck of cards and deal the whole deck face down. One half of the cards is dealt to one player, and half goes to the other. Do not look at your cards.

Both players then turn the top card over, face up, in the center of the table. Be sure to do this at the exact same time, otherwise there’s no tension in the game and its less like a true “battle”.

Card Games for Two Players

Compare the two cards. The player with the higher card “wins” the battle and collects both cards. The object of the game is to get all the cards in your stack, leaving your opponent with none.

How do you know who has won the battle? Number cards are lowest, meaning that 2 is the lowest card in the game. Face cards are the most valuable, and their order is Jack, Queen, King, and finally Ace, the most powerful card in the game.

A little bit of intrigue–what happens when two player’s cards tie? If you and your opponent both reveal a “2” for instance, this initiates a “war”. When a war starts, both players turn the top card from their stack, face down this time, and then turn another card face up. Whoever has the higher of this second set of revealed cards has won the war and takes the entire stack.

Repeat this until one player has the entire deck.

It is a simple game, but a great way to pass the time. You can play Battle mindlessly, waiting at the airport or during bad weather at a sporting event.


Speed, also known as “spit”, is a deceptively simple game that requires speed and dexterity as well as a lot of yelling and general rough-housing. The fast game play and “cutthroat” tactics required for Speed make it a favorite among young teenagers and older gamers alike.

Shuffle the cards and divide them equally among the two players — 26 cards apiece. Each player makes five “stock piles” of cards in front of them in a row. Each pile has a different number of cards — the first has one, the second has two, etc., until fifteen cards are laid out in five piles. The top card of each pile is laid face-up, as in solitaire.

This leaves each player with 11 cards in a face-down stack in front of the piles. Do not touch them!

Once both players have arranged their playing area the way they want, they yell “Speed!” and play begins. Frantically.

Play starts by laying down the top card from each player’s stack of 11 cards side by side between the stock piles. These are the “speed piles” that most of the play will utilize.

Now both players play simultaneously, and as fast as they want. The object of the game is to get rid of all of the cards in your stock piles on top of your speed piles. Remember that you can only use one hand and move one card at a time — just wouldn’t be fair if you could use all your limbs.

Your play options are to either:

1. play the face up card from the top of your stock pile onto either of the speed piles (if it is next in numerical sequence either up or down)

2. move a face up card from the top of a stock pile onto a now empty stock pile space creating a new area of play

Game play ends when one player gets rid of their entire stock pile or if play gets “jammed”, meaning neither player has a move they can make.

Sounds complicated, but give it a go — you’ll pick up the nuances really quick.

Two Man Solitaire

Solitaire is normally a game for one person — but with two person solitaire you can work with someone to “win”.

The basic game play looks and feels just like traditional solitaire but there’s a pretty crucial difference — once the aces are put up on the tableaux, either solitaire player can play on top of them or move down any cards they need. Remember that both players still have to get all their cards up on the tableaux to “win”.

With two standard decks of cards, the players should sit facing each other and deal out a traditional hand of solitaire in front of them.

The first big difference in two man solitaire comes when aces come into play — players should place their aces face up in the table space between the two separate games.

The object of the game is to get all the cards of each suit in order on these ace foundations — that’s a series of cards starting with aces and ending with kings. In two man solitaire, either person can play on any one of these foundations, or borrow a card if it is needed.

Too many kids these days depend on electronic games to stave off boredom. I don’t want to sound like an old fogey, but “back in my day” if we complained about boredom, our parents put us to work. Avoid doing yard chores by grabbing a deck of cards. Playing a game of cards doesn’t require a fancy setup or multiple players. Any time you have a standard deck of cards and a friend or two you can kill time the old-fashioned way — just you, your buddies, and a card game.


Dominion can be played with more than 2 players, but it’s best when it’s played as a heads-up content. See our main article about Dominion for a complete description of how to play. We also include a list of Dominion expansions on that page. Dominion is a commercial card game, so it can’t be played with a standard deck of cards. But you can find the main set available for sale on Amazon for around $30 most of the time.