Card Games for 2 players: “You can teach an old dog new tricks”

Card games for Card games for

"Parlett's creativity is as ordered and precise as a Swiss watch. His games mesh so well with the structure of playing-cards as to give the impression that the pack was created specifically for his inventions."

Inventing card games is one of my favourite recreations. It is a relaxing hobby: it means I can think up the basic ideas without having to get out of bed - or even, if I am very lucky, without having to wake up - which is more than you can say for actually playing cards.

My idea of a good game is one that uses an ordinary 52-card pack and has very simple rules, but gives you plenty to think about. If you find that idea appealing, have a look through the following. I have arranged them in order of the number of players, which is the natural primary selection factor, then by type of game. So start by choosing your number and then explore the number of games that are available for you.

Card games for 2 players


Duck Soup - A trick-taking game that'll drive you both quackers

Parity - a skill-demanding game of perfect information

Cross Purposes - one of you chooses a trump suit, the other a trump rank

Ninety-Nine - bid to win an exact number of tricks (adapted from 3 players)

Counterpoint - A fiendish point-trick version of Ninety-Nine (best for two)

Umbridge - A perversion of Bridge for two

Colour-blind - choose whether to win red cards or black (adapted from 3 players)


Galapagos - three games in one: win tricks, make melds, get rid of your cards


Dracula - an arithmetical game with a bloodthirsty count

Fosco - a game of perfect information with another villainous count

Addenda - aim to win tricks counting 17 points

Caterpillar - a simple add-it-up-as-you-go-along game

Limbo - get as low under the bar as you can by deducting and dividing

Prime Time - make primes from three-card combinations (better for 3)


Counterbluff - bluff with constantly-evolving Poker hands

Sneak - a bluffing game playable by any number


Stucco - a match-and-go-out game of perfect information


Abstrac - a nim-type game of perfect information


Brummy - two-dimensional Rummy with Brag hands

Multiplicity - for players who like to go forth and multiply (better for three)


Get Stuck - a quasi board game on a grid of 7x7 cards (also for 4 in partnerships)

Romeo & Juliet - a romantic card-board game on a grid of 7x7 cards

Ganderpoke - a 5x5 tableau game with Poker hands

Garbo - a 4x4 tableau game where each card "vants to be alone"

Spec - a silly guessing game (or is it ESP?) on a 5x5 grid

Check out more card games involving more players below: