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Recommended Games for Two Players

A selection of some the best 2-player card games and domino games, recommended by the editor. For a longer list of traditional games, see the full 2-player game index.

Panjpar

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This two-player card game from Afghanistan is featured in Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner. Panjpar means five cards, the number initially held by each player. The aim is to be the first to get rid of all your cards in the endgame, after the drawing deck runs out.

Clobyosh

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Variously known as Clobyosh, Kalabrias, Klabberjass or Bela, this point-trick game with melds is widely acknowledged as one of the most skilful two-player card games.

Sedma

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Popular Czech game for 2 or 4 players in which tricks are won by playing a card equal to the lead or a seven. The objective is to capture aces and tens.

Tartli

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A two-player trick and draw card game from Hungary also known as Felsős, in which equal sets and sequences in suit can be collected and declared during the play.

James Bond

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A popular children's game in which players race to collect packets of four equal cards by exchanging cards one at a time with a row of four face up cards on the table.

Durak (Perevodnoy)

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This is a version of the popular Russian card game Durak in which instead of beating an attack, the defender can transfer it to the next player by playing an equal card. This game works well with 2 players.

Casino (Swazi)

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In this unusual version of Casino played in Swaziland and Lesotho, players can steal cards from the top of their opponents' capture piles to help with building piles for later capture.

Jhyap (Yaniv)

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An unusual draw and discard game from Nepal, which has also become popular in Israel. Players get rid of their cards by discarding rummy-like combinations which they have collected.

Ocean's Eleven

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An ingenious two-player game by Eliott Adkins in which each player has a supply of 52 cards drawn one at a time and the object is to win the best of 11 poker hands.

Go Stop

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A popular Korean game for 2 or 3 players using flower cards. Having collected enough scoring combinations to win, you have to decide whether to stop the game or try to improve your score at the risk of losing everything.

Gin Rummy

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A skilful and popular American two-player 10-card rummy game. A player can risk ending the play when their unmatched cards (deadwood) are of sufficiently low value, or play on to try to match all their cards for a 'gin' bonus.

Porrazo

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An enjoyable two-player game, good for passing the time on train and plane journeys. There are some players in California, but it is said to have originated in Mexico.

Spite and Malice

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American game for two in which players compete to play their cards in numerical sequence to foundation piles. The skill is in the management of the reserve piles where currently unplayable cards are stored.

Cuttle

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This 2-player game which appeared in North America in the 1970's is slightly reminiscent of later commercially successful combat games such as Magic the Gathering though the similarity is probably a coincidence.

All Fives (dominoes)

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An American two-player cross domino game in which players score for making the ends of the layout add up to a multiple of 5.

Krypkasino

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This Swedish game for 2-6 players is a reverse form of Casino. There are penalty points for playing a card that captures a matching card or set of cards from the table, and a large penalty for clearing the table.

Schnapsen

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A two-player game in which the aim is to be the first to 66 points by taking tricks and declaring marriages. It is very popular in Austria where large tournaments are held. Related games are played in several other European countries.

Twenty

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A skilful adding game for 2 players, also playable by 3 or 4, in which players take turns to play cards totalling each number from 1 to 20. Contributed by Brian Stovel.

Cribbage (six-card)

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Classic game in which players score on a peg board for making pairs, runs and sets of cards that add up to 15 during the play, in their hands, and in the 'crib'. From its British origins over 300 years ago this game has spread throught the English-apeaking world.

Piquet

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Classic game for two players, which has deservedly survived with very little change since the 16th century. There are scores for longest suit, best sequence, best set of 3 or 4 of a kind and for tricks.

Escoba

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Spanish fishing game with 40 cards for 2-4 players. Cards are captured by making sets that add up to 15.

The above are the editor's recommendations, but tastes differ and you may find other games you like more in the full index of traditional 2-player games, which includes a section on methods of adapting games for two players. Further 2-player games can be found among the collection of invented games and on the commercial games page.

Home Page > Index by number of players > Best 2-player games
This page is maintained by John McLeod, john@pagat.com   © John McLeod, 2021. Last updated: 23rd November 2021

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