There are many awesome card games out there, but when there’s just two of you playing, some are simply better than others! Let’s take a look at the 5 best card games for two:
1. Tute Card Game
Tute is a card game that tends to be played in Spanish-speaking communities. Although the name of the game is actually Italian, it originated in Spain. Either two or four players can play.
You’ll need a 40-card Spanish deck to play this game. The cards are valued as follows:
Ace – 11 points
Three – 10 points
King – 4 points
Horse – 3 points
Jack – 2 points
Cards from 7 to 2 – 0 points
Combine King and Horse from same suit – 20 points
Have all kings OR all horses – You win the round
Each player receives eight cards, whereas the remaining cards are placed face-down on the playing table. The players then take cards from the deck in turn.
A pre-defined number of rounds is set prior to the game starting. The winner is the one who wins the most rounds. Each round is set to finish after a specific number of points, which is usually set at 50, 60 or 100.
The aim of the game is to win more points, consecutive rounds and ultimately to win the game overall.
When two players are playing, the players draw a card from the deck after each trick. When there are cards left in the deck, you can take any card you like. When there aren’t, players are obliged to follow the suit.
2. Spades Card Game
Spades is one of the most admired card games of all time. Although it’s usually played by two partnerships, it’s fine for two players to play as well. This card game is a descendant of the Whist family of card games (we’ll look at Whist later).
Spades is played with a standard 52-card deck, with the cards valued from highest to lowest:
Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
The deck is shuffled – there isn’t actually any deal in two-player spades. The first player draws the top card from the deck and decides whether they want to keep it. If they do, they put the second card they draw face-down in a discard pile. After that, they draw and keep the second card they pick up.
The second player then does exactly the same thing with the next two cards in the draw pile. This process continues alternating between the two players until the cards from the entire deck have been collected. Each player should end up with 13 cards in their hand, with the remaining 26 cards set aside.
The second layer goes first. They may not start with a spade card unless their hand happens to include only spade cards. Unless they have no other option, they can’t lead with a spade until the suit is “broken”. A spade is broken when a player cannot follow suit and chooses to play a spade. Spades are also broken if a player has no other option and leads with spades.
The two players then alternate turns, and each player must follow suit (play the same suit that was led) if possible. The player who plays the highest rank of the suit wins the trick – that is, unless a spade is played. In that case, the person who plays the highest rank of spades wins the trick.
The winning player should set the trick in front of them, so it’s easy to tell how many tricks each player has won. Each trick won by a player is valued at 10 points if they meet their bid. Tricks won above the bid are worth 1 point each. If a player does not meet their bid, they lose 10 points for each trick. The first player to 500 points is the winner. If both players reach 500 in the same hand, the player with the higher score wins.
3. Blackjack Card Game
It’s crucial to start with a distinction here – Black Jack, which is played in the UK, is similar to Crazy Eights, but different to Blackjack, which is also known as 21, and will be discussed here. Blackjack is the world’s most popular card game, bar poker, with a simple aim of getting as close to the number 21 without going over it.
A standard 52-card deck is used in blackjack, but if you head to a casino, it’s quite common for six decks to be shuffled together for a total of 312 cards.
All numbered cards have their nominal value in the game, whereas face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are valued at 10. The value of an Ace is determined by a player, and can be either 1 or 11.
The cards are shuffled by a player, then the pile is cut. One card is given face-up to each player, and one is put down face-up in a separate pile. Another round of cards is then dealt amongst the players, with a second card being placed face-down. This process continues, as explained below.
The first player begins and chooses whether to stand (not obtain another card) or hit (obtain another card to get closer to a count of 21, or hit 21 exactly). This means that players can keep their originally-dealt cards, or ask for extra cards one at a time until they decide to stand, or go bust (obtain a total over 21). In the event of a bust, the player loses.
A soft hand is the combination of an Ace with another card other than a ten-card, and that’s because an Ace can be counted as a one or 11. A player can choose to draw cards or not in this instance, depending on whether doing so would be a better strategy or not.
4. Whist Card Game
Just to make things clear, we’re discussing the two-player version of Scandinavian Whist, which is also known as Norwegian Whist, here. This version differs quite a lot from German Whist, which is also a two-player card game. What makes Scandinavian Whist unique is that each player plays two cards to each trick.
Whist is played with a standard 52-card deck, with the cards ranked from high to low as they normally would be, namely Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
The dealing player shuffles, whereas the non-dealing player cuts. Some 26 cards are dealt to each player one a time, starting with the dealer’s opponent and alternating. Eight cards are dealt to each player and placed face-down on the playing table in a 4x2 rectangle format. Next, a further eight cards are dealt to each player and placed face-up on top of the face-down cards. A further hand of 10 cards then follows. In other words, each player has 10 cards that only they can see (in hand), eight cards that they can’t see, and a further eight cards that they can see (in reality, both players can see them, as they are facing up).
Before getting into the mechanics of how to play whist, we need to talk about bidding. The non-dealing player bids “high” or “low”. If high, then you’ll be playing a high game of whist. This means that the dealing player has no say. However, if the non-dealing player bids low, the dealer then gets to bid “high” or “low”. If both say low, it’s a low game.
The difference between a high and low game of whist is that winning tricks is the goal of a high game, whereas avoiding winning tricks is the goal of a low game. When the game is low, the non-dealing player leads to the first trick.
When the game is high, the first lead is by the player who did not bid high. In other words, the only time when the dealing player leads first is when the non-dealing player bids high. Each trick consists of four cards – two from each player.
A player plays a card from their hand, or one of the cards in their face-up layout. If a face-down card is uncovered when a card from the layout is played, it is immediately turned face-up, before any other cards are played by either player. Any card can be led, with the ensuing three cards ideally following the suit.
In other words, if the losing player has any cards of the same suit as the led card, either in the face-up or face-down position, they are obliged to play the card. The winning player is then obliged to play a second card, also following suit to the led card if possible. The other player then plays a second card, also following suit to the original lead card if possible.
The four-card trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, and the player who wins the tricks leads to the next.
5. Gin Rummy Card Game
Part of the big family of Rummy card games, Gin Rummy can trace its origins back to 1909, when it was invented by a father-and-son duo living in New York City. It became a hugely popular throughout the Roaring Twenties, before declining in the 1930s and having a resurgence in 1940s Hollywood.
Gin Rummy is played with a French deck of 52 cards. The cards are ranked as follows: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.
In terms of their points value in the game, an Ace is worth 1 point, the numbered cards have their nominal values, and face cards are worth 10 points each.
Also keep in mind that an Ace can only be melded with a 2 card.
Players receive 10 cards each, with the rest forming the stock that is used for players to take cards and discard them. One card of the deck is turned face-up and placed close to the stock. When a player takes a card from the pile, they can get rid of one of the cards they hold.
The main objective of the game is to combine card sets from the suit, or the same rank. Players attempt to meld as many cards as possible.
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