The Best 2 Player Poker Games
There’s something about a two-player game that adds a certain level of intensity and competition that you don’t get with a larger group and, for more casual players, a deck of cards can go a long way to creating a fun night in.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite 2 player poker games, so you have a lot of ideas the next time you want to play a friend heads-up.
How Blinds Work in 2 Player Poker
One thing that most players wonder when starting out in a two-player poker game is how the blinds work. I can assure you, it’s actually quite simple:
The player with the small blind button will also receive the dealer button, while the other gets the big blind button. The buttons are swapped on every hand, so you’re always alternating who is the small blind/dealer and who is the big blind. That’s all there is to it.
If one of you is better at physically dealing the cards, then they can do so every round. However, the button still moves between the two of you.
Who Gets The Dealer Button First?
To decide who gets the dealer button initially, each of you should draw a card from the deck. Whoeever has the higher card becomes the dealer.
✅ How do you play poker with only two players?
The rules for poker games remain largely the same for two players as they do for a larger group. There are only a few differences in the rules, and you can find out more details below in the BeatTheFish 2 Player Poker Games Guide.
✅ What are the different bluffing strategies in 2 player poker games?
Bluffing in two-player poker games can be quite difficult, as you and your opponent are only focused on each other. So, my best advise would be to mix it up; try not to stick to one specific style of play if you’re playing heads-up.
✅ Where can I find a list of two player poker games?
Right here at BeatTheFish is where you’ll find a list of the best two-player poker games. While Texas Hold’em and Five-Card Draw are my top picks, Chinese Poker, Razz and Badugi are also great choices.
✅ What is the best two-play poker game?
The most common two player poker game is Texas Hold’em. This is because it is the most-played poker variation, so most of the people you encounter who want to player cards will be familiar with this game and most willing to play this game heads-up.
My Favorite Two-Player Poker Games
These are some of the best poker card games that I, personally, think make for the best experience between two players. So, if you and your friend are looking for some suggestions on which poker variations to try (either as ring games or tournaments), here are some suggestions:
In Chinese poker, players are dealt 13 cards and must arrange them into three separate hands: a five-card hand, a five-card hand, and a three-card hand. Points are awarded based on the strength of each hand, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
This card game is incredibly easy to learn, but I recommend getting to know the basics by playing Texas Holdem or 5-Card Draw first.
In Badugi, the object of the game is to have the highest-ranking Badugi hand. A Badugi is totally different to traditional Omaha and Hold’em hands, as the goal is to have four different suits of the lowest cards – the best of which is 4-3-2-A off-suit.
A hand is played out as follows:
- The dealer distributes the cards to the players face down. Big and small blinds must be posted.
- All participants have the option to draw up to four fresh cards from the pile of undealt cards, and discard any cards they don’t want.
- A second round of betting will take place, with players able to raise or call.
- Next, they can again draw and discard cards.
- A third round of betting will occur.
- The last round of drawing cards occurs.
- Then, there’s the last round of betting before players reveal their hands
How Badugi Rankings Work
Badugi hands are ranked by their highest card, but the Ace is always low and straights don’t count. When you compare cards, if you and your opponent both have four cards of different suits, the player with the lowest high-card wins. For example:
- If you’re holding a hand with a King, Queen, Jack, 10 off-suit and your opponent has Queen, Jack, 10, 9, then your opponent wins.
If your top cards are tied, then it comes down to the second highest-card. For example:
- If you’re holding a King, Queen, Jack, 10 and your opponent is holding a King, Jack, 10, 9, then the win goes to your opponent.
Badugi is a great example of a 2-player poker game that is perfect for experienced poker players. The more traditional games can get a little bit boring and repetitive, especially if you play poker on a regular basis. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with poker games, then Badugi is probably a variant that will be lower down on your list.
Razz is a 2-player card game in which the aim is to make the worst hand combination. It’s basically the opposite of Texas Hold’em, but the player with the worst hand wins. The most important rules to remember are:
- Aces are the lowest cards with a value of 1
- Flushes do not count
- The best hand is 5-4-3-2-A.
To start the game, each player is dealt 3 cards; 2 face down and 1 face up. All players must post an ante bet. The player with the lowest face-up card pays the “bring-in”. This is a number of chips equal to either one-half or one-third of the ante. You can pay this and bow out, leaving your opponent to win the pot or “complete” the bet by making the full ante wager in order to continue playing in the hand.
In case both players have the same face-up card, then it will come down to the suit. The ranking of the suits is as follows:
Bets can be raised, called or folded. After each card is dealt, another round of betting occurs. After the seventh and final card is dealt, players compare hand combinations, and the player with the ‘worst’ hand wins.
Seven Card Stud
7-Card Stud follows the same principles as Razz, except the player with the strongest hand combination gets the win. Players receive three cards each – two face down and one face up – and both the participants must ante up before the game begins.
The player with the lowest face-up card decides if they want to complete the bring-in. Betting then commences in a clockwise direction, with players choosing to raise bets or call raised bets. Folding is also an option..
After the fourth card is dealt, face up, the betting continues in the same manner. This same process is repeated when the fifth and sixth cards are dealt – both face up. The seventh and final card is dealt face down, and the players must form the best possible 5-card hand combination.
The player with the best overall hand will take the pot and win the game.
While I like playing 7-card stud with more people, it works really well as a two-player game, and it makes for a fun variant if you’re playing Dealer’s Choice.
5 Card Draw
5 Card Draw is definitely one of my top picks for the best 2 player poker games.
Players are each dealt 5 cards, and they must post the big and small blinds before the cards are dealt. After the first round of betting, players can discard any unwanted cards and draw replacements from the deck of playing cards. A second round of betting follows, and the players compare the hands they have created.
The winner of the pot is the player with the highest hand combination. It’s basically like playing video poker, making it a high speed game that can really make time pass quickly.
Omaha is just like Texas Hold’em but you have 4 hole cards instead of two. Another key difference is that you must use both your hole cards to complete the hand. The game plays out as follows:
- All players are dealt 4 cards.
- The dealer then reveals 3 community cards on the flop, and the first round of betting starts.
- The fourth community card is dealt on the turn, with another betting round taking place.
- On the river, the fifth community card is dealt.
- Another round of betting occurs and the players reveal their hands.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how to play Texas Hold’em by now – but, if you need a reminder: the goal is to make the best five-card poker hand using your hole cards and the community cards.
This isn’t exactly a poker game, but “poker” is in the title – so, I’m including it! It’s also just a super fun poker game that is great for playing in pairs.
In a game of Liar’s Poker, players are dealt five cards. The first player must declare a standard poker hand, using jokers as wild cards.
- You can either use general terms (e.g. “a pair”)
- You can also declare your hand more specifically (“a pair of 10s with an ace kicker”).
The next player must decide whether or not to believe that the player is holding the hand that they say they are holding. If they do, they take the hand and the cards move to them. The active player can then discard up to four cards, face down, and draw new cards.
They must then make a declaration higher than the previous one. If the left player does not believe the declaration, they can call “Liar!” If the declaration is honest, the active player shows enough cards to prove it, and the doubter gets one point.
Otherwise, the liar gets one point and the cards are discarded. The player that scored then gets a new hand and takes their turn. The game ends when one player reaches a set number of points, and the player with the lowest score wins.
Strategies for Winning at 2 Player Poker Games
Most of the time, when I’ve played two-player poker games, it tends to be a more casual affair. I’m not looking to win all of my friend’s money; it’s just a fun way to pass the time.
However, if you know you’re going to be playing in a more competitive environment, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Pay close attention to your opponent’s playing style and tendencies. Adjust your own strategy accordingly, and try to make informed decisions based on the information you have.
I’d like to give you some tricks you might want to try to win, but in any poker variant, all strategies come down to skill. So, you should peruse my strategies guides to help you brush up.
Mix Up Your Gameplay Style
When you’re playing two-person card games, you’re only focused on each other – so, it’s easy to pick up on their gameplay style. If you want to keep your opponent on their toes, then you’re best off
Practice 2-Player Games
Finally, practice makes perfect. The more you play 2 player poker games, the better you’ll become at reading your opponent and making informed decisions. I would recommend playing heads-up sit & gos online in order to get used to playing poker games against just one other player.
Other Great Two-Player Card Games
Let’s say you’ve got a deck of cards and a friend who doesn’t know very much about poker. The above games might be a little bit too complicated; you would be able to show off your poker skills but you’ll likely want to try some games that are more dependent on luck and chance so your friend has a chance at winning.
You won’t find go fish or crazy eights here, though. These are card games that are ideal for players who want a little more complexity when playing with their friends:
The game is traditionally played with four players, but it is possible to play two. You can play with either one or two decks, as well. Here is a quick overview of how you can expect a game of Golf to be played:
- The dealer deals four cards to each player, facedown in a square. The remaining cards are placed facedown in the center of the table, creating the draw stack.
- The top card of the stack is placed face-up next to the stack to start the discard pile.
- Each player arranges their cards in a square.
- Before the game begins each player can look at the two cards that are closest to them on the board. (You can only look once!)
- Then, the first player must draw the top card of the facedown stock or draw the top discard.
- If the player doesn’t wish to use the card, it can be discarded, face-up.
- If they do choose to use the card, they place it in their square face-up and choose are card to discard in place of it.
- This continues until one player’s square consists of four face-up cards.
After the end of each round, you will score your hands:
- All face cards & 10: 0
- Ace: 1
- Number cards: face values
- A pair of cards in the same row: 0
- Jokers: -minus 5
You play 9 or 18 rounds and, by the end of the session, the player with the lowest overall score wins. The “losers” in this game are actually the winners – similar to how golf is scored, hence the name of the game.
Kings in the Corner
Kings in the Corner is a game that is similar to double solitaire, in a way. It might seem a little difficult to grasp at first but it is the kind of game you quickly get the hang of it.
- Each player is dealt seven cards and the remaining cards are placed in a pile in the middle of the table.
- The four cards on the top of the deck are then turned over, with one placed on each side of the stockpile to form a cross shape.
- The first player starts their turn by drawing a card from the stockpile and attempting to make as many valid plays as possible using the cards in their hand. The options include:
- Laying a card (or sequence of cards) on a foundation pile and having it obey the lower rank and opposite color rule;
- Playing a King in the corner of the cross
- Moving an entire foundation pile onto another pile, if the bottom card of the recipient and top card of the moving pile create a valid sequence.
- If they are no more plays available, then it’s on to the next player and the process repeats.
- Each player begins their round by selecting a card from the stockpile in the middle, and their round consists of making as many plays as possible.
The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner.
In a game of Rummy with 2 players, each is dealt ten cards. The goal is to get rid of all of their cards first, using one of three methods:
- Melding: taking a combination of cards from your hand and placing them face-up on the table. You can meld straights of three or more cards of the same suit in order, or three or more cards of the same rank.
- Laying off: adding a card or cards to a meld already on the table
- Discarding: getting ride of a card and putting it into the discard pile.
Players take turns drawing one card from either the draw pile or the discard pile to add to their hand. They can then meld a combination, lay off cards, or discard one card.
Once someone goes out (gets rid of all their cards), play ceases. The other player then adds up the cards still in their hand.
- Face cards are worth 10 points each
- Aces are worth 1 point each
- Number cards are worth their face value
You then play until one player reaches the total points value that you agreed on before playing. Whoever reaches that value first is the loser.
Of course, you can also play gin rummy. In this variant, players don’t lay down their sets and runs until they are ready to finish the round.
War is a super quick game that offers fast-paced action. The goal, this time, is to collect the whole card deck.
- The deck is divided in half so each player has a stack in front of them.
- At the same time, they flip the top card of their pile face up.
- The player with the highest card wins that round and collects both cards, placing them face down at the bottom of their pile.
- In the event that both players turn up a card of the same rank, they go to war:
- Each player then deals two more cards face-down and a third is dealt face-up.
- The players then flip their second card and the one with the highest hand is the winner.
- If the hands are equal, then another war begins
This process is repeated until one player has all of the cards in the deck. There is also a popular Casino War game that you’ll find at gaming sites and online casinos like Ignition Casino and Planet 7 – but this version is much more fun for two players.
There are 2 play poker games for everyone
2 player poker games offer a unique and exciting way to experience the thrill of poker. Whether you’re looking for something quick and uncomplicated like 5 Card Draw or you and your friend want to challenge yourselves with a game of Chinese poker, there’s a 2 player game out there for everyone.
Bethany has been working in online gambling for over 13 years. She got her start in the industry as her first job after graduating from the Professional Writing Program at York University. Having written for many online gaming publications and worked with top casino operators, she has unique insight into the gambling market. Bethany maintains a personal interest in iGaming as she continues to play poker online as a hobby.