Shithead, Egyptian ratscrew, and exploding kittens. Can you guess what these three things have in common?

If you answered the “best couples card games” then you win!

While playing cards may seem like a pastime from our grandparent’s generation, we’re pleased to tell you that it’s alive and well…

In this article, we share the best couples card games. We list romantic, funny, and competitive card games that require a unique deck as well as classic bicycle card games for two players. 

Card Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life

the best card games for couples

According to a 1956 article from Harpur College in New York, 83% of American families played cards.

With awe, the article shared that 80 million decks of cards sold in 1950 — mostly due to the wildly popular game, Canasta.

While the fervor of Canasta has since subsided, card games have remained a popular go-to for thousands of years. The first-ever recorded card game, the ‘leaf game’ was in the 9th century AD in China, but unfortunately, the rules of the game were lost by 1100.

Playing cards have been shown to improve math and memory skills. Additional benefits include increased social skills, relaxation, and strategy-building.

Plus, science shows that playing games as a couple boosts intimacy and oxytocin.

As we share in our article, “Board Games for Couples,” Baylor University studied the effect of date night activities like games on the couples’ levels of oxytocin (the love hormone).

All activities — from playing games to painting — increased oxytocin, but trying new and novel games elevated levels even more.

So, once again, we did our research and polled our communities on the best couples card games for 2-players. We include traditional card games that you can play with a deck of cards, as well as romantic card games as well as games you buy with their own specific decks.

So whether you’re Wild Bill playing poker in a saloon or, if you’re like us, just two people at home, playing cards are a tried-and-true pastime.

Our List of The Best Couples Card Games

Our list of the 20 best card games for couples to play is broken into three categories:

1. Romantic card games for couples to connect

These are games designed specifically for couples to connect, learn about each other, and be intimate. They’re ideal for date night.

2. Good two-player card games that require unique card decks

These are fun and competitive card games that require a unique card deck. They are perfect for two players.

3. The best card games for couples with a regular deck

These card games for couples only require a standard deck of cards. For these classic card games for two, we’ll share links to learn the rules and strategy.

Additionally, our list of card games for two spans the difficulty range, from:

  1. Easiest level. A straightforward game to play and score.
  2. Moderate level. A game you can play immediately but might take a few times to understand all potential strategies.
  3. Hardest level. A more complex game that you’ll need to reference the instructions throughout the first few plays, but it is worth the wait!

Several of these games for couples can accommodate more than two players, making them perfect card games for couples night. We’ll note when they do, but they’re just as fun with you and your plus one on date night.

Romantic card games for couples

Looking for games to strengthen and discuss your goals, wishes, and desires within your relationship? These are fun games to get to know each other for couples. 

Card Games for Couples Love Lingual

The Love Lingual: Card Game Amazon reviews speak for themselves at 4.7 out of 5 stars by over 8,500 reviewers. While most couple’s games incorporate conversation starters and questions, these are the best of the best.

They’re not corny and cover a wide range of topics for you and your partner to better know each other even after years and years of marriage.

Just know, there are cards in here that talk about sex and intimacy (which is great!) But you might not want to play with other couples!

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Talk Flirt Date

This is a fun game for couples that also asks personal questions with card prompts.

Talk Flirt Dare is an excellent card game to get as you can raise the ante as your own relationship progresses, from getting to know each other to straight-up dares. Get as dirty or intimate with this one as you desire.

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life TableTopics Couples

Couples TableTopics is another game with conversation-starting cards like “What’s the best thing you’ve learned from your mother?”

We recommend this game as a more PG version than the Love Language: Card Game recommended above.

Ryan and I have loved using TableTopics for years. Their questions are thoughtful and the presentation is beautiful. This is one of the best couples games out there.

Additionally, it makes for a fun anniversary gift that you won’t be embarrassed to keep out on the coffee table.

The Best Couples Card Games with Unique Card Decks

These are the best fun and competitive 2-player card games. However, for these card games, you need to purchase the unique card deck.

In the next section, we’ll share more card games for couples that only require a standard deck of Bicycle cards.

4. Exploding Kittens

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 15 minutes
Players: 2-5

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Exploding Kittens

Okay, Exploding Kittens is the most fun game for couples. At least in our opinion.

It’s actually a card game, not a board game. But it’s hilarious and not entirely politically correct (aka, don’t invite your boss on a double date)!

Each player draws a card and if it’s a kitten… you lose the game! Avoid drawing a kitten by using cards to peek at the deck before drawing or forcing other people to draw or shuffle the deck.

The cartoon cats are crazy, and it’s a fun way to gauge your partner’s sense of humor, particularly on the first date!

5. Dominion

Difficulty level: 2 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 2-4

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Dominion

Dominion is an all-time favorite. This card game was released in 2008 and began immediately racking up the awards, including “the best game at the fair” out of over 1,000 competitors at the Spiel Game Fair.

Due to its popularity and 2.5 million games sold, Dominion has issued numerous expansions to keep you entertained for years to come.

The goal is to build the most valuable deck of cards you can, out of Action, Treasure, Victory, and Attack cards. Everyone’s deck is identical to start, but with the game incorporating many different Action cards, each game is unique unto itself.

This game gets top marks from all couples we have spoken to and its accolades speak for itself! Also, if you’re on a budget, consider this one first.

6. Five Crowns

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 45 minutes
Players: 1-7

Couples Card Games Five Crowns
Five Crowns is a Rummy-style game that has been a favorite for generations.

Its accolades include 11 best game awards and a pretty incredible 4.9 stars out of 5 amongst its nearly 20,000 Amazon reviews!

The goal is to have the lowest score, so while a round might only take 5 or so minutes, this can turn into a multi-day tournament… our favorite!

7. Sushi Go!

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 15 minutes
Players: 2-5

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Sushi Go

Sushi Go! is another card game that we let slip into our list of board games for couples… because it’s just so good! Perfectly primed for couples, the goal is to collect certain combinations of sushi to score points.

Players play a card and pass their hand to their partner. Once again, you look at your hand, pick a card to play, and repeat. The cards are just too fun.

Fun, easy, fast. Clearly, you’ll want takeout sushi for this one! Or even better, bring this game to the restaurant with you. At just 15 minutes a play, you can fill the time while waiting for your food!

8. Sentinels of the Multiverse

Difficulty level: 3 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 2-5

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Sentinels of the Multiverse

Sentinels of the Multiverse is set in a fictional comic book universe, you and your partner play superheroes to defeat the villain. What’s more romantic than that for date night?!

This is a card game with the superheroes taking turns to attack the villain. Next, the “environment” has a turn (which can be both a blessing or… usually… a curse) followed by a turn for the villain.

Even if a player dies (womp, womp) there are still some actions that the former superhero can do. Reminiscent of Ghost, anyone?

The great thing is that this game offers lots of expansions to add new heroes, villains, and environments to keep the spark going. This game is straightforward to play but rated a 3/3 for difficulty because of how different the characters are.

We like this game for couples because of its role-playing elements and the fact that you can throw these cards in your weekend bag during your next vacation!

9. Set

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 1-20

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Set

Want to discover the more artsy side of your partner? This one might actually drive you bonkers, but it’s fun to problem-solve together while trying a less traditional board game.

Set is is an abstract matching (or not matching) game. Nine cards are laid out in front of you with a certain number of shapes and types of fill. The goal is to find a set of three cards.

Once you find a set, you yell, “Set!” and touch the cards. Three new cards are placed and it’s your partner’s turn to do the same. It’s a fun and simple game to play and pass between you two.

Do you know what else is bonkers? This game can be played with 1-20 players!

10. Splendor

Difficulty level: 2 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 2-4

Board Games for Couples Ryan and Alex Duo Life Splendor

Splendor is an all-time favorite and nominee for Game of the Year award (Spiel des Jahres, 2014). Yet again, another card-based game slips into the list. We won’t tell if you don’t!

You and your partner collect gems or spend gems to buy a card. Like in life, some are more expensive and valuable as you save up for them (sounds like a good segway to discuss your couple’s finance!) The rules are simple, and the game ends when one person scores fifteen prestige points.

If you’re on a budget, consider this one first.

11. Skull King

Difficulty level: 2 out of 3
Playing time: 40 minutes
Players: 2-8

Couples Card Games Skull King

Skull King is a cooler version of the card game Up and Down the River.

In this game, your goal is to win as many points as possible by accurately guessing how many tricks or hands you’ll win with your given set of cards. If you guess right, you get bonus points. If you guess wrong, then you might get some taken away.

This is a super fun game that we love playing in small or even larger groups. It’s easy to learn and can involve quite a bit of strategy and intuition, so the more you play, the more fun you’ll have!

The Best card games for couples With a regular Deck

These are the best two-player card games. All you need is your partner and a regular deck of cards. 

If you need card game ideas for couples night, the majority of the following games allow 4 or more people. 

12. Cambio (Also known as Cabo)

Difficulty level: 2 out of 3
Playing time: 5 minutes
Players: 2-4

There’s no better way to learn a new card game than when you’re stuck on a boat. We learned Cambio from a British backpacker while on a multi-day cruise around the Galapagos. It was nearly as exciting as the giant tortoises and penguins!

But seriously, Cambio is our favorite card game and definitely falls into the category for best couples card games. This game is similar to Golf but on steroids.

We always play Cambio with a deck of cards, remembering the specific rules surrounding the power cards and point system. We recommend following these rules for Cambio.

However, if you don’t want to remember the rules, Cabo is a common variation that comes with its own special deck.

The goal of Cambio is to have the lowest points for the 4 cards in your hand. It’s interactive and there’ll be lots of shouting, grabbing, slapping, and a good memory helps. Have fun!

13. Speed

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 5 minutes
Players: 2 or more

A fast-paced game where the goal is get rid of all of your cards before the other person. This one is quick and can be learned in three minutes or less for first timers.

This game isn’t so much about strategy as it is about speed, memorization, and counting. Luck never hurts, either!

Start by dealing 12 cards in the center and 20 to each person (all face down). Pick up 5 cards each from your personal piles and flip over 2 cards in the center.

As fast as you can, place your cards over the 2 center cards as long as they are adjacent numbers. For example, if the number 8 is flipped over, you can place on it either a 7 or 9.

Keep grabbing cards from your personal pile so that you always have 5 in your hand. When no one can move, flip over additional center cards until someone is out. At this point, you yell, “Speed!”

Here is a great video explaining how to play Speed.

14. Shithead (also known as Karma, Palace, or Shuffle Boy)

Difficulty level: 2 out of 3
Playing time: 5-15 minutes
Players: 2-4

A family favorite, and one that we constantly play with Alex’s sister. While this game can be played with up to 4 people, the dynamics and strategy change drastically when there’s only two players.

Wikipedia charmingly calls Shithead a game “popular among backpackers in the late 20th century” which is pretty accurate for our family. The goal of the game is to lose all of your cards as quickly as possible, or else you’re the “shithead!”

Memory and speed come into play in this addicting and fun couples card game!

Here is a video explaining how to play Shithead.

15. Egyptian Ratscrew (also known as ERF and Slap)

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 10 minutes
Players: 2 or more

One of Ryan’s sister’s favorite (and she is the queen of games!)

What we love about Egyptian Ratscrew — outside of its name — is that you can learn it within minutes and it’s a game that keeps you on your toes. No snoozing during this one!

The goal is get all of the cards, which you do so by slapping the deck by following a few simple rules. Everyone is involved, speed is king, and there’s even a bit of math and memorization that you can throw in there.

It’s simple, fun, and the perfect couples card game!

Here is a video explaining how to play Egyptian Ratscrew.

16. Garbage (Also known as Trash)

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 2 or more (but with more players requires more decks)

A simple but fun game that’s takes nearly no time to learn, so you can get started… right now! It’s our favorite card game for two that’s extremely easy to learn.

Each player starts with 10 cards, face down. The remaining cards go in the center. Draw a card and do your best to fill in every spot with the numbers 1-10 in a row (with one being Ace).

When you fill in a spot, you can keep using the card that was face down until you can’t move any more, and then it’s the next player’s turn.

Whoever fills in their 10 spots first wins the round, and in the next round, they can remove one card and only fill in the numbers 1-9, and so forth. The game is over when one person is out of cards.

Here is a video explaining how to play Garbage.

17. Gin Rummy

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 15 minutes
Players: 2

One of the most popular card games (and oldest at over 100 years old) on our list is Gin Rummy.

We both have fond memories of playing Gin Rummy with our grandparents growing up. It’s fun, fast, and easy to learn.

You and your partner each begin with 10 cards with the remaining cards piled in the center. The goal is to create combinations of three or more cards in your hand of 10 by carefully swapping out cards with the center cards on your turn.

The round ends when you’ve either hit “gin” — meaning all of your ten cards are in combinations — or your remaining cards add up to less than 10.

After each round, add up your points and whoever has the most points (usually playing to 100) wins!

Here is a video explaining how to play Gin Rummy.

18. 500

Difficulty level: 3 out of 3
Playing time: 30 minutes
Players: 2-6

The card game, 500, has elements of both Bridge and Euchre. Interestingly, 500 is the national card game of Australia, who knew!

This is a game that we’ve played with Ryan’s grandparents. There’s a few special rules and strategic bids to make, so we rank this with a higher difficulty level.

But with that being said, we love this game as it can turn into a multi-night tournament and you can try tons of different variations to find your favorite style!

The premise of the game is simple: earn tricks and earn points to reach 500!

19. Golf

Difficulty level: 1 out of 3
Playing time: 20 minutes
Players: 2 or more

Golf is loosely related to our favorite card game of all time, Cambio. What we like about Golf is that it takes a bit less memorization if you just want a slower paced game that you can chill with.

The goal is to get the lowest score with the 6 cards in your hand. You do this by swapping them out with the cards in the center or drawing a new card. Easy peasy, a great game for two!

Here is a video explaining how to play Golf.

20. Cribbage

Difficulty level: 3 out of 3
Playing time: 15-30 minutes
Players: 2

Cribbage is a game based on strategy and intuition. The goal of the game is to collect points by making runs or card combinations.

Sometimes you try to get the most points, while sometimes you try to block your opponent. This makes every game unique and different than the others!

For this game, you’ll need a standard card deck and a cribbage board to keep score.

Experience and tactics are more helpful than luck in Cribbage, so keep on playing to hone your skill!

Here is a video explaining how to play Cribbage.

Closing Thoughts on Couples Card Games

These couples card games can increase love, intimacy, and introduce new hobbies into a relationship. It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time together.

Did your favorite card game for couples make the list? Comment below and we’ll keep on crowd-sourcing the best games for you and your loved one.

For more resources for couples, such as the best apps out there for couples or the most exciting couples challenges, head over to our Healthy Couples page.

Or, download our free at-home marriage retreat guide or date night “menu” below.

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Utilize the main event, dining, and accessory at-home date night ideas list to wow your partner, take the stress out of planning, and elevate your date nights at home to rival any that you've had elsewhere.

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Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

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