Holding the Cards

Games & Cards

2 Player Trick Taking Games (+ 3 Player Trick Taking Card Games)

2 Player Trick Taking Games3 Player Trick Taking Games
3 & 2 Player Trick Taking Games

Trick-taking card games are great fun, but most of them seem to play best with 4 or more players, often in partnerships.

If you have fewer people, or prefer everyone-for-themselves games, this is the right page for you. Many of the games below can also be played with other numbers of players, but they can be adapted into good 2 or 3 player trick taking games. Some of them were specifically designed for their stated number of players.

Trick Taking Games for 2 or 3 Players

Most of these three and two player trick taking games are fairly simple to learn but still allow for a lot of strategy and skill. A few are more involved but worth the effort to learn.

The purpose of this page isn’t to tell you how to play all these games, simply to give you a sense of them to help you decide if you’re interested. I hope you find an enjoyable 2 or 3 player trick taking game here. They’re divided into their own sections.

2 Player Trick-Taking Games

Here are some great two player trick taking games to try out.


Schnapsen, a combination of trick-taking and marriages, is considered one of the best and most interesting 2 player card games. Some features include:

  • It’s played with a deck of only 20 cards—A-10.
  • First person to 66 points wins the hand.
  • 5 cards each
  • A turn up card determines the trump suit.
  • The remaining cards form the talon, from which cards are drawn.
  • Points are scored for the tricks and for forming marriages of the same-suit Kings and Queens.
  • Players must remember their scores without writing them down. When they believe they’ve won, they can close the talon and play out the hand, or declare a win, after which their claim is tested.

German Whist (Honeymoon Whist)

This is exclusively a two-player trick taking game. Some of the features include:

  • Players are dealt 13 cards each.
  • A turned up card determines the trump suit, and in a variation, can also determine whether you try to win or lose the tricks.
  • Two phases of gameplay—first you play to assemble your hand and then you play for the points.
  • When the second phase begins, both players know the cards their opponent holds (if they can remember).

All Fours (Seven Up)

This is essentially a 2-player game. Some features include:

  • 6 cards each
  • Players have some negotiating room on choosing the trump suit.
  • The suit led can be followed or trumped.
  • Points are awarded for being dealt or for winning certain cards.


A popular card game in France, Piquet is played with a 32 card deck. Some features include:

  • 12 cards each
  • 8 cards in the talon, from which players exchange cards.
  • Players declare certain values from their hands.
  • During play, points are scored for leading a trick, winning a trick and winning the last trick, with bonuses for winning the most or all the tricks.

3 Player Trick-Taking Games

Here are some fun three player trick taking games to try.

Oh Hell (Contract Whist)

This is a popular variation of Contract Whist. Some of the features include:

  • A descending and ascending amount of cards per hand as players are dealt 10 cards each for the first hand and 1 less for each subsequent hand down to a single card for the tenth hand (9 cards in second hand, 8 in third hand and so on down to 10. After this the order reverses back up to 10 (2 cards in the eleventh hand, 3 cards in the twelfth and so on back up).
  • A turned up card determines the trump suit.
  • Players bid on how many tricks they will win, with the total table bid not allowing every player to make their bid.
  • Tricks are worth 1 point each and making your bid exactly gets 10 bonus points.

Oh Hell is very entertaining and is one of my favorite trick-taking games.


Ninety-Nine was designed specifically as a three player trick taking game. Features include:

  • A 36-card deck (the 2, 3, 4 & 5s are removed)
  • 12 cards each
  • First round has no trump, and trump is determined in subsequent rounds by how the players did in the previous round.
  • Players bid on how many tricks they’ll win by discarding 3 cards, with the suits indicating the amount.
  • Extra bids with increased risk/reward are available (declarations and revelations)
  • Tricks are worth 1 point with a bonus for hitting your bid exactly and more for being one of the two to make the bid or being the only one to make it. (an embellishment on Oh Hell’s bonus)

Twenty-Five (Spoil Five)

Twenty-Five is the national card game of Ireland and the basis of other fun trick-taking games such as Forty-Fives and 120. Some features include:

  • 5 cards each
  • A turned up card determines the trump suit.
  • Chips are used in place of points with an ante before each deal.
  • The order of the cards takes a little getting used to. (5 & J are top two trumps followed by A regardless of trump suit, then other A, K & Q among other changes)
  • Trump suit is followed but top 3 trumps can be reneged if a lower trump is led.
  • Taking 3 of the 5 tricks wins the pot, otherwise it carries over to the next hand.

Hearts (Black Lady)

This very popular and fun 4-player game can be adapted for 3 players. Some features include:

  • Trick evasion—players try to avoid taking the penalty cards (all s & Q♠)
  • Some cards are passed to an opponent before play starts.
  • A weak hand can score a large bonus by “shooting the moon”, taking all the penalty cards.


A very popular game for 4, Spades can also be adapted for 3 players. Some features include:

  • The entire deck is dealt.
  • Players bid on how many tricks they will take.
  • A successful bid of nothing (nil) wins a large bonus.
  • Players are rewarded for accurate bidding and penalized for overbidding & (eventually) for underbidding.

3-5-8 (Sergeant Major)

Exclusively a 3-player game, some features of 3-5-8 include:

  • 16 cards to each player + a 4 card kitty for the dealer.
  • Dealer names the trump suit.
  • Each position has a target number of tricks to take starting at the dealer’s left—5, 3 & 8, respectively.
  • On subsequent hands, a card is exchanged based on the previous hand.


Bluke is a 3 or 4 player game. Some features include:

  • A game is 25 hands
  • Players get 13 cards each on the first hand and a card less on each successive hand all the way down to 1 after which the order reverses by adding a card to each hand back up to 13. (similar to Oh Hell, below)
  • The Jokers (the Blukes) are the highest cards.
  • The suit led is followed except for the Jokers, which can be played any time.
  • Players bid on the amount of tricks they’ll win.
  • Tricks that were bid are worth 10 points but additional tricks are only worth 1. Taking less than the bid results in a loss of points.


Mizerka is a whist-based game. Some features include:

  • Players start with 6 cards.
  • Player to dealer’s left chooses either the trump suit, no trumps or Mizerka—a reversal of the objective with the goal being to lose the tricks.
  • Players are dealt 7 more cards each.
  • A fourth hand, the talon, is also dealt.
  • Player to dealer’s left can swap out cards (unseen) from the talon. Other players can too as long as cards remain.
  • Each position has a target number of tricks to take.

That’s all I have for now. I hope you can add some new 2 player trick taking games and 3 player trick taking games to your rotation!

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