Can You Play Poker with Two People? Here Are The Rules

Can you play poker with two people? The answer is yes, and it’s a great way to introduce new players to the game or for experienced players to hone their skills.

There are many different variations of poker that you can play with another person. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy game or want to test your skills, try your hand at two-player poker.

Can you play poker with two people?

can you play poker with two people

You and a friend are planning a weekend trip and want to play card games together. Can you play poker with two people?

Definitely! Two-player poker is called heads-up. These are the basic rules for a two-player game.

  • The dealer is the small blind, and the other player is the big blind. Players take turns as the dealer.
  • The first card goes to the big blind.
  • The dealer goes first before the flop and the big blind makes a move after the flop.

Let’s look at some more questions that players often have about two-player poker.

Heads-up poker rules and strategies

Now that you’re ready to play, let’s go through the gameplay.

How do blinds work?

The most confusing thing about heads-up poker is how the blinds work. It’s easy to get the hang of it once you learn the basics. There are only a few differences between full-ring and 6-max rules.

Who is the big blind and who is the small blind?

The big blind is always the player who does not have the button. Therefore, the other player is the small blind.

Who gets the button at the start of the game?

Each player must draw a card from the deck. The player who gets the higher card gets the first button.

Which blind gets the first card before the flop?

In heads-up play, the big blind gets the first card while the dealer gets the second.

Can the same player deal all hands?

Sometimes one person is better at dealing than others. It’s fine for the same player to deal on every hand.

Make sure you push the dealer button on each hand. It wouldn’t be fair for the same player to play the big blind every time.

Who acts first pre-flop?

In pre-flop, the dealer always goes first.

Although this rule is the same as traditional preflop, inexperienced players can easily make mistakes. Remember that the big blind player acts in the last position before the flop in 6- or 9-handed games, and it’s the same with heads-up poker.

Who acts last after the flop?

This rule applies to all poker games. The dealer is always the last to act on the flop.

The best thing about playing on the dealer button is that you get to act last and have more information than your opponent. This is particularly advantageous in heads-up poker since the big blind cannot act last.

What if the dealer folds?

If the dealer decides not to play his or her hand before the flop, the small blind is forfeited to the player in the big blind. The dealer button moves and the game proceeds to the next hand.

Cash game vs. tournament play

It is up to you to decide which format to play in two-player poker. Each game has its advantages.

When playing cash games

There are several reasons why cash games might be preferred to tournaments.

can you play poker with two people

  • The blinds do not increase. Perhaps the greatest benefit of cash games in two-player poker is the fact that the blinds don’t go up as much as in tournaments. You also don’t need a tournament clock. Simply choose your stake level and play indefinitely without having to adjust to the rising blinds.

  • You don’t need poker chips. Poker chips are essential for tournament play. To compensate for higher stakes, you can add more value chips. In cash games, you can use real coins or paper money.

  • Cash games require more skill. The best way to learn and practice poker is through cash games. The game becomes more about who is the luckiest player when the blinds are raised in tournaments.

When playing tournament

Here are three reasons why you might prefer tournaments for heads-up poker.

can you play poker with two people

  • Tournament games have a logical end. Cash games can drag on for hours, but a tournament ends with one player having all the chips. Then you can decide whether to start over or call it quits. If you decide to play best of 3 or best of 5, then you will have a better idea when the night will end so you can plan accordingly. This format is great for hosting a tournament at home.
  • Tournament games are much more exciting. There is nothing more exciting than getting to the shove-fold phase of a Sit N Go. It’s easy to win when chips are changing hands quickly.
  • Tournament games are fun for beginners. Many people are familiar with tournament play because that’s what they see on TV at the WPT or WSOP.

There are many poker chip substitutes that you can find around your house if you don’t own poker chips.

Short-stacked cash games

Here’s a fun alternative format: short-stacked cash games combine both cash game and tournament play.

How does it work?

Each player starts with 20, 30, or 40 big blinds and then plays cash games. Although the blinds don’t rise, there is still plenty of pre-flop action and lots of re-raise.

A short stack also makes it easier to play post-flop. Top-pair is a great hand to go all-in when you are short, but it can be difficult to do so when you are deed-stacked.

What is the best strategy for heads-up poker?

The greatest adjustment in heads-up poker is the marginal hand’s value. Showdown is often won by a third pair or even a high-card ace.

Don’t let your opponent run you over if they bet a lot. Bet often if you have a credible bluff or a piece of the board. Your opponent may fold a better hand, or pay you off with worse hands.

More game options for two players

There are many good options for heads-up poker if you’re tired of No-Limit Hold’em and you want to play a different game now and again.

  • Pot Limit Omaha.  In PLO, the heads-up rules are the same as Hold’em except that each player gets four playing cards. At showdown, you must also use both cards. Having a diamond does not make a flush on a four-dimension PLO board.
  • 5-Card Draw. This is the “old-fashioned” version of poker that most people learned before No-Limit Hold-em became the dominant variant. Each player has a predetermined ante they must pay before the cards can be dealt. You then deal 5 cards to each head-up player.
    Instead of having a flop, turn, and river, there are two betting rounds. You start with your first cards and then head to a discard round. You can discard up to three cards (four if you have an ace), and the dealer will replace those cards. In the second betting, the cards are revealed and the dealer determines the winner. You can fold at any time during the hand, but you will only lose the money that you have invested at that point.
  • 7-Card Stud.  This game is very similar to draw except that you start with two down cards and one up card. After a betting round, another card is then turned up. The dealing ends when both heads-up players have 7 cards each.

Game accessories for heads-up poker

Quality accessories will make your games look more classy.

  • Deck of playing cards.
  • Poker chips.
  • Poker table or poker mats.


So, can you play poker with two people? The answer is yes – and it’s a great way to introduce new players to the game or for experienced players to hone their skills. Heads-up happens in tournaments where you are one of the last two remaining players or in a cash game.