How to Play the Card Game Speed

Four Parts:Printable Rule SheetPlaying Regular SpeedAdding Variations to SpeedPlaying Spit

Speed is a game played with a standard fifty-two card deck that relies on quick thinking and reflexes. The goal of the game is to get rid of all your cards first as quickly as possible — this makes it part of the "shedding" family of card games. If you really like this game, you can also play "Spit," which is a similar shedding card game with more complicated rules. If you think you have what it takes to yell "Speed!" before your opponent, then see Step 1 to get started.

Printable Rule Sheet

Speed Rule Sheet

Part 1
Playing Regular Speed

  1. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 1
    Deal two players a hand of five cards each. These are the cards that will be in each player's hand when the game starts. For now, deal the cards face down. When the game begins, each player will quickly flip the cards over and will look at his hand. The players should not look at each other's cards.
    • Speed is traditionally played between two opponents. Three- and four-way speed are popular, but require additional decks of cards.
  2. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 2
    Place four piles of cards face down in between the two players. The piles on either edge should have five cards in them, and the inside two piles should have one card each.
    • The piles on the outer edges are the side piles, and will be the reserve piles that each player will use to replace the two inside piles if both players run out of moves.
    • The inside two piles are the active piles will be flipped over when the game begins. The players will then try to place appropriate cards from their hand of five cards onto this pile.
  3. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 3
    Divide the deck in half and create a draw pile of 15 cards for each player. This is the pile that players will draw from after their hand of 5 cards has less than 5 cards in it. As soon as they are able to play one of the cards in their hand, they can draw for more cards from this pile. Each player has to draw from his own draw pile.
  4. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 4
    Start the game by flipping over the two middle cards. Each player can look at his hand of five cards to see if any of them can be placed on the middle cards in ascending or descending order. Note that each player should keep his hands hidden from the other player -- the open hand is displayed for your convenience.
  5. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 5
    Each player should try to place the cards in their hand on the active piles in ascending or descending order. On each of the cards in the active pile, you can play a card of one higher or one lower value regardless of suit (you can place either a ten or an eight on a nine, a ten or a queen on a jack, and so on). You can place as many cards as you want to at a time, and you do not have to wait for the other player to place a card down before you.
    • The ace can be played as a high or a low card. It can be placed above the king or below the two. This makes it so that the game can be played in a loop.
  6. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 6
    Each player should draw from his draw pile whenever he uses a card in his hand to make sure he always has five cards to play. When you play a card, immediately draw another one from your draw pile. The only time this shouldn't happen is if a player runs out of cards in his draw pile; then, he should just try to play the remaining cards in his hand to win the game.
  7. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 7
    If both players can't play any of their cards, then they should both flip over a card from one of the side piles into the center piles. This will create two fresh cards in the center that will hopefully allow them to place one of their cards on them in ascending order. Any time no moves can be made, this process should be repeated. If this keeps happening and there are no cards left in the side piles, then the players should shuffle the cards in the center piles and place them face-down as the new side piles. Then, they can each flip one card over from these piles and continue playing.
  8. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 8
    When one player runs out of cards in his hand and draw pile, he must slap both piles of cards and say, "Speed!" to win the game. Some players don't think this is mandatory to win the game and that a player automatically wins if he runs out of cards. But this isn't nearly as much fun! Yelling "Speed!" makes for the perfect ending to this fast-paced game.
    • Typically, speed is played as a best-out-of-three game. The first player to win two games wins the set. But you can play for as many games as you like!

Part 2
Adding Variations to Speed

  1. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 9
    Play using doubles. This variation just adds one more rule to the game — not only can you place down cards of ascending or descending order, but you can also place the same card on top of another card of the same value. You can place your king on top of another king in the pile, your seven on top of another seven, and so on. This will make the game go by even faster because you'll have more options when it comes time to put down your cards.
    • Because this version makes the game slightly easier, it is also known as the "children's version."
  2. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 10
    Put down more than one card at a time in descending or ascending order. This can be a little tricky to pull off, but if you agree on this rule, it can raise the stakes of the game. With this variation, if you have a 3, 4, and 5, you can wait until you see a 2 or a 6 and then put down all three cards at once. You can surprise your opponent with a sneak attack that suddenly leaves you low on cards.
  3. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 11
    Use jokers as a wild card. If you use the two jokers in your deck to play the game, then these jokers can serve as "wild cards." If you've got one, you can place it down on top of the deck at any time and then place another one of your cards over it — since it's a wild card, you can put any other card down over it at all. After that, just continue the game as normal. Don't be too eager to pull the trigger on those jokers, though. Wait until you can't make any other moves to put down the card so you make the best use of it.
    • Typically, when you use jokers as wild cards, you make the draw piles have 16 instead of 15 cards each.
    • The joker has to be used when you have run out of moves with your other cards. You cannot draw from the draw pile if you still have a joker in your hand.
    • The joker cannot be the last card you play. It cannot "top" a deck.
  4. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 12
    Play with three or four players. You can expand this exciting game to include more than just two players. If you want to have extra players, just create an extra pile of cards in the center. So, if you have three players, you should have three piles in the center for the players to place their cards on. You can still deal 5 cards to each player and distribute the rest of the cards evenly so each player has his own draw pile.
    • If you want to make things extra fun and exciting, then you can even use two decks instead of one when you're playing with four players. The extra cards will become part of the draw pile, allowing for even more combinations of play.
  5. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 13
    Play Spit. Though some people refer to the game of "Speed" as "Spit," this actually makes up a different, more complicated game with different rules. In this version of the game, the entire deck is split between two players, where each player has five stacks that each have one card face up, and 1-4 cards facedown. Each player has 11 cards face-down in a stockpile, and there are still two cards face up in the center of the game. The goal is for the player to shed all of the cards from his 5 stacks of cards, using cards in the stockpile when necessary.
    • The same rules -- placing cards over the cards in the center pile in ascending or descending order -- still apply, but the game is more complicated because each player can play the cards from the 5 stacks of cards instead of just playing the cards in his hand. If you really want to know how to play spit, see the instructions below for further clarification.

Part 3
Playing Spit

  1. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 14
    Split a deck of 52 cards into 2 equal decks. Though people often confuse the game "Speed" for the game "Spit," the latter is actually a more complicated version of the game, though the same principles do apply. The first thing you have to do is to split the deck in half so each player can begin to organize his piles.
  2. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 15
    Have each player organize his cards into 6 piles into 5 stock piles and 1 spit pile. If you're familiar with Solitaire or Patience, then 5 of the piles will be set up in a similar fashion. You may only have 5 face up groups. Each player should set up the stock piles and spit piles like this:
    • The stock piles:
      • Stack 1 has 0 cards face down and 1 card face up
      • Stack 2 has 1 card face down and 1 card face up
      • Stack 3 has 2 cards face down and 1 card face up
      • Stack 4 has 3 cards face down and 1 card face up
      • Stack 5 has 4 cards face down and 1 card face up
    • The spit pile:
      • Stack 6 is each player's spit pile and can be placed out on the side. These are known as the player's spit cards.
  3. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 16
    Begin the game by having each player flip a card from his spit pile into the center of the game. Each player should also say "spit!" as he or she does this. These cards will begin the spite pile, where each player will try to place cards of ascending or descending value from his or her stockpile.
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    Each player should place any cards that are face up on one of the center cards that are of ascending or descending value. When they play one of the cards in the 5 stacks, they can then flip a card that is face down into the empty space to create a new active spit card. Think of these 5 stacks as being each player's "hand". In this game, unlike in Speed, the players don't have a hand to hold.
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    The players should draw from the stock piles if they cannot use any of their cards. When this happens, the players should draw a card from the stock piles and place them in the center of the pile at the same time to continue the game.
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    When a player has played all of the cards in his 5 decks, he should hit the center deck he wants and gain it. If the other player sees this and hits the center pile of his choice first, he gets it. The idea is to take the smaller pile, if there is one, so the other player is stuck with more cards. The player who does not slap the spite pile in time takes the other pile. Whoever gets his hand on the pile first gets it.
    • If neither player can play and one of the players has no spit cards left, then the other player has to spit alone into only one spit pile. This player can choose either of the piles, but then he has to keep spitting into only that pile for the remainder of the round.
  7. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 20
    Reshuffle the two spit piles to continue playing the game. Now, each player must take the remaining cards in his stockpile as well as the cards that he now owns from the spit piles and reshuffle them. The player should then place those cards into the set-up of 5 stock piles just as he did at the beginning of the game, using the remaining cards as his spit pile. One of the players may have more cards than the other. If one player doesn't have enough cards to create a spit pile after dealing all of the cards in the 5 stock piles, then there will only be one spit pile in the center of the game.
  8. Image titled Play the Card Game Speed Step 21
    Keep playing until one player wins by running out of cards. To win the game, a player must get rid of all of the cards in his stockpile and spit cards. Once a player has no cards left at all, he has won the game. This game can take a lot longer to play and win than "Speed," but the feeling of victory can be even sweeter!


  • You can change the amount of cards on the piles at the edge. For example, you could place 10 cards in each outer pile.

Things You'll Need

  • a standard fifty-two card deck
  • a partner to play against

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