Spit Card Game: Rules, Set Up & How to Play


Spit is a 2-Player Shedding card game, similar to another game in the same genre known as Speed. However, Spit and Speed have differential characteristics which make them distinct from one another.

How to Play Spit?

Spit can be played with more Players, however this guide will assume there are only two Players for the sake of simplicity.

Setting Up

Spit is played using the Standard, 52-card Anglo-American deck. Each Player is granted their own, complete, 52-card deck. These decks are then shuffled, and each Player will wait.

The setup for Spit has its own special rules. Both Players will agree through various means (flipping a coin, preference, etc.) which Player will start.

Both Players will hold their deck with one hand, and leave the other on top of their deck, ready to draw the first card.

The Player, decided through whatever means, will then declare “spit!” As soon as they utter the word, both Players must lay down the top card from their deck face-up. These cards will form the starting play piles.

Drawing and Discarding

Players must then draw their next card as fast as possible, in order to discard it on top of one of the two play piles.

In order to legally discard a card onto a play pile, it must either be 1 rank (2-10, J, Q, K, Ace) higher or lower than the top card of the play pile. In Spit, suit does not matter.

For example: If the top card of the play pile is 10♦, then you may play 9♥♦♣♠ or 8♥♦♣♠

Layout Piles

If a drawn card cannot be placed on either of the play piles, it must then be placed into one of 4 “layout” piles, to the side of the play area.

A Player’s layout pile is their own, and cannot be added or subtracted by their opponent. There may only be 4 layout piles, and only a single card in each pile.

Continuing Play

Play continues until one of two conditions:

First Condition

Firstly, and most simply, a Player empties their deck and layout piles of cards. In this case they have gone out, and should declare “spit!”. The Player which does this has won the game.

If both Players run out of cards at the same time, the first to lay their card on the table wins.

Second Condition

Secondly, no legal moves are possible for both Players. If only one Player can no longer make any legal moves, they must simply wait and allow their opponent to continue play.

If both Players can no longer make any legal moves, the initial process of setup is repeated.

Both Players agree who will declare “spit!” and then place their hands on their decks, ready to draw on the mark. These two new cards will be placed on top of each play pile, and these two cards will represent the new top cards of the play piles.

Rules for Spit

  • Cards may only be moved with one hand. The non-dominant hand may hold the Player’s deck, but otherwise it must not touch any cards on the board.
  • Cards may be placed in 1 of 4 layout piles, however no more than 4 piles may exist, and there may only be one card in a layout pile at a time.
  • The first Player to empty their deck, and the layout piles, wins the game.
  • Cards in Spit are always dealt face-up.


Spit is not scored with point values. Instead, the first Player to use all of the cards in their layout piles and their deck is declared the winner the moment their final card touches the table.

However, it is possible in Spit for neither Player to continue making moves. If this occurs, and both Players have no cards left in their deck in order to repeat the setup process, the game then ends.

The Player with fewer cards in their layout pile is the victor.

Example Play

Imagine the play piles look like this:

K♦ 5♥

Assuming the top 5 cards of your deck are:

6♦, 9♠, 5♠, Q♥, 2♣

Then the optimal play would be to, in this order,

  1. Play the 6♦ on the 5♥
  2. Place the 9♠ in a layout pile
  3. Play the 5♠ on the 6♦
  4. Play the Q♥ on the K♦
  5. Place the 2♣ in a layout pile

Of course, in a game of Spit, your opponent will not simply sit by and allow you to get such a large combo of cards off at once. In Spit, Speed is the key to preventing these combos from being blocked by your opponent’s cards.

Basic Strategy

  • Try to be fast, speed is important in Spit. However, do not go so fast that you make mistakes. Making a mistake takes additional time, and as you are only allowed to play with one hand, you cannot fix a mistake and play a new card at the same time.
  • The first Player to exhaust their deck wins, and there is no real harm in filling the layout piles immediately. The first 4 cards drawn are extremely reaction based. Try to, as quickly as possible, discern if one of those cards may be played. If not, immediately put it in a layout pile and draw another card.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cards do you start with in Spit?

Each Player will have their own, full, 52-cards Standard Anglo-American deck.

What happens if you run out of cards?

If a Player empties their deck and their layout piles, they have won the game. If a Player no longer has any game legal moves that they can possibly make, then they must wait for their opponent to reach a similar impasse.

When both Players can no longer make any legal move, they will then announce “spit” as they did at the start of the game, and will place 2 cards from their respective decks on top of their Play pile. Play may then continue as normal.

If both Players have no remaining cards in their decks, and can make no more legal moves, the game ends and the Player with the fewest layout cards is the winner. If the layout piles have the same number of cards, it is a tie.

Are you supposed to shuffle?

Yes. At the start of the game, both Players should shuffle their decks. If both Players get stuck, and a second “spit” must be declared after the one which started the game, the decks in both Players hands should be shuffled.

Can you play Spit with three Players?

It is possible. As each individual Player gets their own deck, it is relatively easy to add a new player to a game of spit, in theory.

However, without a large surface to play on, the play area may become confused and it may be difficult to keep track of whose cards are whose.

Spit is traditionally a two Player game, but nevertheless, it may be played by more than just two people.

What is the difference between Spit and Speed?

The key distinctions between these two games are their dealing methods, and their play area. For the deal in Speed, a specific number of cards are dealt to each Player (20, 5 face up and 15 as a “deck”).

In Spit, both Players are given an entire 52 card deck to play with. For the play area in Speed, there are 4 play piles that are used communally. In Spit, Players create one pile each using the top card from their own deck. These two cards form two play piles, which either play may use.

Also see

  • Rules for Crazy Eights
  • How to Play Nerts

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