Spit Card Game: Rules and Tips for Fast-Paced Fun

Spit is an exhilarating 2-player card game that combines speed, skill, and strategy.

With its simple rules and engaging gameplay, Spit is perfect for those seeking a quick yet thrilling gaming experience. Whether it’s a brief game to pass the time or an intense battle of wits, Spit is a game that keeps players on the edge of their seats.

Objective of the Game

In Spit, the goal is straightforward: be the first to get rid of all your cards.

This objective sets the stage for a high-energy contest, where players race to play their cards onto central piles in ascending or descending order.

The game’s charm lies in its continuous flow, with players acting simultaneously in a lively duel of quick thinking and rapid reflexes.

The excitement peaks when one player depletes their deck, claiming victory in this dynamic card game.

Setting Up a game of Spit

To ensure a smooth start for new players, here’s a more detailed breakdown of setting up a game of Spit:

  1. Divide the Deck:
    • Begin with a standard deck of 52 playing cards.
    • Shuffle the deck and evenly divide it between the two players, so each player gets 26 cards. This becomes each player’s personal stockpile.
  2. Create the Tableau:
    • Each player creates their own tableau in front of them using cards from their stockpile.
    • Start by placing one card face-up. This is the first tableau pile.
    • Place another four piles next to the first pile, each with an increasing number of cards (2, 3, 4, and 5), all facedown except for the top card of each pile, which should be face up.
    • The arrangement will look like a stepped sequence, with each pile having one more card than the one before it.
  3. Understanding the Layout:
    • Your tableau consists of these five piles, with only the top card of each pile visible and the rest facedown.
    • The remaining cards in your hand form your stockpile. You won’t look at these cards yet; they are used as the game progresses.
    • Ensure you have enough space to layout your tableau and easily reach the central spit piles.
A tableau in the card game Spit
An example of a tableau setup in the card game Spit.

How to play Spit Card Game (Rules)

The rules of Spit are straightforward yet require quick thinking and fast reflexes.

Starting the Game

The game begins when both players simultaneously turn over the top card of their stockpile face up and place it in the centre, between the two tableaus.

These two central cards start the spit piles.

A birds-eye angle of the Spit card game setup
An overview of the gameplay setup for the card game Spit.

Completing Rounds

  1. Gameplay Mechanics:
    • Players rapidly play cards from their tableau onto either of the two spit piles in the centre.
    • A card can be played if it is one rank higher or lower than the top card of a spit pile, irrespective of suit. For example, if a spit pile has a 6, you can play a 5 or a 7 on it.
    • In Spit, Aces and Kings are considered consecutive; an Ace can be played on a King and vice versa, effectively ‘looping’ the deck.
  2. Continuous Play:
    • There are no turns in Spit; players play as quickly as they can, trying to place a card onto either of the two shared split piles in the centre.
    • If a player can play a card from their tableau, they must do so. There’s no holding back cards for strategic purposes.
  3. When Players Can’t Play:
    • If both players get stuck and cannot play any cards from their tableau, each player turns the top card from their stockpile and places it onto the spit piles. This usually opens up new play opportunities.
  4. Replenishing the Tableau:
    • When a tableau pile is emptied, the player must move the top card from one of their other tableau piles to fill the space, turning the next card of that pile face up.
  5. Winning the Round:
    • A round in Spit ends when one player successfully empties all the piles in their tableau. This does not necessarily mean they have won the game. It’s a checkpoint indicating a significant progression in the game.
    • At the end of a round, if both players still have cards in their stockpiles, they reset the tableaus for another round. The same process of setting up the tableau with facedown cards and one face-up card on each pile is repeated.
Demonstrating the Tableau in a game of Spit
The player plays their 5 of Clubs on one of the central piles, emptying their first tableau column. They replace this with the 8 of Clubs from the furthers right column, and reveal the card below it to be a 4 of Clubs. A similar action happens whenever a tableau column has been depleted.

Winning the Game

The game of Spit is won when a player successfully gets rid of all their cards, both from their tableau and their stockpile.

The key aspect is that the game continues through multiple rounds until one player has no cards left at all.

Gameplay of Spit card game
The player closest plays their final card onto the central pile, winning the round. As they have no more cards in their hand to replace the tableau, they have won the game.

Given each player starts with 26 cards, and a full tableau consists of 15 cards, a game should typically last 2 or 3 rounds.

Spit Card Game FAQs

To help clarify common questions and misconceptions about Spit, here are some frequently asked questions:

Can you play the Spit card game with more than two players?

Spit is traditionally a two-player game. Its gameplay and rules are designed for head-to-head play, making it challenging to adapt for more players.

What happens in the Spit card game if both players run out of moves?

If both players are stuck and can’t make a move, each player draws a card from their stockpile and places it on one of the spit piles. This usually helps to continue the game.

Gameplay of Spit card game
Both players aren’t able to play a face up card from their tableau on to the two cards in the central piles. They add a card from their hand to the central piles in an attempt to restart gameplay.

In the Spit card game, can you move cards between tableau piles?

No, in Spit, you cannot move cards between your tableau piles. You can only play cards from your tableau to the spit piles in the centre.

How do you handle ties in the Spit card game?

Ties are rare in Spit since the game’s pace tends to naturally result in one player finishing first. However, if a tie does occur, you can decide on a rule beforehand, like a rematch or a shared victory.

Are there any penalties in the Spit card game for incorrect moves?

Typically, if a player makes an incorrect move, they must take back the card and possibly face a minor penalty, like missing their next turn. However, this can vary based on house rules.

Can you use multiple decks in the Spit card game for more players?

While Spit is designed for two players with one deck, using multiple decks for a larger group alters the game significantly and is not traditionally how Spit is played.

How do Aces and Kings work in Spit? Does the deck loop?

Yes, in Spit, the deck ‘loops’. This means an Ace can be played on a King and vice versa. This rule keeps the game fluid and fast-paced, allowing for more dynamic play.

When one player can’t go in Spit, do they signal? Or do they just wait for the opponent to get stalled?

Typically, there’s no formal signal required when a player can’t go. Both players usually play rapidly, and it becomes apparent when someone is stalled. At that point, both players draw a new card from their stockpile to continue.

Is the Spit card game better suited to adults or children?

Spit can be enjoyed by both adults and children. Its simple rules make it accessible for kids, while the fast pace and strategic elements keep it engaging for adults. However, the speed of the game might be challenging for very young children.

What happens in Spit if you clear your tableaus before the stockpile is finished?

If you clear your tableau before your stockpile is finished, you continue to play from your stockpile. The objective is to get rid of all your cards, both from the tableau and the stockpile. The player who does this first is the winner.

What happens in Spit when both players have played their stockpile and are still unable to play?

In this rare scenario, if both players have depleted their stockpile and can’t play any further, the game ends in a stalemate. Players can decide to call it a draw or use the remaining cards in their tableau to restart the spit piles.


We’re keen to hear about your experiences and strategies for Spit. Share them in the comments below, and let us know if you have any questions.

For those who love the fast-paced thrill of Spit, consider trying other exciting card games like Egyptian Rat Screw, Nertz, Cambio or Dutch Blitz. Each of these games offers a unique blend of speed and strategy, perfect for keeping the adrenaline pumping.

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