Spit (card game)

Spit (card game)

subject_name = Spit
players = 2
setup_time = 10–60 seconds
playing_time = 5 minutes - 15 minutes*
complexity = Easy
strategy = Low
random_chance = High
skills = Speed, quick thinking
footnotes = * Game length varies to layout and skill of players.

Players and cards

Two players, using a regular deck of 52 playing cards. Older decks are ideal because the cards may become damaged in play. Shuffle well and divide the cards equally - 26 to each player. The cards you use are a regular pack of cards without the jokers.If more than two players are desired then more decks of cards may be added, or each player starts with one less hand pile. This works with one deck until 4 players are playing and each player has 3 hand piles.

The layout

Each player now deals a hand consisting of five piles in a row, containing 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 cards, respectively. The top card of each pile is turned face-up, while all others are face down. That leaves a pile of 11 cards for each player. These cards form the stockpile, and the players should not look at them (that is considered cheating). You cannot hold the cards in your hand.

The Play

After both players acknowledge readiness, both shout "Spit!" while turning over the top card in their respective stockpiles. These two cards are placed side by side between the players' hands. These two cards and the cards that will be played on top of them are the spit piles.

The players now play simultaneously as fast as they want. The object is to get rid of all the cards in your hand piles and the cards placed in front of you onto the spit piles. Moving only one card at a time in each of your hands, you can:

* play the face up card from the top of one of your piles onto either spit pile. To play a card on a spit pile it has to be next in sequence up or down. Suit and color do not matter. Cards can turn the corner, i.e. on an ace you can play a two or a king (Optional slight variation: you may also play a card of equal value onto a spit pile, so an ace could then also be played on top of another ace).
* if one (or more) of your piles has its top card face-down, turn the top card of such a pile face-up
* move a face up card from the top of a pile into an empty pile space if there is one - note that you can never have more than five piles.
* if 2 face-up cards in different piles are identical in number (e.g. Ace of spades and Ace of hearts) you can remove 1 card and stack it on top of the other and still have 5 piles.

A card counts as played as soon as it touches the spit pile or space onto which it is to be placed. A played card cannot be retracted and as soon as it is played the opponent is entitled to play on it.

If a position is reached where neither player can play (i.e. none of the exposed pile cards can be played to either of the spit piles and it is not possible to turn up another card from a pile after moving cards into spaces if necessary) then both players optionally shout "Spit!" (or continue upon mutual assent), and each places the top card from their respective stockpile on top of the spit pile they started. Play then continues as before.

Play continues until either player has removed all of their cards from play. As soon as they have placed down their last card, then either player has the opportunity to be the first person to place their hand on whichever pile they want. They must yell out 'Spit' at the same time. You should choose the pile with fewer cards, as the aim of the game is to be the first to get rid of all cards.Under a different variation of these rules, the winning player can choose which pile they would like, the reasoning being that otherwise there is no reward for winning that hand.

End of the game

When playing with only one pile, the first player to get rid of their hand does not take any cards from the center; the other player takes the single spit pile and his own remaining hand. When playing with only one pile, if the player with spit cards in hand also gets rid of their hand first, then that player has no cards left at all and has won the game.


Pile layout

Some people play with only four piles - containing one, two, three and four cards. Some players call this variation Chinese spit, or alternatively Lynn Run Style in honour of the fact the playing tables at that location are so compact that several people playing at once are forced to truncate the playing space. This change actually adds a new dynamic to the game such that people choose to play this way even when surplus space is available.

Some people deal eleven cards to the center stock pile, and the other four have just one card each.

Some play with two shuffled together decks of cards (52 cards a piece) and use five or six stock piles, thus allowing for longer more frantic game play.

Another variant includes five piles with three cards each.

Variations in play

One variation allows players to use two hands to accomplish all the actions of playing cards and revealing new cards from their hand piles.

In some variations, it is also permissible to pick up the last 3, 4 or 5 cards so that the other player cannot see them, provided all cards have simultaneously lain open on the table at some point. This adds an extra element to the endgame; the player that has their eyes on their opponent's cards as they pick them up can play strategically to prevent them from winning.

Also another variation is when one player has no cards the first to say spit gets to chose which pile to pick up.

lap spit

In this version, first choice of spit pile does not necessarily go to the player who first gets rid of his or her stockpile. Instead, once one player runs out of cards, either player may claim the smaller spit pile by slapping it. The pile goes to the player who slapped it first, but whoevers hand touches first gets it. This gives a slight advantage to the player who has just run out of cards; however, by carefully watching one's opponent and timing one's attack, it is possible to win a round yet still have more cards. If two cards are the same on both of the piles then the first person to say "spit" then the other person playing gets the pile.

'Spit card, please'

In this variation, when one player cannot fill their stock and have at least one spit card left over, they request or take a spit card from the other player. They must then slam the spit card in order to win, and the other player spits from his spit cards. If the winning player fails to slam the spit card in time, then they get the whole spit pile, and the other player gets the spit card. This means that if the current loser wins this round, they have a very large advantage.

Reverse Spit

In this variation, the game is played normally, but the objective is flipped: the winner is the person who acquires all the cards. When a player has gotten rid of their entire hand, they slap and take possession of the "larger" spit pile. As the game progresses, it often forces the losing player into a situation of having no stock pile or even an incomplete playing board, which can be both advantageous (fewer cards to play before claiming a pile) and a setback (this state of play requires extra adaptation for the player). The nature of this game is for the advantage to switch wildly between players, often in the space of a single hand, leading to long-running games that can last for an hour or more.

Running Spit

To make the game more athletic, separate the center spit piles from each players stock pile by at least 10 feet. This requires physical speed and agility to win. Note that a large space is needed to play Running Spit and that care must be taken to avoid physical collisions between the two players. This can be played in teams, where each player on a team takes turns running back and forth. Other players can stay at either end and help the runner by shouting out which cards to grab.

Rules for playing on Spit piles

Some play that the cards played on the spit piles must alternate in color (i.e. on a black 5 you can only play a red 6 or a red 4).

Some play that if on your stock piles you have two cards of equal rank showing (such as two nines), you can move one of these cards on top of the other, thereby exposing a face-down card that can be turned face up, or creating a space.

One other rule is that when and not before the spit piles have been put down you can look underneath but not before the spit piles have been put down.

Some people play with four stock piles- containing one card in each. When one card is used, it can be refilled with another card from their hand.

Some people play with what is called a "Ghost card", when one player runs out of cards for their "spit card" pile, the opponent will place a card on this player's side. This card is never flipped over, but once a player runs out of card to play, they will try to take the ghost card. If it is the player with no more stock pile cards he wins. (This version is particularly helpful for avoiding confusion over which player reached the empty spit pile first in the Slap spit variation.)

peed Version, 5 card Hands

Some people play that each player has a hand of five cards, held concealed from the other player, and a single face down stockpile. You play cards from your hand to the face up spit piles, and whenever you play a card from your hand you can draw one from your stock pile, so that you keep five cards in your hand. In this version the face-down spit cards are kept either side of the face-up spit piles.

To begin, you deal face down in the center two piles of five spit cards with two single cards between them, and a stock pile of 20 cards in front of each player, so that the layout is like this:

20 cards 5 cards 1 card 1 card 5 cards 20 cards

(Some play with 15 cards in each stock instead of 20 and 10 cards in the piles at each end of the center row instead of 5.) Each player draws a five card hand from the top of their 20 card stock, and when they are ready the two single cards are simultaneously flipped face up. Both players then play from their 5 card hands to the two center piles - either the next higher or the next lower card in rank. If you run out of plays but have fewer than 5 cards in hand, draw the cards from your stock to replenish your hand to 5 cards, and continue playing any cards you can.

When neither player can play, though both have 5 cards in hand, a new spit card is simultaneously flipped from each end pile of the center row onto the two center piles. If the reserves of spit cards in these end piles run out, shuffle all the cards except the top one from each of the two center piles and place them face down on either side of the center cards to form new reserves.

When your stock runs out you continue to play from your hand without replenishing it. When your hand runs out as well, you have won the deal; you score one point for each card in your opponent's hand and stockpile. The first player whose score reaches or exceeds an agreed amount (for example 25 points) wins the game.

Most players call this variation speed.

pit for more than 2 players

It is possible to play Spit with more than 2 players. You need one deck for every 2 players. When one of the players wins the hand by exhausting his stock cards, he chooses one of the spit piles and sits out the rest of the hand. Then, the remaining players continue for 2nd, 3rd, etc. When each player but one has exhausted his stock, then a new hand begins. The game ends as in the 2-player version. When one player doesn't have enough cards to deal his stock, there is an empty spit pile, and if that player wins the hand, he wins the game. The game can then continue with the rest of players playing for 2nd, 3rd, etc.


For the mathematically-minded folks, there is this (ideally) two-player variation.

Each player gets the usual 26 cards. However, the layout is different in that each of the five piles begins with one card (as opposed to 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, as described above). Piles are always chosen by slapping, and rules are otherwise the same as the basic rules, except for one addition.

Basic rules

At any time, if the values of the two cards (Card values: 2-10 are face value, Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13) showing on top of the spit piles have a product that is congruent to a prime number, Modulo 7, then either player may slap the table. If one or both players slap correctly (i.e. the product of the card values is, in fact, congruent to a prime number, modulo 7), then the slower player (i.e. the one who slapped second, or did not slap at all; break ties with any random tiebreaker) must take both spit piles. If one player slaps incorrectly (i.e. the product of the values of the cards is not congruent to a prime number, modulo 7), then he or she must take both spit piles. If both players slap incorrectly, then the player who slapped last (break ties randomly) gets to choose which spit pile to take. If neither player slaps, then nothing happens, and play continues.

For the purposes of this game, an integer is considered congruent only to an element of the set {0,1,2,3,...,n-1}, in modulo n. That is, an integer is only congruent, in this game, to the smallest non-negative number to which it is mathematically congruent. For example, if the cards showing were an ace and a King, the product of their values is 1 x 13 = 13. which is congruent to 6 (mod 7), which is not a prime number, meaning it would be incorrect to slap in this situation, since 6 is the smallest non-negative integer to which 13 is congruent (mod 7).

Advanced rules

Make up 13 different rules, each corresponding to a rank from Ace through King. Sample rules are below. You can make up your own as well:

Draw cards from the deck until a 7 or greater is drawn. This is the modulo under which the game will be played. Then, draw another card after replacing the first card. This card determines the rule for slapping.


First and foremost, one needs to be fast. It is necessary to constantly take in what is happening on your piles, the opponent's and the spit piles, and to be able to react to this. Turning up cards should be secondary to fast play, unless the opponent cannot go, in which case it is always best to play as slowly as possible, to get as many cards in without the opponent being able to play. After playing a card in this case, all other cards should be turned up, so you can plan your next move carefully.

In addition, it is necessary to think ahead constantly. If you have two eights, two sevens, a nine and a ten, you mustn't play the nine then the ten unless you expect to have tens and jacks underneath. If you play the nine, then you can play eight, seven, eight, seven. On the other hand, if the opponent cannot play on the nine, it is best to play the nine then turn up the card beneath it - as stated above, it might reveal another ten, which could be piled, and so on, until you end up with two tens, two jacks, a queen and a king.

In the same vein, one must keep tabs on the opponents pile to make sure you don't allow them to make a move and disrupt your run. It is common to play cards in groups of two - if the current card is a 10, then one might play a 9 and a 10 in quick succession, as ones opponent has a run down from 8. When this extends into more than two cards necessary for maintaining ones lead, it becomes difficult to play fast enough to prevent an interjection. If this occurs, it is important to adapt; it's often possible to play cards in a different order than one was planning, but maintain the run with minimum damage.

ee also

* Speed 2
* Nertz Also known as Racing Demon or Pounce.

External links

* [http://www.patchproducts.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=94 Spit! Card Game] commercial version published by Patch Products
* [http://www.usplayingcard.com/gamerules/childrenscardgames.html Spit and other children's card game rules] provided by The United States Playing Card Company
* [http://www.ossiemanners.co.uk A freeware PC game that plays spit]

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