How to Play Speed

Speed Limit 52 Cards Per Minute Speed is a very exciting and fast moving game designed for two players. There are a number of varieties of this game which are played, however one of the most popular versions is described first. Several alternate versions are described in the Variations and optional rules section, below.

This game can get rather chaotic, with no individual "turns", as players will play cards as able. Thus, the dealer of each game is largely irrelevant as pertains to first play, etc. However, if there is any disagreement regarding who should deal first, both players can draw one card from the face down, shuffled deck. The player drawing the lowest card deals first. If both players draw a card of the same denomination, they draw again, continuing to do so until they do not draw cards of equal rank. Thereafter, the privilege to deal swaps back and forth between the two players.

Although usually played by two players, it can be modified slightly to allow for additional players (see variations section below).

The suits and ranks have no comparative values, however, for play of the game cards are played such that a card must fit next in sequence (either ascending or descending). The sequence of the cards for this game, is as follows: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. The Ace is considered to both come before two and after King so the sequence can continue indefinitely and in any direction at any time (more about this below).

To begin, the dealer will deal a special layout. He first deals two face down piles of 5 cards each to the center of the table. These are called replacement piles. Then, the dealer deals the remainder of the deck into two face-down piles, one for each player. In doing this, the dealer deals the cards alternating between the two players, starting with his opponent. Each player should end up with 21 face down cards dealt to them. They should not yet look at any of the cards.

At this point each player should then draw five cards from the top of their own pile which will be their initial hands, but the player should not yet look at these cards until the game begins. The layout is now ready to begin the game. The following diagram shows how this initial layout might appear.

Initial Layout for the Card Game Speed

Play of the Hand: Each player then takes the top card of one of the replacement piles and instantly and simultaneously flips it over on the table next to the pile. These are the play piles. They then immediately pick up their hand of five cards and may begin playing cards to these play piles.

The players may then play cards from their hand to either of the two play piles. A card may be played as long as it falls in sequence, either up or down, based on the card currently there. Thus an eight could be played on a 7 or a 9. The card need not match the suit of the top card of the piles. Either player can make a play at any time and may play any allowable card as long as it falls one rank either up or down in sequence to the current top face-up card on the pile. There are no actual turns, with both players playing simultaneously to the play piles as their hand allows. Speed Game in ProgressIf both players attempt to play a legal card to the pile, the card first played (even if only by a fraction of a second) is considered the legal play and the other player must take his card back into his hand to play later. For purposes of the game King and Ace are considered to be in sequence, thus an Ace can be played on a King and a King on an Ace. The card played can be of any suit, as long as it falls into sequence with the current card on the pile. A player is allowed to have five cards in his hand at all times, thus whenever he finds himself with less he may draw cards from his stack to replenish his hand to five cards. Of course, if his stack is empty, he may find himself playing with four or less cards. If it comes about that both players, still having cards in their hand are unable to make a play to either of the two play piles, they both should announce this. When this happens, the players then take the next face down card from each of the replacement piles, as described above. They both would then again begin playing as legal plays are found. The illustration to the right shows a possible game of speed in progress.

If the replacement piles become exhausted and both players are unable (or prefer not) to make a legal move they would then turn the used play piles over and shuffle them to make two new face-down replacement piles. Both players would then simultaneously flip over the top card from these piles to start the play piles over. The game would then continue as normal.

The first player to play the last of his cards is declared the winner (all the cards from his hand and those from his individual pile). Although each hand can be considered a complete game, speed is usually played with the first player to win two out of three games considered the winner.


Four Card Hands: This version is played identically to the standard game other than the number of cards a player may have in his hand while playing. Instead of dealing himself a five card hand before starting, the players would each deal themselves only four card hands. Throughout the game, the player may only have a maximum of four cards in their hand at any time. This makes the game more challenging as the players have less cards with which to find legal plays.

Jokers: This variation is also played identically to standard Speed, with the only exception being the addition of two Jokers to the deck. These Jokers are then wild cards and essentially can be played as any card the player wants. A player can play a joker on any card that is on a play pile and when a Joker is the top card of a play pile (either played there or flipped from a replacement pile) any card can be played on that joker. If Jokers are added, each player would receive 22 face-down cards at the beginning of the hand instead of the usual 21.

In Doubles Speed, a card can also be placed on another card of the same denomination Doubles: Another variation which is very similar to the standard game is the "Doubles" rules. The game is played the same as the standard game with one important exception. In addition to being able to play a card that follows in ascending or descending sequence, a player may also play a card that is of the same rank. Thus, a 9 could be played on another 9 as well as on any 8 or 10.

Speed for additional players: Speed can also be played with more than two players. When doing so, however, the number of cards dealt to the various piles is somewhat different:

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