Spit is a very fast moving, exciting game for two players which rewards players for alertness and quick play of the cards.
In spit there are no actual turns with both players simultaneously playing their cards as able. Each player plays his cards as able and as the opportunity arises.
Because of this, there is no real advantage or disadvantage to the dealer in Spit, and thus the right to be the dealer is usually not disputed in this game.
Generally, when multiple hands of Spit are to be played, the deal should swap back and forth between the two participants. The first dealer can be determined in a number of ways, with the player drawing the lowest card from a shuffled face down deck the most common. If identically ranked cards are drawn, the players should each draw again, continuing until there is a card of lower rank in which the player receiving that card becoming the first dealer.
In this game the suit markings on the cards do not matter, as cards are played solely based on their numerical marking. Although the cards are not "ranked" as far as one card having a higher value than another, the cards do have a ordering for purposes of playing the cards to the center tableau. This ordering is as follows: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. In this game, cards can be played in both ascending and descending order. Furthermore, sequences can roll over. On an Ace could be played either a deuce (2) or a King.
To begin, the dealer deals out the entire deck, one by one, alternating between his opponent and himself. These cards should be dealt face down, with the first card going to his opponent. In this way the dealer will distribute the entire deck, with each player receiving 26 cards.
Once the entire deck has been distributed, the players each then create a special layout with their dealt cards.
They start by first making five piles of face down cards in front of themselves in a horizontal row. The first pile, at the far left of the row has just one card, the second two cards, the third three cards, the fourth pile has four cards and the fifth and last pile has five cards. These 5 piles, with each player having a set are called stock piles. See the diagram for how this initial tableau layout might appear. Once these 5 piles are arranged, the player then turns over the top card in each of their piles.
The players' remaining cards are then neatly arranged in a face down pile in front of themselves, directly behind the 5 stock piles. These are the players spit cards. None of the players face down cards should be seen before the start of the hand.
Once each player has created his layout and is ready to begin the hand, they indicate their readiness to begin. When both players are ready, they both call out "Spit" and expose their first spit card, placing each side by side in the middle of the table, immediately between each players stock pile row. These then form two "spit piles" on which players can begin to build on using their stock piles.
In Spit, the object of the game is to be the first player to rid himself of all of his cards (both his spit cards and all the cards in his stock piles). This is done by playing cards to two center Spit piles which will be described shortly. A player may play a card to the center spit piles only if it fits next in sequence (either ascending or descending) to the top card already in that pile. A player can only play one card at a time and can only use one hand when playing the cards. The first card played to the pile is considered the valid play. Thus, if the other player was also trying to play his own valid card, but the other player gets his card there first, the second player must retract his own card unless it can fit in sequence with the card played by the first player to the pile. Once played, a valid played card is final and cannot be removed and is instantly ready to be played on by another card in proper sequence.
Once the two spit piles are started the players now attempt to play cards to these center cards simultaneously and as fast as they can in an effort to deplete their cards. The following are all legal moves a player can make during this time:
- A player can take the top card of any of his stock piles, which is next in sequence (either descending or ascending) with the top card of a spit pile and play it to the top of that spit pile. Remember that card sequence plays can roll over, a King can be played on an Ace, and an Ace on a King.
- If the player has played all of the cards in one of his stock piles to the center he may move the top card from one of the other stock piles to fill this space. The player may never have more than five stock piles in front of him, however.
- Turn over the top card of a stock pile. If the top card of a players own stock pile is face down, he may flip it over on that pile to reveal its denomination for potential play to the spit piles.
A player is declared the winner as soon as he plays the last of all his cards, although this rarely happens without the game at least once, getting "stuck". This happens when neither player can make any legal move, including playing any of their cards to the two center spit piles. When this happens the players again both call "spit" and expose the top card of their spit cards and place it on the top of the center spit pile they had originally started with their spit card. This can continue multiple times, each time both players get stuck and are unable to continue with any plays.
|This diagram shows a potential game of Spit in progress. Note the two spit piles in the center of the table layout where most of the action in this game occurs.|
If it comes about that both players are stuck and one player has no remaining spit cards (but does have remaining cards in his stock piles) only one player calls "spit". This player then places his spit card on the top of either of the two spit piles and play resumes, if possible.
Another interesting event occurs if one player has completely run out of stock cards or both players have run out of spit cards but have stock pile cards remaining. In this event, a new layout must be dealt with each player taking one of the spit piles to help create their layout.
To do this, each player chooses one of the two center spit piles. To do this, he slaps this pile with his hand. If both players try to slap the same pile (which often occurs for the smaller of the two spit piles), the player whose hand slapped the pile first takes that pile and his opponent takes the other.
The players then take this spit pile and combine it with all their other remaining cards (their own stock pile and spit cards). They then shuffle these cards face down and attempt to create a new layout as best they can with their remaining cards, starting with their row of stock piles.
One of the players will probably have more spit cards than the other (and probably will have more than the original 11 spit cards he had), which is often the case at this stage of the game. As in the beginning of the game, when both players are ready with their layout, they both call "spit" and expose their top spit card to one of the two spit piles in the center of the table. It should be in the same location as the pile they took to help recreate their layout.
However, if one of the players has less than 15 cards, he will then create his center row of stock piles as best as he can and will not have any spit cards at all. In this case, there will be just one spit pile, started by the player who does have spit cards remaining.
Winning the Game
When the game is down to just one player having spit cards remaining, the player having played the last of his stock cards, he does not take any cards from the center piles. The other player may continue to play until he becomes stuck with no further plays of his own. At this point, the player who still has spit cards remaining in his layout then takes the center spit pile cards and his own spit pile layout cards and shuffles them all together. He then deals himself another layout as previously. After he has finished placing his layout, he again calls "spit" and plays the top card of his spit cards to the center to begin another spit pile. When a player is able to play the last of his cards to the spit pile, he has won the game. Each deal is usually considered a complete game.
Four Stock Piles: In this version of Spit, each player only deals out four stock piles in front of themselves. The first pile has one card, the second two, the third three and the last has four cards. Other than this number of stock piles the players may have, the rest of the rules are identical. This usually makes for a slightly longer game.
Alternating Colors: This version also makes for a longer and more complex game. In this version, the sequencing cards played to the center spit piles must alternate in color. Thus, not only must the cards follow in ascending or descending sequence, but only a red card can be played on a black card and a black card on a red card.
Pairs: This version is identical to the parent version, except that in addition to the normal allowance of up or down sequence plays, identically matching cards can also be played to the center spit piles.
No Stock: In the standard game when one player runs out of their stock pile cards, the game is immediately paused and the players each slap a spit pile. However, in this version the opponent can continue to play cards from his stock pile to the center spit pile as long as he has moves remaining. Once he is unable to play, then he must allow the other player to take their choice of spit pile into their hand, and this player takes the other. In all other aspects the game is identical to the standard version of Spit.
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