Speed is a shedding-type card game that is popular around the world, particularly in the United States. As the name suggests, the speed of a Player’s literal hand is integral to this game, as there are no turns. Both Players make their moves simultaneously, and the first to have their card down claims the spot.
How to Set Up?
Speed is a two-player game. Although more can be added, the game is best with two Players. Speed is played using a standard 52-card Anglo-American deck.
- A game of Speed begins setup with the deck being shuffled.
- Then both Players will be dealt 5 cards. These 5 cards represent the starting “hand” for each Player. These cards may be looked at by the Player at any time.
- Next, both Players will be dealt 15 cards, face-down. These cards will represent each Player’s “deck”.
- Once these requisite cards for setup have all been dealt, the Dealer will then place two cards, face-down and side-by-side.
- The Dealer will then place 5 cards in single-stack piles, face-down, to the left and right of these two original cards such that there are 12 total on the board.
How to Play Speed?
To begin the game, both Players will then place one hand on the two center cards. One Player will verbally declare “Speed” and both Players will try to flip their cards at the same exact time. These two cards represent the “play area”.
In order to win Speed, a Player must empty both their “hand” and “deck” of all cards. In order to discard a card from the hand, a Player must discard into the play area, the two cards in the center of the board.
- In order to legally discard a card onto the play area, the discard must be made on top of one of the two cards in the play area.
- The discard must be equal to, or 1 rank (Ace, 2-10, J, Q, K) higher or lower than the chosen card of the play area. Suit(♥♦♣♠) does not matter in Speed.
- Players may only move one card a time, using their dominant hand. The non-dominant hand should be holding the “hand”. A Player wins in Speed when their hand and deck is completely emptied of cards.
- If a Player has no possible legal moves, based on the board, then they may draw a card from their deck.
- Players may only draw one card at a time, and Players may not have more than 5 cards in their hand at a time.
- A Player may, if possible, play two cards at once. However, these cards must be stacked correctly, and must be played at the same time.
For example, the play area has a 5♣, then Player 1 may draw the 6♠ and the 7♥ from their hand, ensuring that the 6 is on the bottom, and then may place both cards on top of the 5♣.
The five-card piles to both sides of the play area are a special ruleset, designed for when neither Player may make any legal moves, and when both Players already have five cards in their off-hand.
Both Players will place their hands over one of the two five card piles, but not the same pile. One Player will then declare “Speed” and they will flip one card from the five-card piles face up, as was done in the beginning of the game.
If both Players have 5 cards in their hand, cannot make any legal moves, and there are no remaining cards in the 5-card piles, then all cards in the play area should be shuffled, split in half, and dealt into two new piles.
These cards should be dealt face-down, and then Players will initiate the same procedure as above. Each will choose one pile, and flip the top card at the same time after one declares “Speed.”
No taking turns
As Speed does not involve turns, both Players must place their cards simultaneously. This speedy element grants the game its name, and is also incorporated into the rules.
- The first Player to place their card on the table is considered the official placement on the card. If there is a 3 on the table, and both Players try to place a 4, the first to have their card touch the table places their 4.
- The second must retract the card and place it on another open space in the play area, or return it to their hand.
Speed Rules Summary
The rules of Speed can be summarized as follows:
- Only one hand may be used to touch cards in the play area, or to move cards from the hand to the play area, or from the deck to the hand.
- Cards may not be moved once they are placed in the play area.
- Players have 5 cards in their hand, and they may never have more.
- If a legal move may be made, then it must be made.
- If neither Player can make a legal move, they may draw from their deck. If both Players cannot make a legal move, they may use the 5-card piles to restart the play area.
A game of Speed is not scored using points. Rather, a game of Speed ends when one Player has exhausted their hand and deck of all cards.
Traditionally, however, a game of Speed is not played individually. Instead, due to their rapid-fire nature, games of Speed are scored on the basis of a “Two-out-of-three” principle.
The Player who wins two games first is considered the overall winner.
Assume that the play area is composed of the following:
Assume that you possess therefore the following hand:
7♣, 8♠, K♥, 3♦, 4♣
The optimal play would be to gather the 7 and 8, and the 3 and 4 together into sequences, and then place both two-card packets on top of their respective parts of the play area in order to make a legal discard. This leaves the King in the hand, while the Player would be able to draw 4 cards from their 15-card deck.
Basic Strategy & Tips
- The name of the game says it all. Although moving too quickly can lead to mistakes, which can be costly due to the time penalty naturally associated with rectifying mistakes using only a single hand. Try to move at the fastest comfortable pace.
- Two cards may be moved at a time, so long as they are sequential and will make a legal move. Try to arrange cards in your hand at the start of the game, before “Speed” is declared. It would be a waste of time to shift around cards at other points, but at the beginning of the game there is ample time to prepare sequences of two.
- There is no advantage to having less than 5 cards in the hand. Unless you have an immediate opportunity to place another card on the table, draw immediately. You may only draw one card at a time, so be sure to draw as often and quickly as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many cards do you get in Speed?
Each Player is dealt a starting hand of 5 cards, and then a small individual deck of 15 cards.
The 15 cards are dealt face down, and cannot be looked at by the Player until they are drawn one by one. The 5 in the hand are the cards that must be depleted in order to declare “Speed”.
Can you double stack in Speed?
Yes, you may “double stack”. Double stacking means that a Player places the same card on top of their top-card, instead of an ascending or descending card.
Is Speed a 2 Player card game?
Yes, Speed was originally invented as a 2-Player card game. However, because each Player is given their own individual deck, and their own individual hand to play with, theoretically as many Players may join a game of Speed as there are a proportional number of Players. For every 3 Players, one should add an additional deck to the starting deck.
How do you get better at Speed?
The best way to improve at any card game is practice. Reading the rules will only get you so far.
A free, digital, multiplayer version of Speed is available on cardsjd.com. A login is not required, although it allows you to save your match data between devices. If you prefer, sign on as a “Guest” and begin playing immediately!