how to play speed

How to play Speed

by | Jun 15, 2011 | Card Games

Speed is a popular, fast-paced card game for 2 players that is known for high energy and winner’s proud bragging rights.  A game only takes a few minutes and all you need is a single deck of cards.  Most everyone knows how to play speed, but if not, it’s very simple and anyone can learn.

The Rules to Speed

Dealing: (refer also to the image below)

  • When dealing for the game of speed, keep all cards faced down until the game begins.
  • In the center of the table, make 2 piles of 5 cards and separate them.  In between those 2 piles, place 2 cards side-by-side.
  • Deal the rest of the cards so each player has a pile of 20 cards.
  • Each player can then take the top 5 cards off of their piles of 20 and prepare to begin the game.


how to deal speed setup


  • To begin the game, each player simultaneously grabs a card in the center of the table and flips it over.  This is usually done at the same time by counting to 3 together, then flipping.
  • There are no turns in speed, so from there, players can quickly lay down cards from their hands (if possible), one after the other, on either of the faced up cards.
  • A card can only play if it is in sequential order (either increasing or decreasing) of the showing cards on either of the 2 piles.  For example if you have a 5,6,6,7,J in your hand and the middle piles show a Queen and a 5, you could lay down your 6 on top of the 5.  From there (if you are quicker than your opponent) you could lay down your 7, then your other 6, then your 5, and you could lay your Jack down on the other pile (because it is showing a Queen).  Sequences can wrap around the horn (Queen to King to Ace to 2 to 3 for example).
  • After playing cards, you will need draw from your faced down stack of 15 cards to refill your hand.  You can have no more than 5 cards in your hand at a time.  Being able to quickly and continuously refill your hand is crucial to being a great speed player.
  • Sometimes gameplay stops because no one can play a card from their hand.  Once both players admit their inability to play,  they should each (at the same time) grab the top card from the outside piles and flip them over faced-up onto the inside piles.  Gameplay continues on from there.
  • The first person to lay down all of their 20 cards wins the game.

Have fun!

Common Questions

How do you play speed by yourself?

One simple way to play speed by yourself is to deal the center board normally, but put the rest of the cards into your own draw pile.  Instead of playing a 5-card hand, play a 7-card hand.  Now start a timer and play as normal.  Get through all 40 cards in under a minute to win.

Can you match cards in speed?

No. Cards must be played in sequential order, either increasing or decreasing.