Spit, Speed, or Slam?

On a very boring afternoon at work before a three-day weekend, my co-worker and I are getting ready to break out a deck of cards. We started talking about what to play, and discovered after some confusion that the game she was describing as “Slam” is more or less the same game I knew as “Spit” as a kid.

There were regional variations (she’s originally from California and I’m from New Jersey), and I was brought up to believe you’re only allowed to use one hand, but essentially, the game is the same. Two people get twenty-six cards each, lay them out in a tableau of some sort in front of themselves. Then you each place the top card of your “draw pile” face up between you, and begin placing cards in numerical sequence (up or down) on whichever pile you can, as fast as you can. The first person to empty their tableau will slap their hand down on one of the two piles (the smaller one, unless you’re an idiot), and take those cards into their hand, while the “loser” of that round takes the larger pile. The object of the game is to be the person with no cards when it’s over.

I’m just curious to see what this game was called where you grew up, and if you have any different rules. I’m having a very boring day, as I’m sure is quite evident.

We called it “Hell” and you keep the card deck in one hand so you can’t use two hands to play the cards in the middle.

That’s “Spit” you’re describing, or at least it was in the Chicago neighborhood where I grew up and in the New York State community where I live now.

Bonus question - how do you lay out the tableau? Co-Worker says you put five cards face-up in front of you, repeat as necessary until somebody’s out of cards. I learned it as putting 15 cards down in a Klondike-esque tableau (one up, four down, one up, three down, etc.), leaving eleven cards in your drawing hand.

Well, you actually don’t deal out 26 cards to each person, so there’s that. You have to use your estimation skills at the beginning of the game: Player A separates the deck into roughly equal packets and Player B chooses.

Then each player puts four cards out, face down, then four more on top of that, and so on till 16 cards are on the table–four layers of four. Only the top layer is face up.

When you get down in cards to below 17, you must always have at least one card in your hand, so if you have 12 cards (say) you lay out two layers of four and keep the remaining four in your hand. Your opponent, however, continues to do the four layers of four.

If you reach a point where no one can play a card on the stacks, but you each have cards left in your hand, just flip over the next card and repeat.

Also, if you run out of cards in one of your four piles, you may choose to lay the next card from your hand down in the empty place, face up.

Play until someone has placed all of his/her cards (those originally in hand and those originally on the table) on the two stacks in the center of the table. That’s when the grabbing takes place!

–Ulf, who was a dangerous, *dangerous *Spit player at the age of approximately 12