California Speed

This page is based on information from Sam G, Ashley, David Rutter, Rory Barclay, Adam Fritz and Clint Okayama.


This rapid two-player game requires accurate observation and quick reactions. It goes by various names. Some people just call it Speed or Spit, but that is also the name of another game. Sometimes it is called Chinese Spit (or Speed), and it previously appeared on this site under the name Double Flip.

This page also describes the related games Aggravation and Frustration, which are played with a variable sized layout instead of a fixed row of four cards each.


This game is for two players only, using a standard 52-card pack. Deal all the cards equally to the two players (26 each).


Players hold their cards face down in their hand. Then each player simultaneously and quickly lays down a row of 4 cards one at a time, dealing them face up from the top of their pile. This creates 2 rows of 4 cards directly in front of each other, with the cards lined up reasonably evenly to make a 2×4 rectangle.

As soon as the last 2 cards are laid down, each player looks for matches. A match consists of two or more face-up cards of the same rank anywhere in the layout: suit is irrelevant. When a match is found, the player immediately deals new cards from their hand on top of both or all matching cards.

If both players spot the same match at the same time, it is legal for one player to cover one matching cards with a new card while the opponent does the same to the other.

This process continues until no matches can be found among the 8 exposed cards. At this time, each player gathers up the row of four stacks of cards directly in front of them and places all those cards face down under the pile in their hand. Again each player simultaneously deals a row of 4 face-up cards. Play continues as before until a player wins by dealing all the cards from their hand onto matching cards.


In David Rutter's version, if the top two cards of any pile match each other, another card may be played on top of that pile.

David Rutter also describes a tournament version for up to 5 players using a double deck (2×52 cards). There is a series of rounds, in each of which one player is eliminated. It works as follows.

  • The setup:
    • With 5 players four equal cards are removed from the deck leaving 100, and each player is dealt 20 cards each. Each player has 2 piles.
    • With 4 players, each is dealt 26 cards and has 2 piles.
    • With 3 eight equal cards are removed leaving 96 cards. Each player is dealt 32 cards and has 3 piles.
    • With 2 players each is dealt 52 cards and has 5 piles.
  • When there are more than two players, a player who has no cards in hand gathers up all the cards in their piles and waits while the others play on. When there is only one player remaining with cards in hand that player is eliminated. All the cards are then gathered and dealt to the remaining players for the next round.
  • The player who wins the two-player finale by getting rid of all their hand cards first wins the game.


As in California Speed, the 52-card deck is divided equally between the players, so that each has a deck of 26 cards which they hold face down.

Now each player deals down just one card face up from the top of their deck. If these two cards do not match, each player deals themselves a second card face up, then a third card face up card each, and so on forming a row in front of each player.

This continues until either player spots a match - two or more cards of equal rank - and covers the matching cards as quickly as possible with new cards from the top of their deck. If this creates new matches, these cards too are covered by the first player who spots them.

When there are no more matches in the card layout, each player deals another card to the end of their row, and they continue to extend the rows equally until another match is found. Then matching cards are covered as before.

When a player runs out of cards in their deck they must find a matching pair of cards, tap the two cards with their two index fingers and call "Aggravation!" to win the game. A player who has just one card left uses it to cover one card of a match and must then find another match to call "Aggravation!" and win.

If one player has run out of cards and there are no matches in the layout, the other player deals further cards alone until a match is created.


Clint Okayama describes a variant of Aggravation played in Hawaii, where it is known as Frustration (but note that same name Frustration is also used in some parts of North America for a variant of Contract Rummy).

The play is the same as in Aggravation until one player's deck runs out. At this point each of the players scoops up the row of cards closest to them (including the cards that have been laid upon matched cards), adds them to the remainder of their deck if any, and play begins again with both players simultaneously dealing single cards face up in two parallel lines.

The winner is the first player who reduces their share of the pack (cards in their deck plus cards on their side of the layout) to 10 or fewer cards

Other Sites

A video demonstration of California Speed is available here.

This page is maintained by John McLeod,   © John McLeod, 2004, 2019. Last updated: 23rd January 2019