Spades is one of those classic card games we’d suggest everybody try playing once. It’s simple and can be a lot of fun. If you haven’t yet gotten around to it, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we detail all you need to know to play spades.
What is Spades?
It is a famous card game in the “trick-taking” genre of card games. Traditionally, it involves four players, but two players can also play the game. The game was first invented in the 1930s in the United States and became more popular in the 40s.
The game involves a standard deck of cards, and the player or partnership that first reaches 500 points wins.
Assuming that there are four players playing and teaming up in pairs, partners must sit across from each other. A dealer is chosen, and they must deal 13 cards to all the players.
Then comes the bidding. “Bidding” is the act of estimating how many “tricks” (rounds) the player will win. This happens in the usual fashion, beginning with whoever’s on the dealer’s left. Players take a look at their hands and bid.
Every team’s bids are added, and the teams must win the sum of their bids to score points and win the game. In most games, a player should make at least one bid. Players can call up to 13 bids and are not allowed to pass.
Bear in mind that the game involves only one round of bidding.
While this is not allowed in every game, a player can bid nil (zero), which means the player bets that they won’t win any tricks. If they pull this off, the player’s team wins 100 points. However, if the player fails and wins a trick, their team gets a 100-point penalty.
Both players in a team can bid nil, and if they pull it off, they win 200 points. However, if they fail, they will receive a 200-point penalty. If only one player pulls it off and the other doesn’t, the team receives 0 points.
Players can bid “Blind Nil” or “Double Nil” before looking at their cards. The player must then exchange three cards with their partner. If the player finishes the hand without winning a trick, the team earns 200 points. But if the player fails, there’s a 200-point penalty for the player’s team.
Both players can bid “Blind Nil” in the same hand. Pulling it off offers 400 points to the team, and failing leads to a 400-point penalty.
Like in usual fashion, the play begins clockwise from the dealer. The first player to play must not lead with a spade unless their hand only has spades.
The players that follow the first player must try to follow suit. Whoever plays the highest-ranking card in the suit takes the trick. However, since this is Spades, whoever plays a spade card wins.
If two or more players play spades, the higher card takes the trick.
When a trick is won, the winning player collects the cards, turns them face down, and sets it close to themselves where everyone can see. This is to indicate how many tricks they have won.
How Games are Scored
For every bid that a player wins a trick, the player earns ten points. For instance, if Alex bids that he will win four tricks and ends up winning four tricks, he will have forty points.
If a player wins more tricks than they bid, they receive one point for every extra bid won. If Alex were to win five bids in the example above instead of four, he would earn 41 points. These extra points are called “bags.”
If a player doesn’t win at least the number of tricks they bid, they get a ten-point penalty for every bid they didn’t win a trick for.
Players are not allowed to win too many bags to get ahead since it is considered an unfair advantage. If a partnership wins ten bags in the same game, the partnership gets a 100-point penalty.
Finishing the Game
When the players run out of cards, and no teams have earned 500 points or more, the player to the dealer’s left becomes the new dealer. The new dealer takes all the cards, shuffles them, and deals all the players another hand.
This continues till one of the teams earns 500 points.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, whichever partnership reaches 500 points wins the game. If both teams earn 500 points in the same hand, the team with the higher score wins.
If both teams have the same number of points, the teams must play another hand, and the winner of that hand declares the winner.
Spades is uncomplicated and by far one of the most enjoyable card games you can play. Thankfully, you don’t always need friends or have to go to a casino to play spades. You can play spades online by searching “play spades online” in any search engine.
Alternatively, Spades is offered for free here: Spades Challenge. Simply type in your name and try the game out. The website also features extremely helpful guides that go through the history, strategies, and detailed rule breakdown.