Spades stands out among the most-played card games across the world. Many players consider it more enjoyable than Poker since Spades involves game theory and statistics. The former is purely a game of stats.
What’s great about the game is that you can learn to play it in ten minutes and begin enjoying games with friends or online. Here’s a short guide for your convenience:
The Basic Rules of Spades
Spades involves four players and a standard card deck without Jokers. After shuffling, the deck is split among the players.
Bidding begins with the player to the dealer’s left, and after it’s finished, the same player begins the game by leading the first trick. Leading players rotate clockwise around the table as the game progresses, and all players must try to follow the suit of the leading player’s card.
A card from a different suit can only be played if the player doesn’t have a card from the suit of the leading player’s card. Playing a Spade in this situation is termed “breaking the Spades” since it opens up the possibility of playing Spades cards going forward for all players.
The highest card among the four players from the original suit wins the trick. The Ace is the highest card, and the Spade suit is the trump suit.
The winning player earns a point and must lead the play for the turn. After Spades are broken, players can lead with Spades cards.
When players finish playing all the cards, the round ends, and the scores of both teams are tallied. Teams must aim to win at least the number of tricks they bid collectively.
First, a dealer is selected at random, and they shuffle the deck and distribute 13 cards to every player.
After the deck is split between the players, the players must estimate the number of tricks they can win with their hand. They must then declare their bids to the table. You can bid anything between zero and 13.
If you bid zero, you’re bidding “nil,” or in other words, committing to not winning any tricks in the round. If you win even a single trick, you will receive a point penalty that will impact your team’s score and odds of winning.
But if you get through the round without taking tricks, you will earn a point bonus that will put your team ahead.
As mentioned earlier, teams are responsible for winning the number of tricks they bid on collectively. If player A bid 2 and player B bid 5, then the team will need to win at least seven tricks to score points.
The round only begins after every player makes a bid – passing on bidding is not allowed. After a round is complete, the player to the dealer’s left becomes the new dealer.
When a round ends, the teams add up their scores and compare their score to the total number of tricks bid. If a team wins at least as many tricks as they bid, they’ll earn ten points for every bid taken. However, if the team falls short of their bid by even one point, the team loses ten points for every bid placed.
In other words, if a team bids seven and wins seven bids, they’ll earn 70 points. But if they win six bids instead of seven, they will lose 70 points.
It is possible for bids to win more tricks than they bid, and for every extra trick (called “bag”) they win, they earn an extra point. Winning eight tricks in the above example will result in the team earning 71 points.
But teams must always bear the sandbag rule in mind. If a team earns ten bags, they lose 100 points as a penalty for overbidding.
Bidding nil and winning the bid gives teams fifty points in a 250-point game and 100 points in a 500-point game. However, the players lose 50 or 100 points, respectively, if the player wins even a single trick.
When either team reaches the winning score, the game ends, and the team wins. However, if both teams score 500 points in the same round, the team with the higher score will win.
It is also possible for both the teams to win the same number of points. In this case, the teams must play an additional round, and the team winning that round wins the game.
Playing Spades is one of the best ways to get into playing card games and improve your game theory skills. It’s also an excellent game to learn skills such as counting cards.