OBJECTIVE: The object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all the player’s cards to a discard pile.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-7 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 deck cards for 5 or less players and 104 cards for more than 5 players

RANK OF CARDS: 8 (50 points); K, Q, J (court cards 10 points); A (1 point); 10, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

TYPE OF GAME: Shedding-type



Spades was first introduced in America in the 1930s and has maintained its popularity throughout the decades. Spades remained popular, only in America, for many decades until the 1990s when the game began to gain international fame and appreciation via the help of online spades play and tournaments. The game is traditionally played with four players, but there are other versions of the game for three, two, and six players.

Traditional Spades | Four Players

The Setup:

Players that are partnered together should sit across from one another. A standard pack of 52 cards is required and play will rotate clockwise.

How to Deal:

Choose a dealer at random and the deal will rotate clockwise from there after. The dealer deals towards the left until all cards are dispersed and each player has 13 cards in hand.

How to Bid:

Once players have received their cards they are required to make a bid. The objective is to gauge how many hands you think you can win. Winning a hand is called taking a trick. Partners must decide how many tricks they can take together and that is their bid. Partners are then required to match or exceed their bid to obtain a positive score. There is only one round of bidding and each person must bid. In leisure play, partners can discuss amongst themselves how many tricks they believe they can take before settling on their official bid, however, they cannot show each other their hands. There are only 13 total tricks that can be made within one game.
Nil – When a player bids nil they are stating that they will not win any tricks. There is a bonus for this kind of play if successful and a penalty if unsuccessful. The partner of the player that bids nil is not required to bid nil.
Blind Nil – A player can decide to bid nil before ever looking at their cards. This action is called a blind nil and if successfully played comes with significant bonus points. After everyone has bid, the player that bid the blind nil can exchange two cards face down with their partner before game play begins. A commonly accepted rule of thumb is that a blind nil cannot be bid unless a team is losing by 100 points or more.

How to Play:

Before the game begins players set the points needed to win. For example, a score of 500 points is common for a game but you can set whatever goal you like. The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Other players must follow the suit of the first card if they can. If a player is unable to follow suit they can play a trump card (aka a Spade) or they can play any other card of their choosing. Spades cannot lead until they have been introduced to the board as a trump card. The player that played the highest card of the suit played wins the trick, unless the suit was trumped by a spade or joker. The player that won the trick throws out the first card of the next round. The objective is to win as many tricks as you bid. The play will continue until all cards have been played.

How to Score:

Players earn 10pts for every trick bid and 1pt for every trick over that bid. For example, if a team bids 7 tricks and wins 8 they will get a total of 71pts.
When a team wins more tricks than what they bid, as in the example above, the extra trick won is called an overtrick or a bag. Common play states that if a team reached 10 bags they must deduct 100pts from their score. This makes the game more interesting by motivating the players to win the exact number of tricks that they’ve bid.
If a team is unable to meet their bid at the end of a round, they receive 0pts. For example, if a team bids five books but only gets four, then they get no points and instead receive -10 points for every book they bid.
If a player is successful in their bid of nil their team will receive 100pts. If the nil bid fails then the trick won by the nil bidder counts as a bag for the team and does not count towards the partners’ bid.
A blind nil receives 200pts if successful and a deduction of 200pts if unsuccessful.
Whichever team reaches the total number of determined winning points first, wins!

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