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Spades Overview

You have been looking for more card games and of course, the rules on how to play them, and we have heard you! In this part of our website, we are unveiling another classic and famous card game called Spades. If you’ve been playing different types of card games for quite some time, then perhaps you have heard about this game from your fellow players or seen an article on the same on entertainment/sports books or websites, and you might be interested in knowing its rules and probably aspects of playing it. If this has been your concern, then sit back, relax, and continue reading the rest of this article to get enlightened on Spades card game. To make it easier to understand all the aspects of this game, in a nutshell, we aim at following the below guidelines:

  • Introduction
  • Spades brief history
  • Objective
  • Equipment
  • Game set up
  • Gameplay
  • Rules of the game
  • Conclusion

Now, let us get round the table, roll up our sleeves, and learn rules on how to play Spades. We hope you will be ready to play it as well in the end!


Spades is one of the popular descendants of the famous Whist family of card games. It is an entertaining and competitive trick-taking game, which makes it a perfect choice for a great social play. Many elements make it stand out from the rest of Whist game variants, but one of them is that Spades are indeed trump (trump card is a card that with greater power over any other card suit). Quite often, in the recent past, four people organized as a team of two play it. However, with some variations, these days, as few as two players can play it.

Spades in shuffled cards

Brief History

There is no card game with an interesting history than the Spades. It is believed that it originated from the city of Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States in the early 1930s, which means it is among the youngest games in the history of cards. Its fame in the US grew even wider during the Second World War as it became the favorite for solders. When the war ended, the game continued to be played in many break rooms and universities across America. In 2006, Spades popularity skyrocketed when it was included on Joe Andrews Grand Prix World Series of Classic Card Games tournament. The reasons as to why this game is popular among many people across the world is because of its simplicity compared to other games in family of Whist (that is Hearts, Bridge, and Oh Hell) as well as its briefness (it takes less than 20 minutes to play it) making the perfect card game for small groups. Nowadays, it is played online across many online casino sites.

Objective of Spades

The primary goal of Spades is to be the first team to hit 500 points. These points are accrued by winning the least number of tricks bid in hand. Consequently, they are lost by taking too many tricks bid.


Just like many other card games, you will require one standard 52-card deck if played by four or fewer players. However, when played by six or more players, you will need a second deck of cards. In some variations, this game can be played with one or two jokers or even with some cards removed. The highest rank is an Ace, and the lowest is a Two.
A deck of cards used in Spades game

Game Setup

Partners sit across the table facing each other. After that, a dealer is chosen at random, who will temporarily take charge of the game.



Gameplay in Spades is a step-wise procedure, as explained below:

Dealing the cards

As soon as the dealer has been chosen and determined, he/she proceeds to shuffle the cards thoroughly. After that, s/he deals the card to each player one-at-a-time face down starting from the player to the dealer’s left. When all the cards have been distributed, each player is expected to confirm if he/she has thirteen cards. If that is the case, then the game kicks off!


Bidding starts with the player seated to the left of the dealer, and the game continues in a clockwise direction. Bidding is perhaps the most important aspect of Spades card game. It is required that once you get your cards in hand, you consult to estimate or determine the number of tricks you can win as soon as all player cards have been discarded. Typically, each participant at the start of each hand in this card game makes a bid. When playing as a team, partners should add bids together.

Since bidding is paramount in Spades, it is essential to understand how it being done. After accessing your cards, you will know whether you have a weak or strong hand. A weak hand would include few (if any) trump or high ranking cards, while strong hand includes multiple high ranking cards, trumps, or Spade cards. If you need to examine your hand quickly, you need to organize your hand from the lowest to the highest rank.

If you meet your targeted bid successfully, you will indeed win points. Otherwise, if you don not succeed (by either exceeding or not reaching your target bid), you will be penalized and eventually, lose some points. It is highly advisable that you go over your bid rather than going under. Remember, you will be penalized with negative points for going under your bids.

A player looking at cards before making a bid

Rules of the game

As soon as all the players have played one card each, it is time to determine the winner of that trick. Unless a Spade is played, the highest card of the leading suit wins the trick; otherwise, the highest Spade wins the trick.

        Let’s take an example:

If player W plays starts with a Ten of Diamond, player X plays then a Nine of Diamond, followed by King of Diamonds by player Y, and a Two of Diamonds by player Z, the player who played the King (that is Y) wins the trick (see the diagram below). Again, if player W begins with a Five of Clubs, Player X has no Clubs, so s/he plays a Three of Hearts. Player Y has no Clubs, so s/he plays a Nine of Spade, and player Z plays a Jack of Clubs, player Y wins the trick since his/her Spades card has played the role of the trump.


Example of how to win a trick

In this card game, playing the first spade is often referred to as Breaking Spades. However, in many Spade variations, Spade-card playing cannot lead a trick unless under the following conditions:

  1. The leader has Spades only left in hand
  2. A player has initially played a Spade on the lead of another suit

The player or team that wins a trick draws four cards from the stockpile and proceeds to start the next series. The procedure repeats until all the fifty-two cards have been played, which marks the end of the game and brings in another section of score tallying.

Typically, in Spades card game, bids can be made from 1 to 13 with players are not supposed to pass. Some game variations allow players to bid ‘Nil Bid,’ a declaration that states that there’re no tricks you will win, but you can be rewarded a bonus of up to 100 points if met correctly or a penalty of negative 100 if the bid is not met. Other options include ‘Blind Nil Bid,’ where a player declares a nil bid even before looking at h/her hand. The latter option is allowed if a team or player is behind by at least hundred points. It met correctly, it rewards up to 200 points, but it is risky bid to play because you can lose a similar number of points.

Scoring & winning

There are several ways to score points in Spades depending on game variance, but we are explaining the most common scoring method. As soon as the game comes to an end, the number of tricks won by each team or player is compared to their/his/her starting bid. If bids were met successfully, they number of tricks is multiplied by ten to arrive at the total number of points. However, if player/team did not meet its bid, it scores ten-negative points for each trick it bid. Scoring for Nil or Double Nil Bid takes places as explained previously. The first player or team to hit 500 points is the winner. However, there is a tie, that is two players or teams reached 500 points in the same hand, the team/player with the highest score is declared the winner. If there is a tie again, another hand is played to determine the winner.
Score sheet during for tabulating results

  • Spades Rating


That is popular Spades card game at its best. From its gameplay, indeed, it is an exhilarating game full of fun, and it is even more interesting to see someone or team finishing the game with negative points. Intuitively, Spades is a classic game that requires plenty of skills and tricks to earn more points and win, making it a perfect game to kill a lazy Sunday afternoon with friends and family alike. As you play it, ensure you do so responsibly because of the nature of addictiveness it has!