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Spades Rules Briefly Explained


Want to play Spades, a fast, fun, and exciting card game? If so, you'll need to rustle up three more players. That's because, in Spades, there are usually two teams with two players on each team.

Grab a deck of 52 cards and remove the jokers. Choose who'll be the dealer by having everyone randomly select a card. The person with the high card gets the job. After the dealer thoroughly shuffles the cards, the person sitting to the dealer's right cuts the deck.


The dealer hands out 13 cards one at a time, starting with the person on the dealer's left. The deal proceeds in a clockwise fashion. Once a card leaves a player's hand, they can't undo the move unless they correct their mistake before the next person puts a card down.

The players pick up their cards and arrange them any way they'd like. The most popular arrangement is by suits.

Each player looks at their hand and bids how many tricks they think they can rack up. Bids must be between 0 and 13, and the person to the dealer's left gets to go first. Total up your and your partner's bids to see how many tricks you must take so you don't lose points.

A player wins a trick by getting the highest card that matches the suit of the first card that was played. However, spades trump all other cards.

Bid higher if you're swimming in spades or higher-ranked cards. Once you make a bid, you can't change your mind. Players can't pass, and there's no second round of bidding. Unlike other games with bidding, bids don't need to be higher than the last one.

The player going first puts any card except a spade on the table. The next player must match suit. If they can't, they can put any card in play--even if it's a spade. If players play more than one spade, the winner is the one with the highest-ranking spade. If you only have spades in your hand, you can lead with this suit.

Whoever wins the round goes first on the next turn and takes over as dealer. Players can rotate as dealer instead of making the winner of the round the dealer.


If your team meets its bid, you get 10 points for each winning trick. Overtricks (tricks you win over your bid amount) are worth one point each. If your team doesn't make its bid, you lose 10 times your bid's value.

For example, if your team bid four and won four tricks, your score is 40. If you bid six and won nine tricks, the score for the round would be 63—60 points for the bid and three points for the overtricks. However, if you bid seven and only won five tricks, your score is -70.

Nil and Blind Bidding

A nil bid is when a player declares their intention to not win a single round. There's also blind bidding, where players bid without looking at their cards. If a player is successful with either type, they receive a bonus of 100 points. If they don't, they lose 100 points.


Overtricks (tricks won over the bid amount) are called "bags," and they're worth one point. Try to not accumulate too many. That's because a team that accumulates 10 bags gets 100 points deducted from their score.

Winning the Game

The team getting 500 points first wins. If you don't have time to play a long game, set the winning points to 200.

Deficient Hands and Misdeals

Let's say the dealer botches their job by not distributing the same number of cards to each player. In that case, it's considered a misdeal and must be corrected.

If it's only a single card and is uncovered before players have a chance to look at their other cards, the player who's missing a card takes one from the person with an extra one without looking at it. If there's more than one card, the entire hand is declared a misdeal, meaning all cards must be redealt.

Another way cards can be misdealt is through a “deficient hand,” which is a starting hand with no spades. A spadeless hand could mean the dealer didn't thoroughly shuffle the cards. Because having no spades could put a player at a disadvantage, they have a right to declare that their hand is deficient.

If a player wants to exercise this right, they must reveal their cards so that the others can see for themselves. However, it must be done before the team announces its bid.

If a team chooses this option, the dealer reshuffles the cards and deals them out again. The other team isn't allowed to challenge the decision. If subsequent hands result in zero spades, a team can exercise this option again. In fact, there's no limit to the number of times you can use it.

When It's Good to Not Have Spades

Players aren't required to declare a misdeal. Someone might not want to exercise this right because having zero spades in your hands is an excellent opportunity to try for a nil bid.

There's another scenario where you might want to play a hand with no spades: if you're holding all the aces. In this situation, you should be able to win at least three rounds and maybe even four or five—especially if your partner has a lot of spades.

All About Reneging

Reneging is when someone doesn't follow suit even though they could. Sometimes it's due to a player not paying attention, and other times it's because the individual is blatantly cheating. A player guilty of reneging not only won't score any points that round—their team also gets 10 points taken away from their score.

Playing Spades at Anytime Games

What's fantastic about Spades at Anytime Games is you don't need a partner. Moreover, you don't need to keep score because it's automatically done for you. Has all this talk of cards put you in the mood to play? If so, head to “How to Play Spades — Complete Rules to Win.”