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Spades Rules Briefly Explained

The Setup

If you want to play the Spades card game right now, you'll need a 52 card deck from which you remove all the jokers. You can also play online for free here at Anytime Games.

If you’re playing a real-world game, you'll need to find three other people. That’s because usually, the game involves two teams with two individuals on each team. Partners should sit across from one another.

Next, you'll need to decide who's going to be the dealer. One way to do that is to have everyone choose a card at random from the deck. The individual who selects the high card gets to be the dealer.

The dealer shuffles the cards. Then, they ask the person to the right of them to cut the cards. This prevents the dealer from doing any shenanigans with the deck.

Misdeals and Deficient Deals

If the dealer screws up and doesn't deal out the same number of cards to each player, that's what's called a misdeal. Let's say that it's only a single card, and the mistake is discovered before players look at their cards. In that case, the player who's short a card gets to randomly select a card from the player with an extra one.

Otherwise, the entire hand is a misdeal and must be redealt. Another form of misdealing is what some people call a "deficient hand." What constitutes a deficient hand varies depending on who's playing. The most common forms of deficient hands are ones with no spades or ones with no face cards.

If a player wants to declare their hand to be deficient, they must throw down their cards face up so that other people can check for themselves that it's deficient. However, this must be done before they announce their bid. Keep in mind that no player is required to declare that their hand is deficient even if it qualifies as such.

What's Reneging, and Why Should You Care About It?

Reneging happens when someone doesn't follow the rules. Usually, this occurs when someone doesn't follow suit but should have. This could either be an honest mistake or because you have a cheater in your midst.

When this happens, usually the player that reneged doesn't score any points that round. Also, the team gets 10 points subtracted from their score. Everyone needs to keep a close eye on cheating, as it's surprisingly common.


The dealer gives every player 13 cards. The deal goes in a clockwise direction, beginning with the individual on the dealer's left.

Each player looks at their hand and then estimates how many rounds they think they can win. Their guess is referred to as their bid. The player to the dealer's left gets to bid first. Each team totals up their bids. This total is the number of rounds the team must win so that no points are deducted from their score. A bid must be between 0 and 13.

The player who goes first lays any card except a spade in the middle of the table. The participant on the left needs to match the suit. If they can't, they can play any card, including a spade.

The winner of the round is the participant who has the highest-ranking card that matches the initial suit. Keep in mind that a spade trumps all other cards. If multiple spades are played, the winner is the player with the highest-ranking spade.

A player can only lead with spades if this is all they have left in their hand. Play continues until teammates have no more cards left to play.

The player who won the round gathers the cards and places them face down in front of them. To make scorekeeping easy, each pile of cards is kept separate from the others.

Two Bidding Variations

One interesting game variation is nil bidding, where a participant announces they don't intend to win any rounds. Another one is blind bidding, where a player bids without looking at their cards. In both of these variants, players receive a bonus of 100 if they exactly meet their bid. If they don't and win either more or fewer rounds, 100 points are subtracted from their score.

The Sandbag Variation

In this variation, overtricks (rounds won over the bid amount) are known as "bags." Using this rule, a team that accumulates 10 bags during a single game gets 100 points deducted from their score. This makes exactly meeting their bids the object of the game, making it somewhat more challenging.

Scoring and Winning

If a team wins the number of rounds corresponding to their bid after playing all their cards, they get 10 points for each round they won. Overtricks are worth one point each. If a team doesn't make its bid, they lose 10 points for each round under the bid amount.

The team that gets to 500 points first wins the game. However, you can set the winning point amount to whatever you'd like it to be.

Playing Spades at Anytime Games

What's great about Spades is there's a seemingly endless number of variations, meaning it's hard to ever get bored with the game. The beauty of playing Spades at Anytime Games is you don't need a partner, and the score is automatically kept for you. This means that if it's late at night and you want to play a game, you don't have to go desperately searching in the dark for people willing to play.

Because you don't have to multitask by keeping score and playing your hand, you get to kick back and enjoy the game instead of suffering from mental overload. Not having to do either of these things makes for an effortless game experience. Has all this talk of card playing whetted your appetite for learning more about the game? If so, head on over to “How to Play Spades — Complete Rules to Win.”