Game rules

Spades is a popular game originating from United States invented around the 30s, and is played with a standard 52 cards deck. The objective is to realise at least and as exactly as possible the number of tricks announced at the beginning of the round. It is traditionnally played with 4 players in teams of 2 (partnership spades), but can also be played with 3, 5 or 6 players individually.

Dealing and betting

At the beginning of the round, the dealer deals all the cards evenly across players. With 3 players, one remove one of the 2s so that everybody get 17 cards (51 cards in total); with 5 players one remove two 2s (10 cards each for a total of 50), and with 6 players one remove all the 2s (8 cards each for a total of 48).

Once the dealing is done, each player announce at his turn the number of tricks he think he will take in the round. Each bet is independant from the others, there is no need to bet more than previous bets and pass isn't allowed. Each player must announce a number between 0 and respectively 17, 13, 10 and 8 depending on the number of players. When playing in teams, the bets of the teammates are summed up to make an unique total bet for the team.

Playing of the hand

The playing of the hand follows a classical schema: the player next to the dealer starts the first trick with the card of his choice; it is won by the player who played the highest card at trump suit, or at base suit if there is no trump, then the player who won the trick starts the next one. The trump suit is always spade, it never changes color (hance the name of the game).

Card order has no special particularity, ace is the strongest and 2 the weakest, at trump as well as off trump. The winner of the trick is the player who played the highest spade card, or the highest card of the base suit if there is no spade.


At the end of the round, one score depending on the number of tricks announced and actually made. If one play in teams, tricks bet by the individual players of a team are summed up.

Volontarily pick sandbags can be an interesting strategy short term to make your opponents fail their contracts, but can be very penalishing long term while accumulating ! Manage your number of bags to take not too much and not too few, is an essential point of strategy in the game of Spades.

A game is generally played in 500 points, sometimes 1000, 1500 or 2000 for longer ones.

Specialties and bonuses

Nil or zero bet

Announcing 0 tricks is a special kind of bet. For the contract to be successful, you musn't take any trick, one or more mean a failure. A success gives 100 points, and a fail -100.

When playing in teams, the partner of the nil bidder is alone to make the tricks he announced himself. He must absolutely do so that his teammate don't take any trick, by adopting a coverer strategy. The plus or minus 100 points are separately counted from those for the non-nil bidder, the later being normally scored. In case the nil bidder fails his contract, the tricks he took aren't counted in favor of the partner but are still counted as bags.

Here are some examples assuming that you bet 0 and your teammate 4 :

Double nil or double zero

The double nil or double 0 arrives when the two partners of the same team both bet 0 tricks. In that case, each of them independently from the other can win or lose 100 points plus the possible bags. The total gain can therefore be +200 or -200.

Bet and get exactly 1 or 2 tricks

Bet and exactly realise one or two tricks isn't as easy as it appears to be. When playing with 3 or 4 players, successfully betting and exactly taking 1 or 2 tricks gives 20 bonus points. A successful but non-exact contract gives no bonus and is counted as usual. Hance, betting 2 tricks and making 3 gives 21 points.

This bonus doesn't apply when playing with 5 or 6 players, because the more players there are, the easier it is for that case to happen.

Bonus for difficult contract

To encourage big and risky bets, a bonus of 10 points is given per trick announced and made beyond respectively the tenth, the eighth, the seventh and the sixth depending on the number of players. For example, with 4 players, announcing 10 tricks and taking 11 gives a bonus of 20 points for a total of 121 instead of 101.

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