Beginner Bidding Part 1 – Hand Evaluation
2008-05-19Beginner Strategy by Dustin Stout
The first consideration when bidding in spades is to estimate your hand’s face value. There are three steps to this process:
1. The first step is to evaluate and estimate the overall strength of your hand.
2. The second step is to consider the game situation.
3. The third step is to consider situational factors.
We will cover step 1 in the beginner section, and later cover steps 2 and 3 in “Intermediate” and “Advanced Bidding”.
The first step to bidding is quite simple – most of the time our bid will become immediately obvious. For instance, with the following hand, it is immediately apparent what our hand is worth:
♠ A K 2
♥A 10 9
♦10 8 5
♣A 8 6 5
This hand is worth 4 tricks. The three aces and king will each win a trick, and there are no other tricks that we can reasonably expect to win. Most hands are relatively straightforward and don’t require much more analysis than this. Other hands, however, require some more thought.
Basic Hand Evaluation
The simplest way to begin hand evaluation is to first add up your aces and kings (your “quick tricks”). The next step is to make adjustments for spade length and hand texture. The last steps will be covered later on in intermediate and advanced bidding.
In the three plain (side) suits, aces are assigned a value of 1. Kings that are at least 2 deep (“guarded”), are assigned a value of 1. Queens, Jacks (quacks), and lower (runts) are ignored for the moment.
Next, we analyze our spades holding.
The Spade Suit
The spade suit requires separate consideration. Because spades are trump, they can be bid differently than the plain suits. Let us look at some examples.
Bid 1. Unlike the side suits, the ♠Q holds good value. Once the ♠ A and ♠K are cleared, the ♠Q is now established as a third round winner. Yes, it is true that our ♠Q might get captured and never win a trick. But for this part of the bidding stage, we are bidding on probability.
Bid 2. Again, we can bid on the ♠K as well as the ♠Q. Once the ace is clear, we have two winners.
Bid 2. This one is a bit trickier than the previous examples. The odds favor that the ♠K is to our right or in partner’s hand.
Bid 1. The jack should win the 4th round, once the higher spades have been played. We should count any four-card spade holding as at least 1 trick (i.e. ♠5432).
Bid 2. We bid 1 for the ♠A, and another trick for the fourth spade. Any four card spade holding with the ♠A, ♠K or ♠Q should be considered a 2 bid.
Bid 3. This is the same principle as above, but now we have two honors. We should also bid 3 with the ♠KQ32 or ♠AQ32. In short, any four card spade holding with two of the top 3 spades is worth 3 tricks.
Bid 2. We bid 1 for the 4th spade, and 1 for the 5th spade. With each subsequent spade, we add 1 to our bid (i.e. ♠10865432 is worth 4 tricks).
Bid 6. We bid 2 for the AK, and 1 for each spade beyond our 3 card base.
Bid 3. We follow the same guidelines as above – 1 for the ♠Q, 2 for the 4th and 5th spades.
Bid 2 or 3. This holding is a bit more difficult to give a simple value to. An expert will want to bid 3, seeing an opportunity to win the A, J, and the 4th spade. A more conservative player will want to bid 2, seeing that there is an opportunity to lose a spade. Either bid could be right, and will be more dependent on factors we cover later on.
Bidding starts with the plain suits. We count 1 for both our aces and kings. The spade suit is evaluated separately. In Spades, we count 1 for the ace, 1 for a guarded king, and 1 for a 3+ deep queen. We also count 1 for the 4th and each subsequent spade.
Bidding the Spade Suit
* ♠AKQx is worth 3-4 and ♠AKQxx is worth 4-5. The final bid will be dependent on other factors covered later.
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Tip of the day:
Keep track of what the highest unplayed card in each suit is.