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Spades Rules

Playing Spades is not very difficult to understand, but once you know the basic spades rules there are many different Strategies to the game. There are different variations of the game but all the games have the same basic rules.

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Spades is played with 4 players. A standard deck of cards (52cards) is delt. The players take turns when dealing and all the cards are delt so each player receives 13 cards. The cards order is from the lowest to the highest rank as follows:


The player on the dealer's left starts bidding and then in clockwise direction the other players make their bid. Each player has to estimate how many tricks he is going to make in that round. There is no second round of bids, so every player has to make up his mind for once and for all. A bid of zero tricks is called a NIL. There is an extra bonus for the players who bids a nil and succeeds in the round and dosn't make any tricks at all. On the other hand there is also a penalty for not bidding a nil. Especially in the final round it can be worth the risk of bidding a NIL. Read more about bidding in the Bidding Strategy Section.

Playing Spades Rules

The player on the dealer's left starts playing after the bidding round. He may throw any card but a spade for the first trick. Each playe in clockwise direction must follow the suit if he can. If a player cannot follow the suit he may play whatever he wishes.

A trick is won with the highest card of the suit led, if there is no spades card in the trick. A trick containg a spades card is won by the highest spade. Spades are not allowed to be led until some player has played a spade on a lead of another suit.

Counting the score

If the player reaches the exact amount of tricks as he bid, so he receives ten times the number of bids. For extra tricks on his bid he get 1 point extra. But one must be aware of those extra tricks (called bags or sandbags). A player that over a few rounds gets a penalty of 50 points for every 5 bags. If a player does not make his bid, he looses 10 points for each bid he made. For example if a player bid 4 tricks before a gmae. If he gets 5 ticks he wil receive 41 points and one bag. if he will get only 4 tricks so he will loose 40 points.

Successfully Bidding NIL is rewared with 50 points. a Blind NIL is when a play doesn't see his cards and bids a nil. This doubles the reward to 100 points.

Variations of online Spades

For the practice game in our Java Spades Software and the Practice Tournaments there are 2 Jokers in the game. They are higher than the spades cards. Read more...

The downloadable Spadester Software has no jokers and is played just as described above.

Want to learn more? Check out Spades Strategy.
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