From Academic Kids

Spades (♠) is one of the four suits found in playing cards.

It is the highest ranking suit in the game contract bridge.

Spades is a trick-taking game somewhat akin to Hearts but more closely related to bridge.



From the Card Games website (http:// Spades was invented in the USA in the 1930's and is played quite widely in that country. Until recently it has been little known elsewhere, except in a few places where American troops were stationed, for example in parts of Germany. However, since the mid 1990's Spades has become popular internationally because of its easy availablity in on-line card rooms on the Internet.

Number of players

Two to five; four is the most common number of players in teams of two ("Partnership spades").

Number of cards

Standard 52 card deck; can also be played with jokers.

Rank of suits

There is no intrinsic suit ranking, except for the trump (highest) suit, which is always the spade suit (unlike games such as bridge or Whist, where different suits may be trump at different times).

Rank of cards

A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. There is also a variation where all 2s count as the highest spades, in which the order is 2 of Hearts (highest card), 2 of Clubs, 2 of Diamonds, 2 of Spades, then all the rest of the spades, A through 3.

Object of the game

To accumulate the required number of points; points are accrued by winning at least the number of tricks bid in each hand.

The deal

The first dealer is chosen by a draw for high card, and thereafter the turn to deal proceeds clockwise. The entire deck is dealt one at a time, face down, beginning on the dealer's left. The players then pick up their cards and arrange them by suits.

Some players allow a limited number of cards, generally at most three to each player, to be dealt face up, provided at the end of the deal each player has the same number of face-up cards. These are referred to as "Power checks", and act as a counter-balance to blind bids.


Each player decides how many tricks he will be able to take. The player to the dealer's left starts the bidding and, in turn, each player states how many tricks he expects to win. There is only one round of bidding, and the minimum bid is One. Every player must make a bid; no player may pass. No suit is named in the bid, for as the name of the game implies, spades are always trump.

In Partnerships, some play that the bidding order is Dealer's left, that player's partner, Dealer's partner, Dealer.

Game play

The game is scored by hands, and the winner must make a certain number of points which is decided before the game begins. 500 points is common, but 200 points is suitable for a short game; games to 5000 are very long but not unheard of. The player on the dealer's left makes the opening lead, and players must follow suit, if possible. (Some play that the player with the two of clubs must make the opening lead with it.) If a player cannot follow suit, he may play any card. The trick is won by the player who plays the highest trump, or, if no trump was played, by the player who played the highest card in the suit led. The player who wins the trick leads next. Play continues until none of the players have any cards left. Each hand is worth 13 tricks. Many play that Spades cannot be led unless played previously or player to lead has nothing but Spades in his hand.


For making the contract (the number of tricks bid), the player scores 10 points for each trick bid, plus 1 point for each overtrick.

For example, if the player's bid is Seven and he makes seven tricks, the score would be 70. If the bid was Five and the player won eight tricks, the score would be 53 points: 50 points for the bid, and 3 points for the three overtricks. (In some games, overtricks are called "sandbags" and a deduction of 100 points is made everytime a player accumulates 10 sandbags. Thus, the object is always to fulfill the bid exactly.)

If the player "breaks contract," that is, if he takes fewer than the number of tricks bid, the score is 0. For example, if a player bids Four and wins only three tricks, no points are awarded. Some variations subtract points for a broken contract, so that winning three tricks on a bid of four would subtract 40 points from the player's score.

One of the players is the scorer and writes the bids down, so that during the play and for the scoring afterward, this information will be available to all the players. When a hand is over, the scores should be recorded next to the bids, and a running score should be kept so that players can readily see each other's total points. If there is a tie, then all players participate in (at least) one more round of play.

Partnership Spades

Partners sit across from each other, and the game is the same except that the partners' bids are added together to make a team bid (contract). For example, if a player bids Four and his partner bids Six, the team bid is Ten. It does not matter if, in the play, one partner wins eight tricks, and the other wins two tricks, since the combined score is ten and thus the bid is fulfilled. Some play that in Partnership Spades, there is a minimum bid of two required of each player.

The partner who wins the trick leads next.

Spades with jokers

There are many variations for Spades which allow even more skillful maneuvers, high scoring, and ruthless strategies. Some of these variations are presented below.

When the two jokers are used, they are the highest-ranking trump cards; it is conventional for the first dealer to point out to all players which Joker counts as "Big" and which as "Little". The spade suit is comprised of 15 cards: the Big Joker outranks the Little Joker which outranks the ace of spades. For the two- and four-player games, the deuces of clubs and diamonds should be removed; for the five-player game, all four deuces should be removed; and for the three-player game, no cards are removed, as 18 cards are dealt to each person and there are 18 tricks.

A similar four-player variant, Joker-Joker-Deuce, ranks the two of spades between the ace of spades and the Little Joker. The red twos are removed, and optionally any trick won with the two of clubs (referred to as "Little Willie", for being the lowest-ranked card in the deck) counts for the taking team as two tricks towards contract, but only one if overtricks are counted - that is, the "extra" trick is strictly a bonus and cannot count against the taking team.

Bidding options

Blind bids

In this version, played with or without the jokers, a player who falls behind the high scorer by 100 or more points may bid before looking at his cards. Making the contract gives the player 20 points per trick bid (instead of 10), but no points are scored for any overtricks; failing the contract is penalized, if at all, at the normal 10 points per trick bid.

With Partnerships, the team falling behind the other by 100 or more points may bid Blind; in this variant, in addition to the score requirement, some require a minimum bid, generally six or seven.

Nil bids

Whereas in the conventional game a bid of zero is simply a lack of commitment to take any tricks, in the variation where the bid is called "nil", the player bidding nil (or zero) is specifically committing (attempting) to refrain from capturing any tricks. If in a partnership game, this commitment is generally only the bidder's personally, leaving the partner to bid and make separately for the duration of the hand. The partner, however, must fulfil the partnership's minimum bid, that is, four.

A player bidding and making nil is awarded 100 points (depending on the standing rules), but a player bidding nil but capturing any tricks loses the same amount of points.

This variation may be played with or without jokers. Some people play that nil bids are worth 50 points, rather than 100 points.

One Partnership variation of the nil bid allows the nil bidder to exchange one card with his or her partner before the partner's bid. Sometimes this is allowed only with a certain point deficit (sometimes 1, that is, as long as the nil bidder's team is behind), and whether or not the partner may look at the proffered card before exchanging is variable as well.

Double Nil

An extension of the Nil bid option described above (sometimes also called blind nil), this edition allows a player to bid nil before he or she looks at his cards. As with a nil bid, this commitment is only for the bidder, leaving the partner to bid and make separately.

A player bidding and making double nil is awarded 200 points (or double the agreed-upon nil value). In some versions of this game, someone may only bid double nil if they're at least 200 points behind the other team or all the other players. Failing to make a nil or double nil bid costs the team the points that would otherwise be awarded, that is, the points are subtracted from their standing score.

As this play is very risky it is usually played by the dealer when facing elimination, and the remaining players' bids are close to the maximum tricks available (13 in partnership spades). When a player, after bidding, looks at his cards and finds an unbeatable Ace of Spades (or King-Queen combination), he or she will often concede the game immediately.

Ten for two

A common scoring variation in Partnership play makes a combined bid of ten tricks worth 200 points. Some players allow this to be bid Blind, for a value of 400 points.


Another common scoring variation in Partnership play, also referred to as Chicago, makes a combined bid of thirteen tricks worth game, regardless of the score; missing such a bid counts for 250 points against the bidding team. Some have proposed that this be allowed to be bid Blind as well, but it is unclear what doubling a win would mean.

Big and Little Moe

Big and Little Moe are special types of contract in partnership spades, where the partnership attempts to take, respectively, eight or six tricks consecutively. Any capture of a trick by opponents "resets" the count. A partnership bidding Big Moe and capturing eight tricks in a row gains 300 points; one bidding Little Moe and capturing six tricks in a row gains 150 points. Bags or overtricks, if applicable, are not counted.


Suicide is played by four players, playing as partners. The bidding is as follows: each player must bid either Nil, or at least four tricks. The second player to bid in each partnership may either bid the opposite (i.e., nil if partner bid four or more and vice versa) or may bid what their partner bid, thus forcing their partner to take the opposite bid.


A player or partnership not following suit when possible reneges and cannot receive any points for making the contract. Alternatively, the player or partnership may be penalized a set number of tricks for the hand, generally three: thus a reneging player or partnership who bid four may still make bid by taking seven tricks; however, overtricks are still counted by the actual total.

If one player prematurely runs out of cards, that is, either extra cards were dealt elsewhere or one or more cards are missing, the hand is considered void and the deal passes.

See also

de:Pik eo:Piko fa:پیک (خال ورق) sv:Spader


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