Instructions for the Card Game Spades

By Lee Morgan
Instructions, the Card Game Spades
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Spades is a popular card game in which players on teams attempt to catch a number of tricks equal to a bid they made prior to the hand. Spades are always the trump suit, hence the name of the game, and the cards used are the same as a standard 52-card playing deck. Spades is best played with four players.


Win a game of spades by being the first team to score 500 points by catching tricks according to your bids and avoiding penalties for sandbagging and overbidding. Tally the exact total score when both teams reach 500 points during the same hand. Whichever team has the higher score at the end of the hand is the winning team, according to


Shuffle the deck and deal in a clockwise fashion. Deal out all 52 cards. Each player should have 13 cards. Seat partners across the table from one another so that the team alternates.


Bid on how many tricks you believe you will be able to catch. Remember that you are not trying to bid how many you and your partner will catch together, only what you will be able to catch on your own. Your bids will be combined later.

The bidding begins with the person to the dealer’s left and proceeds clockwise. You may bid any amount up to 13. Bids may not be altered once they are said aloud.

A bid of zero is known as a “Nil" bid. If you catch a trick with a Nil bid, it does not count toward your partner’s bid goal and it will cause your team to be penalized.

Playing a Hand

Begin play on the first trick with the first player who bid and work your way around the table clockwise. Lead with any card except a spade. Spades can only lead a round once a spade has been played on another suit.

Win a hand by playing the highest valued spade on the trick. If no spade is played, then the highest valued card of the lead suit wins the trick. You must play the same suit as the card that led the round if able. If you do not have a card in that suit, then you may play any other card, including a spade. Play until all 13 tricks are caught, and then calculate the scores. If no one has reached 500 points, play another hand until someone does.


Score 10 points for every trick your team catches that is equal to your bid. If your team combined to bid for five tricks and you catch five, then you get 50 points. If you go over your bid, you only get one extra point per trick. In other words, if you caught six tricks, you’d get 51 points. The extra tricks are known as “bags.” If your team falls short of the bid, you lose 10 points for the number you fell short. To discourage sandbagging (bidding too low) your team is penalized 100 points for every 10 bags you catch. You can easily keep track of the number of bags carried from hand to hand by looking at the score total. The last number in the score indicates how many bags you caught. If you bid Nil, you cannot catch any tricks. If you do, your team will be penalized 100 points. You will get an additional 100 points if you succeed.