How to Play the Card Game Spades With Jokers

By Dana Severson

Spades is an American card game typically played with four players, two teams of two. Based on their hands, players bid on the number of tricks they believe they can take in a single round. The team’s tricks are added together to make up the total bid for their side, and they are then tasked in jointly taking at least this number during game play. Unlike similar games, trump is always set at spades, hence the name, and players needn’t up their bids as they go around the table. In this variation, jokers are used as the highest two cards in the deck (they are played as spades), noting one as the high joker and the other as the low joker. Since only 52 cards are needed to play the game of spades with jokers, two cards are removed from the deal—the two of clubs and the two of diamonds. They are set aside for the entirety of play.

Decide teams, placing players at opposite sides of the table from his or her partner.

Deal out the deck, one card at a time, until all cards have been distributed.

Bid on your hands, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the table until all players have proposed the number of tricks he or she can take in the round. Players must bid between 1 and 13, never 0 unless they bid "nil." Bids are then added together to come up with the total for the team. Bidding may appear as follows: Player A bids 3, Player B bids 4, Player C bids 2 and Player D bids 3. Since Player A and Player C are partners, their team’s total bid for the round is 5. Between the two of them, they must now take at least five tricks by the end of the round. Player B and Player D have a total team bid of 7, meaning they must take at least seven tricks by the end of the round.

Begin game play to the left of the dealer. Player A will lead a card from his hand, making sure it is a club, heart or diamond, not a spade. Spades may only be led after the suit is broken. This means someone must play a spade (trump) on a hand before anyone can come out with it as their lead.

After Player A has led his card, the remaining players then play a card in turn, following suit if possible, until everyone has laid a card. The highest card within the lead suit wins the trick, and the winning player leads the next card. Play may appear as follows: A leads with a king of hearts, B follows with a 4 of hearts, C then plays a 10 of hearts and D finishes with an ace of hearts. Player D takes the trick and leads the next card.

Play continues until all cards have been played and all tricks have been taken.

Score the tricks based on the team bids. If a team has a total bid of 6 and they’ve taken exactly that number of tricks, they receive a score of 60 (6 x 10). If a team has bid a total of 6 and they’ve taken seven tricks, they receive a score of 61 (6 x 10 + 1)—they only receive 1 additional point for each trick they take over their bid. If a team has bid a total of 6 and they’ve taken only five tricks, they receive a score of -60 (-6 x 10).

Gather up the cards, and the player to the left of the first dealer deals the next round. Play continues until one team reaches a score of 1,000.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.