How to Teach Kids to Play Spades

By BenjaminHuson
Spades beat all other cards.
straight flush spades image by jimcox40 from

Spades is a great card game to teach to kids, and they can have lots of fun playing it while learning different skills. The game will develop their mathematical skills, sportsmanship and ability to work in teams. Spades is played with four people. It is set up with two teams, and the two partners sit across from each other. You can start teaching kids how to play spades when they are 10 to 12 years old. The rules are moderately easy for kids to learn, and their strategy will develop while they play the game.

Seat four kids at a table. The kids sitting across from each other will be on a team together.

Explain that the game's object is to collect as many "books" as possible. A book is made from each player playing one card after another player; play progresses in a clockwise motion. Once four cards are played, one book is formed. The winner of the book takes the four cards and then places another card to lead the next book.

Teach how to win a book. Players must follow suit to win a book. For example, if a heart is led, then all other players must play a heart. The player with the highest heart wins the book. If a player does not have the suit that is led, she can play any of her other cards. Spades is trump, meaning that when a spade is played, it automatically beats any card of another suit. For example, if the first player leads with the ace of hearts and the second player has no hearts and plays a spade, he beats the ace of hearts. If the second player instead played a diamond or club, the ace of hearts would win. So the player with the highest card of the led suit wins unless someone "cuts" the book with a spade, which results in the player with the highest spade winning the book.

Show the children how betting works. Have one of the kids deal each person 13 cards. Deal the cards face up for instructional purposes. The team that did not deal bets first. That team's members must determine how many books they will get in the game's hand according to their dealt hands. They can discuss and then choose a number. The lowest possible bet is four books. If the team members reach or exceed their bet after the hand is done, they get that many points. If they do not reach their bet, or in gaming terms get "stuck," then they get whatever they bet in negative points.

Clarify special rules for betting. For example, if the team members decide to go for a "bubble," they need to get 10 books. A bubble earns double, or 20, points and is the highest possible bet. Another rule to clarify concerns when the two teams' bets are equal or less than 10 points. The assumption is that both teams will make their books; so both teams are given their points and the next hand is dealt.

Tell the children how to win the game. One way to win spades is for a team to reach 35 points. Another way for the game to end is for one team to get stuck two times; if that happens, the team automatically loses.

Play a hand with all the cards face up on the table. During the hand, correct any mistakes that are made.

Show the kids how to hold their hands. Start by dealing the cards face down. Have each child arrange his cards by suit and from highest value to lowest value. This way, if the kids cannot fan out all 13 cards, they can still find the appropriate cards needed to play.