How to Play Spades for Dummies

By Sam Orr ; Updated April 12, 2017
Spades are considered the highest-valued cards.

Spades is a card game in which the objective is to score up to 500 points by winning "tricks." Players win tricks by laying down the highest-valued card out of four that are played each round. Spades are considered the highest-valued cards, so the highest spade in play will win no matter the value of the other cards in play. Players are divided into teams, and the team with the highest number of points wins the game.

Dealing and Bidding

Divide players into teams and have teammates sit across from each other. Decide a dealer amongst the players.

Have the dealer deal out an entire 52-card deck counter-clockwise—each player should have 13 cards.

Have the player to the dealer's left make the first bid—how many tricks he thinks he will win. If you have a few high cards, you will want to bid high; if you think you could win six of the 13 tricks, bid six. Once each person has made a bid, teammates' bids are added together. This number is called the "contract."

Playing and Scoring

Have the player to the dealer's left lay down the first card. The first card should not be a spade, unless the player has an entire hand of spades.

Have players continue laying down cards, in a counter-clockwise order. The other players should lay down cards from the same suit as the first card, unless they don't have any cards from that suit; in that instance, another suit can be played. After each player has put down one card, the card of the highest value wins the trick. Spades are considered "trump" cards. If a spade is played, the highest spade wins the trick no matter the value of the other cards. The person who won the trick will play the first card in the next round.

Continue playing the game until all cards have been played. Count the number of tricks each player has won. Compare these numbers to the contract numbers. If a team took all of the tricks in its contract—or more—members score ten times the contract, plus one point per additional trick, or "sandbag." If your sandbags equal ten points or more, you will be penalized 100 points. If you didn't take all of the tricks in your contract, you will be penalized ten points per trick in the contract. If a player bid zero and won tricks, he will score 100 points. The team with the highest score up to 500 points wins the game.

Things Needed

  • 4 players
  • 52-card deck of playing cards

About the Author

Sam Orr has been writing since 2006. Specializing in electronics, video games, music and home improvement, he writes for various online publications. Orr is studying physics at Ohio State University.