Do you like classic trick-taking games with trumps and bids? Then you should definitely try Spades. These Spades card game rules explain all you need to know to pick up this popular game in no time.
Spades, also known as Call Bridge, is a straightforward yet highly amusing card game focused on simple bidding and trick-taking. As the game’s name suggests, spades are the most important suit here (similar to hearts in Hearts).
Like in other trick-taking games, including Tarneeb or Joker (check out Tarneeb rules and Joker rules for reference), your main goal in Spades is to win more tricks than your opponents.
But this alone won’t do since you also have to predict your victories accurately in advance to make the most out of them. This perfect mixture of strategy and unpredictability probably attracts people to Spades the most.
This Spades card game rules guide will cover the following:
- What is the Spades card game?
- What you’ll need to play the Spades card game
- Spades card game rules
- How to play Spades card game (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Spades (our guides)
Read on and find out how to play Spades in our step-by-step guide.
What is the Spades card game?
In Spades, the payers aim to win as many tricks as possible – or at least as many tricks as they bid on in each round. The game uses its scoring scheme, and the ultimate goal of all players is to collect 500 points before their opponents.
Spades are straightforward – a perfect trick-taking game for beginners. If you want to introduce your child or an inexperienced adult player to this category of card games, this is a great choice.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that the gameplay might take quite a long due to the high number of target points.
Number of Players: 4
Length of Play: 20 – 60 minutes
Category: Trick-taking card game
Similar to: Nines, Hearts, Rook
Main Objective: Be the first player to score 500 points.
Why We Love It: Spades is the ultimate go-to trick-taking game for anyone who likes dynamic, strategic yet unpredictable card games.
What You’ll Need to Play Spades Card Game
All you need to play Spades is a standard deck of 52 playing cards.
Regarding the Jokers, there are two different approaches you can follow:
- Usually, Jokers are not used in Spades, so you can sort them out straight away.
- However, if you want to keep Jokers, they can serve as the two highest trumps in the game (above the Ace of Spades)
Spades Card Game Rules and Gameplay
Before you start, take a minute to understand how the cards are ranked in this game:
- Aces are considered high
- Twos are considered low
- Spades are trumps, so they are above all the other cards
Now let’s move on to the initial setup.
Starting the Game
First, you must determine who will be the dealer: Deal one card to each player and whoever has the highest card (remember that spades beat even Aces) becomes the dealer for the first hand.
The dealer now shuffles the deck, and the first player to the left cuts it.
Dealer can now deal 13 cards, one at a time clockwise, to each player. Players can pick their cards immediately, but they must keep them out of sight of their opponents.
Now you’re ready to start playing.
How to Play Spades Card Game
The most important part of the Spades gameplay is bidding. Once everyone has their cards in hands, they can place their bets as follows:
- By placing their bids, players express their expectations (or hopes) of how many tricks they should be able to win in the following round (e.g., 3, 5, 7, etc.).
- Each player should place at least one bid in each round.
- The trick is won by whoever has the highest card in the given round.
When the bids are made, the dealer takes one of his cards and places it face-up in the center of the table (this is the so-called lead card).
In a clockwise direction, players play one card each, preferring the same suit as the lead. If they do not have cards of the same suit, they can play any card. But until they play trump (spades), they cannot win such a round, losing their card automatically.
Here are a few examples to make things clearer:
- Example: Dealer plays 7 of hearts (lead). Player 1 plays 8 of hearts; Player 2 plays Queen of hearts, and Player 3 lacks any hearts, so he plays 7 of diamonds. The trick is won by Player 2.
- Example: Dealer plays 9 of clubs (lead). Player 1 plays Jack of clubs; Player 2 plays King of clubs, and Player 3 lacks any clubs, so he plays 7 of spades. The trick is won by Player 3.
The winner of the tricks takes all the involved cards and stacks them face-down on the side, keeping every trick separated from the other.
The winner of the trick then leads the next card. The game goes on until the players use all their cards. Then, at the end of the hand, players evaluate whether they met their initial bids and log their scores.
Does no one earn 500 points in this round? The role of the dealer moves clockwise to the next player, and he deals another hand.
Spades Card Game Scoring
When the players meet their bids, they receive 10 points for each bid within this limit plus one bonus point per any additional bid.
- Example: Player 1 bids on four tricks. He manages to win six tricks. He gets 10 points for the first four tricks and additional 2 points for the remaining two, earning 42 points total).
However, if the players don’t meet their bids, they don’t get any points for their tricks.
- Example: Player 2 bids on winning five tricks. He manages to win four tricks. He earned zero points because he failed to meet the threshold.
The game continues until someone accumulates 500 points. This player becomes a winner.
How to Play Spades – Video Tutorial
Spades Card Game Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play Spades with two players?
Not officially, but you can adjust the gameplay to suit two players. In two-player Spades, cards are not dealt, but players draw them instead, two per turn. They can also decide to discard some cards and keep others. The goal of earning 500 points remains the same.
Is Spades a game of luck or skill?
A mixture of both. While luck can undoubtedly help you, you can easily lose even the luckiest hand in Spades without some basic skills and strategy. On the other hand, even the best tactic skills won’t help you if you get awful cards.
How do I become a better Spades player?
Expert players usually recommend taking as many tricks as possible early in the game instead of saving your best cards and trumps for later. Also, you can try to force your opponents to play their highest cards while you still have enough trumps early on.
Other Similar Games to Spades (Our Guides)
Do you like Spades? Why not read our guides to the following alternatives:
- Euchre card game
- Briscola rules
- Wizard rules
- Sheepshead rules
- Pitch card game rules
- Rummy rules (guide coming soon)
- Clubs card game (guide coming soon)
- Gin Rummy rules (guide coming soon)
- Back Alley card game rules