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- Practice against computer in the training room.
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Spades Quick Tips
Pairs is the most common game mode played by two teams of two. It is Played with a 52-Card French Deck, and Spades are always the trump suit. A Spade can only be played if a player has played them when they have no cards of the lead suit to contribute to the current bid (known as “Breaking Spades”).
Bidding and Scoring
At the start of each hand, each player is dealt 13 cards. After, each player makes a bid (starting to the left of the dealer) of how many tricks they intend to win over the course of the 13 trick hand.
– When a team successfully makes their bid, there are awarded 10 points per trick in that bid.
– Any tricks taken in addition to what was bid by the team are called “Bags”. Each bag adds one point to the team’s score. If they get 10 bags, a 100-point penalty is deducted from their score, and 10 bags are taken from their count.
– Should a team win fewer tricks than what they bid, the penalty applied is their bid times 10.
Additional Bidding Options
– Players may elect to not see the cards and Bid “Blind Nil”. A successful bid yields 200 points.
– Players may bid 0 tricks (a “Nil” bid). If they succeed, they are awarded 100 points.
Other game modes
In Solo mode (also known as “Cutthroat”), each player plays for themselves. Common Scoring and penalties are halved. 50-point penalty at 5 bags. Nil is worth 50 points.
The Suicide variant – one team member must bid Nil while the other must bid 4 or greater.
In Whiz mode (a variant of “Pairs”), each player must bid either the exact number of spades in their hand or Nil. No Blind Nils.
Mirror (similar to “Whiz”), each player must bid the amount of Spades that they have in their hand. Players may only bid Nil of they have no Spades in their hand. No Blind Nils.
Other important tips and “how-to” for Spades:
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Vocabulary cheat sheet, synonyms and variations of Spades
For beginner spades players, the jargon alone can send you into a tailspin. Not to fear. The language of spades is easy to pick up, and before you know it, the craziest phrases will become second nature. Until then, our handy guide will steer you in the right direction.
Vocab cheat sheet
penalties for taking in more tricks than you bid at the beginning of the round.
having just one card of any given suit.
the number of tricks you predict or contact that you will take.
- Blind Nil
bidding zero tricks without looking at your hand.
- Breaking Spades
the first spade played in the game. When a player is out of the suit lead, that player may play a spade, trump the suit, and spades are officially broken. Spades can then be lead.
- Card Counting
keeping mental track of the cards used in each suit.
- Flush Out
to try to bring out a high card of a certain suit by playing a lower card of that suit.
- Long Suit
four or more cards of any given suit in your hand.
a bid of zero tricks after looking at your hand.
any tricks you win over the initial amount you bid.
using a spade, or card of another suit, when you have the ability to follow suit.
all four players put down a card and a trick is taken.
this refers to a team who isn’t making their bid or their nil, or who is bagging over the limit.
- Short Suit
fewer than three cards of any given suit.
playing a card to subtly let your partner know what is left in your hand and how they should lead. This is especially handy when you and your partner both understand the science behind the game.
playing a card to intentionally avoid taking a trick.
cards of the same suit in a sequential pattern.
- Throwing Off
playing a card (not a spade) when you have the ability to follow suit.
the four discarded cards of the round.
generally refers to a spade played when a non-spade was lead, but can refer to any spade.
this refers to when you bid less than the amount of tricks you won.
being dealt zero cards of any given suit.
Synonyms in spades
Solo spades is often called “cutthroat”
Tricks are often called “books”
Bidding is sometimes referred to as “betting”
Slough is often called “dump”
Breaking Spades is sometimes called “cutting” or “ruffing”
Bags are sometimes called “sandbags”
Blind Nil is often called “double nil”
A bare is also sometimes called a “singleton”
Variations of spades
Over the years, many variations of spades have sprung up where players have added extra rules or unexpected trump cards to enhance the fun. Few of these variations are available in online play, but they’re crazy enough to be worthy of mention. Here are just some of them…
- Bauer Trumps
this is a special variation where the two highest trumps in the game are the jack of spades and the jack of clubs. They are referred to as the “right bauer” and “left bauer” respectively. The Bauer “I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful” “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me” Donald “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me” Trump variation is borrowed heavily from Euchre.
this variation of spades allows a team to win outright if they “shoot the moon.” This means all 13 tricks are taken by one player or team.
- Deuces High
in this variation, the deuces of each suit are worth more than spades, making them trumps.
- Jokers High
in this variation, the two jokers in the deck become the main trumps of the game.
- Mirrors (also sometimes called Whiz)
in this variation, you bid only the exact number of spades you have been dealt. If you have no spades, you must automatically bid nil.
- Spades for Three
to accommodate a game of spades for just three players, you simply remove the two of clubs, and each player is dealt seventeen cards. Obviously, this variation must be played as singles.
this variation can only be played with pairs, and one player out of each pair must bid nil, no matter what cards they have.
So whether you’re tempted by playing free spades online.
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Check back at any time to get the latest news and the winning strategies of a classic game of Spades. We host a variety of topics and posts from long-time spades players and professionals.
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