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Spades Rules


The classic Spades in Pairs Mode is played with a deck consisting of 52 cards. The cards are dealt clockwise starting from the dealer’s successor (to their left). Each player receives 13 cards.


  1. The bidding is also clockwise and starts from the player on the left of the dealer. There are two options of bidding – see cards or blind bid. If the player chooses the first option, they must bid a number of tricks from 0 to 13, which they expects to win. There is no need for each bid to be higher or lower than the last one. The combined bidding of the two partners is summed up together to form the team bid. This is the number of tricks the team must win in order to achieve a positive score.
  2. A NIL (0) bid means that the player declares that they will not win any tricks in this round. If it’s successful, the team wins 100 points. Otherwise, the team receives a penalty of 100 points.
  3. When the bidding starts, each player can choose not to look at their cards and thus make a Blind NIL bid. This bid can give 200 points, but also cost 200 if the player wins even one trick.
spades bidding
spades cards


  1. The cards in each suit are ranked as follows: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
  2. The player on the dealer’s left begins the trick. They can play whichever card they choose, excluding those of the spades suit. The trick continues in a clockwise fashion and the other players must follow the suit, if possible. If not, they may play a random card.
  3. If no spade is played during a trick, it is won by the highest value card of the initially played suit. If cards of the spades suit are played, the trick is won by the highest value spade. The winner in the last trick begins the next one.
  4. A spade card cannot be played until:
    • a spade has been played to trump another trick;
    • the leader has no other cards besides spades;
  5. Spades are always the trump suit.
  6. You can create custom game and choose to play with Jokers. Then the ranking of the cards is as follows:
    • Spades: Big Joker, Little Joker, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
    • Clubs: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3
    • Hearts: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
    • Diamonds: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3

The Big Joker which is the Full colored Red Joker is the Highest card, and the little Joker is the Black one.

Renege in Spades refers to the act of failing to follow suit when a player has the ability to do so, resulting in a penalty for the offending team.


  1. If a team wins the exact amount of tricks they bid, the rewarded points are equal to 10 times their bid.
  2. If a player/team takes more tricks than they bid, they get additional 1 point for each overtrick (bag). When the team reaches 10 bags, they receive -100 penalty and their bags are reset to 0.
  3. If a team wins less tricks than they have originally bid, they lose points equal to 10 times their bid.
  4. If a NIL bet is successful the player gets 100 points, but if it fails the penalty is losing 100 points.
  5. A successful BLIND NIL scores 200 points, but an unsuccessful one is penalized by 200.
  6. The team, which reaches 200 points first wins. A team that has -150 points loses.

Spades scoring explained in detail


Differences in other game modes:

  • Solo

    In this mode there are no teams, each player has a separate score and plays for himself. The winner receives the whole prize pool. If there are two or more players with the same score, the cards are dealt again for another round. A successful Nil bid gives 50 points and an unsuccessful one -50 Points. A blind bid cannot be placed. The bag penalty of five bags equals -50 points. This variation is also known as Cutthroat Spades.

  • Suicide

    In this mode, the players play in teams but the difference is that one of the team members must bid Nil while the other has to bid at least 4. There are no Blind Nil Bids.

  • Whiz

    The players must either bid Nil or bid the exact number of spades they possess. Again, no Blind Nil is allowed and the game is played in teams.

  • Mirror

    In teams, each player must announce the exact number of Spades they have. If a player doesn’t have any spades, they must bid Nil. Again, there are no Blind Nil bids.

When playing Spades, it is an advantage to know also the game terminology.

You can read additional information about the game modes on our blog.

More about spades bidding and what you should avoid.

How to play Spades?

You need a standard deck of 52 cards and 4 players to play Spades. The universal rules divide the players into two teams. Each player is dealt 13 cards. Then all four players bid the number of tricks they think they can make. If the team wins at least the number of tricks it initially bid, they score points. The first team to reach a certain amount of points is the winner.

How do you win Spades?

Knowing how many spades are in a deck of cards is not enough for a successful game. In order to win in Spades, you must have a solid strategy, a good understanding of the game, a trustworthy partner, and a bit of luck. Never underbid. Keep making bags to a minimum. Calculate your tricks according to your opponent’s bidding. Train to always be able to tell how many Kings, Queens, and Aces are still left in the game. Winning in Spades requires not only knowledge but a lot of practice.

Do you have to follow suit in spades?

In Spades, if you can follow suit, you are obliged to. If you don’t have a card from the same suit, you are free to play any other suit you want. You are not obliged to play the trump unless it is the led suit.

What is considered a trick in spades?

In trick-tacking card games, there is a finite number of rounds, where each player plays a card. Those rounds are called tricks, or sometimes “books”. Playing the highest value card in a round wins it and you usually take 1 trick for it. In Spades, you must win at least the number of tricks you initially bid.

How do you play spades with 3 people?

Playing Spades with 3 people can be just as fun and challenging. In this variation, each player plays for himself in the overall scoring, but swaps partners in each round. There is one ‘dummy’ player. The highest bidder each round is partnered with the dummy, while the other two play as a team. Normal rules apply here as well. Check out this article for a more comprehensive understanding of the rules of 3-people Spades.
It is also possible to play spades with 2 people.

What is a bag in the game of spades?

Any trick you win in excess of your total team bid is counted as a bag. Each bag brings 1 additional point to your score. But if you accumulate 10 bags, you lose 100 points and your bag count resets.

What is the 10 bags penalty in spades?

A 10 bags penalty occurs when the team accumulates 10 bags. 100 points are deducted from their score, and their bag count resets. In Solo Spades, the bag penalty is set to 5 bags.

spades bag

What is mirror bidding in spades?

Mirror bidding occurs when you play Mirror Spades – a specific mode of the game. In it, your bid is equal to a number of spades you have. You can bid Nil only if you don’t have any Spades.

What is Whiz spades?

Whiz Spades is a game mode of Spades. The scoring and rules are the same, and the only difference is in the bidding phase.
Players have only two options to bid – either bid nil or bid the number of spades in their hand.

Controlling the winning trick

In Pairs, it is vital to manage your tricks successfully and at the same time help your partner. During the game, you have to adjust your play according to your partner’s bid. The critical part is when you should decide to take your partner’s winning trick or not.

Two of Spades

The 2 of Spades is the lowest trump, and if you have it within your cards, it is important to use it (especially when your bid is higher than you can afford). To take advantage of the 2, clean a suit from your cards. The easiest way is to clean the card suit with fewer cards you have.

Game experience

Knowing better the playing style of your partner is an advantage. If you have experience playing Spades, you can capture some signals when your partner leads the trick. When your mate begins with the lowest card, it could mean that this is the weakest suit. If your partner starts with the highest card, this will simplify your strategy and help you understand better how to play the trick.

Learn some terms and tips about Spades card game.
You can read our specific tournament rules here.

Other games rules:

– Crazy Eights

– Ludo