Tips, Tricks, and Strategies on How to Play and Win Spades
By Space Coast Daily // November 10, 2022
Is Spades Too Hard? Here’s How To Play Spades and Win
Spades is a popular card game that evolved from the whist-family of card games such as Bid Whist and Bridge. Although some may argue that Poker, Black Jack, or Solitaire have more followers, Spades is the more popular card game on the Internet.
What is Spades, and how can you become good at it? Spades is a game where players try to win tricks or rounds. Whether it’s played by two people or four, each is dealt 13 cards. The players examine their hands and strategize accordingly.
You can do it online if you’re interested in learning and playing Spades. When you play Spades online, you can play as many times as you want and learn more quickly. Online Spades also have many different game-modes to choose from. There are also options to play Spades against other players in real time.
Basic Gameplay of Spades Explained
Although Spades do involve strategy, it’s still primarily based on luck. Of course, more experienced players always have the advantage, and that’s where the strategy part comes in.
If you still do not know how to play Spades, here is the basic gameplay:
■ If played by four players, which is the ideal setup, they are divided into two teams. The partners must work together and sit across from each other.
■ Among the four, a dealer is chosen, primarily by distributing one card to each player. The one who received the highest card is the dealer.
■ The deck is shuffled by the initial dealer, and the player to his right, who is not a teammate, cuts it. The dealer then distributes 13 cards clockwise to each of the four players.
■ Following the distribution of cards, bids are placed based on the players’ hands. A bid is a player’s expectation of how many “tricks” or rounds they can win in the round. Because the highest card of a suit wins the round (unless a Spade is played), you should bid higher if you have a lot of high-ranking cards, such as Aces or Kings.
■ The game begins after the bids are placed. The first dealer deals one card as a lead. Each player then places their card down clockwise in an attempt to outmatch the rest of the cards in play. A player can only play cards of the same suit as the lead card.
■ If a player does not have the suit played as the lead, he can play a Spade to win the round. Spades are the trump cards, so they always win if it’s played against any other suit. For example, if the played cards are the Ace, King, and Queen of diamonds, a player who doesn’t have a diamond may play a Spade to take the “trick” or round.
The following is how points are awarded:
■ If a player makes their maximum number of bids, each trick earns 10 points. In addition, 1 point is awarded for each trick performed over the initial bids. For example, if a player places three bids and ends up with four, his score for that round is 31.
■ The additional trick won is referred to as “bags.” Although bags could net additional points, a team with a combined total of 10 bags from previous rounds will have 100 points subtracted from their score.
■ A player who fails to make the number of bids ends up with 0 points. Thus, if one places four bids and ends up having three, he won’t be awarded points.
■ You can place a “nil” bid if you feel your hand is bad enough not to win any trick. If this bid is successful, you’re awarded 100 points.
■ A failed “nil” bid loses 100 points.
■ The first team to reach 500 points wins.
How to Win Spades: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies
It’s one thing to learn how to play Spades, it’s another to be skilled in it. To fast-track your improvement, here are some tips and strategies to use:
The most tricky part of Spades is placing bids at the beginning of each trick. That’s because going over a bid will get you points, but if you and your partner go over 10 cumulatively, those 100 subtracted points hurt. Therefore, you can’t just bid low and expect to go over every time.
When deciding how to bid, keep in mind these three crucial factors: Count your high cards, assess the trump cards you have, and check the suit length in your hand.
Counting the high cards simply means you must count your Aces and Kings; these cards give you a higher chance to win a trick. Then, if you have over six Spades or trump cards, that also improves your chances.
Naturally, you can be confident you can win more tricks if you have trump cards at your disposal. And lastly, checking the suit length means inspecting if you have a Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit. These cards guarantee you can win at least one trick.
Consider all of these factors, and you’ll get an idea of how to place bids at every turn.
Gameplay Tips and Strategies
■ Always keep your opponents in mind. If the other team makes a bid of less than 10, start aggressively and don’t allow them to cakewalk through the tricks.
■ Communicate with your partner beforehand. One of the most common forms of card communication is to start with a King instead of an Ace to signal that you have both.
■ As a general rule, do not outbid your partner.
■ In practice, inexperienced players are significantly more concerned with bags than experienced ones. As much as possible, lead an ace from a long suit early in the game. This reduces the likelihood of someone discarding from the suit and trumping your Ace.
■ Remember the cards that were played, especially the Aces and Kings. This allows you to ascertain which cards will help you win a trick.
■ Play the lesser-valued cards if you are second on a turn. The opponent could easily beat or trump you. Eliminate the low cards first and then play from there.
■ When playing a Spade (called leading trump) is already legal, consider playing Spades only if you have a long suit. This strategy serves a double purpose. It draws out all the Spades from the opponents and ensures that you have trump cards at the endgame to earn tricks.
■ “Flooding spades” or forcing the others to play their Spades, especially the higher-ranked ones, should ideally be done with a 2 or 3. If you flood spades with a middle-ranking card like an 8 or 9, opponents may just throw a lower-numbered spade, forcing you to take a bag.
■ Just have fun. You’ll learn more strategies as you go, so have fun and accept that losing is a part of learning.
There is a reason why Spades is such a popular card game. It sharpens your mind, teaches you to be observant, and value teamwork.
If you’re feeling stressed out or alone, Spades can help you to remain socially involved. If you haven’t learned how to play this game yet or are a complete newbie, the instructions, tips, and strategies mentioned above could get you started.
These won’t sharpen your skills immediately, but they’ll give you basic ideas for strategizing while playing Spades. Winning is simply the result of repetition.