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Tips for a Better Spades Game

1. You Don't Have to Have the Highest/Best Cards to Win

Look at how many bags you think you can get and bid one less than that number. It is better to go one over than one under and be docked for not reaching your bid. Plus, you can always start throwing off (losing intentionally) once your goal is met.

2. Get your highest non-spade cards out there from the get-go.

Unless you are going for a nil or intentionally low bid, you'll want to get those Aces of clubs, diamonds, and hearts out there as soon as possible. If you use them later in the round, the likelihood of them getting spaded is dramatically higher.

3. Get rid of a non-spade suit as quick as possible

It doesn't matter which suit it is, usually it's best to go for one you have the least cards of. For example, if I have 2 hearts, 5 clubs, 4 diamonds and 2 low spades, I will want the opportunity to use those two low spades while everyone else is still using their regular suits. A 2 of spades can be powerful if you use it early in the game. Keep this in mind when bidding as well.


4. If your opponents are racking up bags, help them over the top.

One of the best ways to win, isn't necessarily to score the most points every time. It is also stragetic to cause your opponents to lose points - massive points if they go over the bag limit. If they get to around 6 or 7 bags mid way through the game, go ahead and let them get their goal - and then some... and get that massive 100 point penalty while they are at it!

5. Know your partner and his or her style of play

Because you aren't allowed to communicate with your partner verbally, you must pay attention to their style of play and "pick up what they are putting down" (figuratively of course). If they lead with a low card, they are letting you know that they aren't strong in that suit, and hoping for you to pick up the slack. You can communicate back via the game putting down a low card yourself and signifying that you too are weak in that suit. This is just one example, but knowing your partner's style in all aspects can be make or break in the game of spades.

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Spades Rules

Players

There are four players and two teams. Your teammate is the person sitting directly across from you.

The Goal of the Game

To win the game, you and your partner must reach 500 points before the other team does.

Rank of Cards

A standard pack of 52 cards is used. The cards, in each suit, rank from highest to lowest: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

The Deal

All of the cards are dealt out. Each person will have 13. You want to organize the cards by suit (and in this case the computer does the heavy lifting!).

The Bidding

In Spades, all four players bid a number of tricks. Each team adds together the bids of the two partners, and the total is the number of tricks that team must try to win in order to get a positive score. The bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and continues clockwise around the table. Everyone must bid a number, and in theory any number from 0 to 13 is allowed. Unlike other games with bidding, there is no requirement for each bid to be higher than the last one, and players are not allowed to pass. There is no second round of bidding - bids once made cannot be altered.

Example: South deals; West bids 3; North bids 1; East bids 4; South bids 4. The objective of North and South is to win at least 5 ticks (4+1), East and West try to win at least 7 (4+3).

A bid of 0 tricks is known as Nil. This is a declaration that that the player who bid Nil will not win any tricks during the play. There is an extra bonus for this if it succeeds and a penalty if it fails. The partnership also has the objective of winning the number of tricks bid by the Nil's partner. It is not possible to bid no tricks without bidding a Nil. If you don't want to go for the Nil bonus or penalty you must bid at least 1.

The Play of the Hand

The player to dealer's left leads any card except a spade to the first trick. Each player, in turn, clockwise, must follow suit if able; if unable to follow suit, the player may play any card.

A trick containing a spade is won by the highest spade played; if no spade is played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next. Spades may not be led until either some player has played a spade (on the lead of another suit, of course), or the leader has nothing but spades left in hand.

Playing the first spade is known as "breaking" spades.

Scoring

A side that takes at least as many tricks as its bid calls for receives a score equal to 10 times its bid. Additional tricks (overtricks) are worth an extra one point each.

Sandbagging rule: Overtricks are colloquially known as bags. A side which (over several deals) accumulates ten or more bags has 100 points deducted from its score. Any bags beyond ten are carried over to the next cycle of ten overtricks - that is if they reached twenty overtricks they would lose another 100 points and so on.

Example: Suppose a team whose score is 337 bids 5 tricks and they have 7 bags carried over from the previous rounds. If they win 7 tricks they score 52, taking their score to 389 (and their bags to 9). If they win 8 tricks they score 53, but lose 100 because they now have 10 bags, and their score becomes 290 (337 + 53 - 100). If they win 9 tricks they score 54 and lose 100, bringing their score to 291.

If a side does not make its bid, they lose 10 points for each trick they bid.

If a bid of nil is successful, the nil bidder's side receives 100 points. This is in addition to the score won (or lost) by the partner of the nil bidder for tricks made. If a bid of nil fails - that is, the bidder takes at least one trick - the bidder's side loses 100 points, but still receives any amount scored for the partner's bid.

When a nil fails, the tricks won by the nil bidder do not count towards making the partner's bid, but do count as bags for the team.

The side which reaches 500 points first wins the game. If both sides reach 500 points in a single deal, the side with the higher score wins.

Terminology

Trick:

When all four cards are layed out, the trick is what you call the winner of that particular throw down.

Book:

This is pretty much the same thing as a trick. Treat it as such.

Hand:

The series of books or tricks where all 13 cards that is player is dealt are played.

Bid:

This is the number of tricks/books that you think you will get in any given hand. You combine the number you think you will get with the number your teammate estimates

Contract:

This is the number of tricks/books that you and your partner must get for the hand in order to not be docked.

Under trick:

It is just like it sounds: not getting quite the number of tricks that you wanted for a hand. This usually results in loss of points.

Bag:

This is also referred to as an overtrick. This is when you get more books than you estimated before the hand. Ten bags incur a penalty of 100 docked points.

Void:

When you don't have any of the cards of the suit that is being played.

Trump:

Having a better card to lay down than the others that have been played. Spades trump all in this game of course!

Sluff:

This is when you don't have the suit being played but you also don't have a trump card. This is sometimes a good thing early on when you are trying to get rid of some of the less desireable cards.

Nil:

When you declare that you will get no books/tricks you are declaring nil. If you accomplish this, you get a lot more points!!

Press Deal to begin!

What is your bid?

Bigspade

I bid 10

I bid 10

I bid 10

I bid 10

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Combined bid
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Bags
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Scoring

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Failed bid
Bag score
Bag penalty
Successful nil bid
Failed nil bid
Points this round
Points from previous rounds
Total points