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Spades (♠) is one of the four suitss found in playing cards.

It is the highest ranking suit in the game Contract bridge.

The Queen of Spades is the largest penalty card (13 pts.) in standard Hearts.

In the point-trick game Ambition, Spades are called the major, or "big-money" suit, in that 38 of each round's 85 points are in the Spade suit.

See also: Ace of Spades

Spades is a trick-taking game somewhat akin to Hearts and Ambition but more closely related to bridge.

Table of contents
1 Number of Players
2 Number of Cards
3 Rank of Suits
4 Rank of Cards
5 Object of the Game
6 The Deal
7 Bidding
8 Game Play
9 Scoring
10 Partnership Spades
11 Spades with Jokers
12 Bidding Options
13 "Irregularities"

Number of Players

Two to five; four is the most common number of players in teams of two

Number of Cards

Standard 52 card deck; can also be played with jokers.

Rank of Suits

There is no intrinsic suit ranking, except for the trump (highest) suit, which is in fact always the spade suit (unlike games such as bridge or Whist, where different suits may be trump at different times).

Rank of Cards

A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Object of the Game

To win at least the number of tricks bid.

The Deal

The first dealer is chosen by a draw for high card, and thereafter the turn to deal proceeds clockwise. The entire deck is dealt one at a time, face down, beginning on the dealer's left. The players then pick up their cards and arrange them by suits.


Each player decides how many tricks he will be able to take. The player to the dealer's left starts the bidding and, in turn, each player states how many tricks he expects to win. There is only one round of bidding, and the minimum bid is One. Every player must make a bid; no player may pass. No suit is named in the bid, for as the name of the game implies, spades are always trump.

Game Play

The game is scored by hands, and the winner must make a certain number of points which is decided before the game begins. Five hundred points is common, but 200 points is suitable for a short game. The player on the dealer's left makes the opening lead, and players must follow suit, if possible. If a player cannot follow suit, he may play a trump or discard. The trick is won by the player who plays the highest trump or if no trump was played, the player who played the highest card in the suit led. The player who wins the trick leads next. Play continues until none of the players have any cards left. Each hand is worth 13 tricks. Spades cannot be led unless played previously or player to lead has nothing but Spades in his hand.


For making the contract (the number of tricks bid), the player scores 10 points for each trick bid, plus 1 point for each overtrick.

For example, if the player's bid is Seven and he makes seven tricks, the score would be 70. If the bid was Five and the player won eight tricks, the score would be 53 points: 50 points for the bid, and 3 points for the three overtricks. (In some games, overtricks are called "bags" and a deduction of 100 points is made everytime a player accumulates 10 bags. Thus, the object is always to fulfill the bid exactly.)

If the player "breaks contract," that is, if he takes fewer than the number of tricks bid, the score is 0. For example, if a player bids Four and wins only three tricks, no points are awarded.

One of the players is the scorer and writes the bids down, so that during the play and for the scoring afterward, this information will be available to all the players. When a hand is over, the scores should be recorded next to the bids, and a running score should be kept so that players can readily see each other's total points. If there is a tie, then all players participate in one more round of play.

Partnership Spades

Partners sit across from each other, and the game is the same except that the partners' bids are added together to make a team bid (contract). For example, if a player bids Four and his partner bids Six, the team bid is Ten. It does not matter if, in the play, one partner wins eight tricks, and the other wins two tricks, since the combined score is ten and thus, the bid is fulfilled. In Partnership Spades, there is a minimum bid of two required of each player.

The partner who wins the trick leads next.

Spades with Jokers

There are many variations for Spades which allow even more skillful maneuvers, high scoring, and ruthless strategies. Some of these variations are presented below, and the favorite is Spades with Jokers.

When the two jokers are used, they are the highest-ranking trump cards. The spade suit is comprised of 15 cards: the Big Joker outranks the Little Joker which outranks the ace of spades. For the two- and four-player games, the deuces of clubs and diamonds should be removed; for the five-player game, all four deuces should be removed; and for the three-player game, no cards are removed, as 18 cards are dealt to each person and there are 18 tricks.

Bidding Options

Blind Bids

In this version, played with or without the jokers, a player who falls behind the high scorer by 100 or more points may bid before looking at his cards. Making the contract gives the player 20 points per trick bid (instead of 10), but no points are scored for any overtricks.

Nil Bids

Whereas in the conventional game a bid of zero is simply a lack of commitment to take any tricks, in the variation where the bid is called "nil", the player bidding nil (or zero) is specifically committing (attempting) to refrain from capturing any tricks. If in a partnership game, this commitment is generally only the bidder's personally, leaving the partner to bid and make separately for the duration of the hand.

A player bidding and making nil is awarded 100 points (depending on the standing rules), but a player bidding nil but capturing any tricks loses the same amount of points.

This variation may be played with or without jokers. Some people play that nil bids are worth 50 points, rather than 100 points.


A player (or partnership) not following suit when possible revokes renigs and cannot receive any points for making the contract.