The 52 Card Games project is my first 52 Weeks project. I love card games, and I love learning new games and playing the games I love. For this project, I’m documenting a new card game each Friday. In case you’ve missed any of the first fourteen games, check out all of the previous 52 CARD GAMES.
Spades is my #1 absolute favorite game. I could play spades for days. I knew that Viet and I were meant for each other when I found out he loved spades too. If you don’t know and love this game, please promise me you’ll try it. This is the perfect double date game. 🙂
Deal all the cards. Each player gets 13 cards. Partners sit opposite from one another.
Tricks. Spades is a trick taking game, which means each of the four players will play a single card, and whoever has the best card in the hand wins one “trick.” There are 13 tricks to be claimed each round.
Bidding. Players bid the number of tricks they believe they can make starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Then the dealer’s partner will make their bid, followed by the next player, and finishing with the dealer. The bids between partners are combined for their team’s bid. (e.g. If I bid 2 tricks and my partner bids 3 tricks as a team we bid 5 tricks.)
Play. The player to the left of the dealer starts the hand by leading any card other than a spade.
All other players must follow suit unless they have no cards of that suit, in which case they can “break spades” by playing a spade. After spades are broken, spades can be lead at the start of another hand (but not until they’re broken).
The winner of a trick leads the next hand.
Winning a trick. The highest card played in the hand of a given suit wins the trick unless spades are played. If spades are played, the highest spade wins the trick.
The highest cards of the game are the highest four spades. After that the Aces in each suit are fairly strong and the Kings are also strong cards (especially if you have both the Ace and King of a single suit). When you’re trying to bid how many tricks you can take at the start of a round, you should generally count the top four spades, any Aces, and maybe Kings if you have the Ace and King of the same suit. If you lead with the Ace of a suit early on, there’s less of a chance that anyone will break spades and more of a chance that you will win the trick with your Ace. Then you can always try to lead with the King of that suit and hope it makes it around a second time without getting trumped.
Spades can also be powerful cards if you have a low number of cards of any single other suit and a high number of spades, because you can most likely trump hands in that suit. So you could bid a few tricks at least for this hand even though you don’t have any of the “best” cards.
If a team achieves exactly the number of tricks they bid, they receive ten points per trick (e.g. 5 tricks bid and 5 tricks won = 50 points for the team).
Setting. If a team wins so many tricks that they prevent the opposing team from winning the tricks that they bid, they “set” the other team. The team that doesn’t achieve the tricks they bid, recieves a negative score of ten points for each trick bid (e.g. 5 tricks bid and <5 tricks won= -50 points).
Bags. A team wins a “bag” for every trick that they win above the number of tricks they bid. For example, if a team bids 4 tricks but wins 6 tricks, they get two bags. For scoring, a team gets a single point for every bag, so in this case their score would be 42. When a team collects ten bags, they lose 100 points.
Nil. If a player bids zero tricks, they are attempting to go nil. 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 (if 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. The usual rule is that 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.
Blind Nil. A player can also choose to go blind nil. This is a nil bid declared before a player looks at his or her cards. After everyone has bid and before the first lead, the blind nil bidder may exchange two cards face down with their partner. Blind Nil may only be bid by a player whose side is losing by at least 100 points. A bid of blind nil scores twice as much as an ordinary nil – it wins 200 points if successful and loses 200 points if it fails.
Ending the Game
The first team to score 500 points wins.
Play on, players!