Spades is a classic card game with some basic rules. You’ll want to understand how scoring is done before you start playing the game as this will heavily affect your strategy. When learning how to play spades, it might seem like a lot at first. If you read all the way to the end and start playing, this classic card game will make a lot more sense. All you’ll need to get started are four players, a deck of cards, and these instructions on how to play spades.


  • The Players:

    Break into two teams of two. The players should sit at a table opposite each other. During the game, you’ll be doing activities like dealing the cards and playing your turn. Both activities are down in a clockwise direction around the table.

  • Ranking the Cards:

    You’ll need one standard package of 52 cards. The different cards rank from lowest to highest: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

  • Dealing the Cards:

    Choose the first dealer at random. After this first time the “dealer” shifts each round in a clockwise direction. The dealer shuffles the cards and then deals each player a single card at a time. The first card goes to the player on the dealer’s left side and then moves in a clockwise direction. Continue dealing each card until all 52 cards have been dealt.

  • The Bidding:

    Each round of the game starts with the bidding. This is where each player bids a number of tricks they’ll gain that round. As a team, the two bids are added together. That combined number is the number of tricks the team must win that round in order to gain a positive score. You may bid any number from 0 to 13.


The player to the dealer’s left is the first player to bid. The bids then move clockwise around the table.

No player is allowed to pass their bid. Once the bids are made they cannot be changed.

When someone bids 0 this is known as a nil. There is a bonus if this player is correct and wins 0 tricks, but there is a penalty if they bid nil and win any tricks during the round.

Playing the Hand: The first trick is played by the players to the dealer’s left. This card cannot be a spade. In a clockwise fashion, every player has to play the same suit that the lead card played if they are able to do so. If the player doesn’t have a card of that suit they may play a card of another suit.

Eventually, the first spade will be played. This is called “breaking spades”. This can never be done by the first player of a round unless that player only has spades in their hand.

The highest spade card played in a round is the winner of the trick. If there were no spades played, then the winner is the card of the highest rank in the suit played by the leading card.

If someone wins all 13 tricks this is known as a Boston.


  • Scoring the Game of Spades:

    At the beginning of each round, the teams made their bids. When a team takes as many tricks as they bid then they score 10 times the number of their bid. Each trick they won over their bed is known as an overtrick and is worth one extra point for each one.

  • The Sandbagging Rule Explained:

    Overtricks are also known as bags, or sandbags. When a team manages to accumulate ten or more sandbags over several dealt hands, then that team has 100 points removed from their final score. This happens for every ten bags, so if they got 20 bags they would have 200 points removed.

  • Failing to Meet the Bid:

    For every single trick that a team bids and is not met the team has 10 points deducted from their final score.

  • Nil Bids:

    A successful Nil bid earns 100 points for the team. A partner who bids Nil but fails (meaning that they won at least one trick) will have 100 points deducted from the team as penalty.

  • Winning the Game of Spades:

    The game is won by the first team to reach 500 points. In the event that both teams score 500 points in the same round, the team with the highest score is the winning team.