How to play Spades

This trick-taking card game is played in teams and is one of the most popular card games in the world. It’s easy to learn, but can get increasingly more strategic as you play. Learn how to play below, or jump into a game on the app!

The Objective

Spades is played by four players in two teams. The objective of the game is for each team to try and win as many tricks as possible, with the ultimate goal being to reach 500 points.

Tricks & Card Values

Spades is a trick-taking game, which means that players take turns playing a single card and the player with the highest card wins the trick. The order of card values, from highest to lowest, is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

The Spades suit is special in this game, because it trumps all other cards in play. If multiple spades are played, the highest spade wins the trick.

The Deal

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals out all 52 cards to the four players. Each player receives 13 cards.


After the cards have been dealt, each player bids on how many tricks they believe they can win in the upcoming hand. The minimum bid is zero and the maximum is 13. Players cannot bid a number that would cause the total number of tricks bid by all players to exceed 13.

If a player bids "0", this is called "bidding nil". A player who bids nil bis claiming that they won't win any tricks during the hand. If the player is successful, their team earns 100-point bonus. But beware...if the player wins one or more tricks, their partnership receives a 100-point penalty!


The player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick by playing any card from their hand. The other players then play a card in turn, with each player required to follow suit if possible. The player who plays the highest card of the suit led wins the trick and leads the next trick. If a player cannot follow suit, they can play any other card in their hand. The winner of the trick leads the next card.


At the end of the hand, each team's score is calculated based on the number of tricks they won and the number of tricks they bid. If a team wins at least as many tricks as they bid, they receive 10 points per trick bid. If they win fewer tricks than they bid, they lose 10 points per trick bid. The team that reaches 500 points first wins the game.


In the game of Spades, a "bag" refers to a penalty point that is incurred when a player takes more tricks than they bid. Each bag is worth one penalty point, and a player or team may accumulate multiple bags throughout the game.

The accumulation of bags is important because if a player or team accumulates ten bags throughout the course of the game, they lose 100 points. This penalty is known as the "set" or "sandbag" penalty.

To avoid accumulating bags, players must carefully consider their bids and try to accurately predict the number of tricks they will take. They must also pay attention to the number of bags they and their opponents have accumulated throughout the game.

Tips for Playing Spades

Spades is a game of strategy and a bit of memory–keep track of which cards have been played, and which cards are still in play.  And remember, avoid taking too many bags! Here are some other helpful tricks: 

  • When you're leading a trick, try to lead with a low card from a weak suit to avoid giving away strong cards..
  • Don't be too aggressive with your bids, especially if you don't have a strong hand.
  • When you're leading a trick, try to lead with a low card from a weak suit to avoid giving away strong cards

Here's a video to see Spades explained in action! and play Spades with friends!

With a little practice, anyone can learn how to play and enjoy Spades. To learn the nuances of the game, and become a better Spades player, gather your friends and family over a deck of cards, or check out the app! Play with real people in real time, or practice with bots on! Explore other fun games like Hearts, Liar’s Dice, or’s collaborative crossword!

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