Spades is a partnership game similar to Bridge. It requires nothing more than a standard deck of 52 cards and a notepad for each player to track bids and points. Dealing begins with a random selection of player and then moves clockwise on each successive round.
The card rank for a game of Spades is the traditional Ace to two descending. The dealer hands out the cards until all have been dealt, which means 13 for each player. It is at this point that bidding can begin.
A bid is simply the number of tricks a player believes their team will win. It can be from zero to thirteen, but it is important to remember that scoring is meant to punish and discourage inexact bidding. What this translates to is that teams that overbid are punished only minimally, while teams that underbid are punished fully.
Each team will add up the total number of tricks they must win in order to get the best score possible. Unlike many other bidding card games, the bidders in a game of Spades do not have to make bids higher than the player before them. There is one round of bids and then play begins.
There are two specialty bids in Spades and these are Nil and Blind Nil. The player who bids Nil believes they will not win a trick in the hand, if this is true the player gets bonus points. If, however, they do win tricks in the hand they are penalized. A Blind Nil is one that is bid without the player having looked at their cards. The bidder of Blind Nil is allowed to exchange two random cards with their partner and their team must be losing by at least one hundred points at the time.
A trick is played by the player to the dealer’s left establishing the suit, and the succeeding players must follow suit if possible. If a trick contains a spade it is won by the highest spade appearing. If it is following suit, it is the highest card in suit that wins. The winner of a trick leads the next. Players continue until all cards are gone.
To score the hand, the teams that took as many tricks as they bid gets ten times their bid. Any additional winning tricks get one point each. Additional tricks are known as bags, and any team that happens to accumulate ten or more will be penalized by one hundred points.
Fifty points are rewarded to the Nil bidder, plus the score won or lost by their partner for the tricks made. Of course fifty points are deducted from the score if the Nil bid is a failure. One hundred points goes to the Blind Nil bidder in addition to the score that was won or lost by their partner. It is a one hundred point loss, however if the Blind Nil was a failure.
If a team did not make its bid, a deduction of ten points for each trick taken is levied. The game ends when one team reaches five hundred points.