Spades is a popular trick-taking game under the Whist family. The rules are straightforward allowing all family members, regardless of age, to enjoy the game as they should. In fact, playing Spades is one of the most common leisure activities among all ages.
But just like any other game, Spades has a scoring system to determine the winner. If anything, it’s the part of the game that needs the most attention to detail, because, after all, the score sheet is where Spades starts and ends.
Before delving into the nuances of scoring Spades, let’s first review how it’s played.
How to Play Spades
Spades is one of those games that’s easier to learn as you go. To start, here are the essential things you need to know:
- Spades is a partnership game normally played by four people using the standard 52-card deck.
- The dealer starts the game by dividing the cards equally among the players. Each player gets 13 cards.
- Each player may only play one card per turn or “trick.” That means in each game, there are 13 “tricks” up for grabs.
- Every won trick earns points, but there are also ways in which you end up losing points.
- The game’s ultimate objective is for a team to reach 500 points before the other pair does.
These are the most essential things you need to know about Spades. However, you’ll learn more about strategy as you play along. We’ll get into the specifics now by examining the three stages of the game: the deal, bidding, and gameplay.
The game starts by selecting a dealer, often by drawing cards. After selecting the dealer, the rotation moves clockwise. Each participant is then dealt one card at a time until no more cards can be dealt. In a four-person game, this means each player receives 13 cards.
After the deal, the players assess their cards and bid on how many tricks they could win in the round. For example, if a player sees that he has three Aces and some high-ranking cards, he determines that he could probably win seven tricks; thus, he is bidding “seven.”
Bidding begins with the player on the dealer’s left and proceeds clockwise. There are also called blind bids and nil bids. A blind bid is a bid made without looking at the cards, while a nil bid is a ZERO bid. If you’re making a blind or nil bid, ensure that you hit the goal because if not, points will be deducted. Successful blind and nil bids also incur bonuses.
When playing as a team, the number of bids by each teammate is totaled. This acts as the goal that each team must try to attain.
After the players make their bids, the fun starts. Each round starts with the player to the left of the dealer laying a card face-up. He can start with any card except a Spade. The game then proceeds clockwise, with each player laying their card. The catch is that each participant must place a card of the same suit as the first.
Now, this is where the magic and pandemonium happen, in a fun way, of course. If a player doesn’t have a card of the same suit, he can throw any card. If he decides to throw a Spade, he automatically wins the trick. Spade-suited cards are now unlocked at this point, and anyone can start a trick with a Spade.
In this game, Spades automatically trumps cards of any suit. The player that throws a Spade with the highest value wins the trick. The player who won the last trick will start the following round. The game will continue until all the cards have already been used. The number of tricks won determines how many points are awarded.
How to Keep Score in Spades
Keeping score in Spades is a relatively simple process. There are only two things to keep in mind– recording the bids, the tricks, and the bags after each round. The first to 500 points is determined as the winner.
Some may have developed their own scoring approach, but below is the most common:
- You score 10 points for each trick you bid on and an extra point for a bag. A bag is an additional trick you won that got you over your bidding limit. For example, if you bid 5 tricks but won six, your score is 50+1= 51 points.
- It’s possible to lose points, and one way to do that is by failing to reach your bid. You lose 10 points for every trick you do not reach. For example, if you bid 5 and only win three tricks, you will lose 50 points.
- Underbidding, or bidding on fewer tricks you can get, should be avoided. Even though an extra trick (called a bag) gets you an extra point, acquiring 10 in total incurs a 100-point penalty. The number of bags is carried on from one round to the next. For instance, if you had three bags in Round 1, four in Round 2, and another three in Round 3, 100 points will be deducted from your total score.
- As previously mentioned, successful nil and blind bids get you an extra 100 points. If you bid nil, you are not allowed to win even one trick because if you do, that 100-point deduction is waiting. Blind bids are a bit different. You can go over your blind bid, but you won’t get bonus points. However, if you end up having less than your blind bid will result in a stiff 100-point penalty.
- Points are tallied and scored at the end of each round and added to the previous round’s scores. More often than not, the goal score is 500, so the first team to reach 500 points wins the game.
Benefits of Playing Spades
Playing cards are common pastime tools everywhere in the world. But did you know playing card games, such as Spades, bring more benefits than you realize? Here are some of them:
- Spades develop your skills, whether it’s cognitive, mental, and social skills.
- Spades improve memory and concentration.
- Card games reduce stress.
- Spades encourages team work and forming relationships.
- Spades help you to be patient and teaches kids some basic math skills.