Did you know that Spades was more than just a pleasant way to spend an afternoon? That’s because it comes with a host of psychological and health benefits.

Ever play Spades card game? 

play Spades game online

If you don’t already know, it’s a delightful trick-taking card game involving teamwork and strategy. However, it’s not only a pleasant way to spend a lazy afternoon but also comes with surprising psychological and health benefits (by the way, you can play Spades trick-taking card game online for free at Anytime Games). Before diving into what they are, let’s review the rules. 

Setting Up 

If you’re ready to play Spades or one of its extremely popular variants, rustle up four players (including yourself). Divide players into two teams of two players each. Players sit across from each other. 

Grab a standard deck of 52 cards and remove the jokers. Choose someone to be the dealer, who hands out 13 cards to each player. Each player arranges their cards according to suit


After looking at their cards, each player bids on how many “tricks” they can take (in other words, how many rounds they can win). Each team member adds the amount of their bid to what their partner has. 

This total is the number of tricks the partnership must win to score points and avoid penalties. The round winner is the player with the highest card of the same suit as the card that led. However, spades trump all other cards. 

Any number from 0 (“nil”) to 13 is an allowable bid. Players aren’t allowed to pass, and bids don’t have to increase with each player. There’s only one bidding round. 

Bidding commences with the player sitting to the dealer’s left. Play then proceeds clockwise. 

people playing spades


The player to the dealer’s left goes first. Players can only lead with a spade if their hand only includes spades. In fact, unless a player has no choice, they can’t ever lead with spades until the suit is “broken.” 

Spades are broken when a player cannot follow suit (meaning matching the suit of the card already in play) and plays a spade. Players who cannot follow suit may choose to play spades but aren’t required to. Spades are also broken if a player has no choice other than leading with spades.

Each player lays a card down and must follow suit if they can. The player with the highest rank of the suit that started the round wins. 

However, if one or more players play a spade, the player with the highest-ranking spade wins the round. When a player wins a round, they collect the four cards used in that turn so they can tally their score later. Whoever took the trick in the previous round gets to lead in the next round. 


If a team wins the exact number of tricks bid, they get 10 times the points they bid. For instance, let’s say they said they would take 10 tricks and did. In that case, they receive 100 points. 

On the other hand, if a team fails to meet their bid, 10 times the amount of that bid gets subtracted. For example, if they bid seven and fail, they lose 70 points. 

Keep in mind that a team only has to make its combined bid to score points. In other words, a player who bids four tricks and only wins one won’t be penalized if their fellow team member takes three more tricks than was bid. 

Overbidding occurs when a team takes more tricks than was bid. The team still scores points, but for each trick over the initial bid, they get something known as a “sandbag.” For example, if a team bids eight tricks but wins 10, it scores 80 points plus two bags because of the overbid. 

Be careful because collecting 10 bags reduces your score by 100 points. 

Winning the Game 

The first team to reach 500 points is the winner. To see how the University Of Chicago plays the game, check out their rules. For an interesting history of how the spades card suit evolved over time, read what was written on Wikipedia

A Few Spades Strategy Tips 

spades card in hand

Memorize Cards That Can Beat Your Hand 

Unlike some other card games where multiple decks are used, Spades is played with a single 52-card deck. That means that anyone with a good memory can keep track of which cards have been played. However, don’t memorize every card—only those that can beat the cards you have. This can dramatically boost the odds of winning (if you want to play around with the odds of winning other card games, check out this simulator of card games). 

Let’s say you have the queen of hearts, and remember that the ace and king of heart have already been played. This means there’s a pretty good chance your queen will take the trick when you play it. 

Lead With a Low Spade

This tip is for when you have five or more spades. By leading with a low spade, the other players must follow suit with their spades. 

This means they will have fewer spades to trump your other cards, making the spades in your hand much more powerful. Use them to trump other players’ high cards. 

Keep Player Order in Mind at All Times 

Keeping in mind the player order is crucial in most card games, and spades is no exception. If you’re going first or second on a turn, don’t use high-ranking cards because it’s too risky. 

Players going after you could play an even higher card, causing you to waste your move. For example, if you’re going second in a turn, playing a spade to try to take a trick isn’t advisable because the player going after you could use a higher spade. However, if you’re third up at bat, there’s only one more player to go, so it’s less risky to make this kind of move. 

Try For a Hail Mary Pass 

If your team is way behind, it might be time for a Hail Mary pass by betting blind or nil. Bidding blind means saying how many tricks you’ll take without looking at your hand, and nil is when you bid you won’t take a single trick after looking at your cards. 

If you’re successful with either type of bid, you get 100 points added to your score. However, if you fail to make your bid, you lose 100 points. 

You can even combine the two approaches in something called blind nil. This is when you bid nil without looking at your hand. If you’re successful with this maneuver, congratulations! You get a 200-point bonus. However, you get 200 points deducted from your score if you fail. 

5 Ways Playing Spades Boosts Your Psychological Health 

Many people think playing card games such as Spades, while being an enjoyable way to while the hours away, doesn’t have any lasting psychological benefits. However, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Spades online

In fact, people around the world are finding out how this deceptively simple card game is so much more than a mildly diverting pastime. For an example, check out this plant tradition that has been going on for years. 

Here’s how playing Spades can boost your mood, elevate your spirit, and help you feel more connected to others: 

1. Reduces Stress 

There’s no shortage of things to worry about these days. In our fast-paced world with insane demands on our attention, millions of people struggle with off-the-charts stress levels. Work, family obligations, and daily responsibilities all contribute to feeling overwhelmed. 

Moreover, chronic stress can cause health problems, including heart disease, strokes, and digestive issues. All of this is why it’s more important than ever to find ways to release tension. 

One of the best ways to do that is by playing card games like Spades. They help get rid of stress by getting you to concentrate on something other than your problems while boosting endorphin levels, the so-called “happy hormones.” This means that by engaging in this enjoyable pastime, your daily stressors—such as bills, bad news, and irritating people—will slip away into the background of your mind so you can have a little fun. 

Playing Spades can even help you recover from work-home interference, or the lingering feeling of unease after leaving the office for the day. According to a 2014 study published by the International Journal of Human-Computer Skills, individuals who play digital games such as online Spades recover from stress faster than people relying on other methods. 

2. Slows Down Memory Loss 

As we get older, the risk of cognitive decline increases. One of the first signs of a deteriorating mind is memory loss. 

It’s normal to forget things once in a while as we age. However, serious memory problems make it difficult to do everyday things such as driving, following a recipe and finding your way home. 

The good news is that proven techniques can help put the brakes on age-related memory loss. For example, keeping your mental muscles limber by playing card games such as Spades. Studies have shown that playing card games where strategy is involved can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. This makes memory loss less acute. 

The cognitive abilities playing Spades calls for—such as concentration, logic, and remembering which cards have already been played—stimulate neurons and forge brand-new neural pathways. This can keep our minds sharp as a tack—even in our golden years. 

3. Alleviates Loneliness

Loneliness is an ever-present reality in this post-pandemic world of ours. Research by global health services company Cigna shows that three in five Americans feel an acute sense of being cut off from the rest of humanity. This is tragic, considering that it makes mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety worse. 

In the post-COVID world, many people who’ve gotten used to isolating don’t know how to get themselves back into the swing of things. They desperately long for connection but don’t do anything about it because their social skills have deteriorated. 

Because card games can be terrific icebreakers, they can help lonely individuals connect with others, which is one of the most crucial elements in leading a healthy and happy existence. Card games do this by sparking conversations, encouraging teamwork, and creating an atmosphere of friendly competition. 

Stress is easier to manage when you’re surrounded by friends. Being around others has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone. You don’t even need to talk about your challenges—simply pull out a deck of cards and start playing to receive the stress-reducing benefits of this enjoyable pastime. 

Even if someone only plays the game online, they can enjoy its social benefits by playing with others gathered around their computer or mobile device. They can also participate with other human beings remotely, which helps alleviate the unbearable loneliness that has unfortunately become a hallmark of our times. 

4. Builds Perseverance 

At every stage of life, there are going to be barriers blocking your path. To overcome these stumbling blocks so you can move forward, you need to persevere. 

This is a crucial skill that can lead to higher levels of success in every life area, whether at work, school or in your personal life. Playing card games like Spades is a way to repeatedly fail without consequences or criticism and can help build this much-needed trait.

5. Preserves Fine Motor Skills 

Everyone knows that diseases such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s are part of growing old. However, there’s also degeneration of fine motor skills to think about. The ability to feed and dress yourself, turn doorknobs, and hold a pen in your hands depends on the coordination and movement of tiny tendons and muscles.  

Being able to preserve fine motor skills can frequently mean the difference between living at home by yourself or needing to stay in an assisted living facility. Playing cards can help because things such as holding them, laying them down, and shuffling them can slow down the deterioration of fine motor skills. Moreover, they do it in a way that’s more enjoyable than traditional rehabilitative therapy. 

Final Thoughts 

These days, research has dispelled the idea that playing cards has no real-world effect. In fact, playing card games such as Spades has some surprising psychological and health benefits, such as helping to slow down the memory loss that comes with getting older. 

Playing cards can be a way for an individual lacking social skills to reach out to others. That way, they’ll finally have the human connection they desperately longed for. They’re one of the best ways to keep stress at bay so your mental and physical health doesn’t suffer. 

Simply call up a few friends, grab a deck, and have a wonderful time engaging in a diversion that has entertained generations, even if they might not have been aware of the beneficial effects on their minds and bodies.