The dealer deals thirteen cards to each player. Both bidding and play begin to the left of the dealer.
Even though Spades is played with teams, everyone gives an individual bid. When making your bid, remember that there are thirteen tricks in all to be taken. Keep track of what everyone else is bidding and don't make your bid so high that it makes the total bids go over thirteen.
Spades are the automatic trump; however other suits of high ranks are included as possible trick takers. Please keep that in mind as you place bids. The cards are ranked from Ace as the highest to deuce (two) as the lowest. Think of it this way; a two of spades dominates a card of any other suit, even an Ace.
If you want to bid nil, make sure you do not have many high cards in your hand. When you bid nil, you are stating that you will take absolutely no tricks at all during that entire hand. If you do, your team will pay a penalty of 100 points. Should you be successful with your nil bid, your team gains 100 points.
With every hand, the first card that is laid down is the one to beat. You must follow suit if you can. Should you not be able to follow suit, you can try to trump the trick with a spade. If you do not have a spade card to trump with, or a suit card to follow; then lay down any one of your cards.
Spades cannot be lead until they are broken. Broken is when someone lays down a spade if they have no other suit cards to play. Let's say someone has laid down a heart and you have no hearts to follow with. Lay down a spade to try to trump and take that trick. In other words, you cannot open the game with a spade unless that is the only suit of cards in your hand.
A trick is always won by the highest suit on the table, or the highest spade on the table.
Scoring is 10 points per bid whether you win or lose the bidding. If your team bid 5 altogether and you got 5 bids, that is 50 points. If your team bid 8 and you only got 7 tricks, that is a score of -80. If you bid 6 and you get 7 tricks, that is a score of 61 (60 for the tricks and 1 point for the extra bid taken).
Remember that nil bids are equal to 100 points. If you bid nil and took a trick, then your team loses 100 points. If you bid nil and took no tricks, then your team gains 100 points.
The first team to reach 500 points is the winner.
Don't out-trump your partner if you can help it. If he or she only bid one; that trick they are trumping may be the one they were counting on.
Decide if you are going to use any of the game variations as you play and stick with the variation throughout the whole game.
Wait until the dealer has dealt the cards to everyone before picking up your hand to look at the cards you were dealt. This gives everyone the same chance to think and do a little strategizing.
Some people believe in passing four cards to the left before bidding begins. You may decide whether or not to look at the cards before passing.
Bags are points that are given to you if you go over the tricks you bid. Each bag, which is any point over your bid, is worth 1 point. Beware; bags are not good points to accumulate. If you reach ten bags, you subtract 100 from your score. Not all people play using the bag system.
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