Spades card game strategy and examples

Looking for that extra edge to make your game as sharp as the Ace of Spades itself? You're in the right place! I'm Holger, your Spades strategist, here to walk you through ace bids, daring nils, and the unspoken communication with your partner—it's like reading minds, but with cards!

Before you start, brush up or learn how to play Spades with our how to Play Spades guide. Ready to put your skills to the test? Play Spades online with other players! Now, let's shuffle up and deal. You're about to be the Spades partner everyone wants at their card table!

Spades card game - Cover your partner

May 18 2016

If the total bid is high (12 or 13), Spades players usually try to set their opponents. Sometimes, though, players will duck tricks to avoid taking bags.

No matter what the total bid is, you should be attentive to satisfying your team's bid. It's not so serious to get set if each partner has bid 1. You will only lose 20 points. As your team's bid increases, getting set has more serious consequences for your team's score.

Here is a video clip that shows a player refusing several opportunities to take an extra trick in clubs, even when there's a signal that their partner might not make their bid. The total bid is 12, so there will be 1 bag, and both sides should be looking for opportunities to set the opponent.

This is a replay of that hand, where you can see that West (Johnny) repeatedly ducks clubs tricks. Instead, West should have been looking to take extra tricks because East's King of Hearts was taken early in the hand. This was a trick that East was probably counting on taking because

West should have looked for opportunities to take an extra trick, to support their partner. Instead, he actually avoided taking tricks that could have helped, and their team was set. A loss of sixty points can be hard to make up!

Note that the opponents, North and South, collected 2 extra bags. This may eventually be harmful to their score, but the game may finish before it can hurt them. This shows how getting set has an immediate, detrimental effect on your team's score, as opposed to collecting bags, which is only harmful in the long run.