Spades is a trick taking game, like Hearts, Euchre, Whist or Bridge. It's played with 2 teams of 2 players.
Spades uses a 52 card deck and each player is dealt 13 cards. The player with the 2 of Clubs will play the first card.
Cards are ranked (highest to lowest) A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2
The objective is to be the first team to reach 500 points.
To earn points for your team, you need to win tricks, rounds of cards played to the center of the table.
Now it's time to bid. Bidding happens after the hand of 13 cards are dealt to you. Try to guess how many tricks you feel you can take given what your cards look like, that's your bid. You're committed to win the tricks you bid as well as your partners as a team. You and your partner can cover for each other as it doesn't matter which one of you takes the trick as long as you get all the tricks your team declared that they can.
Once bidding is done, the player with the 2 of clubs will lead the 1st trick. Players must follow suit of the lead card if they have cards in that suit. The highest value of the 4 cards wins the trick. If you don't have that suit, you can play a different card.
The Trump cards
In Spades the Spades suit is their trump suit. So if you are out of the lead card suit, you can play a Spade. The spade will be the highest value card and will win the trick. If more than one spade is played, the highest spade wins the trick.
There is one bidding option that really affects the game play, and that's bidding "NIL" or nothing. If you bid Nil, you must not take any tricks or your team's nil is lost, costing you 100 points, if your team can pull it off though it is worth 100 points. Your partner will need to work hard to protect you from taking a trick and you'll need strategies on ways to protect yourself.
For full walkthrough tutorials, check out Hardwood Spades. There we have interactive tutorials that will get you up and running in no time!
Variations on Spades
Cutthroat / Individual
Instead of teams, in Cutthroat you're on your own. No partner, so on one side that's nice not having to worry about their choices, but on the other, you have nobody to save you from yours.
With mirrors, your bid is decided for you by how many spades are dealt to your hand.?