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Spades Rules: How Do You Play Spades?

Spades Rules

Spades is a game of strategy and skill.  Unlike other card games, players have the opportunity to make things happen in game play, regardless of what cards you were dealt.  What is important about playing spades is that you work well with your partner, understanding game play cues and following each other’s lead, and that you remember the rules of the game.  That said Spades is one of those games that you never stop enjoying.  Once you learn how to play, you will develop strategies that will make you an unbeatable force.

Quick Overview of Spades Rules

Spades is a “trick taking” game, which means that each player puts are card out and the higher card wins the trick or book.  You can play Spades with anywhere from 2-5 players.  The amount of players dictates how many cards are dealt.  The winner is determined by winning the most tricks or books.  These instructions will be focused on playing with a partner (4-player game).  Therefore, then two of diamonds and the 2 of clubs will be removed to make room for the Big and Little Jokers.


There is some terminology used in Spades that is beneficial to know before you start playing.

  • Cutting – When you use trump – Spades — to win instead of the suit being played
  • Throwing Off – Throwing a suit other than the suit being played but not cutting with a spade
  • Trump – Cards used to cut tricks.  In this game trump is always spades
  • Trick or Book – The discarded cards in a round
  • Renege – Throwing off or cutting when you have the ability to follow suit
  • Breaking Spades – This means that someone has already used a spade to cut a book

Game Play

Once you have determined who the dealer is by selecting high card, the deck is dealt.  Each player will have 13 cards in their hand.  It makes sense to order your cards by suit and in numerical order.  A word of caution: you might consider alternating suits in your hands.  A club and a spade look similar in the heat of battle, but they pack a totally different punch!


Once all the cads have been dealt, each team will bid.  Bidding is the process of deciding how many tricks will be won in the hand.  Each person looks at their own hand and decides what they think they can win.  Then they talk it over with their partner, being careful not to tell which suits they are strong in or what definitely winners (like an ace) they have.   Once the two have decided how many books they can take, the number is written down.  Be sure you agree – many “house rules” state that you can’t change your bid to go down – you can only go up.

Hint:  When deciding how many books you can make, think about the suit itself.  Each suit starts with an ace and is then followed by a king, queen, and jack.  These are considered your tops.  Since nothing is higher than an ace in a given suit (except Spades, since your added the Big and Little jokers respectively), you might count this as a book you can take.

Once everyone has set their bid the person to the left of the dealer starts the game.  Some people lead with a winner, other people lead with a loser that will draw out a winner so their winner is free to win the next round – that is a matter of strategy and something you will experiment with as you play more.  Each person follows suit unless they can’t.  In that instance, the person must use a space to cut the book.  Once a book is cut, if no other spades are played, the space wins.  So if a book is winning by a king of hearts and the last player cuts it with a two of spades, the spade wins.  The winner leads the next round and throws out a card.  Game play continues along this vein until all of the cards have been used.

Hours of fun can be had playing this fast-paced game.  Work on your strategy and happy cutting!

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