Spades Tips and Strategy

Count the Cards

The ability to count cards separates the experts from the recreational players. This is not as hard as one might think. It really just takes practice. One suggestion would be to start by just trying to remember the current "boss" in each suit. So if the ace of hearts has been played, then you know the "boss" (the highest card left in that suit) is the king. You should also look to remember the spades that have been played.

If you are playing spades online, you can say the cards out loud to help you remember them, or even jot them down on a piece of paper, if you can do so without slowing down the game. The more you play and think about which cards are out, the easier you will find it to be.

Watch the Bid Total

Pay attention to the bid total. This will generally direct you on how the round should be played. If the sum of all bids is less than 11, then there are going to be a few bags hanging around. You might attempt to bag your opponents. Do this by getting rid of cards you did not count in your bid, as soon as possible. Also, make a point to lead with your short suit. This will allow you to have more control later to either trump a trick with a spade or drop another bag on your opponents.

If the bid total is higher than 12, you have to aggressively make your bid as soon as possible and attempt to set your opponent. Again, you will want to lead your short suit first and begin spading as early as you can to take down tricks. Pay attention to what suits your opponents are out of. This is a sure spade for them!

If the total bid is exactly 11 or 12, you should still look to take your tricks early. After the first few rounds you should have an idea of whether or not the opponents have underbid or overbid their hand and you can play accordingly. If an opponent is constantly underbidding their hands, give them as many bags as you can, and you will have no trouble prevailing as the 100 point subtractions eat away at their scores. If you find yourself against a very aggressive bidding opponent, you should turn up your own aggression and look to set them at every opportunity and watch to avoid being set yourself!

Short Suits First

It is good strategy to lead your short suits first. This will give you more control of the hand later so you can choose to either spade tricks to add to your total, or throw off to keep from bagging up.

Watch the Boss

Keep up with the boss! If the ace of diamonds has not been played, do not lead out with your king of diamonds unless you do not plan on taking that trick down.

Ditch the Middle Ranks

Look to get rid of your middle ranked cards when someone throws a higher card of that suit. By having the highest and lowest cards in a suit, your options are open to either take the trick in that suit or throw off.

Nil Strategy

Nil strategy is simple. Always look to throw in the highest card you can without taking the trick. Toss out the highest cards of your shortest suit when possible. Save your non-spade deuces. They won't be taking many tricks, and they're nice to have when you are getting down to the last few tricks.

Bid Accurately

It is important to make an accurate bid. The following charts are a popular guide for estimating your best bid. Again, if you are playing spades online, you can keep this chart handy beside your computer. You will want to eventually have a solid bid system memorized so that you can quickly and easily make an accurate bid no matter if you are playing with friends are on your computer.

SpadesOnline.net Bidding Chart