Spades game was invented almost a century ago in the 1930s and remains one of the most popular card games to this day. While learning to play the game is rarely a challenge, getting good at it requires reading and practice.
There are several strategies that you can learn to take your Spades skills to the next level. We discuss some of the essential strategies Spades players should know in this post.
Spades Bidding Strategies
Getting the bidding right can give you an edge over your opponents. Here are some tips you should remember when bidding in Spades:
- Observe your partner and learn their bidding strategies. If you notice that your partner tends to overbid or underbid, it’s best to alter your bids to compensate for their mistakes.
- If you’re the third or fourth player to bid, bear in mind what your partner bid. If your partner bids a low number, you must adjust your bid accordingly. You never know when you end up taking some unexpected tricks.
- Conventionally, Spades players count their King and Ace cards as one trick each. Additionally, high Spades cards almost always count for one trick each.
Nil Bidding Strategies
- Teammates need to align their approach to the game according to the bid they make. For instance, if your team bids high (10+ tricks), you will need to play aggressively and begin taking tricks right from the beginning of the game. Conversely, if your team bids low, playing conservatively is the right way to go since you don’t want to invoke the sandbagging rule.
- Bidding nil is considered a bad move if the player has a long hand in Spades. If you have four or more Spades cards, do not bid nil since the other team will play conservatively, leading to a hundred-point penalty. Your partner will not be able to cover the points you lost.
- Getting zero tricks in a Spades game is challenging, especially if you have three or less than three cards in a suit. Bidding nil is only smart if you have a low-ranking hand with a few or zero troublesome cards.
- If your partner bids nil, you will need to throw cards higher than their cards to try and cover for them as you see fit. If you get the chance to lead, lead with a high card. If you don’t have the chance to lead, observe your opponents’ cards and see if your partner will surely lose the trick. When your partner bids nil, you will need to hold onto your high cards to help your partner since if they pull it off, your team will score big.
Partnership Tactics Spades Players Should Know
Learning your partner’s playstyle can go a long way in improving the outcomes of your games. Here are some tips that can help:
- If your partner is positioned to take a trick, and you know that the trick will count in their bid, do not take the trick by playing a higher card. Laying down your Ace if you see your partner play a King of Diamonds will only hurt your team’s chances of winning.
- If your teammate loses a trick that you expected them to take, you must attempt to take an extra trick to make up for the loss.
- Always keep a close eye on the cards your partner plays. It will give you hints about their hand. For instance, if your teammate leads with a card from the middle of a suit, it may indicate that it’s their only other card in the suit. Also, if you notice them playing an odd card, they may be out of cards in the suit.
Tracking the cards that have been played is one of the key skills that expert Spades players develop. Spades involves 13 cards from every suit, and knowing which of them remain in other players’ hands can help you make informed decisions.
Keeping track of every card on the table is challenging for beginners, and it is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to develop. If you’re having trouble keeping track of the cards, it’s best to start by keeping track of every suit’s King and Ace cards.
If you notice that the Ace of a suit hasn’t been played, don’t play your King card. Once you’re able to do this, keeping track of the Queen cards should be your next move. It will help you determine when the right time to play other cards is.
Where to play Spades Online
If you’re looking to play a game of Spades, but don’t have a group of friends to play with, there are a number of online options where you can get a game. Here are two we recommend:
- Playspades-online – Play against the computer version of Taylor Swift of Donald Trump for extra fun
- Spades on Solitaired – Enter your name, and play unlimited versions against their computer players. A multiplayer version is expected soon.
Learning to play Spades well takes time and effort, and practicing the tactics you learn is the only way to get better. You don’t have to sit down with friends and family to be able to practice.
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