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Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

UOT Beginning Spades Tips

Spades is a fun game and its deceptively simple. It takes some playing experience to get the feel of the game before you can start using strategy to get the opponents to play the cards you want them to play. Be patient and watch how others play.  Each person and hand you play will teach you new things if you are observant.

Object of game: to take the number of tricks you and your partner have bid on between the two of you or  for one partner  to protect the other one to prevent them from taking any tricks if that partner has bid nil.

All spades are trump and will take the trick of any suit, unless a higher spade is played.

The game ends at  500 or more.


Some important basics to learn

Spades is a team effort. What affects you, effects your partner too. You must take the number of bids between the two of you to not go set. A set by the other team means you lose the number of bids made between you and your partner. Your score will slide back the number of tricks you and your partner had bid on.

Never take a trick from your partner unless you are forced to. They need their counters to make their bid. It is ok to over-trump an opponents trumping your partners card if you or your partner still needs tricks.

There are 13 tricks in each hand. Count what others have bid so you do not go over a total of 13 bid when it's your turn to bid.

Bagging: this is when your team takes more tricks than the combined number you and your partner bid on. When your team gets 10 bags your and your partner's score will roll back 100 points. Try to bid just what you can take.

Never lead out with the king, unless you know where the ace of that suit is or if it has already played. You will generally lose that trick if you do not know where the ace is or if it has been played.

uh oh,  Is that Ace still out? - Try to remember the high cards (Ace, King, Queen) that have been played in each suit and as many spades that have been played as possible so you have a good idea whether your cards will do what you need them to do. This generally takes time to learn to do but the more you can remember the better you can use strategy against your opponents..

Think 'Set the Opponent' because they surely will be thinking to do that to your team - It's a good idea to try to set the opponents when there is a 12 or 13 bid hand. You will take bags to do this but you must take every trick you can when the opportunity arises. Do not pass up the opportunity when you know your partner can not take it.  It is not worth the bags you will take if the combined bid total is 11 or less.


How to Bid:  Count your Aces and Kings. Ace of spades always takes a trick so do not ever go nil if you have one in your hand. Most times, by the time the play comes around for the third time your Queen will be trumped by someone. You may count three spades, as one trick, if they are not very low. The higher the better to take a trick.

Spades Bidding Examples

Playing a Nil hand

A Nil bid is where one partner does not want to take any tricks at all because they do not have a good hand to take tricks. Their partner must protect them from taking a trick by playing the highest card in any suit they can when they have the lead or by trumping the suit if possible or needed if the opponents are not helping protect the person who bid the Nil.. This means 100 points will be added to your score if the nil is successful.

I generally only go Nil when I have no more than 3 small spades, (having no spades is best) and am short suited in one or two suits with no high ones and long suited (at least 5 or more in one suit) where I have at least 3 small cards in the suit I have several cards in. It is pretty safe if you have a high card and a medium card in the long suit as long as you have little ones to help protect yourself.

The defending partner can throw off small cards from a suit that the nil bidding partner is out of so the person bidding nil can throw high cards from other suits away because they have no cards in that suit.  That is called sloughing. When its obvious the opponents are protecting the nil bidder by throwing a high card like an Ace or King, the protecting partner can throw off their small cards in that suit.

The opponents will be working to force the nil bidder to take a trick by playing low cards. Sometimes the opponents have such good hands they are able to bid around a 10 between them. They will need to make their bid total in order to get a score as much or as near as the 100 point score the successful Nil will bring to the other team. If the combined bid between the protector  is 3 and the other team bid 10 between them, the total is 13, so there is no wiggle room for the opponents to not get their bid and that means they will help in most cases.

It is far better to have the protector sacrifice their 3 bid if necessary in order to save the Nil bid because a score of 100 is far better than a score of 30. In most cases the protecting partner will take bags in defending the Nil bid. When a Nil is successful and the defending partner makes their bid the two scores are combined for that hand.

Nil:  Never bid nil with an ace of spades. The King, Queen, Jack and Ten of spades are all very risky in a nil attempt because if your partner does not have the high spades needed to take yours you will lose your nil bid in most cases. Players are not required to play their highest cards in their hands and can throw a card out lower then yours. That makes you take the trick unless your partner has a higher card than yours.

Never nil with an ace of spades in your hand or high cards in other suits where you do not have a few tiny cards in that suit to protect yourself. If you have them in your hand, your partner obviously does not and can not protect you.
If the other team has played a higher card, and you are sure that your partner can or has got under it, throw off a very low card in that suit. If you are out of that suit, it is acceptable to slough off a low card from another suit, rather than use a spade to trump. But always protect your partner to the best of your ability. If you are in doubt that your partner can go under what is played, then by all means put a trump on it.

It is possible for a team member from each team to go Nil and both make them because the partners have to protect their partner as best they can. However, if you have the highest cards and not a lot of back up with long suits and low cards you do not want to try a double Nil.

Here are some Nil hand examples


The Art of Bagging your opponents.

This is one you must be shown. Come to the classes so I might do that.

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