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Variations on the Game of Spades

There are many variations on the game of Spades. Some variations change the game so much as to make it another game entirely. We will concentrate here on how Spades can accommodate different numbers of players, and some rules adjustments that can facilitate the flow of the game for some players.

Spades for Three Players

To play Spades with three people, simply remove the two of clubs from the deck. Each player plays on his own. The dealer deals out all the cards. Each player should be dealt seventeen cards. Bidding proceeds as in the standard rules. Warning: nil is a much more difficult bid to fulfill in this variation.

Spades for Two Players

Bidding a Strong Diamond Hand
How Would You Bid This Hand?

To play Spades with two players requires an elaborate method for dealing. All 52 cards are used. The pack is laid down between the two players. Beginning with the player not considered the dealer, a card is drawn. The player decides whether or not to keep the card for his or her hand. If the card is retained, the next card on the pile is put in a discard pile face down. (The player may or may not look at the second card depending on agreement of the players.) If the initial card is refused, it is then discarded and the next card is added to the player's hand. This procedure is then performed alternately between the players until all of the cards have been gone through. Each player should have 13 cards in his or her hand.

Bidding and play then proceeds as in the basic game of Spades. In this variation, a fulfilled nil bid is a virtual impossibility, especially if the opponent is looking out for it.

Spades for Six

Use two decks with the deuce of clubs removed from each deck. There are three sets of partners. When equal cards are played, the second card is considered better. Other play proceeds as in the standard game.

Disregarding the Bag Rule

In some places the 100 point penalty for 10 bags is not imposed. This has the effect of making the bidding less precise, and increases the amount of help a player is able to give a partner in making a bid. In this variation, teams are set less often. However, it does also allow some added scope for deceptive bidding. Players can bid low with the idea of getting another player to bid high, in the hopes of being able to set the other player.

Using the Jokers

Some players like to include the use of jokers. In this case, the jokers are designated big joker (highest trump) and little joker (second highest trump). In the deal, the last two cards are not used for the hand. This has the effect of slightly unbalancing the non-trump suits. Leaving out the last two cards also makes it more difficult to count cards played.

Bemo Bid

A bemo bid requires that a team take the first 6 tricks for a bonus of 60 points in addition to whatever the usual bid garners. A "big bemo" is a bid for the first nine tricks. Failure to make the bemo would create a loss of 60 or 90 depending on the extent of the bid. Allowing bemo bids rewards hands that are high-card intensive.


A variation called Whiz requires that each player bid the number of Spades within his or her hand. This can create intricate play as players attempt to conform their play to their bid. It also becomes advantageous to sandbag a trick every hand to set opposing players, even thought in the long run it could bring on the penalty for bagging.

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