Spades Variations

This page is a collection of invented variations of the traditional card game Spades submitted by readers of pagat.com.

Tracy Daniels used to run a Lovetoplay Cards blog for discussion of Spades variations.


Evil Spades

Contributed by Denise Never, who says: "I didn't invent or write this, but I got ahold of this list. The game is spades, just a different set of rules for each hand. Listed are the rules for each hand." [Editor's comments in italics and square brackets]

Remember, spades are always trump!!

  1. reg [Regular Spades, played by the normal rules]
  2. mirrors [You must bid the number of spades in your hand.]
  3. suicide [One player of each partnership must bid nil; the other bids normally.]
  4. pressure, must trump if out of suit, even if partner's trick
  5. dn, one on each team [dn = double nil]
  6. homicide, last bidder must make tricks equal 14, 1st and 3rd bidder, must bid at least 2
  7. bags..all must bid 1
  8. insane, i pard must go nil, the other must do mirrors
  9. nil, everyone
  10. blind, everyone goes DN
  11. kiss of death, everyone bids 4
  12. face off, all bid only # of J Q K of all suits in hands, total bid should be 12
  13. Diamond mirror, bid # of diamonds in your hand
  14. Deuce...player with 2 of spades, bids 2 everyone reg bid
  15. accident or crazy, player with A spades, bids 9, everyone else goes nil
  16. Backseat or reflection, bid same as partner
  17. Succession, first bidder bids 1, 2nd 2, ect
  18. copycat, all bids same as 1st bidder
  19. nil, dbl nil, one one each team goes nil the other dn
  20. 9er, the 9 of spades holder goes nil, everyone else bids reg
  21. Hang 'em, 1st and 2nd bidder bid 2, 3rd bidder, reg, and the 4th makes it 14, no one bids 1
  22. Club mirrors, bid # of clubs
  23. Jack, J of Diamonds goes nil, reg otherwise
  24. Crazy 8, for every 8 in hand, must bid 3
  25. Low ball, have to play low to high, only, bidding reg
  26. Aces up, bid 3 for A of hearts, clubs and diamonds...4 for the Ace of spades
  27. Acey Deucey, bid 2 for all A and 2s in hand
  28. Screamers, bid reg, but you can't break spades until you are trumped tight [i.e. until you have nothing but spades]
  29. Progression, bid one higher than the one before you
  30. Murder, suicide but everyone has to play lowest to highest all the way through
  31. Chance, if someone has 5 or more spades, has to bid 8, otherwise everyone bids 3. Have to tell table if you have 5 or more spades, but not the exact #...
  32. Hang 'em high, bid 3 for the J Q K spades in your hand and 4 for the Ace, if you have none of these, must bid nil
  33. Headache, bid is reg but, only the person with the Q of spades, must go nil
  34. Shovels, person with 2 or more spades, must go 2, if less than 2, bid reg
  35. 49er, person with 9 of spades, must bid 9, the rest nil
  36. Physco [should this be "psycho"spade], 1st and 2nd bidders bid nil (dn ok), reg for 3 and 4
  37. Spastic, 1st and 4th bid heart mirrors, 2nd and 3rd club mirrors
  38. Fire, 2nd and 3rd bid diamond mirrors, 1st and 4th heart mirrors
  39. Chaos, 1st bid, club mirrors, 2nd diamond mirrors 3rd hearts mirrors, 4th is spades mirror
  40. Burned, person with 2 of spades, bid 2, everyone else bid nil
  41. Dirty Spades, lead off bidder calls the suit for mirrors
  42. Laughter, player with the one eyed jack (heart or spade), must go nil, others bid reg mirror
  43. Vice, played like homicide, except you can't break spades unless trumped tight
  44. Sirens, everyone bids 3, but you have to trump if out of suit played, no matter what
  45. Winner takes all, lead off bidder, 13, everyone else dn

High/Low Spades

Paul Edwards writes: "My mom, Elsa Edwards, thought up this one."

This is a version of the family of Spades card games. All the ususal rules apply. The new rule is that the player who leads for the next trick calls either "high" or "low" and then plays a card. If the call is "high" the play for the trick is as usual. If the call is "low" then the lowest card in suit or the lowest spade played wins the trick [so in a low trick spades still beat cards of other suits but the two of spades is best]. The bidding is as usual.

This is a wicked game. It is harder to tell how the play will turn out, especially in the two handed game, where half the deck is discarded during the pick.


Three Player, Two Deck Spades

Invented by Paul Edwards

In this version, both deuces of Clubs are removed from the combined cards. The three players pick their cards just as in Spades for two players with one deck. Bidding is the same. Play is mostly the same, except that the second of equal cards wins. For example, if all are playing Diamonds and both aces are played, the second ace wins.


Miser

Contributed by Paul Edwards , who says this version comes from the Ukraine.

The object is to get the fewest tricks.

The bidding is like the high version, except that on their second turn to bid, each player may either stay at their first bid or go lower. [Presumably this is intended to be an individual, not a partnership game. It seems that, unlike most popular versions of Spades, this game is played with more than one round of bidding. Players bid a number of tricks that they must not exceed. It's not quite clear whether there are just two rounds of bidding, or as many as the players desire, until no one wants to reduce their bid further.]

One must give especial attention to entrances into and exits from one's hand.

The scoring is the reverse of "high" Spades.

  • If a player makes the bid [does not take more tricks than the bid] then the score is (13 - bid) * 10.
  • If the player doesn't make bid [takes more tricks than bid] then the score is -(13 - bid) * 10.

spade spade spade spade spade Spades - Two Players spade spade spade spade spade

Contributed by Darrin Berkley

This Two-Player Spades (a trick-based card game) is played similarly to the regular Spades (4 player) with a few adjustments.

spade Setup

Referring to the diagram below:

                         A

        (dealer)    B    E    C    (non-dealer)

                         D

Let A, B, C, and D be hands for the game. One player would have hands B and D, and the other player would have hands A and C. In other words, each player would have an additional hand to the right of them. E would be location of the cards when a play is made from each hand.

A deck of 52 cards are used (including a Big Joker and Little Joker that must be made distinct and the 2 of hearts and 2 of diamonds discarded from the game). The Jokers are considered spades and the rank of spades is as follows:

Big Joker, Little Joker, 2, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3

When dealing, deal the cards similar to the setup above beginning with the hand to the left. Dealing should alternate after each hand.

Each trick contains 4 cards (one from each hand) and there will be a total of 13 tricks.

spade Bidding

The following are bids that must be made before any cards are seen:

Nil -- One hand must give away all tricks

Double Nil -- Both hands must give away all tricks

Blind Six (Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve) -- A player must get 6 (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) tricks and must be losing by 100 points or more.

The following are bids that may be made after cards are seen and before the first card is played:

4 (Board) through 13 (Boston)

Bemo (must get the first six tricks)

Big Bemo (must get the first nine tricks)

Naught (one hand must give away all tricks)

Double Naught (both hands must give away all tricks)

After any Nil, Double Nil or Blind bids have been made, and before the main part of the bidding begins, each player may look at the entire hand directly in front of him or her: in the diagram the dealer looks at hand B, the non-dealer looks at hand C. Also, each player turns over six cards from the hand to the right. Hands A and D now each have six cards turned face up so that both players can see them: this will give the players a better idea of what to bid.

A bid that has been made and written on scorecard cannot be lowered. However, bids may be increased before the first card of the first trick is played. (Once the dealer hears the bid of the other player, it may influence the dealer to increase his or her bid.)

spade Play

Play begins with the hand to the left of the dealer. Any card may be played. All other cards played from each hand must match suit (if possible). Play then moves clockwise (for example, A, C, D, then B in diagram above, respectively).

A play ends when a card is placed in the center (E in diagram).

The highest value of the suit of the first card of the trick (or highest ranking spade) wins the trick. The hand that wins the trick begins play for the next trick.

In regards to the hands on the right of each player, the cards face up must be played before the cards face down. If the hands to the right do not have the suit of the first card of the trick, a spade that is face up must be played. If the cards face up do not include a spade or a card matching the first card of the trick, then cards should be pulled one at a time and placed face up until a spade or a card matching the first card of the trick appears. If there is no spade in the hand to the right and no matching suit of the first card of the trick after all cards are face up, any card may be played. If one of the hands to the right is the first to play to begin a trick, and no cards are face up, then the first card that is face down must be played.

spade Scoring

Type of BidSuccessfulUnsuccessful
Big Bemo90 pts-90 pts
Bemo60 pts-60 pts
Nil300 pts-50 pts
Double Nil500 pts-100 pts
Naught200 pts-100 pts
Double Naught400 pts-100 pts
Three Consecutive
Perfect Bids
80 pts----
10 Overtricks-100 pts----
20 Overtricks-200 pts----
Overtricks1 pt----
Boston500 pts-----
Bid of 4 (Board) (tricks)40 pts-40 pts
Bid of 550 pts-50 pts
Bid of 660 pts-60 pts
Bid of 770 pts-70 pts
Bid of 880 pts-80 pts
Bid of 990 pts-90 pt
Bid of 10200 pts-100 pts
Bid of 11220 pts-110 pts
Bid of 12240 pts-120 pts
Blind 6100 pts-60 pts
Blind 7120 pts-70 pts
Blind 8140 pts-80 pts
Blind 9160 pts-90 pts
Blind 10300 pts-100 pts
Blind 11320 pts-110 pts
Blind 12340 pts-120 pts

Overtrick Penalty: 10 overtricks in a game result in a loss of 100 points. 20 overtricks result in a loss of 200 points.

Renigging -- If a player (in the hand that the player can see in its entirety) has a card which matches suit of the first card of a trick, but does not play the card, the opposing player (if the player notices the renig before the trick is turned over) may take up to three books from that player at any time during that game.

spade Winning

The game ends when a player scores 500 points or more after the scoring of a hand (including all penalties). If the score is tied, the winner is determined by the player that has the least number of overbooks in the game. If both players have a score over 500 pts, the player with the highest score wins.


spade spade spade spade spade Spades - Three Players spade spade spade spade spade

Contributed by Darrin Berkley

These two versions of Three-Player Spades (a trick-based card game) are played similar to the regular Spades (4 player) with a few adjustments. Most rules are common to the two versions. Where they differ, "version 1 is in the left column and version 2 in the right column.

spade Setup

Version 1Version 2

Referring to the diagram below:


A
(dealer) BEC

D

Let A, B, C, and D be hands dealt for the game. A, B, and C belong to the three players and D is a face-down pile of cards that are not used in the game. E is the location of the cards when a play is made from each hand.

A deck of 52 cards is used (including a Big Joker and Little Joker and the 2 of hearts and 2 of diamonds removed). The Jokers are considered spades and the rank of spades is as follows:

When dealing, deal the cards to the positions A, B, C, D as shown above beginning with the hand to the left of the dealer. Turn to deal should pass to the left after each hand.

Big Joker, Little Joker, 2, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3

Each trick contains 3 cards (one from each hand) and there will be a total of 13 tricks.

Referring to the diagram below:


A
(dealer) BEC

Let A, B, C be hands dealt for the game. E is location of the cards when a play is made from each hand.

A deck of 54 cards is used (including a Big Joker and Little Joker). The Jokers are considered spades and the rank of spades is as follows:

Big Joker, Little Joker, 2, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3

When dealing, deal the cards to the positions A, B, C as shown above beginning with the hand to the left of the dealer. Turn to deal should pass to the left after each hand.

Each trick contains 3 cards (one from each hand) and there will be a total of 18 tricks.

spade Bidding

The following are bids that must be made before any cards are seen:

Blind Bids - Blind Bids must be exact to be successful.

The following are bids that may be made after cards are seen and before the first card is played:

Version 1Version 2

0 through 13 (represents the number of tricks you can obtain)

Bemo (must get the first four tricks)

Big Bemo (must get the first six tricks)

0 through 18 (represents the number of tricks you can obtain)

Bemo (must get the first five tricks)

Big Bemo (must get the first seven tricks)

When a bid is made, the bid cannot be lowered when written on scorecard; however, bids may be increased before first card of the first trick is played. (Once the dealer hears the bid of the other player, it may influence the dealer to increase his or her bid.). Bids of 2 or below must be exact to be successful.

spade Play

Play begins with the hand to the left of the dealer. Any card may be played. All other cards played from each hand must match suit (if possible). Play then moves clockwise (for example, A, C then B in diagram above, respectively).

A play ends when a card is placed in the center (E in diagram).

The highest value of the suit of the first card of the trick (or highest ranking spade if a player does not have the first non-spade card of a trick) wins the trick. The hand that wins the trick begins play for the next trick.

spade Scoring

Type of Bid
Version 1
Version 2
SuccessfulUnsuccessfulSuccessfulUnsuccessful
Big Bemo 300 pts-100 pts 200 pts-100 pts
Bemo 100 pts-50 pts 100 pts-50 pts
Three Consecutive
Perfect Bids
100 pts----- 100 pts-----
Consecutive Perfects Bids
After First Three Perfect Bids
50 pts----- 50 pts-----
10 Overtricks -100 pts----- -100 pts-----
20 Overtricks -200 pts ----- -200 pts-----
Overtricks 1 pt----- 1 pt-----
Bid of 0 (tricks) 200 pts-120 pts 400 pts-120 pts
Bid of 1 150 pts-110 pts 300 pts-110 pts
Bid of 2 100 pts-100 pts 200 pts-100 pts
Bid of 3 30 pts-30 pts 30 pts-30 pts
Bid of 4 40 pts-40 pts 40 pts-40 pts
Bid of 5 50 pts-50 pts 50 pts-50 pts
Bid of 6 60 pts-60 pts 60 pts-60 pts
Bid of 7 100 pts-70 pts 70 pts-70 pts
Bid of 8 150 pts-80 pts 80 pts-80 pts
Bid of 9 200 pts-90 pts 200 pts-90 pts
Bid of 10 225 pts-100 pts 250 pts-100 pts
Bid of 11 250 pts-110 pts 300 pts-110 pts
Bid of 12 275 pts-120 pts 350 pts-120 pts
Bid of 13 Automatic Win-130 pts 400 pts-130 pts
Bid of 14---------- 450 pts-140 pts
Bid of 15---------- 500 pts-150 pts
Bid of 16---------- 500 pts-160 pts
Bid of 17---------- Automatic Win-170 pts
Bid of 18---------- Automatic Win-180 pts
Blind 0 500 pts-120 pts 450 pts-120 pts
Blind 1 300 pts-110 pts 350 pts-110 pts
Blind 2 200 pts-100 pts 250 pts-100 pts
Blind 3 70 pts-30 pts 70 pts-30 pts
Blind 4 80 pts-40 pts 80 pts-40 pts
Blind 5 90 pts-50 pts 90 pts-50 pts
Blind 6 100 pts-60 pts 100 pts-60 pts
Blind 7 200 pts-70 pts 110 pts-70 pts
Blind 8 250 pts-80 pts 120 pts-80 pts
Blind 9 300 pts-90 pts 300 pts-90 pts
Blind 10 Automatic Win-100 pts 400 pts-100 pts
Blind 11 Automatic Win-110 pts Automatic Win-110 pts
Blind 12 Automatic Win-120 pts Automatic Win-120 pts
Blind 13 Automatic Win-130 pts Automatic Win-130 pts
Blind 14---------- Automatic Win-140 pts
Blind 15---------- Automatic Win-150 pts
Blind 16---------- Automatic Win-160 pts
Blind 17---------- Automatic Win-170 pts
Blind 18---------- Automatic Win-180 pts

Overtrick Penalty: 10 overtricks in a game result in a loss of 100 points. 20 overtricks result in a loss of 200 points.

Renigging - If a player has a card which matches suit of the first card of a trick, but does not play the card, the opposing player (if the player notices the renig before the trick is turned over) may take up to three books from that player at any time during that game.

spade Winning

The game ends when a player scores 500 points or more after the scoring of a hand (including all penalties). If the score is tied, the winner is determined by the player that has the least number of overbooks in the game. If both players have a score over 500 pts, the player with the highest score wins.

Note: The difference between the two three-player versions is that (in the first version) it is not possible to count what cards have been played because it is not known what cards are included in the discard pile. In this version, it is much more difficult to get a high (or low) number of tricks.


Royal Spades

Contributed by William Chamberlin

Players: Two

History: As poker player and a fan of "powerful" hands and cards, such as the elusive "Royal Flush", I wanted to mix some of those elements into a trick-taking game. I invented this game some time in summer 2007.

Card Rankings from low to high: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,Jack,Queen,King,Ace, Little Joker, Big Joker.

Spades are trump

Instructions:

The game can be played with or without Joker cards. Take out all cards below 10 in all suits but spades. This leaves a deck of 30 cards with jokers or 28 without, consisting only of "Royal Cards" (AKQJ10) and spades. As usual Spades are trump so a 2 of Spades can beat an Ace of any other suit. If you like playing spades with Joker Cards, make sure you label one joker card "Big" and the other "Small". Both Jokers rank above even the Ace of Spades, and the Big Joker outranks the Small Joker. Now shuffle and deal each player 13 cards. The 2 or 4 cards that are left over remain face down and are unknown to the players until after the play. Now bid, play and score as in normal Spades.


Hurricane Spades

Contributed anonymously.

This is played the same way as normal Spades, except that after the deal and before the bidding each player passes three cards to the opponent to the left. Cards are passed face down, and each player must select the cards to be passed before looking at the cards received from the right-hand opponent. There is no restriction on which cards can be passed. Obviously it is unwise to pass spades, except perhaps when intending to bid Nil, or to stop an opponent from bidding Nil.

The above passing rule is borrowed from the game of Hearts. Also, as in Hearts, the holder of the 2 of Clubs must lead it to the first trick.

The author of this variant recommends playing that the team with the better score after three hands wins the game, rather than playing to a 500 point target.

Variant. Some players may like to use one of the passing schemes from Hearts where the cards are passed differently on each deal, for example "left, right, hold, repeat".


Gambling Spades

A variation for 3-6 players by Rob McDiarmid

Before the cards are dealt all players place an ante - say 1 chip - in the central pot.

Deal out the cards equally as far as they will go. Any remaining cards are discarded and not used. The group can decide whether these unused cards are shown or not.

Bidding: Each player bids by placing chips in front of them: one chip for each trick bid. These chips are not combined with the central pot - they are used to keep track of how many tricks each player has bid.

Play: Tricks are played as usual. There are no partners.

Scoring: All players calculate their scores for the hand as follows: if a player makes their bid, they score 10 times their bid, plus 1 for overbid tricks. If the player does not make their bid, they just get 1 point per trick. The highest scoring player wins all the chips staked - the central pot and the players' bids. If there is a tie for highest the pot is split.

So, unlike regular Spades, you are not trying to reach a total score: you are just trying to be the highest scorer on each separate hand and manage your wagers.

It is possible to bid zero, but there is no nil bonus, because of the way wagers are tied to bids.

Notes.

  • The pot is usually won by the player who makes the highest successful bid, plus one or two tricks.
  • Suggested improvement: rather than have the bidding go around the table just once, have a second round, or as many rounds necessary, in which players can increase their bids by placing more chips. Bids can only be increased, never decreased.
  • There is the possibility of a "kingmaker effect" in which a player with no chance to win the pot can influence which of the other players will win. Rob says that this has not been a problem in the games that he has played, but nevertheless because of the possibility of collusion, this is probably a game that should not be played for high stakes.