How Do You Bid in Spades?

By Neal Taparia - 4/3/2024

Whether you are looking for a way to pass a few quiet hours or simply looking to keep your memory and strategy skills sharp, a game of Spades can be the perfect solution. All you need is a pack of cards‒or access to a free Spades game online and knowledge of the rules! Bids in Spades are made by predicting the number of tricks you expect to win in a hand and have three possible outcomes: an accurate bid, an overtrick, or overbidding.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about bidding in a game of Spades, as well as some tips to improve your chances of a win!

Spades: An Overview

The overall goal of any game of Spades is to win an equal number of tricks you have bid. Players will want to collect cards of the highest value. This is a key difference between Spades and Hearts, as players in Hearts try to avoid particular cards whereas Spades players want to collect them.

The two types of bids in spades

In Spades, the game starts with dealing thirteen cards to each player. It has three main elements: bids, tricks, and points:


Bids are central to the game, as they determine the number of points you win in a round and whether you incur penalty points. Before playing a hand, players place a bid on the number of tricks that they expect to win based on the cards they have in their hand.

The player to the left of the dealer will begin the bidding by announcing how many tricks they expect to win in that round, and this continues around the group until every player has made a bid.

Nil Bids

The game also recognizes another type of bid, often popular with more experienced players. Known as a 'nil bid,' this occurs when a player predicts that they will win zero tricks in a particular round.

If they are correct and win the nil bid, they will be awarded one hundred points. This can be the difference between winning and losing in a particularly tight game.

If players are wrong and they do win a trick in a round, then a one hundred-point penalty is applied to your team’s score. As you can see, this is a risky strategy‒but one which can potentially be super lucrative if luck (and good technique) are on your side.


The next stage is the tricks themselves. Once again, play begins with the player to the left of the dealer placing their trump card in the center. Other players then place their own cards, and the card that is deemed the highest wins the trick. In a game of Spades, aces are high and cards from the Spades suit trump all others.


Points are allocated based on the success‒or lack thereof‒of the bid. A player who successfully bids the correct number of tricks will receive ten points, while players who bid less than they win will receive one point‒this is known as a 'bag.'

Accumulating ten bags in one game will result in an automatic penalty of one hundred points.

Top Tips for Successful Bids

So, how can you increase your chances of a successful bid for those all-important ten points? Some tips include:

Know the Cards

Before you start, make sure you know how many cards are in a deck without Jokers, and that you have a good knowledge of the cards in your hand. This will help you determine the probability of your rivals’ cards and can be useful in deciding the perfect time to play your trump cards.

Don’t Be Afraid of Bags

Bags are often demonized, but when used correctly, they can be a huge help. Remember, you get one point for every bag, and you’ll only receive the one hundred-point deduction if you reach a total of ten bags. Therefore, it is safer and smarter to bid low in the early stages of the game; this will allow you to accumulate a point without taking too much of a hit.

Wrapping Up

Spades is a game that can benefit from you playing smarter, not harder. By understanding how bids work and perfecting strategies, such as calculating probability and using bags strategically, you can make sure you have the perfect trump card to play in each and every round!