How Many Books Are in Spades?

By Neal Taparia - 5/24/2024

How many books are there in Spades

The point of Spades is for players to bid, or predict, how many tricks they will win each hand. A ‘book’ is another way of referring to a trick, and there are thirteen books in each hand.

This article will look at the world of Spades and explore some of the basic rules so you can understand the importance of books in this game.

A Brief History of Spades

Originating in the 1930s, Spades is a relatively new card game compared to games like Bridge or Poker. The game's simplicity and depth of strategy contribute to its widespread appeal, making it a favorite game of many households.

How to Play Spades, Step By Step

Spades is played by two teams of two players. The deck is standard, and Spades is always the trump suit. A fifty-two-card deck is divided evenly among the four players, leading to four thirteen-card hands.

Next, players guess how many books they believe they will win. This is based on the cards in their hand, the number of spade-suited cards they were dealt, and their insight into the game. The better a player is, the more quickly they can look at a hand of cards and know how much they would bid.

The player to the dealer’s left plays a card of a suit other than Spades. This repeats for each player, moving clockwise. The card each player plays must be of the suit that began the trick, as long as the player has a card of that suit.

If a player can’t play a card of the suit that began the trick, they may play a card of any other suit. When each player has taken their turn, the trick is over. Whoever played the highest card of the original suit wins. If any spades were played, the player who played the highest value spade wins.

The winning player keeps the stack of cards and begins the next trick. This stack of cards is a ‘book.’


Players are awarded ten points for each book they accurately predicted they would win, plus one point for each extra. For example, if a player bids five books and wins seven, they are awarded fifty-two points. If a player wins fewer books than they bid, they lose ten points for each book they bid. For example, if a player bids five books and wins four, they lose fifty points.

An aspect of books players must learn is ‘sandbags,’ the term for books a player wins in excess of their bid. Going above your bid may get you points in the short term, but going too far over will knock you back. Whenever a player reaches ten bags, they lose one hundred points. Players should constantly walk the line between taking enough books to meet their bid and not overreaching.

Competitive Play and Variations

Competitive Spades tournaments are common, where the standard rules might be tweaked for increased challenge or variety. Questions like, “What is ‘board’ in Spades?” often come up in these settings. ‘Board’ is the minimum bid a team can make. Board is most often four books, but it can be adjusted depending on the group and the house rules.

Board might be altered depending on the number of players. While Spades is traditionally played with four players, variations can allow for different numbers. For example, you can play Spades with six people. It simply requires adjustments to the rules and setup, modifying the bidding process and using two decks of cards instead of one.

A Smart Bid

Spades can offer the perfect blend of strategy, unpredictability, and social interaction. Whether you’re looking to sharpen your mental skills, relax with friends, or compete in high-stakes environments, Spades can provide what you’re looking for.

Understanding Spades can boost your game nights and perhaps even spark a competitive spirit. So, gather a few friends, pick up a deck of cards, and start dealing–or play conveniently play Spades online here.