How Many Cards Are Dealt in Spades?

By Neal Taparia - 3/13/2024

Spades is a popular card game, often considered a staple among card players around the world. Its roots trace back to the 1930s in the United States, and it quickly grew in popularity due to its blend of simplicity and strategic depth. Spades can offer players entertainment or a mental workout, challenging players to think ahead, predict opponents' moves, and work with a partner to win.

The Basics

In a standard game of Spades, which has four players, the deck is evenly divided. This means each player receives thirteen cards. This distribution sets the stage for the bidding process, in which players predict the number of tricks they believe they can win.


If you’re just getting into the game, the best place to start is learning how to play spades with four people, as this is the way it is most commonly played. After the cards are dealt, each player studies their hand and predicts the number of tricks they expect to win. If you’re just starting out, higher cards and more spades usually indicates a good hand.


Play proceeds clockwise, with each player contributing a card to each trick. Each player must play a card of the suit that began the trick if they can. If they can’t, then they may play a card of any suit. The player who wins a trick begins the next one.


Players will agree beforehand on what score they will play to finish the game. This number is often 500, but for a short game, 200 would be a reasonable choice.

How to keep score in Spades is relatively easy. Scores are based on the accuracy of bids and the number of tricks won. If you win at least as many tricks as how many you guessed–your bid–you score ten points for each trick you bid, plus one for each additional bid. For example, if you bid four and win six, you’re awarded forty-two points.

If you win fewer tricks than you bid, you lose ten points for each trick you bid. This is part of why keeping score keeps the game engaging, as scores will fluctuate throughout the game as players have good and bad rounds. For example, if you bid four but only win three, you lose forty points.

Any tricks won beyond your bid are called bags. These accumulate between rounds, and for every ten bags, you lose one hundred points. Teammates add their scores together.

Beyond the Basics

Strategies for Success

Effective play requires more than a good hand; it requires insight into your own cards, observing and remembering other players’ cards, and bidding strategically.


Numerous variations of Spades exist, so once you’ve mastered these techniques, you can still play Spades and have a new experience each time. When you’re ready to expand your understanding and strategy, nil and blind bids can add complexity and challenge to the game.

The Social and Cognitive Benefits

One of the reasons Spades has endured is because of the benefits it provides. In the best way, Spades can be more than just a game.

Social Interaction

Spades encourages communication and teamwork, making it a great way to strengthen bonds with friends and family and make new memories.

Mental Exercise

The game sharpens critical thinking, problem solving, and strategy.

Final Thoughts

The appeal of Spades lies in its balance of luck and skill, the depth of strategy required, and the social interaction it fosters. Whether you're a seasoned player or new to the table, the game offers endless opportunities for enjoyment while never getting boring. Its blend of competitive and cooperative elements makes it a unique and engaging pastime that can bring people together, making it more than just a game–it's a shared experience.