Spades versus Hearts

By Neal Taparia - 4/10/2024

Hearts vs. Spades

Whether you play Spades for free online or indulge in a little whist with a friend, card games are perfect for keeping your mind super sharp. There is often a lot of debate on the best game, and two titles in particular tend to commonly go head to head: Spades and Hearts.

While similar, there are two key differences between the two games: Spades focuses on trying to lay the highest-ranking card to win the trick, while Hearts is all about avoiding certain cards that could result in penalty points. Additionally, Spades rewards the player who racks up the most points, while Hearts winners are those with the lowest points at the end of the game.

Whether you are new to the world of trick-taking card games or simply looking to learn more about popular titles, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you understand the difference between Spades and Hearts‒read on for all you need to know!

Summary of the difference between Hearts and Spades

What Is Spades?

Spades is a trick-turning game centered around each player trying to win a trick by having the highest card in any round. Making a bid in Spades means estimating or predicting the number of tricks you expect to win in any particular round‒and if your card is ranked the highest, you will win the trick.

A successful bid‒where you correctly bid the number of tricks you are going to win‒will net you ten points. A 'bag', or overtrick, refers to the practice of bidding fewer tricks than you win, and this will win you one point. Keep in mind that collecting a total of ten bags in a game will result in a one hundred-point dedication, so cautious bids must be part of a longer-term strategy.

Nil in Spades

So, what does 'nil' mean in Spades? Spades also offer another bidding option‒a 'nil bid.' As the name suggests, this allows players to bid that they will win zero tricks in the next round.

If they are correct, they will be rewarded with a one hundred-point bonus. An unsuccessful nil bid can have the opposite effect, however, and may result in a one hundred-point penalty if they do end up winning a trick.

What Is Hearts?

Hearts is another trick-taking card game that is often compared to Spades, but there is a key difference between the two styles. Unlike Spades, Hearts is an evasive game, with the goal to avoid any Hearts cards, as well as the Queen of Spades.

Hearts cards are worth just one point, but the Queen of Spades could net you an impressive thirteen points. Because the goal of Hearts is to finish with as few points as possible, these are not additions you want in your deck!

While Spades declares a winner when a player reaches 500 points, a game of Hearts is finished when one hundred or fifty points are reached, and the player with the lowest score at this point wins the competition.

Closing Thoughts

As we have seen, there are two key differences between the games: the objective and the scoring system. While Spades focuses on high ranking cards, with the goal of being the first to get to 500, Hearts is an evasive style where you want to keep your score as low as possible.

Ultimately, both games offer a chance to strategize and think deeply, and both offer plenty of fun‒not to mention more than a little healthy competition! Why not give both activities a try, and see which is the best fit for your skill set?