Regular Spades

Game Play

  1. First Toss

    1. So you bid the King in a suit and you are void of Aces to start off the hand, what do you throw? Depends. If you bid the King in a suit where you have only two cards including the King, do not try and get the Ace out in that suit right away. There is too great a chance that the second bidder has the Queen or Jack that might allow his partner not to use his Ace, and then your King is trumped. Lead a ten or higher from another suit. Why? Because one of two things may occur: a. your partner has the Ace in that suit and then can get his trick and take the lead off you, or b. you force the other team to use their Ace which leaves the King that your partner bid in that suit a good trick.

    2. If you cannot throw a Queen in any suit that the Ace has not been thrown in, throw the next lowest card. Why? Because I am probably counting on the King and need the Ace to be drawn out. If you throw too low, you risk me having to sacrifice my King or them gaining a trick on something less than the Ace. Always force the opponents to trump high. 3. If you play the Ace in a suit, lead that suit back! Do not try to break the Ace out for another suit that you counted a King in. You risk the other team playing the Queen and taking an extra trick by not having their partner use their Ace right away. Who cares if your opponents have the King in the suit you have the Ace in? For all you know, your partner could have it! They are going to get to use it eventually, may as well make them use it sooner than later and keep your King book alive!

    4. Most of the times, you want to take every trick you can in an attempt to set. Forget bags! Think about it: you and your partner set their 50 bid and make your 60 bid bringing you up to 60 and them down to -50; what is the difference that they must make up assuming you both started at zero? 110 points, right? So even if you bag out, you are still beating them by 10 points, right? Do not always fear the bags! Especially when you have 8 or 9 bags! There is nothing better than bagging out while setting the other team; that is the best move you could ever possibly make.

    5. Your partner has bid nil as first bidder, West has bid four. What is your bid? Look at your hand and tally your Aces. Now look and see what Kings you have. If they are in the same suit you have the Aces, bid those as well. If not, look at the other cards in the suit of the King; if you have Queen or Jack, you may be able to make up for the loss of your King. Do not count your trumps for suits that you have two cards in. Many times by the third throw your partner will be safe. If you look at your hand and see that you have no Aces and one to two Kings and fear that you only have a one to two bid at best, bid three. Why? Because if you have a crappy hand, odds are that East has a great hand. Why still do you bid higher than what you have? Because now East will look at their hand and see that they have the advantage and instead of trying to set the nil, they will try to set your bid. If you are not comfortable in setting your bid for the sake of your partner's nil, at least bid two. Never bid one on a nil bid unless it is crucial to the final score (ie. you are last bidder and to bid more than one would be an unnecessary evil).

  2. Bag or Set?

    1. The score is 0-0 as you have just started the game. The table bid is ten or less. Do you set? No. Why? Because the game has just begun and 4 bags is unnecessary. 'But what about step #4 in First Toss'? That is an example for those not well versed in mathematics.

    2. Your opponents have bid nil and four or more and your team bid is seven or more. Do you set the nil? Yes and No. Do not concentrate on setting the nil as they will most likely have it if you do. Try to set the bid first and foremost. You have a better chance of setting the bid than the nil. But do not make it obvious that you are trying to set the bid. The opponent will surely catch on and intervene. Many times you end up setting the nil if you can't set the bid and other times you end up setting the bid. Setting the bid means they only go up half the number of points they would have. 'But going down is better' you say; while this may be true, the odds are more favorable for you setting the bid than the nil.

    3. You are in mid game and the table bid is eleven or more. Do you set? Yes. Why? Because of the very fact that now you will need every advantage you can take and bags should not be a barrier. Ten bids are usually hard to set so do not try. If you see the opponents are giving you more than they should have in avoiding taking bags themselves, then it would be a safe bet to try, but never intentionally try to set a ten bid starting off the hand. The more and more you set, the less and less impact bags will have on your game.

    4. Pay attention to your opponents' bags. Why? Because many games are won and lost by bags. Make sure that you bag them out well before they reach the 400s as it can grow more and more difficult then because they are paying more attention to their bags there too. Make sure that if it does come down to a final hand, that you calculate the bags when making your final bid. Nothing worse than thinking you bid for a tie when in actuality the bags were the tiebreaker.

    5. Other issues on bags will be covered or retouched upon in the Covering/Breaking Nils section.

  3. Covering/Breaking Nils

    1. Your partner has bid nil and you have first throw. What do you toss? The Ace of course. Throw the Ace in every suit you possibly can. Pay close attention to what your partner throws under you. Counting cards or paying attention to what is thrown has never been more crucial than when your partner or an opponent has gone nil. If your partner throws the King under your Ace, you can then throw your Queen. If they throw less, you can throw anything higher than the card they just played. Simple enough. But what if you do not have any Aces or Kings to throw first throw? If you have a Queen you could throw it, but there is a great reason not to: once you throw that Queen, your front man will throw their Ace or King and your back man will throw their Ace or King depending on the bid. Why does that matter? Because you have taken away the trump that could have helped you in the second throw. You have made the nines and tens vulnerable. So what then? Throw a middle card. A nine or ten would be nice. Why? Because then the front man has to choose whether or not to play the Ace or King they have and risk covering the nil or losing their trick to you. The back man may still play their Ace or King, but you at least still have one or the other for throw two. If your partner has first throw, pay attention to what he throws; it will usually be his safe suit. Throw it.

    2. Your opponent has bid nil and you play before he does. What do you throw? If you have first throw, throw a middle card in a suit that you did not count a book in. You want to attempt to set the nil without sacrificing your books so you are safe in throwing an alternate suit. If the opponent's partner has first throw, you throw off or over only if going over is not going over too much. In other words, if you are going to throw an Ace on a seven, your partner has every right to scream at you. Let your partner take the book and force the nil to have to save the costly high cards for later. You never know, you may get a chance to throw off the cover card and set the nil later. If the table bid is ten or less, do not worry at all about your books because you will definitely get them unless you just plain royally mess up. If you are behind the nil, never cover their throw unless every card you have in that suit is a cover card; in that case, throw the highest card possible. Why always throw under? Because say the nil throws a five and you throw a seven-- you have now allowed the partner to throw off their two or three safely and save their cover cards for the next throw. The second, third, and even fourth throws are crucial to setting nils. Your odds of setting a nil on the first throw in a suit are pretty slim unless you hold the cover cards in your hand and have enough to throw low and set.

    3. Pay attention to what cards are played! Let's say on throw one, I lead a seven of hearts as it's the only heart I have and I want to throw off on the hearts suit: west (the nil) throws a six, north (my partner) throws the Ace, and east throws a four. Now my partner leads the five of hearts, east throws a Jack, I toss off, and west throws a two. East now leads King of diamonds to which I throw under, the nil throws a two, and my partner takes with the Ace. What should my partner now lead? Hearts! And why? Because when my partner looks at his hand, he sees that he has the Queen of hearts but that the King has yet to be played. He knows east does not have it because he did not play it on second toss, and he knows that I do not have it because I am throwing off. He also knows that because west threw the two under the Jack, that he has only the King left in his hand. If he throws diamonds, west will throw the King off, but if he throws hearts, the nil is set as east more than likely still has hearts as well. Paying attention to what is played will benefit your cover and your set.


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