Work with your partner to win bids for points. Also work to pass on penalty points to your opponents. The first team to earn 500 points wins the game.
Spades uses a standard 52-card deck. Within each suit, the cards are ranked from lowest to highest: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A.
Spades is played with four players. The players sitting opposite each other play as a team.
The Spades suit is always trump. That means any Spade will win over any card of any other suit. Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds all have equal value, below Spades. So the 2 of Spades has a higher value than the Ace of any other suit.
The game begins with a single round of bidding. The goal of bidding is to predict the number of tricks you will win. A trick is a set of four cards, one card from each player.
Each player bids the number of tricks they think they can win in that hand. You and your partner’s combined bid is called a contract. Once bidding is complete, your goal is to fulfill that contract. You don’t have to fulfill your individual bid; what's important is that you and your partner fulfill your contract as a team. Thus, a player can make up the difference for a partner who may not make his or her own bid.
A contract that is not made is "set." Set contracts are penalized at the end of the hand.
A bid of nil means the player will try not to win any tricks at all. A successful bid of nil earns substantial bonus points for your team, while an unsuccessful bid earns substantial penalty points. A bid of double nil doubles these points, but players can bid double nil only before examining their hands.
The bidding round is completed when each player has made a bid.