Spades Showdown

Game Goal

Correctly predict how many tricks you will take, and then try to take exactly that many. Be the first team to reach 250 points.


In Spades, you will be playing against three computer-controlled opponents. You control the player at the bottom of the table and are partnered with the player across from you; the players to your left and right are partnered with each other.

If you have played Spades before, either on a computer or in the real world, there are just a few differences about WorldWinner's Spades that you need to know before playing:

The winner is the first team to reach 250 points.
NIL bids are worth +75 points if you make them, or -75 if you fail.
The "bag back" penalty occurs at 5 bags, and gives 50 points to the opposing team.

Game Rules

Each game is composed of a series of deals, or rounds. Each round consists of 13 tricks, in which each player plays one card.

You begin each round by making a bid, based on how many tricks you think you will take with your hand. Bet "NIL" if you think you can avoid taking any tricks. Your team scores points if you make your bid, but loses points if you fail to make your bid.

Once the bidding is complete, a card is led. Your partner leads the first round, the player to your right leads the second, you lead the third, and the player to your left leads the fourth. After that, the cycle repeats.

You must play a card of the suit that was led, if you have it. If not, you can play any card in your hand. Spades are a "trump" suit - if a trick includes a Spade, the highest Spade played takes the trick. If the trick does not include a Spade, the highest card in the suit that was led takes the trick. (The Ace is the highest card in each suit, the 2 is the lowest.)

Example 1:
Left plays a 2 of Diamonds
Across plays a 6 of Diamonds
Right plays an Ace of Diamonds
You play a 5 of Diamonds
Right's Ace of Diamonds takes the trick.

Example 2:
Left plays a 2 of Diamonds
Across plays a 6 of Diamonds
Rights has no Diamonds, and plays a 2 of Spades
You also have no Diamonds, and play a 4 of Spades
Your 4 of Spades takes the trick.

The player who takes the trick leads the first card of the next trick. No player may lead a Spade until Spades have been broken (that is, a Spade has been played on a trick in which Spades wasn't led).

You have 10 minutes to complete each game of Spades. As soon as the clock reaches 0:00, the game ends, even if neither team has reached 250 points.

Game Controls

When bidding, just click on the number of tricks you predict you will take, or click on "NIL" if you think you can avoid taking any tricks. Then click "Place Bid".

When playing, just click the card in your hand that you want to play. Any cards that are not playable at the moment are grayed out.

You can select from several different themes for Spades, which will give you different images, sounds, and music. The default theme is "Western". To try different themes, click the "Options" button on the opening screen, and then pick one of the options by clicking the red arrow buttons and clicking "Close".

Game Scoring

Assuming that neither partner has bid "NIL":

  • If your team takes as many tricks as you bid, you receive 10 times your bid.
  • If your team takes more tricks than you bid, you receive 10 times your bid plus 1 point for each overtrick. (An "overtrick" or "overbook" is a trick taken once you've reached your bid.)
  • If your team takes fewer tricks than you bid, you receive -10 times your bid. Note that you lose the same number of points whether you miss by a single trick or by many tricks.

If a player bids "NIL", the two partners bids are not combined as they usually are. Instead, the player who bid "NIL" will either get +75 points for taking 0 tricks, or -75 for taking one or more tricks. The partner's bid is treated just like a team bid, above.

  • Example 1: You bid 3 and your partner bids 4, for a total team bid of 7. Your team takes 8 tricks. Your round score is 70 for the 7 tricks you received to make your bid, plus 1 for the overtrick, for a round score of 71.
  • Example 2: You bid 2 and your partner bids 6, for a total team bid of 8. Your team takes 6 tricks. Your round score is -80.
  • Example 3: You bid 3 and your partner bids NIL. You take 4 tricks, and your partner takes none. You receive 30 points for making your bid, plus 1 point for the overtrick, plus a 75 point bonus for successfully making the NIL bid, for a round score of 106 points.
  • Example 4: You bid 4 and your partner bids NIL. You take 4 tricks, and your partner takes one. You receive 40 points for making your bid, less a penalty of -75 for not making the NIL bid, for a round score of -35 points.

Each time you take an overtrick, you get a "bag", and a running total of each team's bags is displayed next to the team's score. Once a team collects 5 bags, there is a "bag back" penalty: the opposing team gets an extra 50 points. Once this penalty is assessed, 5 bags are subtracted from the penalized team's bag count.

Example: Your team has 4 bags going into a round. During that round, your team ends up with three additional bags. Your opponents get 50 extra points for that round, because of your bag back penalty, and your new total of bags is 2. (4 old bags + 3 new bags = 7 bags before the penalty; 7 - 5 = 2 bags once the penalty is assessed.)

The game ends at the end of any round when a team's score is 250 or more, or when time runs out.

Tournament Standings Scoring

Once the game is over, your score is converted to a tournament standings score, using the following formula:

Base Score: your game score times 10, but never less than 0 or more than 2,500.

Overpoints Bonus: one point for the difference between your team's score and the opponent's team score. If the opponents ended the game with the higher score, the Overpoints Bonus is 0.

Victory Bonus: if your team had the highest score at the end of the game, you get a bonus of 100.

Time Bonus: one point for each full second left on the clock If you run out of time before completing the game then your Time Bonus is 0.

Example 1: marylou999's team ends the game with 261 points. Her opponents had 188 points. There was 3:40 left on the clock. Her Base Score is 2500. Her Overpoints Bonus is 261 - 188, or 73. Her Victory Bonus is 100. Her Time Bonus is 220. Her total tournament standings score is 2500 + 73 + 100 + 220, or 2893.

Example 2: bigsteve1234's team ends the game with 180 points. His opponents had 295 points. There was 1:45 left on the clock. His Base Score is 130 * 10, or 1300. His team had fewer points than the opponents, so his Overpoints Bonus is 0. His team didn't win the game, so his Victory Bonus is 0. His Time Bonus is 105. His total tournament standings score is 1800 + 0 + 0 + 105 = 1905.

Example 3: slowsammy666 runs out of time in the middle of the 8th round. At the end of the 7th round, his team had a score of 145 and his opponents had a score of 225. His Base Score is 1450, his Overpoints Bonus and Victory Bonus are 0, and his Time Bonus is also 0. His tournament standings score is 1450.

Game Strategy

Avoid aggressive bidding. Not making your bid, and getting penalized 10 * YourBid, is a huge blow to your game score.

On the other hand, also avoid timid bidding. Remember that your goal is not just to finish the game with a higher score than the other team, but also to get the highest tournament standings score. If, in your game, you bid 5 and your make 7, you'll get 52 points; if, in another game in the same tournament, a different player bids 7 and makes 7, that player will get 70 points, and be on the way to posting a higher tournament standings score than you. Also, if you accumulate 5 bags, you'll give the opposing team 50 extra points.

In most cases, don't overplay your partner. If Left plays a Queen of Diamonds, Across plays a King of Diamonds, and Right plays a 2 of Diamonds, don't take the trick with your Ace of Diamonds; let your partner take the trick and save the Ace for a future trick.

On the other hand, if you've already made your contract, try to avoid taking additional tricks, in order to avoid bags. In the example above, if you'd already made your contract, you would want to take the trick with your Ace of Diamonds or else it might take a future trick and give you an additional bag.

If you see that you aren't going to take the trick, play the lowest card you can (again, unless you've already made your bid, in which case you want to play the highest card that won't take the trick).

When leading, lead suits in which you have only one or two cards, in order to create a void that will allow you to use your Spades to take subsequent tricks in that suit.

If you have many spades, lead them in order to void your opponents in Spades.

A "NIL" bid is extremely lucrative, if you can make it. Before bidding, always study your hand for the possibility of a "NIL" bid. Sometimes, even a hand which looks moderately powerful can be a contender for a "NIL" bid. For example, even if you have the Ace and King of hearts, you might bid "NIL" as long as you also have several low hearts which you can play when hearts are led; you can discard the Ace and King of hearts later in the round, once you're void in other suits.

NEVER bid "NIL" if you have the Ace of Spades! The Ace of Spades must always take the trick it's part of. In fact, it's a pretty bad idea to bid "NIL" if you have any high spades at all.

If one of your opponents bids "NIL", try to force them to take a trick by always playing cards below their cards.

Don't give up, even if you fall far behind the other team. You might be able to set them (keep them from taking the number of tricks they bid) and get right back in it. Also, remember that you can lose the game and still win the tournament, as long as the other players in the tournament do even more poorly in their games.