Note: This is only a SUGGESTED set of rules for someone that has not played before. Spades is a game with MANY (usually) minor variations, and every table should discuss their "rules" before play starts to make sure everyone is playing with the same understandings (ie. how to handle sand-bags, jokers, miniumum bids, "blind" bids, "nil" bids, etc)
Number of Players: 4 playing as two partnerships
Object: To score 500 points
Deck: Regular deck of 52 cards (plus 2 jokers (optional))
Rank of Cards: Standard ranking: A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2
Preliminaries: The 4 players are seated such that partners are non-adjacent.
After examining their hands, the non-dealing team decides on a bid for the hand. This bid is the number of tricks the partnership believes they can take during the hand. The partners may give each other information on how many tricks they believe they can take or they might be able to take but they may not discuss the specific makeup of their hands. (e.g. Allowed: "I know I can take 4 tricks, I might be able to take 6". Not Allowed: "I have a couple of high hearts and a singleton in clubs".) After the non-dealing team has decided on a bid, the dealing team does the same thing. During a team's bid either or both players may make a "nil" bid in addition to the teams bid. This is a bid that that player will take no tricks during the hand. If a team is behind by more than 100 points, a player may make a "blind" bid. This means bidding before looking at the cards in your hand.
For the first trick, each player plays their lowest club. If a player has no clubs, they must play hearts or diamonds. Spades may not be played on the first trick unless a player holds nothing but spades (in which case that player would take every trick anyway, so the hand need not be played out). The person who played the highest club takes in the first trick. This person then leads to the next trick any card except a spade (unless they hold nothing else). Each player in turn then must play a card of the same suit as the card led. If a player does not have a card of that suit, they may play any card. The person who plays the highest spade takes the trick. If no spades are played, the person who played the highest card of the suit led takes the trick. The winner of each trick then leads to the next trick. Spades may not be led until a spade has been played or a person holds nothing but spades.
If a team takes as many tricks as they bid, they receive 10 points for each trick that they bid to take plus 1 point for each extra trick they take. If a team does not take at least the number of tricks that they bid for, their score is reduced by 10 points for each trick bid. If a player bids nil and does not take any tricks, the team scores an extra 50 points. If a player bids nil and does take tricks, the teams score is reduced by 50 points (the tricks the nil bidder took may be used towards the teams bid, though). Blind bids are treated like normal bids except they count as double points positive (but not negative). If, during a game, a team has accumulated a total of 10 or more extra tricks above what they bid (this can be tracked easily by looking at the rightmost digit in the score, if it goes back to 0 or past 0 then you know a total of 10 overtricks have been taken) there score is reduced by 100 points. This reduction is taken for every 10 overtricks. A team wins when they score 500 points. If both teams have over 500 points at the end of a hand, the team with the highest score is the winner.
2 non-identical jokers are substituted for the red 2's.
2 non-identical jokers are added to the deck. (In this case, 2 extra cards are dealt to the middle of the table (a "kitty"). The person dealt the 2 of clubs may pick the two cards up, and discard 2 cards they do not want. If no one has the 2 of clubs, the person with the 3 of clubs picks it up, if not then it goes to the dealer (and the 2/3 of clubs are both the 2 cards in the kitty). This process is completed before any bidding begins.
Rank of trumps is "Big" Joker, "Little" Joker, Ace, then normal.
Rank of trumps is "Big" Joker, "Little" Joker, 2 of Spades, Ace of Spades, then normal.
In any of the above cases, the special cards are considered spades for purposes of following suit.
Bidding proceeds in a clockwise direction starting left of the dealer. Each person may mention how many tricks they think they might take but must also give a precise bid. (Round-the-table bidding). The final bid for the side is simply the sum of the two partners bids. It does not matter who actually takes the tricks.
Bidding proceeds round-the-table as above, but players may only name a number of tricks they bid. Nothing else may be said.
A second round of bidding may be allowed in which teams may increase their bid if desired.
Blind nil bidding may not be allowed.
Blind 6 bidding may be allowed. This is a bid to take exactly 6 (or at least 6) tricks made before the partnership has looked at their cards and before any bidding has begun. It is then worth double the normal contract (either positive or negative). 6 is the minimum blind bid allowed. Higher blind bids are allowed.
A 10-for-200 bid is allowed. This is a bid to take exactly 10 tricks (or at least 10 tricks) for 200 points (+ or -).
Any bid of 10 can be considered a 10-for-200 bid.
Moon bidding may be allowed. This is a bid to take all 13 tricks. It is worth 200 points (+ or -).
Blind Moon bidding may be allowed. This is bid to take all 13 tricks made before the partnership has looked at their cards and before any bidding has taken place. This bid is worth 400 points (+ or -).
Blind bidding is only allowed when a team is 100 or more points behind.
Minimum bid for a team is 4 tricks unless one player bids nil.
Variations regarding Misdeals:
A player may call a misdeal if they have no spades.
A player may call a misdeal if they have 7 or more cards in one suit.
Note: In all of the above cases, the misdeal should be called before bidding has begun. There is then a new deal by the same dealer.