Bidding Strategy in Spades

bidding in spades by looking at others books

Bidding in spades is very difficult, and will make or break you in spades leagues.

So we need to be great at bidding in spades, and with that being said, I wanted to review how I would approach different scenarios and some of the things I look at to win the most possible tricks.  Being bad at bidding in spades means you could win, and someone could legitimately trash talk you and say you suck because of how many bags you ended up with, or how many rounds you fell short of.  The randomness of spades means you can win even being bad at bidding in spades, but over time it shows.

Disclaimer: The people at MPLAYER always beat me in online spades tournaments, but I am constantly learning and will one day win a tournament.

Let’s start with some not so fun math:

  • 52 cards in a deck / 4 = 13 Cards, 13 Tricks per round.
  • 4 Suits in a deck of cards
  • 13/4 Suits = You have an average of 3.25 Cards per suit
  • 3+3+3+4=13
    • You will under normal distribution have 1 extra something.

Why is this important to bidding in spades

  • If everything is equal, everyone will have 3 cards per suit and one person has an extra.
  • That also means if I have 1 card in a suit than someone might have 5.  2 cards, might also have 5.

How does this help me bid and secure tricks?

Spades of course: If I have 4+ Spades, I probably have less of another suit.  Say I have one club, I can play through that and possibly win 2 hands with weak spades, as the other three people probably have Three Clubs to play.

I also look at Aces and Kings, if you have an Ace you can probably count it as +1.  If you have a king and another card, you may be able to prompt someone to throw out the Ace so you can get the King, that may also be +1.

I could continue forever but I think some examples will work best.

Spades Bidding by Tricks called Example:

bidding in spades by looking at others books

See here, they bid 2+1+2 = 5, that means there are 8 bids out there unclaimed.  You may not have 8 Tricks you can win, but what I can say is:

  • Without looking at the cards, Nil should be out of the picture
  • Someone is probably going to have too many bags
  • All hands are possibly weak

There is insight to be gained from others bids, and I recommend you use it.

Here are some examples of first bids, meaning they are not considering others:

Spades Bidding No. 1 Example:

bidding in spades example 1

I might have underbid here by 1, let’s look at some of the cards I have:

  • 5 Spades
  • 3 Diamonds
  • 3 Clubs
  • 2 Hearts

What can I do with these cards to win Tricks?

  1. I have 5 Spades, but all are low spades
    1. This gives me two strategies
      1. Play my spades early to get rid of their higher cards
      2. Run through another suit to win hands in that suit (I would choose this)
  2. The Ace of Diamonds
    1. We could: Ace(win) – 2(lose) – and if the 2 prompts a King – Queen (win)
      1. I would count the Queen as insurance
  3. I have two hearts: There lies my opportunity to short the suit

So how am I going to win 3 Tricks?

  1. (+1)The Ace of Diamonds will let me start a hand, which I will play a Heart.
  2. Hopefully, someone continues to play hearts, getting rid of my two hearts.
  3. (+2)Win the third Hearts hand with my lowest spade (the two of spades)
  4. (+3)Try to win a trick with the queen of diamonds
  5. (+4)Try to win earlier with the Jack – before people start throwing out the King Queen Ace

This has a few areas it could go sour (Mainly: the Queen of Diamonds and the Jack of Spades) so I would stick to Three depending on the score of the game.  This type of hand is why I wrote an article about bidding in spades.

Spades Bidding No. 2 Example

how to bid in spades

Here I bid 4, and I think that could be a very safe bid, in which I win three out of four of my tricks early

Again, let’s look at the cards I have:

  • 3 Spades
  • 5 Diamonds
  • 1 Clubs
  • 4 Hearts

How am I going to get 4 tricks?

  1. (+1)I have the Ace of hearts
  2. I can throw out the 3 of clubs and have no remaining cards in the suit
  3. (+2)I can win a clubs hand with my 2 of Spades
  4. (+3)I can win the additional club hand with my Queen of Spades, or risk it later to take a higher card
  5. (+4)I have the Ace of Spades, which will probably lessen the need to risk with the Queen.

This may be one of the easier hands you will get in Spades.  You will find yourself near the end of the game throwing out all the Diamonds you have, as they are of low value.  This should be one of the easier hands when you are bidding in spades.

Spades Bidding No. 3 Example

how to bid in spades

Here I went with three, and I may be aggressive with this: But I feel with good play I could win win tricks early on and then watch the second half of the round essentially.

For a third time, let’s look at the cards I have:

  • 1 Spade
  • 4 Diamonds
  • 5 Clubs
  • 2 Hearts

The first thing I want to point out is, wow only 1 spade.  This makes the early game very important and you hope your teammate is late game ready.  The second thing is: I could not bid nil on this, because I only have 2 Hearts and one of them is the Ace of Hearts, it would have backfired.  So I am forced to maximize what I have and dominate early game.  This is where you are bidding in spades based on the first half, as late in the game you will lose.

How am I going to get the 3 tricks?

  1. (+1) Ace of Clubs
  2. (+2) King of Clubs
  3. (+3) Queen of Clubs – but you will probably get the deck cut with a Spade here
  4. (+4) Ace of hearts
  5. Playing the 2 of hearts seems like a good strategy to eliminate hearts from your deck
  6. (+5) Playing the 5 of Spades on the third heart suit is also very speculative

I actually have the opportunity to win 5 Tricks here, early to mid hand.  But the issue is that #3 and #6 are very speculative, and I don’t want to risk it.  I would probably shoot for 4 tricks, end up with three – as you want to watch your bags.

We have shown three hands in spades and how I would approach them from a bidding perspective.  Of course, this isn’t a timed exercise, so it is harder in practice.  I hope I showed some of the layers involved and will help people bid better.  It is difficult to maximize the tricks you will win and at the same time manage risk and watch your bags.  In addition, trying to make it so they do not hit their bags.

Over time I have learned bidding in Spades is part of what makes the game great, and what separates the Pros (MPLAYER Community) from me.

PS: If you are looking for examples of Nil bids, they are covered in my article here


1996 - infinity. The ringer in every spades tournament.

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