The object of Spades is to declare a number of tricks before play begins, and then win that number during play. The game requires four players working in pairs as two teams. A standard 52-card deck is also needed.
- Deal the cards
Each player is dealt 13 cards. The deal, bidding and play proceed in a clockwise direction. Aces are high and deuces are low.
- Make the bids
The bidding phase comes before play. Each player announces how many tricks they intend to win. A player may also bid "nil," which means they intend to win no tricks, or "double nil," which is the same except that all penalties and rewards are doubled. Partnerships with a nil or double nil bid are scored independently, then combined at the end.
- Play hands
Players must follow suit if it is possible. If it's not, they can take a trick with a trump or discard a card from a non-trump suit. Players get 10 points for each trick in the bid and one point for each trick above the bid. A nil bid grants 100 points on success, but takes 100 points if it fails. "Double nil" doubles the nil bid values. An optional rule included by Hoyle is the use of "bags," which are earned for each point in excess of the total bid. 10 bags reduces the player's score by 100. The game ends when a partnership reaches 500 points.