two player spades rules title

OBJECTIVE OF SPADES FOR 2 PLAYERS: Be the first player to score 500 points


NUMBER OF CARDS: Standard 52 card deck, no jokers

RANK OF CARDS: 2 (low) – Ace (high), Spades always trump

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Spades for 2 players is a wonderful trick-taking game that challenges players to determine precisely how many tricks they believe they can take. 

Players are penalized for taking too few as well as too many.  While Spades is traditionally a team-based game for four players, this two-player version is also quite enjoyable.


What separates two-player spades from the classic version is how the hands are created.  There is no deal in this game.  Each player will take turns building their hand of thirteen cards – one card at a time.

Shuffle the deck and then place it in the center of the playing space. 

The non-dealer draws a card from the top of the pile.  They may then choose to keep that card or place it face up in the discard pile.

If the player keeps it, then the next card is immediately placed face-up on the discard pile.  If the player does not want the card they drew, then they discard it and must keep the second card.  Cards may not be drawn from the discard pile

The second player then does the same.  They draw a card and then choose to keep it or discard it.  If they keep it, the next card immediately goes to the discard pile.  If they don’t want it, then they discard it and immediately take the next card.  This process is repeated until each player has a hand of thirteen cards. 

The discard pile is placed to the side and ignored until the next hand.


Each player looks at their hand and then determines how many tricks they believe they can take.  Spades are always the trump suit in this game.  The nondealer bids first.  They may bid from zero to thirteen tricks. 

Bidding Nil and Blind Nil

Bidding zero is called going nil.  This means that the player thinks they will not take any tricks.  Special points are awarded for going nil successfully. 

You can also choose to bid blind nil, this means you cannot look at your cards before making this bid. This bid must be made before drawing from the deck the first time.

Shooting the Moon

When a player thinks they can take all thirteen tricks, that’s called shooting the moon.  Special points are awarded for shooting the moon successfully.

Players do not have to overbid each other.  Each player simply states how many tricks they think they can take. The scorekeeper must then write the bids down.


The non-dealer leads first.  They choose a card and play it in the center.  To begin with, spades cannot be played until that suit is broken.  Spades are broken when a player is unable to follow suit or only has spades left in their hand.

The opposite player must follow suit if they can.  If they cannot follow suit, they may play any card that they wish (including a spade). 

For example, if a king of hearts is led, the following player must lay a heart.  If they are unable to lay a heart, they may play any card from their hand – including a spade. 

The player who played the highest card in the suit that was led or the highest spade wins the trick.

Whoever takes the trick leads next.

Play like this continues until all thirteen cards have been played.

Deal alternates between players.  The non-dealer will always draw and lead first.


A player earns ten points for each trick that helps them meet their bid. 

For example, if a player bids six and takes six tricks they earn 60 points for doing so.

Tricks taken beyond the player’s bid are called bagsBags are worth 1 additional point. 

For example, if a player bids six and takes seven, they earn 61 points.  Be careful! A player loses 100 points for every ten bags they take. 

two player spades bags score

Failing the bid

If a player does not meet their bid, they lose 10 points for each trick they bid on. 

For example, if a player made a bid of six tricks, and only took five, they would lose 60 points from their score.

Bidding Nil

If a player bids nil (meaning they think they will take zero tricks) and is successful, they earn 100 points.  If they fail to take zero tricks, the captured tricks count as bags.

For example, if a player bids nil and takes five tricks, they would earn 5 points for the hand.

Successful blind nils earn 200 points.

Shoot the Moon

If a player shoots the moon and is successful, they earn 250 points. 

If the player fails to take all of the tricks, the tricks they do take count as bags. 

For example, if a player shoots the moon and only takes nine tricks, they would earn 9 points.  Remember, every ten bags costs the player 100 points from their score.

two player spades moon score


The first player to reach 500 points then wins the game.

two player spades winner

If you love 2-player Spades be sure to try out the classic Spades for larger groups.


What is the ranking for 2-player Spades?

The ranking for Spades is A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2(low).

When you play Spades what is bid nil and blind nil?

when you bid nil you are bidding that you will take no tricks during the round. The same is true for blind nil with the addition that you cannot look at your cards before making this bid.

What is the number of tricks per round of bidding?

A round of bidding consists of 13 tricks.

What happens if you cannot follow suit?

If a player is unable to follow suit they may play any card from their hand including a trump card.

Mark Ball
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