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How to Keep Score in Spades: Scoring Rules

Learning how to keep score in Spades is fairly simple and is easy once you’re used to it. If you want to simplify it further and keep all your game scores in one place, there are Spades Score sheets available.

How to Keep Score in Spades

In a successful bid, meaning you take at least as many tricks as you bid before the hand started, each trick up to your bid amount is worth 10 points. Each trick over your bid amount—called overtricks, overbooks, sandbags or bags—is worth only 1 point. When a side accumulates 10 bags they lose 100 points. Partners combine to make their total bid. It doesn’t matter which person wins the tricks. Let’s look at an example.

Partners A & C bid 3 & 3. Partners B & D bid 3 & 3. A/C win 7 tricks and B/D win 6 tricks.

A/C scores 61 points. Their total bid was 6 (3 & 3), so they get 10 points for each trick won up to their bid amount—60 points. They took one extra trick, an overtrick, beyond their bid, so this one is only worth 1 point. This brings their total to 61 points. This overtrick also gives A/C one bag, which doesn’t affect them right now, but it will if they reach 10 bags.

B/D scores 60 points. They also bid 6 (3 & 3) and they were successful, taking 6 tricks. Each one is worth 10 points, so 6 X 10=60 points. They didn’t take any overtricks, which means they didn’t get any bags either.

So, after this hand the score is 61 to 60, with 1 bag to 0 bags.

What if You Don’t Make Your Spades Bid?

When you fail to make your bid, you lose the value of your bid.

If team A/C bids 8 and they win 7 tricks, their score is -80. None of the won tricks are worth anything unless the bid amount is reached. Just as each trick in a successful bid is worth 10 points, each trick in an unsuccessful bid is worth -10 points.

What If One Partner Makes Their Bid and One Fails?

In a normal bidding situation, this is a failed bid and the partnership loses the value of their bid. This is because partner’s bids are added together and they combine their efforts to win the total. It doesn’t matter which of them wins the tricks.

The exception is if one partner made a normal bid and the other made a Nil bid. In this case, each partner’s bid is scored separately. Here are some examples:

  • Partners A/C bid 4 & Nil. “A” wins 3 tricks and “C” wins 0. “A” scores -40 points (failed bid) & “C” scores 100 points (successful Nil bid). Total=-60.
  • Partners B/D bid 3 & Nil. “B” wins 3 tricks & “D” wins 1. “B” scores 30 points (successful bid) & “D” scores -100 (failed Nil bid). Total=-70

Special Spades Scoring Situations

There are a few other things that can add to or subtract from your score.

A successful Nil bid—meaning you’re saying you’ll win 0 tricks—is worth 100 points. A failed Nil bid is -100 points.

A successful Blind Nil bid—saying you’ll win 0 tricks without looking at your cards first—is worth 200 points, and a failed Blind Nil bid is -200 points.

A successful Double Nil bid—both partners bid 0—is worth 400 points or wins the game outright.

A successful Double Blind Nil bid—both partners bid 0 without looking at their cards—is worth 800 or wins the game outright.

A player caught reneging—failing to follow suit—after the next trick has begun can lose the value of his team’s bid. (If they bid 6 in total, they score -60)

There are variations in how Spades games are scored, so decide before you start what everything is worth. There are also variations for when bidding Nil or Blind Nil is allowed. Sometimes your side must be down by at least 100 points.

  • Now that you know how to keep score, learn how to make yours bigger with Spades Strategy.

I hope this cleared up any confusion you had around how to keep score in Spades.

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