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What is a Bag in Spades? Bag Penalty in Spades: Sandbags & Bags

What is a Bag in SpadesBag Penalty in Spades
Sandbags Bags
What is a Bag Penalty in Spades?

The bag penalty in spades occurs when a player or team reaches 10 bags, resulting in a loss of 100 points from their score.

What is a Bag in Spades?

A bag (also called sandbag, overtrick or overbook) occurs when a team wins more tricks than they bid. If a team’s total bid is 6 but they win 7 tricks, they get 1 bag (61 points—10 each for the 6 tricks bid and 1 point for the overtrick). If they bid 4 but win 7 tricks, they get 3 bags (43 points).

As you can see, the last digit of your score tells you how many bags you or your team have accumulated. If your score is 378, you have 8 bags.

What is a Bag Penalty in Spades?

When you reach 10 bags, which means you’ve taken 10 more tricks than you’ve bid over the course of the game, you lose 100 points. This is the bag penalty.

If your score is 378 and you score 53 on the next hand, you’ve reached (and exceeded) 10 bags (8 bags previously + 3 new ones). Your score is now calculated as 378+53-100=331 points. Notice that you also have 1 bag again. The last hand gave you a total of 11 bags, so you lost the 100 points for 10 and carried over the other bag.

10, 5, 6, 4 or 2 Bag Penalties?

Yes. These variations all exist and probably others too. The most common way to count bag penalties is the 10 bag method discussed above. If you want, you can decide to deduct the bag penalty at any other amount (6 for -60, 5 for -50 and so on). Be sure everyone knows the bag penalty is a variation and not the standard 10 if you try this.

How to Avoid Bags in Spades

Obviously, you’ll avoid bags by bidding accurately. What’s not so obvious is how to do this.

You’ll have to monitor your bidding tendencies. Do you consistently underbid? If so, you can start adding 1 to your bids.

If you’re sometimes underbidding and sometimes overbidding, you probably need to reevaluate how you count the strength of your hand. You can compare your method to the one outlined in Spades strategy to see if there’s something you should change.

One thing you definitely don’t want to do to avoid bags is to bid too aggressively. Failing to fulfill your bid will happen occasionally, but if it happens with any regularity, you’re probably too concerned about bags. The first priority is always to make your bid and avoid getting set.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion you had about bags, sandbags or the bag penalty in Spades.

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