What we're about

Social Spades Night. We tend to meet in Near NW Houston. We play a relaxed game, so come and play, have some fun! When I'm host, we play at Jax Grill on Shepherd, off I-10. You are encouraged to bring a partner/partners. We are also very open and accepting. Respect and courtesy never goes out of fashion. We are here to play, meet new people in a casual environment while you and your partner attempt to stoutly thrash your worthy opponents. Just do it with a smile and kind words. We also have a 6 player, 3 sets of partners game that quite fun. And a little nuts for the uninitiated. Game on!

If any of this sounds familiar, this is a resurrection of the old Spades group Judy H. established many years ago.

It never hurts to bring a pack of cards and or a pen to keep score. Be prepared, never hurts to keep a deck in the glove-box in case I get stuck in traffic. Players are always encouraged to play on without me. I bring multiple, but typically used decks and score pads. I gratefully accept donations of new Bridge style decks if you think my cars are ratty. Please, no plastic decks, They do not work well with arthritis.

>> Please try to leave at least a dollar each for the busboy who graciously cleans up after us! His service to us, as well as his patience, is greatly appreciated. Remember he doesn't participate in the front end tips.

We will expand to other nights, and possibly locations, in the future. I leave this to topics to talk about during games nights.

About the Moderator. Member of Meetup for over 12 years. Moderator and Assistant Mod for a number of groups. Hosted several hundred Spades and Croquet meetups. The host has extremely eclectic and broad tastes. Very little offends, unless it is deliberate denigration or ingrained casual disrespect for others.

House Rules and tips:

Casual conversation is permitted. Try to steer clear of politic or religion, but sex and social mores or okay, just avoid TMI. We reserve the right to revoke membership for egregious behavior. No set definition for that, but, my group and responsibility to set the tone and provide an hospitable atmosphere. And, quite frankly, I need to (occasionally) concentrate so I can best you! (insert evil laugh)

However, discussing strategy or game play once cards are dealt is verboten.

I have no compunctions against shushing someone. And I usually try to smile. :-))

We normally play a four player partnership game with partners sitting opposite each other. Deal and play move clockwise. We have a 6 player version of our own design with three pairs of partners and 2 decks, minus the two 2 of clubs. A wild and crazy game, it produces very interesting results.

What we think of as Spades got it's start in the United States, possibly Cleveland, in the 1930's. During WW2, it spread through the Army and back to the states via the major supply outfit often called the Big Red Ball and its many Ohioan draftees. History lesson over. For more, try Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spades).

A 52 card deck is used and rank from high to low as follows: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Jokers are never used, except as emergency replacements.

The first dealer is chosen at random. Often players will each draw a card, with the highest card being first dealer. Unlike poker, the dealer has no advantage in spades with the exceptional exception that they bid last and often control how tight or closely bid a hand is. The cards are dealt clockwise, starting with the first player to the dealers left, and are dealt one card at a time until the entire deck is used and each player has 13 cards.

Bidding begins with the player to dealer's left and moves clockwise around the table. Each player bids by stating how many "tricks" he or she believes can be won looking at the cards in their hand. Everyone must bid a number, and any number from 0 to 13 is allowed. There is no requirement for each bid to be higher than the last one. Players are not allowed to pass. There is no second round of bidding, and bids can't be changed. Partners bids are added together, and this number is the total number of tricks they must catch in order to make a positive score.

A bid of zero or no tricks is called Nil. The player who bids Nil is in declaring that he will not win any tricks during the play. If successful, the player earns an extra bonus; if he fails, a penalty! The player's partner must still win the tricks he has bid. You can't bid zero without bidding nil. If a player feels his hand is worthless but wants to avoid the challenge of the nil bonus or penalty they must bid at least 1.

When a player declares nil without looking at his cards it called a Blind Nil. The bidder may exchange two cards with partner - the blind nil bidder discards two cards face down and slides them to his partner. The partner picks them up, looks at them, then selects two cards to pass back face down. Most games only allow a player to bid blind nil if that player's team is down by a large score (100 or more).

The Play of the Hand

The player to dealer's left begins the first trick by leading any card except a spade. Each player players in turn, clockwise and must follow suit if able. If the player is unable to follow suit, he may play any card.

The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless the trick contains a spade. If the trick contains a spade, the winner is the highest spade played. The winner of each trick leads out the next. Payers may not lead out with spades until either a spade has been played after another suit has led out or if the leading player has nothing but spades left in his hand. (Playing the first spade is known as breaking spades.)

Scoring

Partners that take at least as many tricks as their cumulative bid score 10x their original bids. Additional tricks are worth an extra one point each and are also known as "bags". Example: if the two players bid a total of 7, and took 9 tricks, they would score 72. Bid of 7 x 10, plus two bags (additional tricks taken over what they originally bid).

The Sandbagging Rule: Once a team has accumulated 10 bags, 100 points is deducted from their score. Any bags over ten are carried over to the next cycle so that if they reach twenty bags they lose another 100 points. Bags are very simple to keep up with, since a teams score will reflect it in the last digit of the teams score. An example of how the sandbagging rule works follows: A team has a current score of 228, and bids 5. Through the course of the hand they end up taking 8 tricks. They would score 53 (bid of 5 x 10 pts plus three bags), but would have 100 subtracted for an updated score of 181. As you can see, it pays to not sandbag in Spades!

If a side fails to make its bid, they lose 10 points for each trick they originally bid.

A Nil can be played on any bid. If successful the team scores 100 points, in addition to the score won or lost by the player's partner for tricks made. If the nil bid fails and the nil bidder takes at least one trick the nil bidder's team loses 100 points, but still receives any amount scored for the partner's bid.

Our House rules:

Bags are 1 point, add to the score and 100 is subtracted for every ten bags reached.

When a nil bid fails, the tricks won by the nil bidder do not count towards the partner's bid, but do count as sandbags for the team.

A team must be down by at least 200 points and scores 200 if successful and subtracts 200 points if it fails. Our house rules allow for the exchange of 2 cards on a Blind Nil.

Normal play is 500 point games or unless a team resigns. We like to switch up partners every game or hour to keep things interesting. This a social spades group, move along, move along.

If every card left in your hand cannot be beat, you declare the rest are mine. However, if you are wrong, you score as if you lost the bid.

Unless there is a coup or I can get someone else pay for the group, I or the host is final arbiter of the rules.

Spade Tips and Strategy, your opinions may vary.

Bid your hand. Aces are almost always good for one. Kings may play most of the time, unless you have more than four in that suit. A void or absence of a suit, except spades, is good for maybe 2 tricks if you have the spades to trump with. Although, remember your partner may have and bid the Ace you are hoping to trump if void in that suit, and thus advantage, well, not so good.

Keep track of what's played. Partners get annoyed and opponents are cheered when you lose track of what's been played.

Use nil bids strategically. Be liberal with them when falling far behind, especially when your partner bids high and you have a surfeit of spades. An early successful nil can often force more intense play, but often increases the possibility of overreaching.

Advanced players are looking to play to set their opponents. Be aggressive. Math shows that setting is far better than bagging. If you set an opponent, even if their bid was a measly 3 tricks, they have an immediate -30 to their score, plus the fact that if they made their bid they would have scored +30. Total of a 60 point swing in your favor.

Don't trump your partner to satisfy your bidding needs, unless your cards are so damn good that it doesn't matter.

If you are dealt AQ in a short non-spade suit, you might try playing the queen first. The King may be afraid to play for fear of the Ace and you end up taking both tricks, Queen then Ace immediately following. That said, never lead from a king. the ace takes it almost all the time.

If your partner is going nil, your top priority is the nil. Your own bid is a secondary concern. If you lose your bid, but partner makes the nil, you advance. Be mindful of priorities and your partner's needs. Good advice in any 'ship.

Avoid leading a suit that has already been spaded, unless it was your partner's spade, then go ahead.

Total bid count should direct you in your attempt to either set the opponents or bag them. If the total bid count is 10 or less, it will be easier to bag. If the total bids come to 12, easier to set. Bid counts of 11 are trickier and you should watch how the cards fall for the first 4 or so tricks and then make a decision to go one way or the other. Also watch your partner for his intentions either way. You prefer to be on the same page!

Upcoming events (5+)

Third Tuesday of the Month Spades Night

Jax Grill

We start around 7. Being a bit early is a good thing and is less likely to inconvenience others looking forward to play. I show up around 6:30 to eat and stake out a section for us. Unless things have changed, happy hour runs to 7. We generally play partnership spades. If you've never played or it has been awhile, we can coach/kibbutz, or just watch and learn. We follow the framework laid down by Judy and others. We partner up, review the house rules, play spades, and engage in occasionally witty repartee, or not. Overt eye rolling is not discouraged. Some basics from our list: No wild cards, 10 bags lops a 100 off your score, a nil is 100 or minus that if failed, and a blind nil is 200. We play to 500, or not if all agree. Sometimes there is a time limit, like the restaurant is closing. And, very important, while we truly appreciate that some prefer variations or sets of family rules, we stick to the basics. All rule variations must be approved of by all players. More detailed information and rules can be found in the group description.

Fourth Tuesday of the Month Spades Night

Jax Grill

We start around 7. Being a bit early is a good thing and is less likely to inconvenience others looking forward to play. I show up around 6:30 to eat and stake out a section for us. Unless things have changed, happy hour runs to 7. We generally play partnership spades. If you've never played or it has been awhile, we can coach/kibbutz, or just watch and learn. We follow the framework laid down by Judy and others. We partner up, review the house rules, play spades, and engage in occasionally witty repartee, or not. Overt eye rolling is not discouraged. Some basics from our list: No wild cards, 10 bags lops a 100 off your score, a nil is 100 or minus that if failed, and a blind nil is 200. We play to 500, or not if all agree. Sometimes there is a time limit, like the restaurant is closing. And, very important, while we truly appreciate that some prefer variations or sets of family rules, we stick to the basics. All rule variations must be approved of by all players. More detailed information and rules can be found in the group description.

First Tuesday of the Month Spades Night

Jax Grill

We start around 7. Being a bit early is a good thing and is less likely to inconvenience others looking forward to play. I show up around 6:30 to eat and stake out a section for us. Unless things have changed, happy hour runs to 7. We generally play partnership spades. If you've never played or it has been awhile, we can coach/kibbutz, or just watch and learn. We follow the framework laid down by Judy and others. We partner up, review the house rules, play spades, and engage in occasionally witty repartee, or not. Overt eye rolling is not discouraged. Some basics from our list: No wild cards, 10 bags lops a 100 off your score, a nil is 100 or minus that if failed, and a blind nil is 200. We play to 500, or not if all agree. Sometimes there is a time limit, like the restaurant is closing. And, very important, while we truly appreciate that some prefer variations or sets of family rules, we stick to the basics. All rule variations must be approved of by all players. More detailed information and rules can be found in the group description.

Second Tuesday of the Month Spades Night

Jax Grill

We start around 7. Being a bit early is a good thing and is less likely to inconvenience others looking forward to play. I show up around 6:30 to eat and stake out a section for us. Unless things have changed, happy hour runs to 7. We generally play partnership spades. If you've never played or it has been awhile, we can coach/kibbutz, or just watch and learn. We follow the framework laid down by Judy and others. We partner up, review the house rules, play spades, and engage in occasionally witty repartee, or not. Overt eye rolling is not discouraged. Some basics from our list: No wild cards, 10 bags lops a 100 off your score, a nil is 100 or minus that if failed, and a blind nil is 200. We play to 500, or not if all agree. Sometimes there is a time limit, like the restaurant is closing. And, very important, while we truly appreciate that some prefer variations or sets of family rules, we stick to the basics. All rule variations must be approved of by all players. More detailed information and rules can be found in the group description.

Past events (18)

Second Tuesday of the Month Spades Night

Jax Grill

Photos (4)