The Ten Truths of Spades

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Galt
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The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:17 am

Here is something that I wrote awhile back, but I don't think that I ever posted it in here.

The Ten Truths of Spades

1. The average Spades player is concerned way too much with avoiding taking bags, and not concerned nearly enough with setting or getting set.

2. Bidding your hand is about the worst approach that you can take when playing Spades. Players who always “bid their hands” will lose on a consistent basis to players who do not.

3. A common belief is that the outcome of Spades games is determined primarily by luck. This is not true. Some games are determined by luck, but in the long run the more skilled team will always come out ahead of the less skilled team.

4. More bidding mistakes are made on the last hand of Spades games than at any other time, and tons of games are lost as a result of these mistakes. Often the mistake is made by the player bidding last, but, surprisingly to many, most often the mistake is made by the player bidding in third position.

5. Spades is a game of risk/reward more than it is a game of cards.

6. The biggest factor holding back Spaders is ego. I have often jokingly stated that “95% of players think that they are in the top 5%”. This is obviously a stretch, but not having an open mind to new or different ideas tends to hold back many Spaders from moving to higher levels of play. This also includes the misconception that having played for a long time translates into skill. More often than not, having played for 10, 15, or 25 years simply translates into having had bad habits deeply woven into a player’s fabric.

7. Many players think that Spades is a very simple game. This stems from the fact that just about anybody can learn to play the game in five minutes. Simple rules can make for a simple game, but do not necessarily do so. Spades is far from simple. Failure to accept and investigate its complexities leads to needless loss after needless loss.

8. Related to this is that players will often, after having lost a game, not know the real reason why they lost. It will, more often than not, relate to some fundamental error or errors that go completely unrecognized. The resulting inability to learn from these mistakes represents a serious impediment to improved play.

9. Everything is situational. Players who look for hard and fast rules will never reach their true potential. This includes the use of bidding systems. There is no bidding system that can lead one to the Promised Land of Spades.

10. Spades is a game of controlling, and taking advantage of, mistakes. If your team makes fewer and less costly mistakes than its opponents, it will be a winning team.

And one final thing to think about:

Have you ever intentionally (in an effort to win a game) bid Nil while holding the Ace of Spades? If a player's answer to that question is no, he or she has not yet learned the most fundamental aspect of how to play winning Spades.
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Broadway1002
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Broadway1002 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:14 am

Hi.I,m a new member,but i have played "spades"and other card games,for quite a few years.I consider myself,an open minded person,who has learned,not to let ones ego,get the best of him.I also have learned,"experience is the best teacher,"I,m just an average guy,who has learned that,"you can,t win all the time,but do not take these games,too seriously.Meaning that,"games were made to amuse and enjoy.Unfortunately,when taken too seriously,one can become a victim,of the games. 8)

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Galt
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:28 am

Hiya.

Not exactly sure what the point is of your post, but I want to welcome you to Hardwood. Hope you have lots of fun here.

I guess that all I will add related to what you said is that being the very best player that you can be is not only not inconsistent with having fun at and enjoying the game, but it magnifies those experiences.
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dustin7609
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by dustin7609 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:47 pm

Oh come on. Let's not kid ourselves here. Winning is a LOT more fun than losing :). Everyone wants to win very badly, even those who claim "I just play for fun". In fact, those are the people who seem to despise losing the most!

Good post, Galt. Spades is a game of situations and understanding Risk/Reward. You've contributed a great deal of reading material based on these concepts. And while there is other material more suited for learning proper technique, I'm certainly glad you took the time to write on the much broader/general concepts. Your writings deal with the overall "game strategy", which was certainly sorely lacking in the realm of Spades literature.

When I'm teaching new bridge players, I explain that it's very much like golf.

First you break down the game into the components:

Equipment = Bidding
Driving and Approach = Declarer Play
Putting = Defensive Play

Then of course once you have technique down there is overall game strategy with risk/reward situational decisions (similar to golf). I simply call this area "strategy". This requires a good understanding of the scoring methods and the skill levels of each player at the table.

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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:26 pm

Thanks Dustin.

As I say in the book, It is more fun to win on a consistent basis than to lose on a consistent basis, and that is all that I have ever tried to help players accomplish.
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by KingZachary » Wed May 08, 2013 12:03 am

The "it's just a game" mentality is slightly annoying- okay, perhaps more than slightly. Who can possibly have fun losing on a consistent basis? Especially if you are playing a rated game - what is the point of playing if you can't win regularly? Moreover, if you are playing with a partner, it is very unfair to your partner to have a lackadaisical attitude. On the topic of annoyance, one of the worst things is when someone says "it isn't hard, you just count to 13." Really? So - are we keeping track of just our own hands (13) or just one suit (13)? No, there are - in games without jokers - 52 cards to keep track of. It will be important to know later on, for instance that my pard (or opponent) dropped that jack heart under a club lead. You have to be aware which cards are still 1). out there and 2). boss in each suit. Plus, based on play, you should be able to deduce WHO has the boss cards and who will be trumping.

I agree with point 4 very much. I cannot count the times I have lost a sure-fire game when a partner, not seeing a 1 bid hits the nil button when we are already past 400 points with opponents down over 100 points. I'm not sure what it is with people who are afraid to lose a bid, but not afraid to lose 100 points for getting a nil set. I strongly advocate a policy of not being too fancy - do what is necessary to win. If I'm last to act and game is on the line, I bid just what I need to win by the minimum margin. Winning by one point on bags is the same as winning by 30 points.

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Galt
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Sat May 11, 2013 8:25 pm

You are zachary right.
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by bjvande » Sun May 12, 2013 1:41 am

I wonder how true the rule about setting versus bagging is in cutthroat. I have only just started to look at this, yet I suspect one will win more often (at least in a 400 game) when one does not get the bag penalty. I have had games in cutthroat where I have been set, and I end up winning because my opponents take the 100 point bag penalty. Has anyone studied this yet ?

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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by MrAnderson » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:58 am

I would add another point to your list: Mentality. Especially in eGames it is a huge influence factor. Ever seen the effect of opponents doing mistake after mistake or risking too much when you outplayed them? That happens, when they are stressed or lost confidence to win that game. It goes the other way too: Too much confidence can lead to stupid behaviour like bidding nil on a 200+ lead etc.

So when you want to play cards make sure, you are relaxed and calm. Throwing some cards while nearly hitting the boiling point will probably not work :)
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by blackrosegul » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:06 pm

I consider myself,an open minded person,who has learned,not to let ones ego,get the best of him.I also have learned,"experience is the best teacher,"I,m just an average guy,who has learned that,"you can,t win all the time,but do not take these games,too seriously.
GuL

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Galt
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:51 am

While the original post was written to the regular partner game, much of it would apply to Cutthroat, while I guess that some of it would be less applicable.

Cut certainly is nowhere near as complex as the regular game, simply due to the facts that one does not have to read his pard's intentions, adjust his bidding to his pard's bid or possible bid, and most importantly, the entire aspect of communication, a huge part of Spading, does not exist.

Regarding the bagging/setting idea:

It is important to remember that, if one gets set on a 5 bid for example, the penalty for that set is greater than an opp will incur as the result of bagging... 100 points vs. 90 points.

There certainnly are times when, either in Cut or Regular, a player or team should look to intentionally get set in order to bag the opp or opps. This will always be determined by the score of the game... just as there are times when one should set one's own Nil (much moreso in Regular) in order to set the opps' bid (why am I thinking about nilling with the Spade Ace).

Anyway, there is no question that Cut is a different game from Regular team Spades.
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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by JusticeWaits » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:16 pm

2. Bidding your hand is about the worst approach that you can take when playing Spades. Players who always “bid their hands” will lose on a consistent basis to players who do not.
LOL, I find this so called "truth" really amusing!

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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Openshut » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:11 pm

JusticeWaits I can certainly understand your thinking here but if you swap the word truth with fact.. it begins to make more sense. It is a fact that most spaders can not manage increased confusion on the table. Think of it like having an evil math teacher making the exams harder than they need to be. On a curve those that would do well do, still will and those that could barley edge thru now have a harder time doing so. So skill would have a greater chance to stand out beyond the cards. The real issue with such a concept is not that it is wrong or not, but that it depends on weaker players to make the idea shine.

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Re: The Ten Truths of Spades

Post by Galt » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:07 pm

The fact that you find the single biggest truth of Spades to be "amusing" is sad.

The object of Spades is not to bid your hand, but to win the game.

Players who always bid their hands are, by far, the easiest players to beat.

Bidding and playing Spades is a function of the score of the game, not the cards in your hand.

If you are one of those players who bids his team to 8 on the last hand of the game when 40 points will win it, please sit against me.

Similarly, if you bid NIl when your team has a commanding lead because you "have a Nil hand", please come sit again.

Similarly if you do not significanly underbid when bagging the opps is more important than scoring 20 or 20 more points, or you do not give your pard a busted Nil when bidding in first seat, or you do not take the table bid to 14 when setting the opps is the only possible way to keep from losing the game, or when sitting in 3rd seat on the last hand of the game you do not bid high enough to force the opp bidding 4th to take the table bid to at least 13 in order to win the game, or when in 3rd seat you do not bid Nil holding the Spade Ace or other unavoidable tricks in order to try to force the opps into an overbid on what would otherwise be an easy win for the their team, and on and on and on.

One needs to bid the same hand aggressively when losing and conservatively when winning. It is referred to as risk/reward management.

The same holds true regarding the perceived skill of the opponents. One (if he or she wants to win Spades games) bids (and plays) conservatively against weak opps (the opps will usually find a way to lose the game), and aggressively against strong opps.

Against strong opps bidding Nil with the singleton Spade Queen (56% chance that your pard can cover it prior to seeing any other bids) is a worthwhile risk. Against weak opps it will generally be a needless risk.

(As an aside, the chance that you pard can cover your Jack of Spades is 72%. Opps will often accuse a player of being lucky when successfully bidding Nil with the singleton Queen or Jack of Spades, when in fact it is just the opposite. It would be unlucky to get set.)

Players who have studied and absorbed this concept of the game are the very best players. Players who have not are the very worst players, and in fact will even complain at the table when being destroyed by players who understand the game.

"Bid your hand", "I hate bagging games" (this one makes about as much sense as when being beaten in a football game complaining that the other team is running the ball too much).

Highly accomplished Spaders drool at the thought of playing opps who bid their hands.
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