Featured, Sh*t Bougie Black People Love, Theory & Essay

The Definitive Ruling On The Single Best Way To Play Spades

Last weekend, I attended a birthday party for a friend. Which, all things considered, may have been the bougiest birthday party I’ve ever been at. Consider the following:

A)  It was marketed as a birthday party but it was actually just a day party that happened to occur during someone’s birthday. This is stealth bougie.

B) There were two people in attendance with “I Love Bougie Black Girls” shirts on. And, surprisingly, neither of them were me.

C) The bottle of Honey Jack that I brought lasted for maybe 27 seconds.

D) Between all of the joggers, tapered skinny shorts, and tank tops, the men collectively had on less clothes than the women.

E) Someone came up with the idea for everyone to put their names on their red cups, which fulfills the Bougie Black need for attending events with self-identifying nametags.

And of course, when you put 30 Bougie Black people in a room together, liquor them up, and fill them up with chips and dips because there wasn’t enough meat, spades is an inevitability. And, as anyone who has played spades with a relatively new group of people will tell you, before the spades playing begins, rules must be determined. Because while spades has the same base rules everywhere, there are certain aspects that vary by region and/or household.

Some people play with two jokers and no extra trump cards. Some people have the two of spades as a trump card. Some have the two of spades and the two of diamonds. Some play overbooks. Some don’t. Some add extra points if you win the first seven books. Or if each of your team’s aces walks. Some play with no blinds. Some allow you to use blinds, but limit the number you can use per game. Some dictate that if you get set twice, the game is automatically over. Some give you 200 points if you bid 10 books and make it. Some give you 400 if you go blind 10. Some allow you to throw in your hand and declare a misdeal if you receive seven cards of the same suit. Or a hand with no face cards. Or a hand with no spades.

Either way, there are generally no value judgments attached to these various rules. You just collectively determine how you’re going to play and go from there.

Today, however, I’m here to change that. I’m here to say that there should be value judgments attached to the rules. And that there is such a thing as the “best” way to play spades. (Besides, of course, being drunk.) And that pretending like there isn’t a “best” way to play is like pretending a Kappa’s sweater vest is appropriate for flag football.

So, without further ado, behold the best way to play spades.

1. Joker, Joker, Deuce of Diamonds, Deuce of Spades

(Because four trump cards is better than three. And I kinda like how the two of diamonds just steals the two of spade’s spot. Because fuck the two of spades.)

2. No extra points for first seven books or aces walking

(Because that’s arbitrary and stupid.)

3. No limits on getting set. And if you’re down 100 points, you can go blind as many times as you need to

(Because without blinds, unless you set the other team, it’s nearly impossible to recover from getting set. Which takes the fun out of the competition.)

4. You are allowed to throw in your hand if you have no spades or seven of a suit

5. Overbooks are counted, just to prevent devious motherfuckers from intentionally underbidding

6. If caught reneging, you lose three books. If caught twice, you’re done. And kicked out of the party, because who reneges twice other than government agents and Rachel Dolezal?

There is no better set of rules than these. Nothing else that keeps the game fun and competitive while also allowing you to use whichever spades-playing strategies you think will work but never, ever, ever actually do.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Other_guy13

    Disclaimer…..I don’t know how to play spades….*ducks for cover*

    • brothaskeeper

      *punches one hole in your Black card* I changed my avi, though. *snicker*

      • Other_guy13

        What had happened was…and I see you joined the Revolution *claps*

      • Mortal Man

        ::Burns half the card off::

        Dawg, please tell me you drink Kool-Aid.

    • RaeNBow

      i thought you were such a cool dude…. now, I dont know….

      • Other_guy13

        You just made the list #blackout2016

        • Mochasister

          What’s up with all the Samuel Jackson pics?

          • Other_guy13

            The great Samuel L. Jackson has inspired us…..the men of VSB…to unite against the injustices of Val and her fellow VSS’s. Nah I got called out about my avi…I called someone else out….then this turned into a us Vs. them situation. Basically I feel left out that I haven’t seen a certain unicorn’s picture. I’ll change it back once the Feds end their investigation of VSB (I see y’all lurking).

            • Mochasister

              Lol! Ok. I hear you about the Feds. I try to be very careful to not make inflammatory remarks. So many people have been getting reckless with their mouths and pictures on social media. Then they wonder why they get in trouble in real life.

              • Other_guy13

                Look they calling BLM a hate group…last thing I need is for them to come here tryna start stuff…I saw Eagle Eye…feds everywhere bruh…nah

                • Mochasister

                  The KKK is not a terrorist group but BLM is. Ok. There was a petition sent to the White House to have them classified as a terrorist group. The White House basically told them to have a seat.

                  • Other_guy13

                    I’m over it…where is a funny post to get me through this Monday. I mean…its almost 1pm.

            • -h.h.h.-

              looks like i’ll have to stay fresh as hellll cuz the Feds watchin (yaoooooo)

              • Other_guy13

                Welcome to the movement brother…United we Stand n ish

    • J’aime les hot cheetos

      Me either. ?

      • Other_guy13

        You can’t unfriends me that easy

    • Blueberry01

      What! My sometimes #EBae ain’t about that true melanin life? OG, please download an app immediately! Do it for the children!

      • Other_guy13

        I don’t see the point in learning on the other side of 30. It’s one of those things that #bae gone have to teach the kids cuz OG has n time to learn.

        • Blueberry01

          I guess there will be no game nights at your spot….

          • Other_guy13

            Well..no card games…but twister and other drinking games are always an option…#connectfourchamp2016

            • Blueberry01

              No, you did NOT say that. Now you have to come to DMV! You will NOT claim no such thing as being a Connect Four champ ’round these parts.

              • Other_guy13

                Connect 4 champ since 1996. Came out of retirement to lay the smack down on some candy @$$e$. Haven’t looked back since.

                • Blueberry01

                  Lol!

                  Listen, you cute and all, but that will NOT save you from getting washed up in some C4. Please ask your fellow VSBs, Cogito and Brothaskeepa, about said washings in Words With Friends.

                  • Other_guy13

                    Never played Words With Friends…but I’m sure I’m a beast in that too….IJS lol. You don’t wanna see me in C4 http://40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lsetx3XKG81qmvzs9o1_500.png

                    • Blueberry01

                      How did I KNOW that you were going to post this gif? Lol!

                      WWF is basically Scrabble. So, if you like that game, find me on there. I’m Mathlady2.

                      Good AM, BTW! ?

                    • Other_guy13

                      Got you…and Good AM as well

                    • Blueberry01

                      OG, ain’t nothing but space and opportunity…

                    • Other_guy13

                      Let me get an account real fast

                    • Blueberry01

                      You mean like online C4?

                    • Other_guy13

                      Words with friends but I will do both by the end of the day.

    • Mochasister

      Join the club.

      • Other_guy13

        At least I know I am not alone. The way people I know make me feel…I’m the only black person on the planet who doesn’t know how to play.

        • Mochasister

          Nah, you’re definitely not the only one. We’ll be alright. We still Black. Fist bump.

          • Other_guy13

            *fist bump*

    • Johanne Sterling

      I can’t play either :-(
      BUT to all detractors, as a Carribbean Gyal (AYITI, NAP BOULE), I can throw a MEAN dominoes game. Which is like Spades on LEVELZ. So. Get at me. lolololol

  • brothaskeeper

    Two jokers and two deuces is my preference. I don’t penalize for over books, but my aunts and uncles like to play game over if one person reneges.

    • YeaSoh

      I like that… that’s like when you’re playing pool and you call the shot but don’t make it a lot of people consider the game over and rightfully so

  • kingpinenut

    it’s going down ….

  • …so are these the rules for the spades tournament at the VSB picnic or nah?

    • YeaSoh

      Ion’t know that’s a long list to remember. Why can’t we just go joker, joker, deuce, deuce and keep it moving dang?

  • A.G.

    I have a feeling this article is about to generate AT LEAST 1000 comments.

    • Other_guy13

      2000 easy

      • Mortal Man

        Spades is an important unife/divider for the Afro-American community.

    • Brandon Allen

      The first rule about the comment tally is you don’t talk about the comment tally.

      • A.G.

        Noted for next time.

  • catgee12

    Are you still considered Black if you can’t play spades? Just asking for a friend …

    • IsitFridayyet?

      Yes.

      • catgee12

        Thank you. I … I mean my friend was a little concerned …

      • Other_guy13

        So I’m still black… #wonthedoit

        • IsitFridayyet?

          The only people who need to have their Black Cards taken are the ones that are always trying to pull other’s Black cards.

          • Kas

            Spoken like someone is constantly flunking arbitrary Black tests.

            • IsitFridayyet?

              Nope.

            • Mochasister

              Seriously though. I bet there’s many versions of Black tests. The African American Black test. The Jamaican Black test, etc. Somewhere out there I’m going to be flunking some Black test.

              • Kas

                Actually only one true test and Black people aren’t the ones administering it.

                • Mochasister

                  Could you expound on this a little more?

                  • Kas

                    In America, white people have the final say. It’s an involuntary test.

          • brothaskeeper

            I just use the hole punch areas.

    • cakes_and_pies

      Looks at all these non-players. My people!

      • Kas

        Down vote

    • Mortal Man

      Not black, but black-ish…

    • Junegirl627

      Do you bring snacks to the people playing?

      • I ALWAYS bring snacks. What is this? Going to people’s homes and not bringing snacks…

        • Junegirl627

          Noooo I mean do go to the snack table bring back snacks to people playing

          • Ummmmm, I am not a waiter ma’am. But yes, if they ask politely. What am I doing? Not playing spades.

      • catgee12

        But of course …

  • RaeNBow

    aaaaahhhhh!!!!!! I’m just here for the Kappa shade **we all know those THREE who really will be out there playing in a dang sweater vest and some Tod’s loafers**

    But note: Cut that isht out with the Deuce of Diamonds.
    Also: re: #4. If you ain’t got no spades, DEAL WITH IT! learn how to be a support player for your partner. or get set.
    I’ll let 2,3, & 5 ride.

    • Kat

      Exactly! What if your partner sitting over there trump tight? Play on player!

    • brothaskeeper

      Just gotta go board. I don’t like playing with my dad, though. He always ALWAYS refuses to believe that I don’t have a book when I say I don’t.

  • Betty

    Drop 2 and 4 and we got a deal.

  • Niecy

    ……I don’t know how to play Spades…….
    *ducks chicken bones and empty Henny bottles being thrown*

    • cakes_and_pies

      Me either.

      • Mortal Man

        VSB needs the both of you to submit your Black card for inspection/verification.

        • Niecy

          But, my melanin….

          • Mortal Man

            …ain’t nothing but a tan, my dear, if you can’t play spades or verify your blackness in another way.

            • Niecy

              Well you gotta let me verify my blackness another way cuz this is the only black card my broke azz is gonna get.

            • Serenity

              Amen

        • cakes_and_pies

          You tried it. My name alone is enough to secure my permanency.

          • Mortal Man

            But if you can’t play spades, your name probably is some white cake and white pie.

            Like carrot cake and walnut pie. Seriously, I have so much respect for you, but why ain’t nobody teach you to play spades?

            • cakes_and_pies

              Carrot cake ain’t White!
              I learned, but my attention span is short on card games and I don’t know how to talk isht during the game.
              I bring liquor and food. I don’t need to learn.

              • Mortal Man

                Carrot Cake is whiter than Gwyneth Paltrow.

                • Cheech

                  I approve this message. Carrot cake is delicious.

                • cakes_and_pies

                  Blasphemy. German chocolate cake is like Igloo Azealia. You’re breaking my heart.

                  • Mortal Man

                    Your heart will go on. When you leave that carrot cake behind.

                • Mochasister

                  I like carrot cake. I didn’t know it was considered white. What about pound cake or caramel cake? Those cakes are bomb.

            • LKNMRE

              My whole family tried to teach me. But they also tried to teach me how to drive and to this day, I have no license.

              • Mortal Man

                Don’t worry. The Lord is currently working on you.

                He’s never late, but always on time.

                • Kat

                  In this instance he on CP time…

            • NoGames

              *peeks in*
              I don’t want know drama but Carrot Cake is not a “white” cake in any way, shape, or form. The trusted potato salad makers usually make a mean Carrot Cake too.

              • Mortal Man

                You’re asking for it with this behavior. You no dang well no good cake ever been made from no darn vegetable.

                • Anonymouse

                  Ayyyy…pies and sweet potatoes. Rule breakers exist

                  • That’s the only rule breaker I’ll acknowledge.

                  • Maestro G

                    Definite cosign on the sweet potato pie tip.

        • Sunkissed

          I’m in the same boat…right around the pivotal age most kids learn a little bit about spades, my family got religious. I went from sipping from beer cans and inhaling cigarette smoke while sitting on my dad’s lap and watching the adults play cards to sitting on the front pew, sucking peppermints, and being pinched into submission 3-4 days a week….

          I guess it was for the best….?

          • Mortal Man

            You had a wonderful childhood.

          • Mochasister

            I think that’s why my family never played. Being staunch missionary Baptists on both sides and all. They frowned on card playing. There are some people in the family who know how to play. But not my folks or grandparents.

    • Okaykaykay

      I just learned last week! it’s pretty fun

      • Kat

        Fun….

      • Other_guy13

        I need a teacher…what they charge?

        • Okaykaykay

          ridicule if you renig and a bottle of henny

          • Other_guy13

            Foreign language

    • Niecy, I’m here with you! I have never played spades in my life!

      • Niecy

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I mysteriously disappear when the fam gets together and is trying to pick teams.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      Right. In an effort to preserve my Black Card and VSB street cred, I wasn’t gonna say anything, but…

    • Brandon Allen

      It’s really easy at its base level.

      1. You follow the suit that started the hand. The higher card wins.

      2. If you don’t have the suit, you can throw a Spade which trumps other suits, except the cards listed in rule 1.

      Das it. Everything else is window dressing.

      • cakes_and_pies

        3. Talk isht. I can’t isht talk, so no need for me to learn how to play. I’ve never seen a mute spades player.

        • Brandon Allen

          Some of the greats are mute. Their ish talk is indifference. That kills sore loser ish talkers.

          • That’s me. I don’t talk ish. I just play my hand…like a bawse.

        • HoobaStankyLeg

          But the ish talk is the best part! ??????

          • Kat

            I got so Southern I could barely understand my dang self.

            And when I pulled a Samuel Jackson and said after a card hit the table…”You know you done mucked up right?”….while staring them down., no blink, and playing my card.

            Lawd…

            • HoobaStankyLeg

              I love some good old fashioned ish-talk. Matter fact. We can’t be friends if you can’t hold your own.

              • Mochasister

                Black folk and ish talk. Lawd….

            • Mochasister

              You’re scaring me. Backs away from the lady who would (maybe?) cut someone in the eyelid over spades…

          • cakes_and_pies

            I can’t do it. That’s why I can’t/won’t/don’t play.

            • HoobaStankyLeg

              Ish-talking is like a muscle. You have to exercise it in order to become strong. Now go, clown Young Grasshopper.

          • E_Deshon

            No lies….my isht talking ability is greater than my spade playing ability and anyone can get it…kids, grandma, disabled cousin, bosses etc

            • HoobaStankyLeg

              Listen.

      • Niecy

        See, you say it’s easy and yet I stay gettin cussed out when I try to play. I’m good, fam.

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Ok. Define “suit.” And how exactly do you “follow” it?

        Now when you say higher card, do you mean numerically higher or is this one of those games where a card like a deuce can trump stuff?

        And about this throwing a spade thing? What does the spade look like again? ?

        #MyCardKnowledgeStopsAtIDeclareWarAndUno

        • Brandon Allen

          I’m glad you got that update in. Had me thinking you’d never even seen a card.

        • Serenity

          Ain’t there a spades app? Start there

      • Kat

        Pretty much. But you left out the strategy part. Guessing what’s in everyone’s..plotting on how to play to maximize what’s in yours while minimizing what’s in theirs.

    • To be fair, there are no official rules so nobody really knows how to play until we have a sit down.

      • Serenity

        If there is gonna be an official type Spades council of nicea, I NEED to be present

    • NonyaB

      Neither can I! We gon’ be alright!

    • Mochasister

      Me neither. Card playing wasn’t big in my family. I’ve heard too many stories about people almost coming to blows over cards. Still Black. Still proud.

  • Val

    I know how to play spades but I don’t know enough about spades to talk about playing spades. So I’m just going to eat my lunch and watch the shenanigans….

    http://media2.popsugar-assets.com/files/thumbor/Og2vhJM5Si2AQfyASzHROGTQ5fc=/fit-in/1024×1024/2014/05/14/935/n/1922283/99c33d4b4ee7733e_When-You-Finally-Get-Your-Appetite-Back-After-Bad-Breakup/i/How-Properly-Eat-Pizza.gif

    • Mortal Man

      You could be my partner. I’d learn you something so you wouldn’t disgrace yourself in front of the elders.

    • Mizwest

      I’m in the same boat.

    • NonyaB

      Eh, only know of the game from hearing Normerican BP talking about it.

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