Spades is a popular casino game played amongst friends. It’s similar to poker in how it offers a great balance between skill and luck.
Given Spades’ popularity, you might wonder why it’s not widely found throughout casinos. In fact, you may not have even seen this game at all in gambling establishments. This begs the question: do casinos even offer spades?
I’m going to answer this question below. First, though, I’ll discuss the basics of this game if you’re not entirely familiar with it.
Basics of Spades
This post is mostly about the availability of Spades in casinos. If you want a detailed breakdown on how to play it, you can check out this post. Nevertheless, I’d like to briefly cover the basics of Spades just in case you’re unfamiliar with it.
The common version features four players, split into two teams. Each set of teammates sits across from each other.
This game is called “Spades” because spades are the trump cards. They’re also the only suit that has any value beyond standard poker rankings.
Regarding the latter, 2 is the lowest-ranking value while ace ranks the highest. Spades uses a standard 52-card deck.
The object is to book winning rounds (a.k.a. “tricks”) and match the initial “bid.” At the beginning of a hand, each team bids on how many tricks they’ll win.
Teams score points by winning at least as many rounds, or more, than their bid. Teams that share great chemistry in the bidding process have a strong chance of beating their opponents.
The first team to 500 points wins the match. Alternatively, they can also win by forcing the opponents down to -200 points through too many lost bids.
Where Can You Play Spades?
Unlike games like baccarat or blackjack, you don’t really need a casino to enjoy Spades. Instead, you can easily start a game at home with friends.
You just need yourself, three other buddies, and a deck of 52 cards. It helps if everybody fully understands the rules too so that you’re not explaining while playing.
Of course, you can also train one or more friends on how to play this game. Spades involves quite a few rules and terms, but it’s not impossible to pick up on the fly.
Traditional casinos, meaning those offering slot machines and common table games, don’t usually offer spades. After all, this is mainly a home game played between friends.
Some private card rooms offer Spades. Los Angeles, for example, has several prominent card rooms with a wide variety of games.
Your best bet for finding casino Spades would be in LA, or a similar city with multiple card clubs. These places feature various player-vs-player games besides spades, like Bridge, Gin Rummy, and of course poker.
Spades is rare at online casinos. BetOnline casino, however, is an exception to the norm. At the time of this writing, BetOnline has Spades listed under its “Skill Games” section.
Another option is playing free online spades games that are available in some places online that aren’t casinos. You’re not going to be able to play for real money in these game rooms, but you can enjoy playing spades.
How Do Casinos Determine What Games They Offer?
Casinos are in the business of offering games that bring back a sizable return. Baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette, for example, are always available because they’re profitable ventures.
These games satisfy three main requirements that help casinos make money:
- They give the house an edge.
- Gamblers are willing to play these games with a disadvantage.
- These games move at a fast rate.
Regarding the first point, casinos earn profits due to their long-term edge. They can’t offer a coinflip and expect to make money on a 50/50 proposition.
Player-vs-player games don’t give casinos a house advantage. Instead, a gaming establishment must take “rake” from hands to make any money.
This aspect leads to the second point regarding players being willing to gamble at a disadvantage. Gamblers choose baccarat or roulette because they can’t perfectly replicate these games at home.
With roulette, for example, they’d need to hire a dealer and get a wheel & table. They’d also possibly be breaking laws by offering roulette at home, even when not taking a house fee (2.70% in European roulette).
In short, they’re willing to pay to play casino roulette and avoid all of these hassles. Many gamblers won’t, however, front the type of rake that casinos need to make sizable profits form Spades and other PvP games.
Why Isn’t Spades More Common at Casinos?
Spades doesn’t fully satisfy the three points covered before. First off, it doesn’t provide casinos with a house advantage.
Instead, casinos would need to take considerable rake from hands to make Spades worth their while. Given that Spades can be played anywhere, the average gambler won’t overpay to play it.
Players can simply get together with each other and enjoy Spades without paying rake. 100% of the profits would go to the winning team.
As for the third point regarding game speed, Spades moves at a snail’s pace. Hands can take 10-15 minutes to complete, which only gives the casino 5-6 chances to collect rake per hour.
Why would a gaming establishment feature such a game when they can run a blackjack table with 70-100 hands per hour?
Spades Will Likely Always Be a Home Game
Poker is one of the rare PvP games that have moved from homes into casinos. Given poker’s rise, you might wonder why Spades can’t perform the same feat.
The truth is that casinos don’t do particularly well with poker from a profit standpoint. The gaming venues that do run it do so because it’s popular.
The poker boom of the 2000s drew many casual gamblers to the felt. These same people enjoy playing both poker and casino games.
Therefore, a casino can offer tournaments and/or cash games and draw these same gamblers. Provided they can simply break even with poker, they’ll be making lots of money off the gamblers’ casino play.
Spades has never experienced the type of boom that poker has. Therefore, a casino can’t run an affordable Spades tournament or cash game and expect to draw gamblers by the droves. Instead, they’d only attract hardcore players who might not be into casino gaming.
Could You Convince a Casino to Offer Spades?
Again, profit is the key driver behind what games casinos offer. If a gambling establishment sees you as an important VIP, then they’d be willing to consider offering Spades.
This is especially true in the aforementioned card clubs. Due to legal restrictions in their jurisdictions, these clubs must be more inventive than traditional casinos.
If you came to them with a proposition to play for high stakes, they’d be receptive to offering the game. After all, they could earn more rake from the matter. Assuming you played for high enough stakes, you might even convince a standard casino to run a Spades table for you and friends.
Of course, at this point, you’d also have to ask yourself if going through this trouble is worth it. You would be paying the casino a premium to host the same game that could be run from home.
In summary, it’s possible to convince a casino to get a Spades table going for you. But you’d also need to weigh the cost of the rake. Your best bet for a cheaper game would be a private card club because they’re main business is cards.
Spades will continue to be a popular home game. It features the type of strategy that makes for a challenging contest between friends.
This game, however, isn’t ideal for the casino setting. Spades simply doesn’t provide casinos with enough profits.
That said, you can find this game at BetOnline Casino along with some private card clubs. You might even be able to convince a casino to offer Spades if enough rake involved.
The latter option is a little silly, however, when considering that you can just play this game from home with no rake involved.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …