When we start out playing Spades, it is a good idea to follow basic strategy and general advice. However, to become a highly skilled Spades players, you must learn when to break basic strategy. You want to be able to force your opponent in a certain direction.
My first advice is that you practice remembering every card that has already been played and by whom. Instead you just playing your own hand, you want to be able to make decisions based on your opponents hands. What is possible vs impossible for your opponent to be holding right now?
You should always pay attention to which cards the become new bosses.
Example #1: Ace of spades is boss. Ace of spade is played. King of spades in now boss.
Example #2: Ace of heart, king of heart and queen of heart has already been played, and now the jack of hearts is played as well. You now know that jack of hearts is the boss of hearts, even though it wouldn’t normally be seen as a very high card.
Since there are four cards per throw, 12 cards will be gone from the game after just three throws, severally limiting what it is possible for your opponents to be holding.
One way of practicing your memorizing skills is to play a lot of spades online for free. When you feel you are getting good at it, start adding distractions, e.g. an interesting movie running in the background or a telephone call with a friend. When you play spades offline, there will always be distractions, e.g. other players trying to engage you in conversation, so you need to learn how to handle distractions well. A skilled Spades player will almost automatically memorize played cards and know exactly what the boss cards are in any given moment.
Force your opponents
In some cases, the necessary course of action is to force your opponent’s hand.
Example: You are in a situation where you need to win two of the last three tricks. What do you do now? Trying to take the lead on the fourth or third might seem like the best thing to do, but is it really? If you have the cards, you might instead want West to have the lead so you become the last player and can decide how to make your last two tricks.
Sitting with the ace of spades means have one trick guaranteed, but you want to be careful about when you use it. Using it early means placing your other tricks at risk. If you have ace of spades, it actually strengthens other spades in your hand that would normally not be boss. If you have the ace of spades and the jack of spades and another spade, the jack is a pretty strong card now. If east leads with spades, you can play your other spade (not the ace, not the jack). Now, West has a high probability of leading one of the higher spades. The only cards that could beat your jack of spades is king of spades and queen of spades, since you are holding the ace of spades. In this situation, it is not unwise to gamble and find out if your partner has the king or queen. If West instead decides to keep his king or queen of spades, your partner might still be capable of winning the trick without a very high card.