Thou shall not assume that you know the rules
Prior to a game of Spades, it is very important that all players agree on the rules. The only time you can forget about this commandments is when you have a stable circle of people that you frequently play Spades with sticking to the same rules every time.
Unfortunately, it is quite common for people to simply assume that the version of Spades that they grew up with is some sort of universal Spades.
Thou shall be polite when calling out somebody for reneging
Reneging in Spades (often misspelled renigging in the U.S.) is when someone doesn’t follow suit even though they could. This is not permitted, but it does happen. Sometimes its an honest mistake, sometimes someone isn’t paying enough attention to their cards, and sometimes the player is actually outright cheating and hoping to get away with it.
Regardless of the situation, reneging is something that needs to be called out by the other players. However, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this. Remember, when you claim that someone has reneged, you basically stating that the player is A.) An unskilled player B.) Not paying sufficient attention, or C.) A cheater.
Because of this, it is best to always be polite and courteous when suggesting that a fellow player has reneged. Error on the side of politeness, without entering into silly territory. You need to feel the room and use whatever vocabulary and mannerisms these players would normally use to point out something that is a bit sensitive.
Also, you definitely do not want to be the person that is frequently incorrectly pointing out reneging. Being that one that constantly says “wait….didn’t you renege there?” will turn you into someone that is shunned by the other Spades players.
Thou shall not overstate your Spades skills
If you are a beginner, let the other players know this. They will be more forgiving about any mistakes you might make if you don’t put yourself forward as a skilled and experienced player.
Also, be honest when it comes to partnering up. Finding yourself with a partner that is much worse that yourself is horrible, so don’t put anyone in this position. Naturally, a skilled player can elect to partner up with a less skilled player, but he needs to know that this is what he is doing. When a skilled partner teams up with a less skilled partner, and knows about this, he can adjust his play accordingly. Some clever moves that a highly skilled partner would have picked up on just isn’t suitable when you are playing with a less skilled partner.
Thous shall not talk across the board
In the world of Spades, the phrases “table talk” and “talking across the board” doesn’t refer to any kind of chatter at the Spades table, but more specifically to talk that may influence your partners bidding or play. This type of talk is not allowed, and this is a rule that you should respect. Making up various code systems with your partner in an effort to secretly break this rule isn’t clever – it’s just plain old cheating.
Thous shall not be a sore loser
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. No one wants to play Spades with the sore loser who throws a fit when he loses. Best case scenario, people will tolerate your little tantrums for a while because they kind of enjoy the spectacle you are making of yourself. But even spectacles tends to get old with time, so you’ll soon find your pool of available players thinning.
Another type of annoying Spades player is the one who puts on an enormous show when he wins, but can’t handle anyone else doing the same when they win. If you are allowed to do the happy dance when you manage to pull off an awesome move at the Spades table, so is anyone else when they succeed.
Thou shall pay attention to the game
Playing Spades while your mind is somewhere else is rude to your fellow players. Unless you are younger then seven, they are most likely not your baby sitters. They should not have to point out that you reneged, that it is your time to act, etc.
Put your phone away, stop trying to follow that football game in the background, and don’t be so caught up with socializing at the table that you forget about the game. It is very poor etiquette to play casino games such as slot machines or poker in the background while playing spades online.
Thou shall not be Captain Slow
When all need time to think once in a while, but please try to keep up with the general pace of the table. This is most likely not a life or death situation. You are not Max von Sydow, playing Spades against The Grip Reaper in a sad Swedish movie. If you are so eager to win that you are willing to spend ages contemplating your next move, you will make the game super boring for everyone else and they will stop inviting you to play.