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Joker Joker Deuce Deuce seems like the de facto style of play for the younger generation of spades players. It’s played late at night in the college dorm rooms by folks with 8am classes. It’s played in off-campus apartments accompanied by Four lokos, Amsterdam, and other low cost spirits that may or may not come in a plastic bottle. And of course it’s played at BBQs, cookouts, and other family gatherings.

In this version of spades, the deuce of hearts and deuce of clubs are removed from the deck in favor of the two Jokers (big Joker and little Joker). The addition of the two Jokers and the use of the deuce of diamonds as a spade changes the number of cards from each suit in play from 13 to the numbers below:

• Spades : 16
• Hearts: 12
• Clubs: 12
• Diamonds: 12

Intuitively, more spades in the deck (4/13 compared to 1/4) means you have a higher chance of ending up with one or more. On average, in JJDD each player will have four spades and three of each of the other suits.

Okay, before you tell me about how you always end up with six hearts (that sucks btw) we all know that spades doesn’t go by averages. It goes by the heart of cards. Like other versions of spades, there are going to be hands when you have the juice, other hands where you’re struggling to get two, and once in a while you’ll still end up having a hand with no spades.

So what really IS the difference besides a few extra spades? Besides changing the initial probabilities, using one less cards per suit increases the likelihood of an early cut (compared to the Ace down version of spades). The first time that Heart, Diamonds, or Club is played, the highest card played (usually the Ace) will walk. Please pray for that King though – one of them is probably not going to make it.

Saving the hypergeometric probabilities talk for later, let’s go over some rough probabilities. Each book has 4 suits of a card played. After the first book, there are 8 cards of that suit left in play split among 4 players. How many cards of that suit do you have left in your hand?

If every player has at least 1 more card of that suit (84% chance), then the King is safe. So probability-wise, you should still count your King as a book unless you have four or more cards of that suit left in your hand.

BTW, I’m saying the King because it’s usually the second card in the suit played but that is not necessarily the case.

However, if one player received 1 card of that suit (about a 13% chance) then that King will be cut (unless that player who can cut is your partner – don’t you love when that happens?). With 13 cards per suit, there’s only a 8% chance that a player has 1 card of a suit. If you’re thinking 8% compared to 13% isn’t THAT big of a difference then…you can’t be on my team.


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