I want to know if there is any standard penalty for when someone breaks a rule in a trick taking game, especially failing to follow suit when required. I know the penalty would depend on the game, but all I could find is this Wikipedia article, which suggested some rather harsh penalties, especially for new players.

I'm looking for more lax penalties for less experienced players, especially for Spades and Hearts. The best I've come up with is trying to reverse play when possible, but that doesn't always work, especially when the error is discovered many tricks later.

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    The penalties are harsh because there is no excuse for such errors to be made, even by a beginner, more often than once or twice a decade of frequent playing. The only way to make this point forcefully is with harsh penalties - lax penalties will simply encourage your newbies to cheat with the penalty. Dec 15, 2014 at 1:42
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    @PieterGeerkens - I disagree. I believe the penalties are harsh because (1) they can be difficult to verify (someone has to pay close attention for plays that invalidate past plays), and (2) they are often difficult, if not impossible to fix.
    – Hao Ye
    Dec 15, 2014 at 2:18
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    The reason for the harsh penalty is because this type of mistake is impossible to fix after the fact and very easy to avoid by paying attention. There is not much difficulty in following the suit that was lead
    – Joe W
    Dec 15, 2014 at 2:45
  • @PieterGeerkens I think you have a very different definition of "casual" than the rest of us, to the point of coming off as a little insensitive. We're talking about people who may not play a lot of games, likely chatting and not 100% focused on the game. I've seen very bright people who do know the game make mistakes when they're not focused (and not because they're trying to cheat); it's surely going to happen with beginners in casual games. Maybe the harsh penalties are still a good idea, but it's not because no one's ever going to make a mistake.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 15, 2014 at 5:27
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    @PieterGeerkens The OP is asking about spades and hearts, and if bridge tournaments have something to do with your answer, I stand by my point about you thinking of casual play very differently from the OP.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 15, 2014 at 7:16

1 Answer 1


Generally when I play games like that and a miss play is caught before the next trick is played then the play is corrected. However if it is caught later then the player that messed up losses the hand. In hearts for example they would take all 26 points and everyone else would get 0. In a game where you want points they take the penalty for not getting the minimum bid or whatever they bid. This seems to be a quick and fair way to handle miss plays that you can't correct.

It may sound harsh but following suit in a card game should be a very simple strategy.

Only other option is to throw out the hand and redo it.

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