Hearts

The basics

-Number of players: 4 players.

-Cards: one standard deck of 52 cards

-Note: A score sheet is needed for this game

 

Card Values

Hearts = 1 point

Queen of Spades = 13 points

All other cards = no value

 

Scoring Rules

At the end of each round of play, players count up the points in the cards they have taken in tricks. Scores are noted on a score sheet and the first player to reach 100 points loses and ends the game.

 

Object of the game

The object of Hearts is to be the player with the least amount of points at the end of the game. The game ends when a player scores 100 points, becoming the game’s loser.

 

Key terms

Trick

A trick in card games is the group of cards collected in a round of a game that is used as a scoring method. In games such as Hearts and Spades, players take tricks by playing a card that beats all other cards in a particular hand, thereby “winning” that hand.

Lead suit

The suit of the card that is first laid on a trick

 

Play

Each player is dealt 13 cards and the game consists of 13 tricks. Because there are four players, each trick consists of 4 cards. Points are given based on the tricks each player wins. The highest-ranked card in the suit originally played (the lead suit) wins the trick.

In other words, if the card led is a 3 of Diamonds and each player puts down a Diamond but one player puts down an Ace of Clubs, the highest Diamond wins the trick. There is no trump suit. Play continues to be guided by the first suit played in each trick.

Each player must follow suit whenever he has that suit available in his hand. If he doesn’t have any more cards in his hand that match the lead suit, then he may play any card in his hand. The player who wins the trick leads the next trick.

Adding up the value of all the Hearts plus the value of the Queen of Spades, the total amount of points in a game is 26.

Passing cards

At the beginning of the first round, each player passes three cards—facedown—from his hand to the player on his left. On the second round, cards are passed to the right. On the third round, cards are passed to the player across the table. On the fourth round, cards are not passed. Players may pick up the cards passed to them only after passing on their own cards. It is not allowed to pass a card that was received via passing. In rules pertaining to more than four players, the passing configuration varies.

Passing is an important part of the game. It is the players’ chance to get rid of any “bad” cards in their hands. “Bad” cards consist of Hearts, the Queen of Spades, and any other high card that might make a player win tricks in the trick-taking play of the game. Low cards and non-Hearts are desirable.

Tricks

The player who has the 2 of Clubs starts the first trick. Each player must follow suit and lay down their lowest card in that suit. Aces and face cards are high, 2s are low.

If a player doesn’t have any cards in the suit lead, he can play any card of another suit. A player takes the trick if he plays a card that is the highest card of the lead suit. The player who takes the trick leads the next trick.

Do not lead a trick with a Heart until a Heart has been discarded in a previous trick. When a Heart is discarded, it is called “breaking Hearts.” That just means that in discarding a Heart, that player is allowing Hearts to be played as a lead card in the future. Breaking Hearts can be used as an important strategy. Discarding a penalty card in a trick-taking card game is called “painting the trick.”

It is a standard practice to lead with Spades. This is usually done to drive another player to play the Queen, otherwise known as “smoking out” or “fishing out” the Queen.

At the end of each round, each player counts the points he has in his trick pile. Keep playing until someone scores 100. That player is the loser. If one player gets all 26 points in one round, it’s called “shooting the moon.” The moon-shooter gets zero points and all other players get 26 points. There are strategies for shooting the moon as well as strategies for preventing opponents from shooting the moon.

Some players believe the best way not to get stuck with the Queen of Spades is to hold on to her for as long as possible. If a player has a lot of Spades and the Queen at the beginning of the game, they are in the best position to dump her on another player. Because most players will play to “smoke out” or “fish out” the Queen, they will keep playing their Spades until they run out—then someone will have to lead with another suit.

 

Tips

A player should pass the Queen of Spades if he does not have enough Spades after the first deal. Always pass the King and Ace of Spades because those cards beat the Queen in a trick and the Queen is the worst card to “win” in a trick.

While it is never desirable to take a trick that contains points, it is sometimes advantageous to take tricks take contain no points. Remember, the winner of a trick gets to lead the next trick. If a player wishes to lead with a specific suit (Spades to draw out the Queen or another suit to get rid of that suit in their hand) he might want control over the lead suit. This is where strategy comes in.

Keeping or Keeping Away from Hearts: It is tempting for players to rid their hands of Hearts when passing cards. But it is actually an advantage to hold on to lower Hearts. This way they can be played when a trick is led with Hearts. Remember, Hearts are worth one point each and players do not want to get stuck with any of them when adding up the score at the end of a game. If a player keeps low ones, he can lose Heart-led tricks. The ideal hand is to have at least one low heart, one medium Heart, and one high Heart.

Scoring a Bonus: Some people like to play that the Jack of Diamonds (or 10 of Diamonds) is worth negative 10 points. In other words, if a player has acquired the Jack of Diamonds by the end of the game, he gets to subtract 10 points from his total score. Make sure that all the players are in agreement on this before playing and whether or not the Jack of Diamonds is required in order to shoot the moon. If no one shoots the moon, scoring should be handled in the standard way—meaning that the player who took the Jack of Diamonds has 10 points deducted from his score.

 

Related External Links

Pagat’s website have a detailed Hearts guide.

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