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How to Play the Hearts Card Game



Game hearts

The Hearts card game is a fun and engaging game that you can play anytime. You can play this trick game with a standard 52-card deck. You can also play this game with three or more people, however, it is best played with four players. Maintain the lowest score at the end of the game to win! 

You can play this game with physical cards or also opt for an online Hearts game. But to play both, you need to know the basic rules of the game. Let’s learn more about how to score in the Heart game and play using different strategies.

How to Keep Scores in Hearts?

The object of the card game hearts is to score as low as possible. When your opponent player hits the agreed-upon score or higher than, the game ends. The player with the lowest score wins the game. The ranking order in hearts from high to low is Ace, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. 

At the end of each hand, you count the number of hearts you have as well as the Queen of Spades, if applicable. The total scores of each hand must be multiple of 26. The game is usually played to 100 points. You can score as follows:

  • Each player receives 1 penalty point for every card hearts they have. 
  • If you get the queen of spades, you get 13 points. 
  • If you have a jack of diamonds, you need to subtract 10 points from your score.
  • When a player takes all the 13 hearts and the queen of spades in one hand, instead of losing 26 points, that player scores zero. In such a case, each opponent scores an additional 26 points. This move is called Shooting the Moon. 
  • If you do not follow suit even when you can, you become the offender and get penalised if you do not correct your mistake before the trick is completed.

How to Play Hearts?

To play the game of hearts, follow the cards game rules and steps to successfully play the game:

Step 1: Shuffle your card deck and deal cards to all the players face-down in a clockwise manner. The lowest cut is the first to deal.

  • If you have three players, deal 17 cards to each player and add the leftover cards to the kitty (remaining cards). The person who takes the first trick takes the kitty as well. You also need to remove the 2 diamonds in a three-player game. This game is also known as the British version of Hearts.
  • If you are playing with 4 players, exclude the jokers and deal each player 13 cards
  • If you are playing with 5 players, remove the 2 of the clubs and deal 10 cards to each player. 

Step 2: When you have the cards in your hand, choose three cards to pass to your opponent. Each player must choose the cards they do not want and pass them to the next player. 

Cards are passed to the right at the first deal, to the left with the second and across with the third. At the fourth deal, players keep their cards. 

Note that, after each hand, the deal passes to the player on the dealer’s left.

Step 3: The player holding the 2 of clubs after the pass makes the opening lead. If you are playing a three-player game, the player with the 3 of clubs starts the lead. 

Each player needs to follow suit when possible when playing the heart card game. If you are void of the suit lead, you can discard a card of any other suit. However, if you have no clubs in the first trick, you cannot discard a heart or the queen of spades. It is not necessary to discard the queen at the first opportunity. 

Note that the queen cards can be used to lead at any time. You win the lead when you play the highest card of the suit that is led. The winner of the trick gets to lead the next. 

No player in the hearts games, whether it is the heart game online or the face-to-face one, can play a heart card. A player cannot lead with a heart with a heart that has been “broken” or played in the game. The breaking of hearts happens when a player lacks a card in the suit that has been led. So, they throw down a heart instead. 

How Do You Play the British Game of Hearts?

The British card game Hearts is also known as Black Maria. As stated earlier, it is played with three players where 2 of the clubs are removed and each player has 17 cards.

You can play the hearts card game online with four people as well. In this case, you need to deal with all the cards and also pass them in the same direction. The player to the dealer’s left leads first. The player can lead with anything as there are no restrictions in this game. 

You need to keep in mind the following scoring schemes for this version of Hearts. You get:

  • 1 penalty point for each heart
  • 13 points for the Queen of Spades
  • 10 points for the King of Spades
  • 7 points for the Ace of Spades

In the game of Spot Hearts, you get 2 – 10 of hearts at face value. K, Q, and J of hearts have 10 points each, ace of hearts gives you 15 points and queen of spades gives 25 points. When you are playing this version, the game is played to 500 points and not just 100. 

Likewise, you can also play different variants of the online hearts game known as Auction Hearts, Black Jack, Domino Hearts, Joker Hearts, Partnership Hearts and more. 

What are the Best Cards to Pass in Hearts?

In the heart cards game, remember that you do not want to hold many high cards since the aim is to have the lowest score to win. Consider the following when passing the cards by suit:

  • Spades: The queen of spades gives you the highest penalty card at 13 points. If you hold that card or the ace or king of spades, you should pass the card.
  • Hearts: When it comes to hearts, the Aces, King, and Queen cards are all good choices to pass. Each one of these cards can cause 4 unwanted points or worse.
  • Clubs and Diamonds: Although these cards are not as dangerous as the other suit, you still would want to pass the Ace, King, or Queen of Clubs and Diamonds. 

What is the Best Way to Play Hearts?

You can win the game of Hearts by playing the right tricks. Drop a suit as soon as possible and get rid of your high cards and points cards as early as possible. 

Paying attention to how other players are passing the cards is important. You can understand their strategy through this process. For instance, if a player has no cards of one suit, there’s a good chance they are building a void. Or, if a player is passing only low cards, they may be trying to “Shoot the Moon.”

If you cannot go under, throw your highest card of the suit. This lowers your chance of taking a trick of the same suit again.

Another important tip is to never lead with an ace. This is especially crucial if you do not know which player has the queen of Spades. Leading with an ace means you will win the trick and all the consequences that come along with it. 

Wrapping Up

Thus, when you play hearts card game, use different strategies to keep your score as low as possible. Observe how your opponent is playing and try to determine their strategy. If you are playing the Hearts online game, try to analyse their moves and guess their next ones. Remember the best cards when playing card hearts and pay attention to the passing. With the right strategy and gameplay, the game is yours to win!