How To Play Hearts

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Hearts Card Game: A Classic Trick-Taking Game

Hearts is a timeless card game that has been entertaining players for generations. Known for its strategic depth and engaging gameplay, Hearts is a must-play for anyone who enjoys card games. In this blog post, we'll delve into the rules and strategies of Hearts, so you can jump right in and enjoy this captivating game with your friends and family.

Objective of the Game

The goal of Hearts is to avoid collecting certain cards that carry penalty points. The game is typically played by four players, but variations for three or five players also exist. The standard deck of 52 playing cards is used.


  1. Deck: Use a standard 52-card deck. No jokers are required.

  2. Dealing: Each player is dealt 13 cards, one at a time.

  3. Passing Cards: Before the start of each round, players pass three cards to the player on their left. In the first round, pass to the left; in the second round, pass to the right; in the third round, pass across; and in the fourth round, no passing is done.

  4. Breaking Hearts: The player holding the 2 of clubs starts the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible; if not, they can play any card.


  • Trick-Taking: A trick consists of each player playing one card. The highest-ranking card of the leading suit wins the trick, unless a heart or the queen of spades (sometimes called the "Black Lady") is played. The player who wins a trick leads the next one.

  • Scoring: Hearts and the queen of spades are worth penalty points. Hearts carry 1 point each, while the queen of spades carries a hefty 13 points. The objective is to avoid winning tricks containing hearts or the queen of spades.

  • Shooting the Moon: A rare strategy in Hearts is "Shooting the Moon," where a player attempts to win all the hearts and the queen of spades. If successful, this player gives all opponents 26 penalty points while reducing their own score to zero.

Ending a Hand

A hand in Hearts ends after all players have played all of their cards. This means that each player has played one card in each of the 13 tricks. Once the 13th trick is completed, the hand is over, and players move on to the scoring phase.

During the scoring phase, players calculate the penalty points they have collected based on the cards they've won in tricks. Hearts and the queen of spades are the cards that carry penalty points. Each heart is worth 1 point, and the queen of spades is worth 13 points. The total penalty points for a player in a hand are summed up based on the cards they've collected.

After scoring, the penalty points are added to each player's cumulative score for the game. The game usually consists of multiple hands, and players continue playing rounds until one player reaches a predetermined score (e.g., 100 points). The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is declared the winner.

It's important to note that the goal in Hearts is to avoid collecting penalty points, so players aim to minimize the number of hearts and the queen of spades they win in tricks. The strategy of passing cards before each hand and carefully selecting which cards to play during each trick adds depth and complexity to the game.

Winning the Game

The game usually consists of several rounds, each ending when a player reaches a pre-determined score (e.g., 100 points). The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is declared the winner.


  • Opening Lead: Starting with the 2 of clubs is generally a good idea, as it's the lowest card and doesn't carry penalty points.

  • Avoiding Points: Try to dump hearts and the queen of spades on your opponents when they are forced to play them, such as when they can't follow the lead suit.

  • Predicting Cards: Keep track of which cards have been played to help you anticipate which cards are likely to be in other players' hands.

  • Shooting the Moon: Deciding when to attempt shooting the moon requires careful consideration of the cards in your hand and the current state of the game. It's a high-risk, high-reward strategy.


Hearts is a game that combines skill, strategy, and a touch of luck. The balance between avoiding points and trying to offload penalty cards onto opponents keeps the gameplay engaging and suspenseful. Whether you're a seasoned card player or new to the world of trick-taking games, Hearts offers hours of entertainment and friendly competition. Gather your friends, deal the cards, and enjoy the challenge of Hearts!