1. What Is The Hearts Card Game?
Simply put, Hearts is an "evasion-type" trick-taking playing card game that is popular worldwide. It belongs to the Whist family of card games which includes Bridge and Spades. However, Hearts is unique in that it avoids winning tricks.
1.1 History Of Hearts Card Game
The card game called Hearts is a descendant of a similar game called Reversis. To explain, Reversis was a popular game in Spain around 1750. To play this game, a penalty point is given for every trick won. Additional points will also be given for capturing the Queen of Hearts or the Jack of Hearts.
As the years went by, people added penalty points to the game. And by 1850, too many things were modified that it started to become a new game which is a simple variant of Hearts. In this new game, every card belonging to the Heart suit was worth a point.
Soon after, the Queen of Spades, (sometimes called the “Calamity Jane” or the “Black Lady”), was introduced in a new variant. To add depth to the game, game designers introduced a new idea called “shooting the moon”. Later on, this became the standard Hearts card game that we know today.
Since then, the game has become popular both online and in live play. In fact, it is available in various internet gaming sites and operating systems.
2. How To Play Hearts?
While this card game has many different versions, here is the lowdown on how to play the classic Hearts game.
2.1 What Do You Need To Play Hearts?
One good thing about the Hearts card game is that it is convenient. You don’t need a lot of materials like dice, board, or chips to play. In fact, the only thing it requires is a standard deck of 52 cards, or an internet connection if you’re playing online.
2.2 What Is The Goal Of Hearts?
In most games, people would be fighting for points. However, in the Hearts card game, the goal is to avoid them. This is what makes it really unique! In fact, the game ends when someone reaches 100 points and the person with the lowest score wins.
To win, you can aim for either of these goals for each round:
- Steer clear of winning any tricks that include a heart or Queen of Spades.
- Win all of the 13 Hearts and the Queen of Spades. This is called “shooting the moon” which we will discuss later.
2.3 How To Set Up The Card Game?
The set up of the game varies depending on the number of players. Below are the instructions on how to deal the cards when playing with 4-7 people.
In a 3-player game, you have to remove the 2 of Diamonds. Furthermore, each player gets 17 cards.
Having a total of 4 players is the ideal version since you do not have to remove any of the cards in the deck. You simply must divide the deck and give each player 13 cards to play with.
Like a 3-player game, you have to remove the 2 of Diamonds. The 2 of Clubs is discarded as well and the players get 10 cards each.
For a 6-player game, simply remove the 2 and 3 of Diamonds and the 3 and 4 of Clubs. Once that is done, distribute 8 cards to each player.
Finally, for a 7-player game, remove the 2 and 3 of Diamonds and the 3 of Clubs. After that, give 7 cards to each player.
2.4 The Rank Of Cards
Here are the cards from highest to lowest: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The card with the highest rank in the lead suit wins the trick.
Dealing is the first step in starting a Hearts game. To begin, shuffle the cards and distribute the cards to each player. Players should not be able to see other players’ cards.
In the first round, the players pass three cards face-down to the player on their left. Consequently, each player receives three cards from the person to their right. These cards should then be added to their hand. Do note that a player must choose and pass the cards from their own hand first before they can take a look at the new cards.
During the second round, players repeat the same instructions during the first hand. However, players pass the cards to their right.
Then on the third round, the players pass the three cards to the player who is sitting opposite them.
Lastly, no cards are passed during the fourth round.
2.7 Game Proper
After passing the cards, the round begins.
- To start the round, the person with the 2 of Clubs will put the card in the middle. In a clockwise manner, each player then puts a card in the middle, following the same suit, if possible. The person who plays the highest card wins the trick and keeps the cards face down.
- This time, the person who played the highest card from the previous trick leads and each player will follow suit. Again, the person with the highest card wins the trick.
- Repeat step 2 until all cards have been played.
- When players do not have any more cards, tally the score of each player. This signals the end of each round.
- After shuffling the cards, redistribute the cards to the players to start the next round. The game goes on until someone scores 100 points or more. The person with the lowest score wins the game.
2.8 Keeping Score
Players receive these points for each card:
- Any heart card: 1 point each.
- Queen of Spades: 13 points.
3. Hearts Card Game Rules
- Each round always begins with the 2 of Clubs being played.
- It is illegal to play a heart or a Queen of Spades during the first trick of the round.
- If a player does not have a club on the first trick, they must play a diamond or a spade.
- A player cannot lead a trick with a heart until Hearts have been broken.
- Hearts are broken when a player cannot follow the lead suit during a trick and plays a heart.
- “Shooting the moon” happens when a player collects all of the Hearts and the Queen of Spades by the end of the round. When this happens, the player gets 0 points while the others receive 26 points each.
4. How To Win The Hearts Card Game: Strategy And Tips
While learning the basics can be easy, winning can be more challenging. Here are a few tips to help you dominate the game.
4.1 Maximize Voids
As mentioned above, each player must follow the suit of the first card played in a trick. For example, if the first card played was a 2 of Spade, players must play a spade. That said, a void happens when a player does not have a card with the same lead suit in their hand.
When this happens, the player can play whichever card they wish and they get no point for the whole trick. Use it to your advantage by disposing of poor cards (i.e. cards with a high face value).
4.2 Bleed Out The Spades
When “bleeding out the spades”, this means that a player is trying to draw out all the spades from other players’ hands and take them out of play. This strategy is best used when you have the Queen of Spades. If you can remember, the Queen of Spades yields 13 points and you have to dispose of it as soon as possible.
When all of the spades have been taken out of the game, this creates more opportunity for a void where you can dispose of the Queen of Spades without taking any points.
4.3 Count The Cards Played
While this strategy requires a sharp memory, the reward is big. Keeping track of the cards played can help you determine which is the best card to play. Additionally, this will allow you to prevent a void for other players.
For example, if you’re aware that the last club in your hand is the last club in the game, you should not play it. Leading the game with a club will make way for everyone else’s void and you get the points.
4.4 Dispose Of Hearts As Soon As Possible
As mentioned, each heart earns you a point. Thus, you should prioritize dumping your hearts during a void to minimize the points you earn.
4.5 Or You Can Do The Opposite And Collect Hearts
On the contrary, if you have an abundance of hearts, there’s a possibility that you can “shoot the moon.” Do note that the possibility of achieving this is low. But if you’re willing to risk it, collect the hearts and the Queen of Spade instead of disposing of them to get 0 penalty points.
5. Other Variations Of Hearts Card Game
Aside from the traditional way to play Hearts, there are a few versions of it which are worth checking out. Here are a few variants that are as fun as the original version.
5.1 Black Maria
The Black Maria is the English version of the card game. Aside from its British roots, it has three additional penalty cards. The Ace of Spades is worth 10 points, while the King of Spades is worth 7 points. Lastly, the Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.
Another difference is that players pass the cards to the right instead of the left. To many people, this is considered more challenging as you have no idea about the next player’s cards.
5.2 Cancellation Hearts
Having a bigger party? The Cancellation Hearts is for you. The traditional game of Hearts is only for 4 players. But this variant makes way for 6 to 11 by using two decks of cards shuffled together.
When two of the same cards are played in a trick, the two cards cancel each other and neither one wins the trick. But if two pairs appear in the same trick, the whole trick is cancelled. The cards are then rolled over to the winner of the next trick.
5.3 Joker Hearts
In this version, one or more Joker cards are added which players can use any time in the game. No penalty points will be given to the player for that particular trick.
5.4 Domino Hearts
This version was first described by Foster in 1909. The main difference is that this variant is played with a stock. What that means is after each player receives their respective cards, the remaining ones are placed down in the middle. When a player cannot follow a suit, they have to draw a card until they get one that matches the lead suit.
Q.1 How Many Players Are Needed To Play Hearts?
The optimum number of players is 4. However, it is also possible for three to six people to play together. While this is true for the traditional version of Hearts, there are other variants that can accommodate up to a maximum of 11 players.
Q.2 How Long Does A Game Last?
It depends on how fast a player earns 100 points. But an average game can last no more than 15-20 minutes.
Q.3 Where Can I Play Hearts?
You can play the Hearts card game anywhere as long as you have a deck of cards. However, if you do not have a deck or people to play with, you can play a free Hearts game online