How to Play Hearts: A Comprehensive Guide to Winning


Hearts is a classic card game that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for generations. The objective of hearts is to avoid taking penalty points while also trying to score points by taking tricks. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know to play hearts and win the game.

Objective of The Game

The goal of hearts is to have the lowest score when the game ends. Players earn points when they take penalty cards (hearts and the Queen of Spades) in tricks. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is declared the winner.

Significance of Different Cards

In hearts, each card has a value and significance. The Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven and Six of each suit are ranked in descending order. The order of suits is not important, except in the context of following suit. The exception is that Hearts are worth one penalty point, and the Queen of Spades is worth 13 penalty points.

How to Score Points

Players receive penalty points when they win tricks containing hearts cards and the Queen of Spades. Each heart card is worth one penalty point. The Queen of Spades is worth 13 penalty points. Players can also score points by winning a trick containing the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, or Ten of any suit. However, when a player collects all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades in a single round, the player has taken all possible penalty points, which is called “shooting the moon.”

Dealing Cards and Passing

Explaining the Deal

To start a game of hearts, players must shuffle a standard 52-card deck and deal out all the cards face down. In a three-player game, each player receives 17 cards. In a four-player game, each player receives 13 cards. The dealer rotates clockwise with each new hand.

How to Pass Three Cards to Your Opponent

Before the start of each round, players are required to pass three cards to their opponents. In a four-player game, players pass three cards to the player on their left. In a three-player game, players exchange three cards with the player to their right.

Playing a Trick

Following Suit

When a player leads, they select a card from their hand to play, and all the other players must play a card of the same suit, if possible. If a player does not have a card of the same suit, they can play any card from their hand, including a heart card or the Queen of Spades.

Winning the Trick

The player who played the highest ranking card of the same suit wins the trick. Players continue to play tricks until all thirteen tricks are completed.

Sample Scenarios

In the first round, the player with the 2 of Clubs leads. The next player must follow with a club card if they have one. Let’s say the next player has no clubs, so they throw the 5 of Diamonds. The third player then plays the 8 of Clubs. The last player plays the Queen of Clubs, which is the highest Club card played in the trick. As a result, the last player wins the trick.

Shooting the Moon


Shooting the Moon happens when a player wins all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades in a single round. Instead of earning penalty points, the player who shoots the moon forces the other players to earn all the penalty points in the hand.

Impact on the Game

Shooting the Moon is a considerable risk because it is challenging to do successfully in most cases. However, if a player manages to shoot the moon, they put a significant amount of pressure on the other players, who will have to avoid taking multiple penalty cards in order to stay in the game.

Tips for Successful Gameplay

Don’t Lead With Hearts Too Early

When starting the beginning of a round, it is a good idea to begin by leading with a lower card from another suit. This way, the other players will be forced to play their higher cards early, allowing you to save your high cards for later and ensures that you will not pick up penalty points too early.

Balance Taking Tricks and Avoiding Penalty Points

Managing the balance between taking tricks and avoiding penalty points is essential in playing hearts successfully. Players need to understand when to take tricks and when to avoid them to maximize their score while limiting their opponents.

Variations on the Standard Rules

Playing With a Different Number of People

Hearts can be played with three, four, five, or six players. The main difference in player numbers is the distribution of the cards. If you play with three or five players, some cards must be removed from the deck. If you play with six players, two decks can be used.

Changing the Way Points are Scored

Some people elect to use a modified scoring system, where the Queen of Spades carries fewer penalty points or award points to the winner instead of fewer points. However, it is essential to establish any rule changes before beginning the game to ensure all players are on the same page.


Resources to Continue Learning about Hearts

There are many resources available on the web to help hone your skills and improve your overall knowledge of hearts. With experienced players, there are many hints, tricks, and strategies to help you win big.

Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

While it might seem complicated at first, once you understand the basic rules and strategy, hearts can be a fun, challenging, and immersive game. Just remember to balance your tricks and penalty points, be prepared to take risks, and keep the game moving along quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert at winning the game of hearts.

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