In this classic card game, the goal is to score as little points as possible. Each heart you bring in gives you one penalty point, and the special card, The Queen of Spades, is worth 13 penalty points. To start the game, each player is dealt 13 cards. The players choose three cards to pass on to an opponent at the beginning of every round and whoever holds the two of clubs must start the first turn with that card.
After the first hand, the player who took all of the cards in the previous hand will start the next hand. That player decides what suit to play (however they can only start with a heart card if one has already been played), then other players must play a card of that same suit, if possible. If a player does not have a card of the same suit, then they may play any other card in their hand. Once four cards have been played, the player who put down the card of the starting suit with the highest value takes all the cards.
Hearts Tips & Tricks
Give ‘em your worst. At the beginning of every round, when you pass three cards to your opponent, try to pick the three worst cards you've got. Typically, you’ll want to get rid of any higher-ranking cards: Aces, Kings and Queens. Passing these to your opponent makes it less likely for you to lose the hand and potentially take in any penalty points that are played.
Get tricky. The more you play, the more you’ll see opportunities to trick your opponents into taking the hand and adding points to their score. Keep an eye on who starts the hand, also called “the trick,” and what cards are being played around the table. If you don’t have any cards that match the starting suit, throw in a heart (or the Queen of Spades) to give one of your opponents the penalty.
Drop a suit. In Hearts, it's advantageous to get rid of one or two of your suits as quickly as possible, so you can ditch your high cards and point cards of other suits when other players play that suit. For example, if you start a round with one club card, after the first trick you won't have any more clubs! You'll be able to play one of your high cards or maybe even the Queen of Spades anytime someone leads with a club after that.
Position matters. With every hand, the player with the highest ranking card of the starting suit takes the trick. When you start the trick or go second, play the lowest card possible. This will guard you from taking in any penalty cards if they’re played in the round. If you're going afterwards, play the highest card you can without going over the earlier players' cards so you don't risk taking points.
Hey, that's my trick! It sounds crazy, but it's often a good thing to take a trick. No point cards may be played on the first trick, so you can always safely take that trick with a high card. As a bonus, you get to choose the suit for the next trick! If you're going fourth and no point cards have been played, it's also a good time to consider playing a high card that takes the trick as well. Be careful taking tricks later in the round, as some players may have gotten rid of suits and be able to play off-suit. You might get stuck taking everything that's left!
Shoot the moon. While you normally wouldn’t want any penalty cards, when you shoot for the moon, your goal is to bring in ALL of them. That’s all 13 hearts and the Queen of Spades. If you succeed, then every other player in the game gets 26 penalty points while you get zero. However, this strategy is extremely risky. If you miss just one card, then you end up with a bunch of points, so proceed with caution! Give this strategy a shot when you have a hand full of high cards.
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