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How to Play Hearts (The Right Way!)

Maddy Marcus / June 30, 2020

Hearts is a classic trick-taking card game that usually accommodates between 3 to 6 players. You can play it with friends, colleagues, and even family members. In fact, hearts is a perfect game to play on family game night

But, how exactly do you play? With this guide, we'll teach you how to play hearts and win. From game scoring to dealing cards, you can learn how to play like a pro. 

Now, are you ready to dive in? Here’s an in-depth look at playing hearts: 

The Object of the Game  

You’ll want to achieve the lowest amount of penalty points. Penalty points are given if you take tricks with the queen of spades or any heart cards. In order to win, you want to be the player with the least amount of points by the end of the game. 

Game Scoring  

After each hand, players should count the amount of hearts and, if possible, the total queen of spades they have. Hearts only count for 1 point, but the queen of spades counts for 13 points. The combined total of all scores for each round should then be multiplied by 26. 

The game will end when a player reaches or surpasses 100 points. However, you can also play to 50 points if you don’t want to complete a full game.  

If a player wins all 13 hearts and the queen of spades at the end of a game, the player receives 0 points while all other players get 26 points. This gameplay is called shooting to the moon.   

How to Deal the Cards 

All cards should be dealt facedown in a clockwise motion one at a time. In a game of four players, each player is given 13 cards. Then the passing stage begins; each player chooses three cards, sets them facedown, and slides them to their opponent. Here are more details about the passing stage: 

  • In round one, cards are moved to the left of the player.  
  • In round two, cards are moved to the right of the player. 
  • In round three, cards are moved to the opposite player. 
  • In round four, cards don’t get passed. 

This sequence continues until the game ends. 

Rules 

In this classic game, the rules are simple. The player who holds the 2 of clubs has to play it first. Then all players must follow along, playing the same suit if possible. If not, players may play a different card if specific conditions are met. 

If a player plays a high ranking card that comes after the suit, he or she wins the trick and leads the next one. Although, there are specific limitations put on playing the queen of spades as well as hearts:  

  • You’re not allowed to play a queen of spades or a heart on the first trick, especially if you don’t have any clubs in your hand. 
  • You’re not allowed to lead a heart prior to “breaking a heart”. Breaking a heart refers to when someone cannot follow the suit, so they play a heart. 
  • There is, however, one exception to the rule above, that is if the leader has only hearts in his or her hand.      

After the 13 tricks are played the round is finished. 

How to Play Hearts and Win  

Hearts is a great game to play with colleagues, friends, family, and even online. In fact, it can teach young kids important memory skills, and boost their self-confidence. While hearts may take a few tries to figure out, you can always look back at this guide for instruction on how to play hearts. 

If you’re interested in trying out your luck, go ahead and play hearts today. Good luck!