How To Play Hearts


Queen of Hearts Hearts is a trick taking game with an interesting twist. When playing Hearts, the object is to avoid taking specific cards which is quite different than the usual goal of winning as many tricks as possible with most trick taking games.

Hearts can be played by anywhere from 3 to 7 players and is at its best with 4. This game is played with the standard 52 card deck. The rank of the cards when playing Hearts is as follows, from highest to lowest (Ace,King,Queen,Jack,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2).

To determine which player is to be the first dealer, all players should cut a card from the face down deck. The player whom cuts the lowest card is to be the first dealer. For each hand thereafter, until the conclusion of the game, the deal rotates clockwise around the table from player to player.

Once the dealer is selected he shuffles the deck and the player to the dealer's immediate left should then cut the cards. The dealer then begins by dealing one face-down card to each player, starting at the player to his left and continuing in a clockwise direction. The number of cards dealt is dependent on the number of players such that each player receives the same number of cards. The following chart lists the number of cards each player should receive based on the number of active players in the game:

PlayersCards Received per Hand
316
413
510
68
77
               

If there are any extra cards remaining (which will often happen when played by other than 4 players) after dealing the prerequisite cards to each player, these cards should be placed face down in the center of the table to make the kitty. The player winning the first trick of the hand will also take this kitty containing these extra cards.

After the hands have been dealt, each player then picks up his hand and examines it. He then selects three cards from his hand to which he will pass to an opponent player, face down. The player will also receive three cards from an opponent which he will pick up and add to his own hand after passing his own three. The particular player you will pass the three cards to is directly dependent on which deal it is and how many players in the game (according to the following): After the passing has occurred, the play of the hand begins. The player to the dealer's immediate left plays the first card to start the first trick. He may play any card except a card of the hearts suit (unless in the extremely rare occurrence that he has only cards of the heart suit in his hand).

To Shoot the Moon in Hearts, a player must take every heart in the hand
The Play of the Hand
After the first card is played to the trick, the remainder of the players must each play one card to the trick. The play rotates in a clockwise rotation from the player who led the first card to the trick. A player must play a card of the same trick led if he has one. If he does not have a card of the same trick, he may play any card from his hand to the trick. The player who plays the highest card of the original suit led to the trick wins the trick. The won cards are then set aside for this player for scoring at the end of the hand. The player winning this trick then leads the first card to the next trick. This continues until all cards in the players hands have been played to tricks, at which time the hand is scored.

A player may not play a heart to any trick unless a heart has previously played to another trick or he has nothing but cards of the heart suit in his hand. This is called breaking the suit. Once a heart has been played to a trick, hearts can then be played as with any other suit, including playing a card of the heart suit when leading to a trick. Discarding a heart to a trick with a non-heart led trick is called painting the trick.

Scoring:
After all the tricks have been played, the players then each look through all the cards they have won in tricks. Each heart they have taken in tricks scores one "penalty" point for that player. The hands continue until one player reaches or exceeds 100 accumulated points. At this point the player with the lowest total in these penalty points is declared the winner.

However, if a player manages to take all 13 hearts in one hand, instead of penalty points they instead may remove 26 penalty points from their own score. Alternatively, they may opt to have each other player score 26 penalty points for the hand at their discretion. Winning all the hearts in a hand is commonly called "Shooting the Moon".




Variations of Hearts


Black Lady:
To Shoot the moon in Black Lady, the player must also take in the Queen of Spades In this often played version of Hearts, the Queen of Spades is played as an additional penalty card when won in a trick. The player, who at the end of the game find the Queen of Spades in their won tricks scores 13 penalty points. In this version the player to lead to the first trick may not lead spades or hearts (unless he has only spades and/or hearts in his hand) to the first trick. In order to shoot the moon in this version, the player must win all the hearts AND the Queen of Spades (which allows the player to subtract 26 points from their score or add 26 penalty points to each opponents score).

First Lead:
When playing hearts with four players, it is often played that the player who has the two of clubs plays first, playing this card. The player to that players immediate left plays the next card to the trick and so on as in regular hearts.

No Break required:
In this optional rule, the restriction on waiting until a heart has first been discarded to a trick before a heart can be led is removed.

Jack of Diamonds:
In this version of Hearts, often called Omnibus Hearts, the player who wins the Jack of Diamonds in a trick may subtract 10 "penalty" points from their score at the end of the hand. Shooting the moon and obtaining the Jack of Diamonds is cumulative, so the player able to shoot the moon and obtain the Jack of Diamonds may subtract 36 total points from their hand.

Spot Hearts:
This version is played similarly to Black Lady, with the following exception. Instead of each heart won in a trick being worth 1 penalty point, the hearts are valued as per the rank of the card. Thus, an Ace would be one penalty point, Deuce 2 points, three counts as three, etc. In this way, the Jack is worth 11 points, Queen 12 and King 13. If a player manages to shoot the moon (every heart and the queen of spades) they instantly win the game.

The two 10's of Hearts cancel each other out, thus the 3 takes the trick. Cancellation Hearts:
This is a fast-paced variation of the standard game of Hearts for a larger number of players. Cancellation Hearts is usually played by 6 to 11 players.
Two standard 52 card decks are shuffled together. All of the cards should be dealt out as far they can be dealt with each player getting the same number of cards. Any extra cards should be placed face down in the center of the table to be taken by the winner of the first trick. The ranking of the cards is the same as in the standard game and the game is played identically to Black Lady with a few exceptions: If two players play a card of the exact same suit and rank, both of those cards are considered to cancel each other out and neither can win the trick (no matter their rank or suit). Thus, when determining the winner of that particular trick, the matching cards take no part in this determination. If two exact pairs are played to the same trick, the trick is said to be dead and set aside. The player winning the next trick takes these cards in addition to those from the trick won. If this is the last trick of the hand, these cards are out of play and no one takes these cards for this particular hand. In order to shoot the moon in this game, they must take EVERY heart as well as both spade Queens. Cancellation Hearts is usually played to 150 points.

Domino Hearts:
Domino Hearts is a fun variation combining features of Hearts and Rummy. The game is played identically to the standard game with the following differences:
The winner of the game is the player with the lowest score when any player reaches or exceeds 31 points.

Auction Hearts:
Auction Hearts is a fun Hearts variant in which players bid to name the penalty card suit. To begin, each player in a game of Auction Hearts is distributed an equal number of chips or other similar tokens (i.e. 50). The shuffle and deal are similar to standard Hearts, however no card passing occurs.

Auction Hearts After the deal, each player then examines his hand and one round of bidding follows. This bidding begins with the player to the immediate left of the dealer and commences in a clockwise rotation. Each player has one opportunity to bid some number of chips in exchange for the privilege of naming the penalty suit for the hand. When bidding a player only names a number but does not name the suit he will name if he is the high bidder. Each successive bidder must either pass or bid a higher bid than that of any other player. Obviously, a player may never bid a number of chips higher than the number of chips he has. After each player has had one opportunity to make a bid, the high bidder then places the number of chips he bid in the center of the table and names the suit which will be the penalty suit. The high bidder also makes the opening lead to the first trick. If all players pass, the cards are shuffled together and the deal passes to the next player in turn.

The play of the hand is similar to the standard game of Hearts, with players attempting to avoid winning any cards of the suit named by the high bidder during the hand. At the end of the hand, each card taken by a player of the penalty suit named must pay a penalty of one chip per card to the growing pile of chips in the center of the table. If any player manages to take no cards of the penalty suit, they win the entire pile of chips after everyone has put in their penalty chips. If two players manage to take no cards of the forbidden suit, they divide the pile of chips between them. If there is an odd chip, it remains in the center of the table to start the pile of chips for the next hand.

However, every player takes at least one card of the forbidden suit or more than two players manage to take no cards of the penalty suit, no one wins the hand and the growing pile remains for the next hand. If one player manages to take every card of the penalty suit, no one wins either, and furthermore this player does not have to make any penalty payments on the hand. In this way, if no player wins the pile, the deal rotates to the next player, but the highest bidder on that previous hand automatically is given the privilege of again naming the penalty suit (without having to bid or make any chip payment for the privilege). At the end of the game, the player retaining the largest number of chips is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, an additional hand should be played in order to attempt to break the tie.

Polignac:
The penalty cards in Polignac This is another game which uses the Hearts concept of trying avoid certain penalty cards during play. Also commonly known as Four Jacks, Four Knaves and Quatre Valets, this game uses a stripped down deck with the number of cards depending on the number of players in the game. The most commonly played version of Polignac is for four players using a 32 card deck which consists of one card in each suit in the following denominations (from high to low); Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7. Shuffling, determining the first dealer and seating positions is done identically to the standard game of Hearts. After the shuffle and cut, the dealer distributes the cards in a clockwise rotation one card at a time until each player has 8 cards. The player to the immediate left of the dealer leads any card of his choice to the first trick.

Similar to standard Hearts, the object in this game is to avoid capturing in tricks any of the Jacks which cost the player winning them a certain number of points. Each Jack won in tricks by a player costs him one point except the Jack of Spades (♠), called the Polignac, which penalizes the winner of that card 2 points. However, a player who believes that he can win all four Jacks, may declare, before the first lead, Capot. This declaration is the intention of a player to win all four Jacks. If he is able to do so, he subtracts 10 points from his score and each other player adds 10 to theirs. However, if he is unable to win all four Jacks he instead gains 10 points with each other player subtracting 10 from their own score. The play of the hand proceeds identically to standard Hearts, with each player in turn playing one card to the trick. A player must play a card of the suit led if they have one. If they do not have such a card, they may play any card from their hand. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick and the winner of the trick leads the first card to the next trick.

In addition to the penalty points for winning the Jacks, there also are additional penalty points accrued by winning the first and last trick of the hand, with each earning the player one penalty point.

When any player reaches or exceeds 20 points over the course of several hands, the game is over, with the winner being the player who has the least total points.

This game can also be played by five or six players, with the removal of the Seven of Spades (♠) and the Seven of Clubs (♣) with each player receiving fewer cards during the hand. When playing with five players, each would receive 6 cards and when playing with six each would receive 5.

Slobberhannes:
Slobberhannes is another game with the object being to avoid winning specific tricks or cards. Slobberhannes uses a modified standard deck, with all the sixes and lower removed. The rank of the remaining cards are as follows (from high to low): Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7. Selection of first dealer and seating positions is the same as in standard Hearts. It is generally best when played by four players, but can also be played by more (see below).

Once the dealer is determined, the dealer deals out the entire deck, with each player receiving eight cards. The player to the dealer's immediate left plays the first card to the first trick. Each player must play a card of the suit led if they have one. If he has no card of the suit led, they may play any card to the trick. The highest card of the suit led to each trick wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick.

In this game, the players attempt to avoid winning specific tricks. Winning the first trick of the hand earns the player one penalty point as does winning the last trick of the hand. In addition, winning the Queen of Clubs (♣) earns the player one penalty point. If the same player wins the first trick, last trick and Queen of Clubs, they earn four penalty points instead of just three.

When any play earns 10 points the game ends. The player with the fewest points is declared the winner.

Similar to Polignac, Slobberhannes can also be played by five or six players by removing the Seven of Spades (♠) and the Seven of Clubs (♣). In the case of 5 players each participant would receive 6 cards and for 6 players each would receive 5 cards.

Knaves:
Knaves is a fun and exciting card game which combines positive points for winning tricks with negative points for winning the Jacks. The game is designed to be played by 3 to 5 players using a standard 52 card deck. The ranking of the cards are as follows, from high to low; Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

The determination of first dealer and seating positions can be done as in standard Hearts or any of it's variants. Once this is determined, the dealer deals the cards in a clockwise direction until each player has the necessary number dependent on the number of players. After the dealing procedures have been completed, the player to the dealer's immediate left plays the first card to the first trick. Each other player, in a clockwise direction then plays one card to the trick. A player must play a card of the suit of the first card led to the suit if they have one. If not, the player may play any card in his hand, including one from the trump suit. The highest trump card played to the trick wins it. If no player played a card of the trump suit to the trick, it is won by the highest card of the suit first led to the trick. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick.

As in Polignac, there are penalties for winning specific cards in tricks. However, like Whist, points can be earned for winning tricks. The following chart shows a summary of the points possible during a hand of Knaves:
DescriptionPoints Earned
Each trick Won+1
Winning Jack of Hearts ()-4
Winning Jack of Diamonds ()-3
Winning Jack of Clubs (♣)-2
Winning Jack of Spades (♠)-1

Point values in the card game Knaves
The first player to reach or exceed + 20 points over the course of several hands is declared the winner.

Two Player Hearts:
Since standard Hearts and most of it's variants are designed for three or more players, a version for two players has also been designed. This version uses the standard 52 card deck and the same card ranking as in the base game.

After determining the first dealer (using the same method as in regular Hearts), the dealer distributes 13 cards to each player. The remaining cards are set face down in a pile in the center of the table as the stock. The turn to deal alternates between the two players.

The dealer's opponent leads the first card to the first trick. The dealer then plays a card of his own to the trick. He must play a card of the same suit as that led to the trick if he has one. If not, he may play any card to the trick. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of the trick takes the top card of the stock and his opponent takes the next card of the stock. The winner of each trick leads to the next. When the stock is exhausted the players then play out the last cards in their hand as normal.

This game is usually scored similar to standard Hearts, with each heart taken by a player assessing that player one penalty point. Once a player reaches 100 or more penalty points at the end of a hand, his opponent is declared the winner.

Hooligan Hearts:
Hooligan Hearts is played identically to Black Lady, with the following modifications to the rules:

The Seven of Clubs (♣) earns the player who wins it in a trick seven penalty points.

The player who captures the 10 of Diamonds () in a trick is entitled to subtract 10 points from his current total.

                    
A player who manages to capture all the Hearts, Queen of Spades, Seven of Clubs and the 10 of Diamonds during a hand is entitled to subtract 43 points from his current score. If a player is able to capture all the Hearts, Queen of Spades and Seven of Clubs but not the 10 of Diamonds, that player may subtract 33 points from their score.
Gong Zhu:
Gong Zhu (Chase the Pig) is a Chinese game played somewhat similar to Hearts. As the game does have some significant differences from standard Hearts, please see our rules page for Gong Zhu for the detailed instructions for playing.

Pink Lady:
Pink Lady is another interesting variant of Hearts featuring additional penalty cards. This variant is played identically to Black Lady, however, with a few important differences: The player who captures the Queen of Hearts (called the Pink Lady) must add 13 points to his total score. Capturing the ten of Diamonds in a trick allows the capturing player to subtract 10 points from his current score. A player who manages to take all the Hearts, the Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds during a hand is entitled to subtract 38 points from his own score.

Heartsette:
Heartsette is a fun variant of Hearts which can be played by three to eight players. The number of cards initially dealt to each player is dependent on the number of participants, as shown in the following chart:
Number of PlayersCards Dealt Per PlayerAdjustments to Deck
316Two of Clubs removed from Deck
412Two of Clubs removed from Deck
510-
68-
As will be noticed from the chart, with 3 or 4 players, the two of Clubs should be removed from the deck, resulting in a 51 card deck.

After the cards have been distributed by the dealer, the remaining cards in the deck are placed face down in the center of the table as a widow hand. The winner of the first trick must add all the cards from the widow hands into his cards won. Any points found in this hand are earned by the player capturing the first trick. The player capturing the first trick may view the cards in the widow hand before adding them face down to his captured cards.

In all other respects this game is played identically to standard Hearts.

The wins this trick in Joker Hearts Joker Hearts:
Joker Hearts is a variant of Hearts featuring the use of one Joker. In the usual variant, the two of Hearts is replaced with one Joker, thus retaining a 52 card deck. This Joker is a special card which wins any trick it is played to. However, if a trick also contains the Jack of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts or Ace of Hearts that card will beat the Joker. The player capturing the Joker must add 5 points to his current score for capturing it. In all other respects Joker Hearts is played identically to standard Hearts.

An alternative form of Joker Hearts is to add the Joker without removing any of the other cards (such as the two of Hearts). In this variant, after each player receives his hand, the last card of the deck is placed face down in the center of the table as a widow. The player who wins the first trick must add this card to his cards won during the hand. Other than this one difference, this variant is played as in basic Joker Hearts described directly above.
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