How to Play Hearts: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Play Hearts: 14 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Play Hearts: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Hearts, one of the most popular and enduring card games in the world, is great fun for all ages to play, although at first the rules can be a little confusing for beginners. Also known as “The Dirty”, “Black Lady”, “Crubs”, “Black Maria” and so on, this game requires players to avoid special cards (mostly Hearts in particular) if they want to win. Check out step 1 below to start learning this game!


Method 1 of 2: Understanding the Basic Rules of Hearts


Step 1. Take 1 standard pack of cards, a few players and a few sheets of paper

Hearts is an interesting game- It can be played by 3-7 players, however “4” is the standard number of players. Hearts uses 52 normal cards (no joker). In addition to your cards, you'll also need a few sheets of paper (or something you can write on) and a pen to record your scores. Players are dealt the same number of cards – there is usually one person in the circle who deals until there are no cards left.

  • The first player is usually a person who is predetermined or chosen by a certain method – For example, each player takes a card at random and then the owner of the lowest card is the first player. The game sequence process usually moves to the left of each player
  • It should be noted, if you play with more than 4 players, you will have an excess card at the end of the deal, which is called a "hole" card. When you are sure all players have the same number of cards, remove the excess card from the game without looking at the card and shuffle it into the deck before the next turn.

Step 2. Play the “Trick” by trying to “follow the pattern” of the exposed cards

In Hearts, the process of playing in a circle, each player plays with one card from their hand each round, and is unlocked. The cards from one “round” are called “Tricks”. In Hearts terms, whoever plays with the first card in the game is called the "Start" of the game. This person can play any card he wants (with exceptions – see point below). Players following this lead must play with the same card pattern as the starting card if they have one – otherwise, they may play cards of a different pattern.

Step 3. One exception for scratch cards which can be anything is the scratch card “no Hearts until the Heart has been “destroyed””

Hearts will be destroyed when the player cannot match the pattern of the initial card and then plays the Heart card.


Step 4. Avoid doing tricks by not trying to play the highest ranking card during the game

After all the players have played the cards, the card with the highest ranking “The one that matches the starting card suit” wins and the person playing it will get all the cards in the game and place the cards face down in front of them until the end of their turn. Whoever wins the game, will take the lead in the next game-play this process until all players have no more cards in their hands. As we see below, “usually you “don't” want to win the game”.

  • In each card pattern, the Cards will be ranked from Ace (the highest value) and continue sequentially downwards, with the number 2 being the lowest. For example As Curly is the highest curl followed by King, Queen and so on

    So, for example if the person leading the game plays a Queen of Diamonds and we have an Ace of Diamonds and a Five of Diamonds in our hands, we must play one of these Diamonds. Ace will win because it is the highest card of the starting card pattern, but Lima will not win against Queen. In most cases, we usually don't want to win this round, so we're going to take out five


Step 5. Avoid the Hearts and the Queen of Spades

In Hearts, just like in golf, every player wants to get the “lowest” number of points possible. Whoever has the points with the lowest score is the winner. Cards that have points are Hearts (each card costs 1 point, regardless of card face value) and Queen of Spades (worth 13 points). Only that card has points. While the other cards have no points, so you can collect them without fear. It can be hard to tell when another player will play Hearts or Queen of Spades after you, usually, “You want to avoid winning tricks, even though no point cards have been played yet”.

There is "one" important exception at the end of avoiding points. If, in a turn, a player manages to collect ALL points from that round (This is called “Shooting the Moon” or “Running”), He will get a score of 0 and the other players will get 26 points. So, if the player is in a losing position and had accumulated points so far, he could be at risk of getting Hearts and Queen of Spades cards. If he succeeds, he will win by a landslide, but if one of his enemies has only one point card, then he will lose with a bad score in this round


Step 6. Calculate your score at the end of each round

When all players have played their last card then the game round ends. Players will see all the cards they collect during the game and calculate their points based on the number of cards and points they get. As noted above, Each Heart card is worth 1 point and the Queen of Spades 13 points. The player will add up their score from the last round as well as the number of points from the last round, and finally, the player to the left of the last-placed player will start a new game/round..

Keep playing this game until one of the players reaches a certain agreed score (usually 100). When one (or more) players reach the score limit, the game stops and the player with the lowest score wins


Step 7. Watch out for different rules

The rules written above are the "basic" version of the rules from Hearts. Initially these rules were precise and could be used in the game, in fact, many variations were made of these standard rules. You can include this rule in the game. The list below is a variation of the rules that are commonly used.

Step 8. After being dealt the cards, Each player usually gives 3 cards of their choice to the other players

In a 4-player game, usually the player will deal the first card to the person on the right at the start of the round, then the person on the left in the second round, then the player opposite him in the third round. Repeat this in the fourth round, then repeat the cycle.

  • The player who has 2 Flowers (or is given) starts each round, not the player to the left of the dealer. This player "must" start with 2 Flowers for his first play.
  • Excess "hole" cards that exist after all cards have been dealt to all players whose number is more than 4 will be placed face down to whoever has the first heart card.
  • At the start of the game in each round, no point cards may be played
  • In some variations, if a player shoots the moon, he has the option of taking 26 points off his own rather than giving 26 points to each player. It's a good idea if adding 26 points to each player will cause one or more players to reach the score limit, ending the game and causing the moon shooter to lose.

Method 2 of 2: Learn the Hearts Basic Strategy


Step 1. Start the game by dealing your highest card

After the cards are dealt, each player will look at their cards and choose 3 cards to give to the opponent. When all players have selected their 3 cards, they will deal at the same time. "Usually, if you want to avoid winning tricks, it's a good idea to pass your highest card to another player." That will minimize the potential for winning tricks.

  • Another giving strategy is to “short-suit” yourself. (see below)
  • The direction of giving the cards changes every round. On the first spin, pass to your left. On the second round, pass to your right. On the third round, pass it across from you. In the fourth round, no cards are dealt. In the fifth round, this cycle is repeated again.

    There are different house rules for dealing cards depending on where you are playing


Step 2. When starting the game, try as much as possible to follow the pattern

The player with 2 card Flowers must take the lead with this card at the start of the game. Each player as much as possible must follow the pattern of the early players. If a player cannot follow a pattern (in any trick), they may play another pattern. The player wins the trick if he plays the highest card of the pattern played. The winner of one trick will lead the next trick.

In the first trick of each round, no point cards (Hearts or Queen of Spades) may be played, even if the player cannot follow the pattern. The player must play with cards that have no points


Step 3. If you are leading a trick, try to play with cards that are easy to beat

This is the "trick" of the trick lead. Unless you start the round with 2 Flowers, most of your cards are legitimate odds, so it can be difficult to decide how you play. In doubt, take it low-play with the lowest card of a pattern that has not been played in the previous round. Surprisingly most, if not all players have cards with this pattern in their hands. If you play low cards, usually, someone will be forced to play higher cards of the same pattern, to make sure you don't win the trick.

  • There are a few exceptions to this habit – in which case, if you're trying to shoot the moon, you'll probably be playing with a high card, or if you've been keeping your card game track and think it looks like everyone has at least one card of a certain pattern, you might want to issued a high card. You may also be forced to play with high cards if you run out of cards.
  • As noted above, you cannot start with a Heart Card until a Heart is destroyed when the player lacks a card with a predetermined pattern, so in this case he takes out a heart. As noted above, most variations of Hearts, do not allow Hearts to be destroyed in the first trick. The exception to this rule is when a player runs out of other pattern cards and only has Hearts.

Step 4. If you are not leading the trick, follow the pattern with a lower card than the starting card

If someone is leading the trick, and you have one or more cards with the same pattern of cards, then you must follow the pattern. If you can, play lower cards so you don't win the trick. This is very important, if the other players have not played a card, and you don't know when they will play the Hearts or the Queen of Spades, it will prevent you from taking the points.

If you "don't" have a card of the same pattern as the starting card, you will usually be playing a point card, so whoever wins the trick gets a point "or" gets rid of the high value card so you have very little chance of winning later


Step 5. Try to “short-suit” yourself

Usually, it's a good idea to remove all cards from one or more patterns from your hand as quickly as possible. This is called "short-suiting" yourself. Once you have eliminated all the cards of one pattern in your hand, you will be able to play whatever you want when other players play cards of that pattern. This will give you a chance to get rid of high cards, “junk” point cards to other players and so on.

One way to short-suit yourself (or at least, prepare for that) is to “give” at the start of the round. If you have, in this case four Flowers in your hand and you deal 3 cards to another player, you will only have one Flower to remove before you are short-suited (assuming the other player doesn't deal any additional cards)


Step 6. Do shoot the moon only if you have a strong chance to do so

Shooting the moon can be the spearhead in Hearts, making you climb several levels. After all, shooting at the moon is very risky, so you should think carefully before doing that. Obviously, you won't try to shoot the moon if another player has already earned at least one point. You also won't shoot the moon if you have low cards chances are you will be able to win every trick with such low cards. Usually, you should try shooting the moon when you have a lot of high cards (no Hearts needed), especially if you are sure you will win every round or most of your cards are cards of the same pattern.

Remember that if none of the players can follow the pattern of the starting player, then he will automatically win the trick. Use this to your advantage. If it seems that everyone doesn't have a pattern on any of the cards, remove the cards, starting with the highest and working your way down to the lowest, and you will collect a lot of points


  • In the first trick (where there are 2 Flowers appear), if a player throws a low card, it often means they have a blank Flower card ("blank" means no cards in a certain pattern) or trying to shoot the moon.
  • Although strategy can be fickle, here are some basic thoughts for shooting the moon:

    • At the start of the round, in the card dealing section, deal your highest card (especially hearts or spades), unless you shoot the moon
    • If you've dealt all the highest cards, or have none, at the start of the round, it's a good idea to clear one of the patterns (if you can) then pass it to another player.
    • Unless you are sure that another player will have the Queen of Spades, try not to give Spades lower than the Queen. If you end up getting the Queen from the giveaway and only have another pair of Spades, you may run out of spades, and this will force you to play the Queen on tricks that were originally Spades.
    • Try to remember which player scored so no one shoots the moon. If it looks like another player has the potential to shoot the moon, then try to stop him at the earliest opportunity. Even getting 4 points is still better than 26.
  • If you have a Queen of spades and the King and Ace of Spades have already been played, try to get rid of the pattern so you can discard the Queen.
  • Usually it is better to arrange the cards in your hand according to a pattern, then rank. Based on experience, it is typical for players to do this, placing in their hands (from left to right) Flowers, Diamonds, Spades, and Hearts, and each suit is ordered from left to right 2 to Ace. High cards are usually based on Ace-Jack in Hearts, Diamonds and Flowers, and Ace-Queen for Spades.
  • Unless shooting the moon, play your lowest card when there are no points in the trick
  • When someone plays the Queen of Spades on himself to stop another player from "shooting the moon", this is usually called "stabbing the sword". Usually it will end with 2 players sharing 13-13 points.
  • Guarantee cards are usually 3 Flowers and 2 Diamonds, which other players cannot beat. Usually, it's a good strategy to issue a security card when you know there's no Queen of Spades in the suit.
  • In the "Jack Diamond" Heart variation, the player who gets the Diamond Jack in a trick can deduct 10 points from his score.


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