The aim in this popular family game is to avoid winning tricks containing hearts or the Queen of Spades, and score as little points as possible. As an alternative, a player can try to win all 14 penalty cards. This is called ‘Shooting the Moon’ and doesn’t have to be announced beforehand.
The game is played with four players, who all receive 13 cards from a standard 52-card deck.
Cards rank from Ace( highest) to 2 (lowest).
A round of Hearts starts by each player passing three cards face down to the player on her left. In the second round, cards are passed to the right. On the third they are passed between players sitting opposite each other. On the fourth, no cards are passed.
Whoever holds the 2 of clubs, must lead it to the first trick. Play continues in clockwise order. A player must follow suit if possible, otherwise she may play any card. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led, and the winner of each trick leads to the next.
Penalty cards may not be played during the first trick, unless a player has no other choice.
A player may not lead a heart until hearts are broken in a previous trick, unless she has nothing but hearts in her hand.
Each player gets 1 penalty point for each heart taken, and 13 penalty points for the Queen of Spades. The winner of the game is the player with the fewest points when one or more players reach a total of 50 points. Playing till 100 points is common in real life, but online life is a little quicker...
Shooting the Moon
If a player manages to take all 14 penalty cards, she "Shoots The Moon" and adds no penalty points. All other players, though, add 26 penalty points to their scores.
Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the game of Hearts, it’s easy to learn, but difficult to master.
1) Pay attention to the cards your opponents are passing. It tells a lot about their strategies.
2) Don’t pass the Ace of Hearts. It guarantees you will add at least one penalty point, so it can stop any opponent “Shooting the Moon”.
3) The Two of Clubs is a trouble card. You have to lead it into the first trick, you can't take the lead for the second trick, and you can't get rid of any high clubs on the first trick.
4) High clubs are trouble cards. Usually, four clubs are played on the first trick. Playing any high or mid-range club afterwards, can get you in trouble easily.
5) Don’t pass the Queen of Spades to the left. This is dangerous because you are not in a position to play the King or the Ace of Spades, which may get passed to you.
6) Pass the Queen of Spades to your right, and don't worry about holding either the King or Ace of Spades.
1) If you cannot avoid taking a trick, take it with the highest card possible.
2) Don’t lead with an Ace.
3) Ignore the fact that hearts give penalty points, especially when hearts are broken before the Queen of Spades came out. Taking a couple hearts is cheap compared with taking the Queen.