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 is one of the oldest and most popular card games in the world. Perfect for players of all ages, it has rules that can be a bit difficult for newcomers. Also known as Away Cups, Miquilina and Menos Cup, the game requires participants to avoid certain cards (especially the hearts, which give the game its name) in order to win. Read this article to learn how to play this classic from the deck.


Method 1 of 2: Learning the Ground Rules

Play Hearts Step 1

Step 1. Take a standard deck, call your friends and set aside some sheets of paper

The game of Hearts is super versatile: although the default number of participants is four, it can be played by three to seven people. To play, you need a standard 52-card deck (without the wildcards), scratch paper (or something else to write on) and a pen to jot down your scores. Players must all be dealt the same number of cards. Usually, one of the participants deals the cards in circles until the deck runs out.

  • The first participant to deal cards can be pre-determined or chosen by some method, such as asking participants to draw random cards from the deck and pointing out which one to draw the lowest valued one such as the dealer. Cards must be dealt clockwise at the beginning of each round.
  • If you are playing with more or less than four people, it is possible that some cards are left over at the end of the deal. Once all players have the same number of cards, remove the leftovers from the game without seeing them and shuffle them along with the other cards before the next round.

Step 2. Look at your hand and pass three cards forward in the following order:

  • First hand - on the left.
  • Second hand - on the right.
  • Third hand - ahead.
  • Fourth hand - keep all your cards.
  • Fifth hand - on the left.
  • Sixth hand - on the right.
  • Seventh hand - forward.

Step 3. Take the cards you receive from the opposing player

Only pick up cards from the table after everyone has passed three cards ahead. See if there is a two of clubs (2♣) in your hand. The card determines the player who will start the game. Start the game by playing the two of clubs. Play continues clockwise.

Hearts (♥) are worth one point. The queen of spades (Q♠) is worth 13 points. As in golf, in Hearts, earning points is bad

Step 4. Play the cards according to the suit of the starting card

Hearts are played in circles, with each participant playing one card from their hand at a time, face up. The cards form what is called a "trick", which is nothing more than the set of cards on the table. The player responsible for drawing the suit can choose whichever card he wants (with some exceptions, as explained below). The following players should preferentially play cards of the drawn suit. If you don't have any cards of the drawn suit, it's okay to play one of the other suit.

The only exception to the draw's almost infinite range of options is that the starting card can only be hearts if the suit has already been used in the round. For this to happen, a player must have no cards of the drawn suit and play a heart

Play Hearts Step 5

Step 5. Avoid playing the highest card to avoid taking the trick

Once everyone has played, the highest card of the drawn suit will "win", causing the responsible player to take all the cards from the table. The player must keep them face down in a pile in front of him. Whoever takes the trick, draws the next suit. As we will see later, normally, the goal is not to take the trick.

  • Cards of all suits are descending from the ace (highest), with two being the lowest. The ace of clubs, for example, is the highest card of clubs, followed by the king, queen, and so on.

    Suppose the puller has played a queen of diamonds and you have an ace and a five of diamonds in your hand. You will need to play one of the two cards. The ace will cause you to take the trick as it is the highest card in the drawn suit, while the five is lower than the queen. As the objective is not to take the trick, at least in most cases, it is best to play five

Play Hearts Step 6

Step 6. Avoid hearts and queen of spades

As in golf, in Hearts, the goal is to finish with the smaller number of points possible. Whoever has the least points at the end wins. The cards with points are the hearts (each worth one point) and the queen of spades (worth 13 points). These are the only cards scored. All others are pointless and can be taken without fear. Since you can't tell if a player will play a heart or a queen of spades after you, the best is usually to avoid being tricked, even if no one has played a card with points yet..

  • Exists an very important exception to the points rule. If a player manages to take all the points of the round, he will receive zero points, and the opponents, 26. This maneuver is called "hitting the moon". Thus, a player who is losing badly and has taken all of the round's point cards so far can risk an even worse score by trying to catch all the hearts and queen of spades. If he succeeds, he will come out the winner. However, if only one of the opponents takes a scored card, he will leave the round with a bad score.

Step 7. Calculate the score at the end of each hand

The hand ends when all players have played the last card. Participants must then look at the trick cards they took and calculate how many points they scored. As explained above, each heart is worth one point and the queen of spades is worth 13. The points must be added to those from previous hands. The person to the left of the last dealer will be responsible for dealing the cards for the next round.

The game continues until one of the players reaches a certain number of points (usually 100). When one or more players reach this limit, the game is over. The participant who scored the least points wins

Play Hearts Step 8

Step 8. Learn the most common variations

The above rules pertain to the more "basic" version of the Heart game. While they are correct and can be applied to any game, in the real world, there are several variations on top of them that you may or may not incorporate into your game. Here are some of the most common variations:

  • After receiving the cards, each player must choose three cards and pass them to another player. Typically, in a four-player game, players shift cards to the left at the beginning of the first hand, to the right in the second, and to the person ahead in the third. On the fourth hand, participants must keep all the cards received. Then the cycle starts again.
  • The player who receives the dealer's or an opponent's deuce of clubs must draw the first suit in place of the player to the dealer's left. The first card played must be the two of clubs.
  • The remaining cards in a game with fewer or more than four players are dealt face down to whoever takes the first hearts card.
  • On the first trick of each hand, it is not allowed to play scored cards.
  • In some variations, if a player hits the moon, he can choose to deduct 26 points from his own scoreboard instead of giving 26 points to other players. This is a great idea for when you add 26 points to other players' scores you run the risk of causing one of them to go over the point limit, ending the game and condemning the player who took all the points to defeat.

Method 2 of 2: Learning Basic Strategies

Step 1. Pass on your highest cards at the beginning of the game

After the cards are dealt, each player must take a look at his or her hand and choose three cards to pass to an opponent. After everyone chooses the cards, they must be passed at the same time. Normally, as the objective is not to take any tricks, it is recommended to pass on your highest cards.

This way, you will have less chances of taking the tricks.

  • Another strategy used in this part of the game is to "run dry in one suit" (see below).
  • The direction in which you must pass the cards changes with each hand. On the first hand, you must pass the cards to the player on the left. In the second, to the one on your right. In the third, to the person in front. On the fourth hand, the cards are not passed. On Thursday, the cycle starts again.

    The rules for passing cards vary from place to place

Step 2. Always try to follow the drawn suit

The player who takes the deuce of clubs must use the card to draw the first suit of the game. Then the other participants must play, following suit whenever possible. If a player does not have any cards of the drawn suit, he may choose a card of another suit. The player takes the trick if he plays the highest card of the drawn suit. The winner of the trick must draw the next suit.

On the first trick of each hand, no scored cards (the hearts and queen of spades) can be played, not even by a player who has no cards of the drawn suit. The player in question must choose a card from a suit with no points

Step 3. When drawing a suit, try using a low-value card

Pulling the suit is pretty tricky. Except for the double of clubs at the beginning of the game, the options are many, so it can be difficult to make a decision. When in doubt, opt for low-suited cards that haven't shown up much throughout the round. It is very likely that most, if not all, players have suited cards in hand. If the card is of a low value, someone will be forced to play a higher card of the same suit, taking the trick instead.

  • Of course there are some exceptions. If you're trying to hit the moon, for example, playing high cards might be a good idea. The maneuver is also valid if you are counting the played cards and you think everyone is likely to have at least one card of a certain suit. It is also possible that you may have to play a high card because of a lack of options.
  • As explained above, you cannot start the trick with a heart unless another player has already used the suit in place of another player. In most versions of the game, it is not allowed to play hearts on the first trick. The only exception is if a player is dry from all other suits.
Play Hearts Step 12

Step 4. If you haven't drawn a suit, play a card lower than the initial

When another player takes the trick, you are required to play a card of the same suit (provided you have the suit in hand). Whenever possible, play a card lower than the initial one to avoid taking the trick, especially if the other participants have not yet played. You never know when someone is going to play the queen of spades, leaving you with a truckload of points.

  • If you don't have cards of the drawn suit, it's best to play a scored card to increase the score of those who take the trick. or get rid of a high card of another suit so as not to take a trick any further.
Play Hearts Step 13

Step 5. Try to stay dry in a suit

It's usually a good idea to get rid of all cards of one or more suits as quickly as possible. This strategy is called "going dry in one suit". After eliminating all the cards of the suit in question from your hand, you can play any card you want when the suit is drawn. That way, you'll have more opportunities to get rid of high cards and fill other players with points, among other things.

You can go dry one-suited (or at least start the trick) when passing cards at the start of the hand. If you have four clubs and pass three to an opponent, you will only have one to end (provided, of course, that no player passes you another club)

Play Hearts Step 14

Step 6. Only try to hit the moon if you have a good chance of getting it

Hitting the moon can completely turn a Hearts match, allowing you to move up several positions in the rankings. The maneuver, however, is super risky. Think carefully before executing it. Don't try to hit the moon if another player has already taken a point, nor if you have a lot of low cards in your hand. The chances of you taking all the tricks with such a hand are pretty low. It is best to bet on strategy only if you have a lot of high cards in your hand (hearts or any other suit), especially if you are already taking all of the round's points or if most of the cards are of the same suit.

Remember that if no one is able to follow the drawn suit, the draw will automatically take the trick. Use this to your advantage. If it appears that the other players are out of cards of a particular suit, draw them with your highest card. Keep betting on the suit until you reach the lowest card you have. You will certainly score a lot of points


  • On the first trick, drawn by the two of clubs, if a player plays a low club, it usually means that he has run out of clubs, meaning that he has no more clubs, or that he is trying to hit the moon.
  • It is often a good idea to organize your hand by suit and card value. That's what experienced players tend to do. They order the hand from left to right in clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts. Each suit is arranged from left to right, two through ace. The cards considered high are the ace, king and queen of spades, and the ace, king, queen and jack of other suits.
  • If you are holding the queen of spades and the king and ace of spades have already been played, try drying a suit to discard the queen.
  • Unless you are trying to hit the moon, always play your lowest card when you have a card with points in the trick.
  • It is possible for a player to play the queen of spades in order to take the trick to prevent an opponent from hitting the moon. The round usually ends with both players halving the total points.
  • The safest are cards like the three of clubs and the two of diamonds, which other players cannot beat. It is often a good strategy to draw a trick with a safe card when you know that the owner of the queen of spades does not have any cards of the drawn suit.
  • Although strategies vary, here are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to hit the moon:

    • When it's time to pass the cards, pass on your high cards, especially the hearts and spades, unless you're trying to hit the moon.
    • If you've already passed all your high cards or only have low cards in hand, try to use the moment to dry out of a suit.
    • Unless you're sure that another player will take the queen of spades, don't pass on lower-suited cards. If you receive the queen in the draw and only have a handful of spades, you may end up running out of suit and being forced to play the queen in a spade trick.
    • Try to remember which players have already scored so that no one can hit the moon. If one of the opponents seems close to succeeding, try to stop him as soon as you can. Taking a trick with four points is much better than winning 26 at the end of the round.
  • In the variation known as "Jack of Diamonds", the player who takes the jack of diamonds deducts ten points from his own total.


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