Hearts is a 4 player "trick avoidance" game. The player with the lowest points wins. There are no teams. However, wise players will form temporary alliances as the game progresses, with the 3 high-point players cooperating to give points to the player with the lowest points during each hand.
Cards are ranked from Ace (high) down to 2 (low).
The objective is to avoid taking cards worth points and to finish the game with the lowest score.
Heart cards are worth 1 point.
The Queen of Spades is worth 13 points!
Each player is dealt a hand of 13 cards from a standard deck of 52 cards.
Each player chooses 3 cards to pass to another player. Cards are passed to the left on the first hand, to the right on the second hand, across on the third hand, and no cards are passed on the fourth hand. This cycle then repeats itself until the end of the game. [Exception: the no-passing round is skipped when using "Tournament Rules".]
The player with the 2 of Clubs starts things off by playing it. The other players then each play a card in clockwise order until all 4 players have played a card. Whoever played the highest card with the same suit as the lead card, takes the cards. This is known as "winning a trick".
The trick winner starts the next trick. They can lead any card, except Hearts.
Players must play a card with the same suit as the lead card. If they do not have a card with that suit, they may play any card. There is one exception. On the first trick, you may not play Hearts or the Queen of Spades. (There is an exception to this too. If the game has the Option to "Allow First Turn Hearts", then you may play Hearts on the first trick if you have no Clubs at all. See the "Game Specific Options" section below.) The first time a Heart card or the Queen of Spades is played is known as "breaking hearts". From this point on players can lead Hearts.
Shooting the Moon/Sun
Normally you try and avoid taking point cards, because points are bad. However, if you do the opposite and manage to take every single point card (every Heart card and the Queen of Spades) then you will have "Shot the Moon". When you "Shoot the Moon" all other players are punished with 26 points.
Even more difficult is "Shooting the Sun". This happens if you manage to take all 13 tricks, thus every single card. This will punish other players with 39 points! This is a VERY rare occurrence and is a sight to behold!
If punishing your opponents with points would cause one of them to take first place and win, then your score will be reduced by either 26 or 39 points instead.
If it is guaranteed that your hand will win all remaining tricks, you will be presented with a TRAM button. This stands for "The Rest Are Mine". Clicking it will give you all the remaining tricks.
This is just a way to make the game move along a bit quicker. This option is only available if it is impossible for anyone else to take any tricks due to the cards you have in your hand (such as A, K, Q, J of the same suit).
The game ends when any player reaches 100 points.
The player with the lowest score wins!
Game Specific Options
- Allow First Turn Hearts
- Normally hearts cannot be played on the first turn. Turning on this option allows hearts to be played on the first turn.
- Hearts tables that have this option set will show up with 'afth' next to them in the 'list of tables'.
- You can also check to see if your table has this option set by clicking on the 'table info' link at the lower left of your table.
- You normally want to pass your high cards, Aces, Kings and Queens.
- If you have the Queen of Spades, you may want to keep it if you have 3 or more spades in your hand, otherwise you may want to pass it.
- Passing the Queen of Spades to your right is pretty safe, but be careful passing the Queen of Spades to your left.
- If you have less than 3 cards in a given suit, it may be wise to pass all of them. That way, if you don't get passed any in that suit, you will have more opportunities to ditch unwanted cards during game play.
- No points can be played on the first trick, so you can safely play the highest card you have.
- Playing high cards early in the hand is safer since your opponents will often still have cards in that suit.
- Try and remember which high cards have been played, especially the Queen of Spades.
- If you are the last to play a card and your lowest in suit card will win the trick and the trick contains points, you might as well play your highest in suit card, since you are taking that trick no matter what.
This version of Hearts first appeared somewhere between 1850 and 1880. It's origins can be traced back even further to a family of games called Reversis, which was popular in Spain around 1750.