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Hearts Basics

Hearts is an easy-to-play trick-taking game where players compete for the fewest points. Each hand consists of 26 points, one for each Heart and 13 for the Queen of Spades (♠Q). A player may “shoot the moon” by taking all 26 points in a hand, giving other players 26 points instead (see Scoring, below).

A game is over when one or more players get to 100 points. The lowest score(s) win.

Deal

Hearts is played with a standard 52-card deck, 2 through Ace of each suit. The entire deck is dealt giving each of the four players 13 cards. Ace is high and there is no trump suit.

When played with 3 players, the 2 of Diamonds is omitted from the deck, resulting in 51 cards. 17 cards are dealt to each player. With 5 players, the 2 of Diamonds and 2 of Clubs are omitted. With 6 players, the deck omits the 2 of Diamonds, 2 and 3 of Clubs, and the 2 of Spades.

Pass

Following the deal, each player chooses 3 cards from their hand to pass to another player. Who you pass to rotates between (1) your left, (2) your right, (3) across, and (4) no-pass. This pattern can be changed by a rule option.

After everyone has passed, the cards passed to you are displayed in your hand.

Play

The player holding the lowest club leads the first trick (this can be altered by a rule option). Play continues clockwise with players following the led suit, if possible, or playing any other card if not (see Exceptions to Play, below). When all four players have played, the trick is taken by the player who played the highest card of the led suit.

The player who takes the trick leads the next hand. Any card may be led subject to the Exceptions to Play, below.

Exceptions to Play

There are two exceptions to play to be aware of:

  • You may not play a point (a Heart or ♠Q) on the first trick of a hand (this can be altered by a rule option)
  • You may not lead a point card until a Heart or ♠Q has been dumped on a prior trick (a game option can change this to only a Heart being dumped; see Options, below)

In each case, you may play or lead a point if you have no alternative.

Scoring

Points are tallied at the end of each hand. One point is scored for each Heart taken and 13 for ♠Q. If one player takes all 26 points in a hand, generally 26 points are added to the scores of the other players and no points added to the player who shot the moon (took all the points). However, in the case where adding 26 points to the other players would end the game and the player who shot the moon would not win, then 26 points are subtracted from the shooter’s score and nothing is added to the others’.

If the Jack of Diamonds option is enabled (see Options, below), 10 points are subtracted from the score of the player who takes the ♦J.

The game is over when one or more players’ score is 100 or more. The player(s) with the lowest score(s) win.

Hearts House Rules Options

When

“Now” creates a new game that starts immediately. Other options schedule a game for a time in the next 24 hours. Compete and Join games only.

Winnings

Three levels of winnings based on the buy-in level—30, 110, 275 or 550 Trickster Chips. Compete games only.

Play

“To score” plays the game until one team achieves the score set in “Play to score.” When “# of hands” is selected, the game is played only for the number of hands selected in the “Play # of hands” option.

Play to score

Sets the game over score when the “Play” option is set to “To score.” In Play and Compete, you may set the game over score to 50 or 100. In Practice and Join you may set the game over score to any multiple of 25 between 50 and 200.

Play # of hands

Sets the number of hands to be played when the “Play” option is set to “# of hands.” When the number of hands is completed, the lowest score wins.

Play style

“Solo” means an individual (solo) game. “Team” is a partnership (team) game.

Players

If playing solo, sets the number of players playing. If playing in teams, “2v2” means 2 teams of 2 players, “2v2v2” means 3 teams of 2, and “3v3” means 2 teams of 3 players each.

Scoring

+13 for ♠Q

“Yes” means taking the ♠Q is worth +13 points. “No” means ♠Q is worth nothing.

Points for ♦J

“0” means the ♦J is worth nothing. “−5” or “−10” means taking the ♦J subtracts that many points from your score.

Shoot the moon

“±26” adds 26 points to non-shooters’ scores unless the shooter would lose, in which case 26 points are subtracted from the shooter’s score. “+26” always adds 26 points to non-shooters’ scores. “−26” always subtracts 26 points from the shooter’s score.

Must shoot alone

“Yes” means a single player must shoot the moon in team games. “No” means the combined score of the team counts for shooting the moon.

−50 for 50x

“Any 50x” means 50 points are subtracted whenever your score is exactly a multiple of 50 points (for example, 50 or 100). “50x > 50” is like Any 50x but only when your score is 100 or more. “Never” subtracts nothing based on score.

Play

♠Q breaks ♥

“Yes” allows Hearts to be led after the ♠Q has been played but no Hearts have yet been dumped. “No” requires that a Heart be dumped before a Heart can be led (unless you have nothing but Hearts).

♠Q after ♥

“Yes” prohibits the ♠Q from being dumped until Hearts are broken. You may still lead it or play it when following suit. “No” allows the ♠Q may be dumped at any time.

Passing

“None” means no cards are passed following the deal. “Always Left” means 3 cards are always passed to the player on your left. “Always Right” means 3 cards are always passed to the player on your right. “Always Across” means 3 cards are always passed to the player across (not available in 3-player games). “Left, Right, Across” means 3 cards are always passed in left, right, across order with no keeper hand. “Left, Right, Across, Keep” means that in 3 out of 4 hands, 3 cards are passed after the deal in left, right, across order; every 4th hand there’s no pass. “Around” means the pass rotates around clockwise but doesn’t contain a no-pass hand. “Around Keep” is like Around but includes a no-pass hand.

First lead

Sets the player who leads the first trick to either the player holding the lowest club or the player to the left of the dealer.

Dump points

“After First Trick” means you can’t dump points on the first trick. “Anytime” means you may dump points on the first trick.

Limits

Must be invited:

“Yes” hides this game from other players until they’ve been explicitly invited using the “Invite Friends” form. “No” allows all friends of players in this game to see it. Join games only.

Allow suggestions:

“Yes” to allow players to see bid and card play suggestions, depending on their personal setting. “No” prevents all players from seeing suggestions. Always “Yes” in Play games; “No” in Compete games.

Allow watching:

“Yes” allows up to 10 additional players to watch the game. They do not see anyone’s cards. “No” prevents anyone from watching. Join games only.

Chat during game:

“None” disables all chat during the game. “Preset” allows only the built-in chat messages to be used. “Text” allows full chat. Full chat is also always available before and after games.

Time to pass:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to pass. “Off” means there are no time limits on passing. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to pass of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.

Time to play:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to play a card. “Off” means there are no time limits on card play. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to play a card of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.