Hearts is a card game with the objective to score minimum points.

How to Play Hearts:

The game is easy to comprehend with efficient strategies to win. This game is played in many countries and also known as Rickey Kate in Australia.

Players and Deal:

This is a game designed for exactly four players, although 2-6 people can play this game. Single deck of 52 cards without jokers is used. If there are 3 players, discard 2. Now, the 51 cards can be evenly distributed among three players. If there are more than 4 players discard lower rank clubs so that cards are dealt evenly to all. If there are 5 players, discard ♣ 2 and ♣ 3. Now, everyone will have 10 cards.


Play proceeds in clockwise direction. All players must have equal cards. 4 players will have thirteen cards.
After the dealing is done, each player pass three cards face down to the player to their left. Players can choose their three cards from the hand to pass. After they pass their cards they are allowed to pick their hands which are kept face down by the player to their right. They can look at them.lowest rank in game of hearts

In the second hand, players pass three cards to their right and pick cards from their left. In the third round, players pass cards to the player to their opposite and pick cards from the opposite. In the fourth round, no passing takes place. Cards are kept face down in the process.

The same cycle repeats again till the game terminates.

If there are 3 players, do not play the third hand. For 2 players, repeat first hand and fourth hand. For more than 5 players, you have to decide hands in such a way everyone exactly pass and take three cards from each player.

Object of the Game:

Do not win in tricks any heart or to win all 13 hearts with Q♠. The objective is to score as minimum points as possible.
hearts card game


Player having the lowest club (2 of clubs generally) will have the first trick. Player will have turn clockwise and they will play car of this suit. In case they do not have the required suit, they can play any card except ♠ Q.
If is not permitted to play hearts until and unless heart is played on previous trick or you hand is left with only hearts. It is known as breaking hearts as discarding them would allow them to lead in future.

Player who plays the highest card will win the trick and lead the next. ♠ Q can be dumped after the first trick if it is your last card. The game is played until one player has reached 100 points. Discarding penalty cards is also known as Painting the Trick.


Every player scores some points.

Card Values

Penalty Points
Queen of Spades 13
Heart 1
Any other Card 0

In case you win all scoring cards, 26 points will be deducted from your score. It is also known as shooting the moon or slam. You have two choices your score would be decreased by 26 points or other players would be increase by 26 points.

hearts card game strategy

The game will be terminated if anyone has scored more than or equal to 100. The player with the minimum points is winner.


1. Kitty
12 cards are dealt ton each player instead of 13. Four face down cards are dealt to kitty which is added to the hand of first player. It is a variation in which cards are not dealt evenly if there are more or less than 4 players.

There are many passing cycles:

    1. There is no hold hand (pass left, right and across).
    2. Players pass exactly one card to each other instead of three.
    3. Combination of both two (Pass one card to each other, then left, then right, then across and then hold).
    4. Everyone discard 3 cards to the center which is shuffled and dealt again. If you have already a kitty then this can be dealt with discarded cards too.

Play the Kitty

Earlier hearts were allowed to discard to play but this seems to be forbidden as everyone now plays with modern hearts in which you cannot play unless you are out of cards.

Traditionally player on the dealer’s left will have the first trick regardless of who hold 2 of clubs. You can play with this rule and also permit to play hearts.

Players do not permit this as they the first would be scoring points on the very first trick unless all the cards are penalty cards which are rare.

In Kitty, Q–Spades break Hearts. If player is holding only Q-Spades and Hearts then some players allow hearts to be played instead of Q-Spades. While some force to play Q-Spades.


Jack of diamonds is used as a bonus card subtraction ten points to the person playing it. To score all the points (shoot the moon) ♠ Q and all hearts are required. You can opt between in decreasing your 26 points or add 26 points to each player.

Some variation includes if the score is reached to exact 100 it come down to 0 (or 50).

2. Turbo Hearts

  1. It is an American variant introduced by Richard Garfield. It is similar to Chinese game Catch the Pig.
  2. Jack of Diamonds is used as a bonus card (10 points would be deducted).
  3. If anyone acquires Ten of Clubs their score would be doubled.
  4. Each player “Turbo Charges” before the first lead and after the pass of following cards: Ten of Clubs, Ace of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds or Queen of Spades.
  5. Turbo charged card (Jack of Diamonds or Queen of Spades) makes the value two times for that hand. If it is an Ace of hearts it doubles value of all hearts, Ten of Clubs would make the score four times for that hand.
  6. Players may or may not play turbo card for the first time card if a card of that suit is led.

3. Booster Nines

This variation was introduced by “Richard Garfield” in 1900. Nines are used as booster. One more round would be played of same suit if nine is played to a trick.

The highest number of specific suits of first eight cards played is led suit. If a nine is played of different suit then there will not be any boost.

Shooting the moon becomes easy as you have advantage over others with your booster nine.

4. Cancellation Hearts

This variation is played with 2 decks of 6-10 players each. The cards are spread evenly and the remaining cards forms kitty which is won by the winner of first trick. It is not mandatory player having lowest of spades will play the first trick. It is generally taken by the player ton dealer’s left who can lead any suit.

Identical Cards would cancel each other played on trick (penalty points would be counted if they are penalty cards). Trick is won by the player who has the highest card and has played card not identical to anyone.

In case the trick played in cancellation pairs, the whole trick is repeated again the same player leads again and the cards are won by the winner of current trick. If trick is not won this time, the cards would be awarded to winner of previous trick.

5. Spot Hearts

This variation has penalty points according to their face value. 2-10 have their face value, jack and hearts have 11 points each, Queen 12, King 13, Ace 14 while only Queen of spades being 25.

This is not the only scoring variation. Hearts carry 10 points each, aces carry 15 points and the spade Queen is 25.

The scoring limit is boosted up to 500 inste3ad of 100.

6. Black Maria

  1. It is a U.K variant which means Bad Lady or Bitch. It is a variation but entirely a different game.
  2. 3 players play this game instead of three. Two of clubs are removed and 51 cards are dealt equally in 17 cards each. 4 players can play this game but all of them would be dealt.
  3. Players can lead anything and there is no obligation on hearts. Points can be score in many ways:13 points for Queen of Spades,1 for each heart.Same as above with 10 for King of Spades and 7 for Ace of Spades making total 43 points.Same as Spot Hearts. Maximum 500 points as 2-10 have face values, Ace carry 15 points and Jack, Queen and Spade carry 25 points.

History of Hearts

This game was originated in Spain around mid 1700s by George Coffin who discovered Trio and Bridge Expert. The base of hearts was negative points. The variations commences in 1800s with the popularity of this game. The rules like shooting the sun, shooting the moon, playing 2 of clubs in first lead and restrictions on hearts came in the twentieth century. The game was played traditionally with no restrictions of the rules but variations of yesterday have become mandatory rules.

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