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How To Play Hearts With A Variation

Updated on November 11, 2014

Hearts is a simple card game. It is a trick-taking game in which you try to avoid taking Hearts or the Queen of Spades but try to take the Ten of Diamonds. You can develop strategies, but the basic game is simple.

In order to play Hearts, you need to know the four suits, and the rank order of cards within a suit, and you need to recognize the Queen of Spades and the Ten of Diamonds.

Hearts can be played by 3 to 7 players with a standard deck of 52 playing cards.

The Rules of Hearts

Write the players names across the top of a sheet of paper which will be used to record the scores for each hand.

Choose a dealer. Each player can draw a card from the deck, and the player with the highest card becomes the first dealer.


The dealer shuffles the cards, and deals them one at a time clockwise around the table beginning with the first player to the left. Keep dealing until each player has the same number of cards and there are not enough cards left to deal around the table. Any “leftover cards” are placed in a face-up pile at the center of the table. (When four people play, there are no “leftover cards”.)


Then comes the pass. A series of three passes can be used for any number of players.

For the first hand, each player passes three cards to the player to the right. For the second hand, each player passes three cards to the player to the left. For the third hand, no cards are passed. Then for the fourth hand, the series starts again.

You cannot look at the cards passed to you until you have passed your cards.


Each hand in a game of Hearts is played as a series of tricks. A trick contains one card from each player.

When a player plays the first card to a trick, that p;ayer “leads” to the trick. That first card is called the “lead” card.

For the first trick in a hand, the player with the Two of Clubs leads with that card If the Two of Clubs is in the “leftover cards” from the deal, then the first player to the left of the dealer holding Clubs leads with her or his lowest Club.

For subsequent tricks, the player who wins a trick leads to the next trick. The player cannot lead with a Heart unless a Heart has been played in a previous trick, or he or she only has Hearts to play.

After a card has been lead to a trick, the other players each play a card. The players play in turn moving clockwise around the table beginning with the player to the left of the lead player. Each plays a card with the same suit as the first card lead if she or he can. Otherwise any card can be played.

The trick is won by the player who plays the highest card of the suit that was lead. That player collects the cards in the trick, places them on his or her trick pile, and starts the next trick.

(The winner of the first trick also takes any “leftover cards” from the deal and places it on her or his trick pile.)


At the end of each hand, each player counts the number of Hearts he or she taken in tricks, adding that number to any previous score. The player who took the Queen of Spades adds 13 points to their score, and the player who took the Ten of Diamonds subtracts 10 points from their score.

But if a player has taken all 13 Hearts and the Queen of Spades, that player “Shoots the Moon” and subtracts 26 points from any previous score instead of adding points.

Next Hand

If nobody has scored 100 points or more at the end of a hand, the game continues. The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer. The new dealer collects all of the cards, shuffles them, and deals the next hand.


If someone has scored 100 points or more at the end of a hand, the player with the lowest score wins the game.


There are many variations already in Hearts. The “Pass”, using the “Two of Clubs” as the first card in a hand, scoring for the “Queen of Clubs” and the “Ten of Diamonds”, and “Shoot the Moon” are all variations to game of Hearts.

How about a new variation to simplify scoring?

At the end of a hand, match your Hearts and Diamonds by card rank, the Four of Hearts and the Four of Diamonds for instance. And match the Queen of Spades and the Queen of Clubs if you can. Any such matching pairs in your tricks are discarded before you calculate your score. This variation will improve your score.

And Hearts is still a simple game.


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    • pchoemke8 profile image

      pchoemke8 3 years ago from Minnesota

      When you play Hearts with three or more players, you don't know what cards your opponents hold in their hands. This is true even with three players. But it's hard to create a two-player Hearts game where you don't have a good idea of what cards your opponent is holding. I looked at several possibilities, and the one I liked best was 'Huse Hearts for Two' on It is specifically located at ''. You play with three hands, one hand for each of the two players, and one face-up dummy hand. Four cards are placed unseen in a blind which the player who takes the first penalty card in a trick 'wins'. Those four cards help make the held cards unknown. Try it.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 3 years ago from Cape Cod

      Well you got me with your card games. Although I have had a computer since the days of the TI 99, I still play a lot of cards. A friend and I play Honeymoon Whist a few days a week. She never tires of the game and neither do I. Although it is our favorite pasteboard game there are others we like. Hearts is a great game, but since there are just two of us....we cannot play it. I know that you have invented a few games, do you think you could modify hearts so that it could be played by two? Keep on writing.