Hearts Card Game: Rules and Playing Guide

Hearts is a classic card game full of strategy, fun, and a bit of luck, captivating players for generations. Whether a newbie or a seasoned player refining your strategy, understanding the essential rules and techniques of Hearts can significantly enhance your game night experience. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about playing Hearts, from the basic rules to strategic tips that could help you emerge victorious.

The Basics of Hearts: Getting Started

Hearts is typically played with four players using a standard 52-card deck. The objective is to score as few points as possible, with certain cards carrying specific point values. The game unfolds over several rounds, where players aim to avoid winning tricks containing heart cards and the queen of spades, which are worth points.

Card Values and Scoring

Card Points
Any Heart 1
Queen of Spades 13

Setting Up the Game

  • Players: 4
  • Deck: Standard 52-card deck, no jokers.
  • Deal: Each player gets 13 cards.
  • Objective: Avoid scoring points.

Playing the Game

The game starts with the player holding the 2 of clubs leading the first trick. Players must follow suit if they can. If they cannot follow suit, they may play any card. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick unless a heart or the queen of spades is played, whereupon the highest heart or the queen of spades wins. The game continues clockwise until all cards have been played.

Key Rules to Remember

  1. No hearts can be led until a heart or the queen of spades has been played (this is known as “breaking hearts”).
  2. The player with the two of clubs leads the first trick.
  3. You must follow suit if able; if not, any card may be played.
  4. The player winning the trick collects it and leads the next one.

Strategies for Winning at Hearts

Winning at Hearts isn’t just about avoiding points; it’s also about control and timing. Here are a few strategies to help you stay ahead:

  • Keep track of cards. Pay attention to which high-value cards have been played, helping you decide when to play yours.
  • Control the game. Winning early tricks can give you control, allowing you to dictate when hearts get broken.
  • Shoot the Moon. Attempting to collect all point-scoring cards in a round to subtract points from your score or add them to others’ scores can be a game-changing move.


Hearts is more than just a game of chance; it’s a test of strategy, psychology, and quick thinking. With the guidelines and strategies outlined above, you’re now equipped to join the ranks of Hearts enthusiasts around the world. Remember, practice makes perfect. So gather your friends, shuffle the deck, and start playing!

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