How to Play Hearts: A Beginner’s Guide

Hearts is a classic card game that has been enjoyed by players for decades. It’s a trick-taking game where the objective is to avoid getting points, with the ultimate goal being to have the lowest score at the end of the game. While the game may seem simple on the surface, it requires strategy and careful planning to win.

If you’re new to Hearts, you may feel overwhelmed by the rules and gameplay. But don’t worry, this beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started and play like a pro. From understanding the objective to learning the basic rules, passing cards, and playing tricks, we’ll cover it all. So grab a deck of cards, shuffle them up, and let’s dive into the world of Hearts!


Hearts is a classic card game that has been around for decades and remains popular today. It is typically played with four players, although it can be adapted for three or five players as well. The objective of the game is to have the lowest score at the end of play, which involves multiple hands and strategies to avoid accumulating points.

One of the reasons why Hearts is so beloved is because it requires both skill and luck, making it accessible to players of all levels. Understanding the basic rules of the game is relatively easy, but developing a winning strategy takes time and practice.

In this beginner’s guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know to get started playing Hearts. You will learn the objective of the game, the basic rules, and some tips for improving your gameplay. By the end of this guide, you will be ready to gather some friends and enjoy a lively game of Hearts. So, let’s get started!

Objective of Hearts

Basic Rules

Basic Rules

When playing Hearts, it is important to understand the basic rules of the game. Hearts is a trick-taking game that involves four players and a standard deck of 52 cards. The objective is to avoid taking penalty cards, which are the hearts and the Queen of Spades.

At the beginning of each hand, the cards are shuffled and dealt out one at a time to each player until all cards have been distributed. Each player will receive 13 cards. The player with the Two of Clubs starts the first trick, and each player must follow suit if possible. If a player cannot follow suit, they can play any card. The player who played the highest-ranked card of the original suit or the highest-ranked card of any suit when a penalty card has been played, wins the trick.

In Hearts, the first trick of each hand cannot contain any penalty cards. This means that players cannot play any hearts or the Queen of Spades in the first trick. The player who wins the trick leads the next one, and the process repeats until all 13 tricks have been played.

At the end of each hand, players receive penalty points for every heart and the Queen of Spades that they have taken. The goal is to have the lowest score possible, so players must try to avoid taking these cards throughout the game. The player with the fewest penalty points at the end of the game is the winner.

Understanding the basic rules of Hearts is crucial to playing the game successfully. By following these simple guidelines, players can enjoy this entertaining card game and put their skills to the test.



In Hearts, the objective is to have the lowest score at the end of the game. The scoring system is simple but can be confusing for beginners.

At the end of each hand, players count their points based on the cards they’ve collected during tricks. Each heart card counts as one point, while the queen of spades counts as 13 points.

If a player collects all 13 hearts and the queen of spades, they shoot the moon and get a score of zero while their opponents get 26 points. However, this move is risky and requires a strong strategy.

It’s important to keep track of the scores throughout the game to ensure that you’re not falling behind. The first player to reach or exceed 100 points loses the game. So, it’s essential to play wisely and aim to collect fewer points.

To make scoring easier, many players use a scorecard to keep track of their points. You can create a simple scorecard using pen and paper or find a printable version online.

In summary, understanding the scoring system is crucial in playing Hearts effectively. Keep track of your points throughout the game, aim to collect fewer points, and consider shooting the moon if you have a solid strategy. With practice and patience, you’ll master the art of Hearts and enjoy this classic card game with your friends and family.


Dealing the Cards

When it comes to playing Hearts, the first step is dealing the cards. This step sets up the game and determines each player’s starting hand. In this section, we’ll discuss how to properly deal the cards in Hearts.

The first thing to do is shuffle the deck. Shuffle thoroughly to ensure that the cards are randomly distributed throughout the deck. This will prevent any cheating or card counting and ensure a fair game.

Next, the dealer should distribute the cards clockwise to each player. The number of cards dealt varies depending on the number of players:

  • For 3 players: Each player should receive 17 cards.
  • For 4 players: Each player should receive 13 cards.
  • For 5 players: Each player should receive 10 cards.

After all the cards have been dealt, the remaining cards are placed in the center of the table to form the stockpile.

It’s important for the dealer to pay attention to the order of dealing the cards. In Hearts, the first card dealt should always be the 2 of clubs. If the dealer doesn’t have the 2 of clubs, they must request it from another player before proceeding with the deal.

Once the cards have been dealt, each player should take a moment to look at their hand and plan their strategy for the game ahead. Remember that the ultimate goal of Hearts is to avoid taking any hearts or the Queen of Spades, so consider your hand carefully before making any moves.

In conclusion, dealing the cards is an essential step in setting up a game of Hearts. Shuffle the deck thoroughly, deal the appropriate number of cards, and always start with the 2 of clubs. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the game of Hearts!

Passing Cards

Passing Cards in Hearts: A Strategic Approach

Passing cards is a critical aspect of the game of Hearts. It happens at the beginning of each round, and players must choose three cards to pass to their opponents. The way you pass your cards can have a significant impact on the outcome of the game, making it crucial to have a solid strategy.

One common passing strategy is to get rid of high point cards, like Queen of Spades or Hearts. These cards can hurt your score if you end up winning them in tricks. Instead, try to hold onto low-point cards, such as twos or threes, or even non-scoring cards like clubs or diamonds.

Another approach is to attempt to create voids in particular suits. If you have many cards of one suit, consider passing all of them. This situation can allow you to avoid taking a trick with that suit altogether, giving you an advantage in the long run.

You should also consider the cards that you passed in the previous round. If you passed high scoring cards to an opponent previously, they might be more likely to return the favor this time around. Be mindful of what you’ve given away and strategize accordingly.

It’s essential to pay attention to the players’ positions when passing cards as well. Passing to the player who is already behind can help keep them there, while passing to the leading player can slow them down. If the player right before you has a lot of points, consider passing them some high-scoring cards to increase their chances of taking unwanted points.

In conclusion, passing cards in Hearts is a critical strategic decision that can influence the outcome of the game. By keeping track of your cards, considering your opponents’ positions, and implementing sound strategies, you’ll increase your odds of success.

Playing Tricks

Playing Tricks is a crucial part of Hearts gameplay. Tricks refer to a round of card play where each player lays down one card, and the winner of the trick is determined by the highest-ranking card played. In Hearts, the objective is to win as few points as possible, so winning tricks can be both beneficial and detrimental.

To win tricks in Hearts, players must have a good understanding of the game’s rules and strategy. One effective strategy is to try to get rid of high-value cards such as the Queen of Spades and hearts early on in the game. This reduces the chances of winning these cards when other players play them later on, which results in earning penalty points.

Another tactic for winning tricks is to pay close attention to the cards that have already been played. By keeping track of the cards played, players can anticipate which cards their opponents may have left and adjust their strategy accordingly. For example, if there are no more low spades left in the game, then it becomes easier to win the remaining tricks with higher ranking spade cards.

In some cases, it may be advantageous to deliberately lose a trick, such as when trying to pass off high-value cards to an opponent. This is called “sandbagging” and can be a useful strategy when done correctly.

Overall, playing tricks requires both skill and strategy. It’s important for players to understand the rules of the game and pay attention to the cards being played. By doing so, they can increase their chances of winning the game with fewer penalty points.

Shooting the Moon

Shooting the Moon

In Hearts, shooting the moon is a high-risk, high-reward strategy that can result in a massive point gain or loss. It involves trying to take all the point cards while avoiding taking any tricks. This means you must have all 13 hearts and the queen of spades in your hand by the end of the round.

While shooting the moon can be a thrilling experience, it requires careful planning and execution. Here are some strategies to help you pull off this daring move:

1. Keep Track of Cards

To shoot the moon, you need to keep track of all the cards that have been played so far. This includes the point cards as well as the cards your opponents are likely to play. Keep an eye on the cards that have been passed around during the passing phase, as this will give you a clue as to what your opponents might hold.

2. Balance Your Hand

Shooting the moon requires a specific set of cards – all 13 hearts and the queen of spades. But if you’re dealt too many hearts at the beginning of the game, you’ll find it difficult to get rid of them without taking any tricks. Try to balance your hand with a mix of high and low cards to avoid being left with a handful of hearts.

3. Wait for the Right Moment

Timing is everything when it comes to shooting the moon. You need to wait for the right moment to make your move. Ideally, you should aim to do it when you have a lead in points, as taking a lot of points in one round won’t hurt you as much. However, if you’re behind in points, shooting the moon could be a last-resort strategy to catch up.

4. Bluff Your Opponents

If you’re going for a moon shot, try to bluff your opponents into thinking you’re not interested in the point cards. This involves playing low cards in the early rounds and avoiding taking any tricks. By doing this, you’ll convince your opponents that you’re not a threat, giving you the opportunity to grab all the point cards when they least expect it.

In conclusion, shooting the moon is a risky but rewarding strategy in Hearts. With careful planning and execution, you can surprise your opponents and earn a large number of points. Just remember to keep track of the cards, balance your hand, wait for the right moment, and bluff your opponents when necessary.


In conclusion, Hearts is a classic card game that has been enjoyed by players for generations. While the gameplay may seem simple at first glance, it requires a great deal of strategy and skill to master.

By understanding the objective of the game, basic rules, and scoring system, players can begin to develop their own winning strategies. Passing cards strategically, tracking opponents’ moves, and shooting the moon are just a few examples of tactics that can be employed to gain an advantage.

Furthermore, playing Hearts can also have a positive impact on cognitive skills such as memory, concentration, and decision-making. It provides an opportunity for socialization and friendly competition, making it a great activity for families and friends to enjoy together.

Overall, whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the game, learning how to play Hearts is a fun and rewarding experience. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, players can improve their chances of winning and have a great time doing so.
In conclusion, Hearts is a fun and challenging card game that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. The game’s objective involves avoiding taking certain cards while trying to collect others. Understanding the basic rules, strategies, and scoring system is crucial to winning the game. By following the tips shared in this guide, beginners can improve their gameplay and score more points. Whether you are playing with friends or family, Hearts is a great way to spend an evening together and bond over a shared love of card games. So, grab a deck of cards, shuffle them up, and start playing!

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