Hearts distinguishes itself from most other card games by emphasizing a unique objective: rather than striving for the highest score, players aim to achieve the lowest. This individual game involves four players, each playing independently. The game employs a traditional French deck comprising 52 cards, where the Ace carries the highest value and the 2 holds the lowest. The hearts game ends when someone reaches or exceeds 100 points, and whoever has the lowest score at that point is the winner.

The Objective of the Hearts Card Game

The Hearts game's score screen displaying the impact of a successful shoot the moon tactic.

The primary goal of the game is to minimize the collection of penalty points. As we know, the player who achieves the lowest score is the winner. Therefore, the objective is to avoid penalty cards, which give you points—specifically the Hearts cards, each carrying a value of 1 point, and the Queen of Spades, which incurs a hefty 13 points. An intriguing rule known as “Shooting the Moon” is also in play. This strategy involves a player's deliberate attempt to gather all the Hearts cards and the Queen of Spades. If successfully executed, the player who shoots the moon scores 0 points, while each of the other players are given 26 points, which can dramatically alter the standings.

Dealing and Playing

At the start of the Hearts game, every player receives a total of 13 cards. As the game progresses, players must exchange three cards with one player and simultaneously receive three cards from a different player again. The direction in which cards are passed varies across the first three rounds, indicated by the presence of a yellow arrow in the game. In the fourth round, no cards are exchanged, and in the fifth round, the passing direction resets. Here are the different dealing directions per round:

An early game situation in Hearts where the player with the two of clubs leads the game.

Every round begins with the player holding the 2 of Clubs playing first. The rest of the players must follow suit, unless they cannot, in which case they can play a new suit. For instance, if a player leads with a spade card, all other players must also play a spade card if they have one. The player who plays the highest-ranking card wins the trick and subsequently leads the next trick.

In order to play a Hearts card or the Queen of Spades, the following requirements must be met:

"Breaking Hearts" refers to the moment in the game when a Hearts card is first played. Once this occurs, Hearts cards can be played in all future tricks.

Hearts Strategies

To master the game of Hearts, you will need strategy and insight. There are tactics available that will allow you to outmaneuver your opponents, including making sure they accrue early points and even card counting. Let’s investigate some of these strategies in more detail: