Basics of Hearts
Object: The object of the game of Hearts is not to pick up tricks that contain hearts in them.
Players: Anywhere from three to seven players can play this game. Four players are the ideal number and there are no partners.
Cards: Use a standard deck of 52. Depending on the number of players, the following cards need to be discarded so all players can be dealt the same number of cards:
Cards Removed Depending on Player # Players Discard
3 Players 2 Diamonds
4 Players 4 None
5 Players 2 Diamonds 2 Spades
6 Players 2 D 2 S 2 C 3 H
7 Players 2 D 2 S 2 C
Deal: Choose the first dealer by low cut. Deal the whole pack, face down, one at a time in clockwise rotation. After each hand, the deal passes to the player on the dealer's left.
Play: The player to the left of the dealer leads first. ( Variant: the opening lead is made by the player holding the 2 Clubs .) Each player after the lead must follow suit if he can. If he cannot, he may play any card he desires. Tricks are won by the highest card played of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads the next. Hearts cannot be led until hearts have been broken (a heart has been discarded on a previous trick). Obviously, if a player only has hearts in his hand, he can lead a heart even if they have not been broken. Variation: Hearts cannot be broken on the first trick. This rule takes away from strategy relating to the suit of clubs, so most players would rather avoid this variation.
Scoring: Once the hand is over, players get one penalty point for each heart card in the tricks they took. The winner of the game is the one with the fewest number of points when any player reaches the designated ending score (Most use 50 points, so when someone scores 50 points, the winner is the one with the least points.)
Misdeal: A misdeal occurs when the dealer makes a mistake of some type, either flipping over a card by accident or dealing out of order. A misdeal may be called before the first trick is completed; otherwise the deal stands. If a misdeal is called, the cards are thrown in and redealt by the next dealer.
Incorrect Hand: If a hand is found to have an incorrect number of cards after the first trick has been played, this hand must take all the cards left over in the other players hands after the last full trick is played. If two or more hands are incorrect, the excess cards go into all alike, and each faulty hand is charged with the full number of hearts in the excess cards.
Play out of turn: There is no penalty for a lead or play out of turn. However, any player who has not yet played to the trick may demand that it be retracted (which also requires any cards already played on it to be retracted). If no player demands retraction, the out-of-turn play stands. The owner of the out-of-turn play may not retract it unless properly demanded by another player.
Revoke: If a player makes an error and fails to follow the suit when he can, there is no penalty if he corrects his error before the trick is completed. If it isn't corrected, and it is discovered before the deal has been scored, the person is charged for all the hearts in that deal and no other player scores any penalty points.
Variations of the game of Hearts
Black Lady: The Q Spades is a penalty card in addition to the hearts. The hearts count 1 point each, while the Black Lady counts 13 points. Thus, the focus of play is to avoid winning the Black Lady.
Variant rule: The player holding the Q Spades must get rid of it on his first legal opportunity.
Shooting the Moon: If a player takes all thirteen hearts and the Q: (a) this player scores -26; or (b) all other players score +26.
Scoring: When nobody shoots the moon, the points taken by each player are added to their running total on a score sheet (1 point for each heart and 13 points for the Black Lady). A game ends when a player reaches 100 points or a preset time-limit. The player with the lowest score is the winner.
Spot Hearts differs only in the following scoring feature: Each heart card counts as many penalty points as its face value. The King counts 13, the Queen counts 12, and the Jack counts 11. (Almost any heart variation can be scored with the spot method.)
Passing Hearts differs only in the following features:
Passing: After the deal each player must select three cards from his hand to pass to an opponent. The cards must be selected before looking at the cards being received from an opponent. The direction of the pass alternates for each deal. The first deal is passed left. Second deal is passed right. Third deal is passed across. The fourth deal has no pass and players are stuck with what they are dealt. The next deal then restarts the loop with pass left.
Greek Hearts differs only in the following features:
Passing: After the deal each player must select three cards from his hand to pass to the player on his right. The cards must be selected before looking at the cards being passed to him.
Scoring: Hearts are scored as in Spot Hearts, except the Q Hearts counts 50 points. If one player takes all the penalty cards, he does not score that hand and instead all other players score 150 points each.
Omnibus Hearts: This variant is Black Lady with two additional rules. The 10 Diamonds is worth -10 points to the player that takes it in a trick. Variation: use the J Diamonds instead. One strength of this game is that it adds strategy to diamonds, so now all four suits are important.
If a player wins all thirteen hearts, the Q Spades, and the 10 Diamonds, he only scores -26 points. Variant: he would score -36 points.
This is a variant for six or more players. Use two standard 52-card decks shuffled together. Deal them out as far as they will go evenly. The extra cards go face down on the table. The rules are the same as in Black Lady, plus one extra rule: When identical cards (such as two 5 Clubs) fall on the same trick, they cancel each other out so that neither can win the trick. It is possible for all cards in the trick to be canceled out, making the trick unwinnable. In this case, this trick is held aside and goes to the winner of the next trick. If the last trick of the deal is cancelled out, the cards are dead and not scored.
Domino Hearts differs only in the following features:
Deal: Six cards are dealt to each player with the leftover cards placed face down in the center to form the stock.
Play: If a player cannot follow suit, he must draw cards one at a time from the stock until he can follow suit. Drawn cards of other suits remain in the hand to be played at a later time. When all the cards have been drawn from the stock, game play reverts back to that of basic Hearts.
Each player drops out when he has played all the cards in his hand. The last player in scores penalty points for hearts in his hand as well as his tricks. All others score points normally.
If a player wins a trick with his last card, the lead passes to the next player on the left.
Winner is the player with the lowest score when any player reaches 31 points.
Joker Hearts: Joker Hearts differs only in the following features: Discard the 2 heart and replace it with a Joker. The Joker ranks between the J hearts and the 10 Hearts. It is the only trump and wins any trick it is played on, regardless of the suit led, unless a higher heart appears in the trick (in which case the higher heart takes the trick).
The Joker counts 5 penalty points.