Many card enthusiasts are familiar with the game of Hearts. It is an extremely popular trick-taking game that asks the players to keep their scores low, avoid the heart suit cards and the queen of spades as well.
To win a game, a player must have a lower overall score than all of the other players. They maintain this low score by trying to avoid winning tricks that contain hearts, because these cards are worth one point each at the end of the game. Additionally, they aim to get rid of the queen of spades should they have the chance, because this is worth thirteen points at the end of the game.
To play Hearts, it simply requires a standard deck of fifty-two cards with the jokers removed. The four players work independently to win (though there are variations for team play and even games of odd numbers also). The dealer hands out thirteen cards to each player. The players review their cards and select three to pass to the player to their left. This begins the trick.
The player holding the two of clubs is obliged to lead the trick. They lay this card on the table, and the remaining players either follow suit, or if they do not have any cards in the clubs suit they can lay any card on the table. The player with the highest card in the lead suit then takes the cards in the trick and leads the next.
If a player wants to lead a trick with a heart, they must have no other suits in their hand. This is called “breaking hearts” and is illegal otherwise. A player may use a trick to discard a heart card, which is known as “painting” the trick, and this is a totally legal maneuver.
Once all thirteen tricks have been played, it is time to add up the cards each player acquired. All hearts will be worth a single point and the queen of spades worth thirteen. Interestingly, if a very unlucky player happens to take all of the penalty cards, meaning a score of twenty-six, they get two rather wonderful options. They can either reduce their current score by twenty-six, or opt to add twenty-six points to all of the other player’s current totals.
A new hand will be played in the exact same fashion as the first, with the exception that the players begin the game by handing the three cards they have selected to the players on their right. The third hand has the players delivering the cards to the player seated across from them, and the fourth hand sees no cards passed between players. This is the pattern that is followed throughout the remainder of the game – cards are passed to the left, then right, then directly across, and then none at all.
Each hand is added up before a new one begins, and when a player reaches or exceeds a score of one hundred the game is over. Should a group decide to use one of the many variations of Hearts, the game might be made a bit more complex by alternate scoring techniques, such as awarding discounts for certain cards.