Hearts Card Game

Hearts Card Game will be familiar to many computer users as a solo game but it is much more fun when played with some friends and a deck of cards. Players try to avoid winning tricks which contain hearts, with Aces High.

Age: Adults and older children

No. of players: 3-7

Equipment: One standard deck of cards (remove the jokers)

Time: 20 minutes+

Aim: To be the player with the least number of points at the end of the game.

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(See Glossary if you are confused about any card game terms. The Glossary will open in a new window.)

1. Depending on the number of players you may need to remove some cards from the deck before you play Hearts Card Game.

    3 players - Remove the 2♠
    4 players - No cards removed
    5 players - Remove both black 2s (2♠ and 2♣)
    6 players - Remove all four 2s (2♠, 2♣, 2 and 2)
    7 players - Remove 2♠, 2♣ and 2

2. The dealer is chosen by cutting the deck. Lowest card becomes dealer. All cards are shuffled and dealt, one at a time, face down in a clockwise direction starting with the player on the dealer's left.

3. Player One (to the dealer's left) leads the first trick by putting any card from their hand face up in the middle of the table. Player Two must follow suit (if possible) but can play offsuit if necessary. Other players also play their cards to complete the trick.

4. The player with the highest card of the suit which was led wins the trick. If the trick contained any hearts, they are placed face up in front of the player who won the trick. All other cards are placed in a pile at the side of the table, ready for the next hand of Hearts Card Game.

5. The player who won the trick leads the second trick, and so on. Players must follow suit if they can, but it is good strategy to play their highest heart (e.g. A) if they offsuit (since they cannot win that trick with an offsuit card). Likewise, if you must lead a heart, make it small (e.g. 3), hoping that another player will win the trick with a larger card.

6. Once the hand is finished, each player adds up their score, depending on the number of hearts (penalty cards) in the hands they won. Each penalty card is worth one point, so you can score from zero to thirteen in each hand. Players who renege (play off suit when they should have followed suit) score ten points extra.

7. The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next hand of Hearts Card Game. Play continues for either;

    (i) a certain time period,
    (ii) an agreed number of hands, or
    (iii) until one player exceeds a certain score (say 50 points).
(Players should agree how the game will finish before the game commences.)

8. The overall winner of Hearts Card Game is the player with the lowest score at the end of the game.

Variations to Hearts Card Game:

(a) After the cards are dealt but before play starts, each player chooses a number of cards to pass to the player on their left. The number of cards passed depends on the number of players.

    3 players - 4 cards
    4 or 5 players - 3 cards
    6 or 7 players - 2 cards
Players usually choose to pass any high penalty cards but could also choose to pass other cards, especially Aces or suits with only a few cards (in order to shortsuit their hand) so they have less chance of winning tricks.

(b) A player cannot lead a heart until a player has first offsuited with a heart.

(c) Black Lady also counts the Queen of Spades (Q♠) as a penalty card worth 13 points. However, if a player wins all the penalty cards (including the Black Lady) they score zero and all other players score 26 points each.

(d) Black Bess is similar to Black Lady but with different scoring. Each card is worth its face value (e.g. 6 = 6 points) with court cards worth 10 points, the Ace worth 11 points and Black Bess (Q♠) worth fifteen points. The maximum score is 110 points per hand.

(e) Black Maria is similar to Black Lady, with A♠ (7 points), K♠ (10 points) and Q♠ "Black Maria" (13 points) as added penalty cards. It is also standard in Black Maria to exchange cards, as in variation (a) above.

Family Games Ebooks

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