Hearts is a trick-taking card game usually played by 4 players. Its origins can be traced back to the 1750’s Spain, where its ancestor named Reverse was played. In the next 100 years, various penalty cards were added to the deck, and the game slowly became known as Hearts.
Hearts gradually spread around the world and came to the United States in the 1880’s. There, it’s also known by the name Black Lady. Hearts became even more popular since it started being included with every Windows OS.
Hearts is both a trick-taking and evasion game. This means that a person with the fewest points at the end of a round wins. Hearts is played until someone scores 100 points. When that happens, the player with the least points is the winner.
Each hearts card is worth 1 point. However, Queen of spades is the most troublesome card and is worth 13 points. In the ideal scenario, your goal is to get 0 points.
However, if a player gets all of the hearts cards and Queen of spades in 1 turn, he scores 0 and all of the opponents get 26 points.
The cards are dealt face down clockwise and all players get 13 cards.
Then, it’s time to choose which 3 cards you will give to your opponent. This is the point where you pass the worst cards in your hand. Below are all good options.
In each round, you will pass your cards to a different player, with the exception of 4th in which no cards are passed.
The player who received 2 of clubs starts the game, and this is the first card he must play.
From there on, every player needs to follow suit, if that’s possible. Otherwise, any card from other suits can be discarded. The player who drops the highest card in the suit wins the trick and starts the next one. Since the trick below started with 3 of Spades, John can play only the following cards.
You can only lead with hearts once it was played on another suit. In some versions, you can’t play the queen of spades until hearts are broken. Queen of spades also cannot be played in the first pass.
Black Maria is a British variant of Hearts and is usually played with 3 players. In it, each player gets 17 cards. There are also 2 additional penalty cards: Ace (7 points) and King of Spades (10 points).
Your goal is to pass the cards with the highest value. Depending on your tactic, you can leave Black Maria for a devastating combo.
To maximize your chances of winning, you should keep in mind how many cards of each suit are played. This can be fairly easy thanks to the rule that you shouldn’t break suit.
With exception of Black Maria and hearts, you want to get rid of Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces as soon as possible. Since everyone needs to play suit, chances of scoring points in the first few tricks are minimal.
If you don’t have high cards like A, K, and Q, play spades as much as possible. This will eventually force other players to play Black Maria, and earn 13 points. If you don’t bleed spades fast, the player can dump Black Maria to you as a void is created.
However, if you have A, K, and Q of spades, you need to create voids. This is when you get rid of one or more suits to dump your problematic cards. By getting rid of clubs and hearts, I am in a position where I can easily dump Black Maria.
When the round isn’t going your way, you can still turn the tides. Shooting the moon happens when you get all of the penalty cards (Queen of spades and 13 hearts). If this is achieved, you get 0 points, while all the other players get 26. This is a very risky move, so use it only as your last resort.
Since there’s hardly a chance that you can get points on the first pass, that’s the best time to get rid of your highest club. If you don’t have clubs, get rid of other high cards in your hand.
While Hearts is commonly played with four players, there are also modified versions. See our guides on how to play Hearts with two players and three players.