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Official Hearts Rules

The official rules for Hearts. A beginners guide to the basics of hearts. To be the player with the lowest score at the end of the game.


  • Avoid collecting penalty points by taking Hearts and the Queen of Spades in tricks throughout the game. The player with the fewest penalty points at the end wins!


1. Shuffle the deck and deal a specific number of cards face down to each player depending on the number of players (usually 13 cards for 4 players and slightly less for 3 players). These are your hands.

2. Place the remaining deck face down in the center of the table. This is the stock pile.

3. In the first round only, players pass a certain number of cards face down to the player on their left (usually 3 cards for 4 players). After the first round, there's no passing.


Passing Cards: Before the first trick, each player selects a specified number of cards from their hand to pass to another player. The direction of passing and the number of cards passed vary depending on the round:

  • In the first round, pass three cards to the player on your left.

  • In the second round, pass three cards to the player on your right.

  • In the third round, pass three cards across the table.

  • In the fourth round, don't pass any cards.

Playing the Game:

  1. The player holding the 2 of clubs leads the first trick by playing it face-up in the center of the table.

  1. Going clockwise, each player must play one card from their hand. Players must follow suit if possible, meaning they must play a card of the same suit as the card led if they have one. If they don't have a card of the led suit, they can play any card.

  2. The player who played the highest card of the led suit wins the trick and collects the cards played. They then lead the next trick by playing a card of their choice.

  3. The game continues with players playing tricks until all 13 tricks have been played.

Winning the Game

At the end of each hand, players tally their points based on the cards they've won in tricks:

  • Each Heart card is worth one point.

  • The Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.

  • A player who successfully shoots the moon (wins all Hearts and the Queen of Spades) earns zero points, and each opponent earns 26 points.

  1. Keep track of each player's score, and continue playing subsequent hands until one player reaches or exceeds the agreed-upon score limit (usually 100 points).

  2. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner.


  • Some variations allow players to discuss and choose a specific suit (other than Spades or Clubs) to be penalized throughout the game instead of Hearts. This adds a layer of strategy.

  • You can't play a card you don't have in the leading suit if you have one in your hand. You'd be forced to take a penalty point instead.

  • The game can be quite tense as players try to avoid taking Hearts and the Queen of Spades while strategically playing tricks to win them.


Remember, Hearts has a few nuances like not being able to lead with Hearts until they've been "broken" and the strategy of trying to avoid certain cards to minimize points. Once you get the hang of the basic rules, you can start exploring these strategic elements of the game. Enjoy playing Hearts!

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