How to Play Hearts

How to Play Hearts - Joker and the Thief

Things You Need to Play Hearts

Here's what you'll need to get started:

A standard deck of cards (no Jokers):

You can use any Joker and the Thief deck! just grab the deck and remove the ad cards, the Joker card, and the Thief card. 

A pen and score sheet

You don't want to rely on your memory to keep track of points. Keep a pen and paper handy to avoid any arguments later on.

3 or 4 players:

Grab your friends, family, or even some strangers if you're feeling daring, and get ready to have some fun!

The Basics of Gameplay

The rules are straightforward, but the strategy can be complex, making it the perfect game for a fun night with friends or family.

To begin, deal 13 cards to each player if there are four players, and 17 cards to each player for three players (removing the two ♣). 

Once everyone has their cards, take a moment to assess your hand and decide which three cards you want to pass to another player. 

Typically, players pass cards to the left, but you can decide as a group which direction to pass them.

Now, it's time to start playing! 

The first to play is the person to the left of the dealer. They will play one card. From there, players must follow the suit of the card that's been led. 

If they don't have any cards of that suit, they can basically play any card they want. The player who ends up playing the highest card of the lead suit takes the trick and leads the next round.

This is where the heart cards come into play. Each heart that's taken in a trick is worth a point, and the goal is to end up with as few points as possible. 

The only non-heart card that's worth points is the Queen of Spades, which is worth a whopping 13 points on its own! 

This means that players should avoid taking hearts and especially the Queen of Spades at all costs.

But there's a catch! During play, a heart can only be led if the hearts have been "broken," which occurs when a heart is played in a trick where another suit is led. 

Once the hearts have been broken, players can start leading with heart cards, and the game becomes even more intense.

After each hand, tally up the number of points each player has accumulated and write it down. 

The game continues until one player reaches 100 points, and the player with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner!

Keeping Score

Before you start playing though, make sure you know exactly how to keep score. 

Here's how it works: after all the cards have been played, each player counts up the number of tricks they've won. 

For each heart card they have, they receive a penalty point. 

And if they have the Queen of Spades, they get 13 penalty points!

But wait, there's more! 

If a player ends up with the Jack of Diamonds, they get to subtract 10 points from their score. It's a little bonus that can make a big difference.

Now, let's talk about Shooting the Moon. 

This is a bold move that can either make or break the game. 

If a player manages to win all of the penalty cards, which are 13 hearts and the wicked Queen of Spades, they get 0 points, and all of their opponents get a whopping 26 points! 

It's a high-risk, high-reward play that can really shake things up.

And finally, the goal of the game is to have the lowest score. 

The player with the least number of points when any player reaches 50 or 100 points (or another preset score or time limit) is declared the winner. 

So keep an eye on your score and do your best to avoid those pesky penalty cards.

You’re All Set!

With all the information outlined in the article above, you’re ready to take on any Hearts game. 

Remember, it's not just about luck - strategy and careful planning are key to success. So play smart, shoot for the moon (if you're feeling brave), and most importantly, have fun!

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