I'm here to teach you how to play, and give you some of the tricks/knowledge that I have gained, which won't be enormous, but you should trash around any casual Hearts player (if that is useful in anyway).
+ Show Spoiler [Basics] +
Simple game really
Use a deck of 52 playing cards (2-Ace, no jokers)
The object of the game is to take as few points as possible. In a game of 4 players, after the first person gets to 100 points, the game ends, and the person with the least points wins.
The two is the lowest card, and the Ace is the highest.
In a normal game of 4 players, everybody will get 13 cards. As you gain players, you won't be able to deal out the cards evenly, so there are two ways to solve it.
1. You can take out the lower cards of a suit like what Wikipedia says (2 clubs, 2 diamond being the first to go)
2. You can create a "dummy" which is just the leftover cards that didn't get dealed. The person who takes the first point gets the dummy.
Personally, I find option 1 to be stale and boring. Option 2 is more dynamic, and though there is some luck, it also adds much more strategy to the game, and alters the way the game is played by quite a bit.
After dealing, you are usually allowed to pass 3 cards to another player. In a 4 player game you generally pass to the left first, then to the right, then across, and then on the fourth round, you keep all of your cards (Hold 'em Round). After that it resets back to Left. So, it's:
There are 4 suits, Hearts, Spades, Clubs, and Diamonds.
Every heart you get is 1 point. You generally want to avoid them. Spades, Clubs, and Diamonds are generally worth 0 points. The only exception is the Queen of Spades (or the Black Lady) which is a whopping 13 points.
You generally have to stay in suit (IE, if the first person to play plays a spade, you have to play a spade). However, there are exceptions. If you do not have the suit that is played, then you can "cut", or play a card that is not in that suit. When you cut, you have absolutely NO chance of taking the cards. So in a scenario where the first player plays the 3 of Diamonds, and you play the Ace of Spades, you will not take the cards.
Whoever plays the highest on-suit card gains "control". Control means you are the first to play. You can play any suit you want, except Hearts. In order to play Hearts, Hearts must be broken. Hearts are broken when a person "cuts" a heart.
Generally, in the game, the person with the 2 of Clubs starts the game, and must play the 2. On the first round, nobody is allowed to cut any card with points. So if you have no clubs, and have hearts or the Queen of Spades (QoS), you are not allowed to play hearts or the QoS.
Whoever takes control then starts off the next round with any suit of his choice (except hearts, which as you remember has to be cut).
+ Show Spoiler [Strategy] +
Now, here are some basic strategies for once you have read the above.
D = Diamond
S = Spade
H = Heart
C = Club
A = Ace
K = King
Q = Queen
J = Jack
AoD = Ace of Diamonds
3oH = 3 of Hearts etc
Now, assuming a game of 4 players, you will have a hand of 13 cards. If this is the first game, you are allowed to pass three cards to the left. Now generally, High cards are bad, and low cards are good. There are some basic passing rules which for the most part hold true.
1. Never pass a S that is lower than the QoS
2. Always pass the QoS if you do not have more than 3 S
3. Always pass the AoS and KoS if you do not have more than 2 S, and do not have the QoS
4. Never pass 3 royals IE A,K,Q,J (and under some circumstances, the ten) of any same suit. (Especially the Hearts. Spades can sometimes be ok.)
There are also some tips:
1. You can try to get rid of a suit. (IE have none of them in your hand). Generally the most popular suit to get rid of is Clubs, and then Diamonds, then Hearts, and if you are a gambler, Spades.
2. Pass high cards
3. Don't pass high cards in that suit, if you have many low cards in that suit. Eg (you have AoD, KoD, and 6oD, 8oD, 2oD)
The cards you pass, and the cards you receive are a very important part of the game and your strategy. If you succeed in getting rid of a suit, you want that suit to be played as much as possible so you can get rid of your high cards.
CONTROL and PLAYING CARDS
Control is one of the most important pieces of Hearts. The person who is in control is generally at the disadvantage, while the person who plays last has the advantage. The person in control generally tries to lose control as quickly as possible in order to minimize the chances of having the QoS cut onto him.
Losing control is generally done by playing the low cards of Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds. Usually Clubs are unsafe, as many people attempt to get rid of their Clubs in fear of taking control at the end of the game with Clubs, which mens
If you do not have control, you generally will not take points.
Now with playing cards. As you know, the person who plays the highest card takes all the cards. What is very important is the card you play (of course). Playing the wrong card could fuck you over big time.
1. Play the highest card you can play without taking control
2. Once you take control, play a suit that has not been played very much.
3. Play Spades to "bait" the QoS (more on this later)
4. Play very low Clubs (very low)
5. If you must take the cards, play the highest card you can.
If you do not have the suit that is currently in play, you can get rid card you want (providing that it isn't the first round). Generally the order of getting rid of cards is as follows:
Q of Spades -> AK of Spades -> KQJ of Hearts (after this point it becomes reliant on what you have. If you have lots of low clubs, don't bother getting rid of the high clubs. Same holds true for diamonds.)
Why you ask, are the A K and Q of spades so dangerous? Because the Queen is 13 points, and the A,K are the cards most likely to be taking that Queen. Getting rid of the Queen is paramount to your success. "Baiting" the Queen refers to the players who do not have the Queen playing the Spades from 2 to Jack in hopes of forcing the person who has the queen to take the cards, and the 13 points. There is also the chance that the person with the A and K will take the Queen.
More questions about play order? Scroll down!
+ Show Spoiler [HEARTS] +
Hearts are the suit that give points and may not be played until broken by a cut. They also give this game its name, and Hearts are a dangerous group of cards that may save your life, or completely fuck you over.
Before, I mentioned that you should get rid of the KQJ of hearts ASAP, and I told you not to pass 3 Heart Royals. I will explain why now.
The KQJ of hearts almost guarantee that you will take the points if Hearts are played, which is why you should cut it away. As will the Ace, but the Ace serves a higher purpose. It is one of the most feared and coveted cards.
In Hearts, there exists a dangerous strategy that is so bold it defies logic. If a person takes all 26 points everybody else in the game gets 26 points. So if he takes ALL 13 hearts and the queen of spades, he takes ZERO points, and everybody ELSE takes 26. It is called Shooting the Moon, and it is what the Ace of Hearts is designed to stop (or aid!). The Ace of Hearts guarantees that the shooter will fail if he plays hearts. The Ace of Hearts should only be disposed of once two people have points, if you can take the points, or if you are able to give it to another person through cutting.
If you pass 3 heart royals, there is a chance that he may be planning to Shoot the Moon, which would be troublesome indeed.
Now away from the royals, and to the digits. The hearts from 2-4 are generally considered very safe cards. 5 and 6, though not as safe as 2-4 are generally also safe. Why are the 2-4 very safe? Because if you play the 4, the 3, and the 2 may be played, but there is a high chance of somebody else playing a higher card IE the 5 or 6. The 5 and 6 while being safe, stand a chance of taking the 2-4. However, once the 2-4 are played out, the 5 and 6 become safe.
The 8-10 or J hearts are not safe at all. By the time they become safe, it is generally already too late.
When passing, you generally want to pass 1 or 2 royals, and then either pass a different suit or a low heart (5-7).
People generally don't give away their Hearts in order to clear a suit simply because Hearts are played too late in order for successful cuts.
+ Show Spoiler [SPADES] +
Spades are a much more mellow suit than Hearts. They are the safest suit, and probably one of the most played suits. Though it is a more mellow suit than Hearts, the Spades possess possibly the most dangerous cards in the game. The AKQ of Spades.
Spades are safe for one reason: If you play a card lower than the Queen you cannot get the Queen. This cannot be said for any other suit. If you want to be safe, play Spades. Spades are also the most important suit to have. If you have 3 Spades and you pass them away, then somebody passes you the A, K, or Q, you are generally fucked. You should almost always keep your Spades. When you have low spades, a common strategy is to bait the queen. Generally, due to mutual fear, other players will also bait the queen until it is played, or until the low spades are played out.
Now on the flipside, you can be an ambitious player. You can get rid of your spades. Now, anybody would balk at this strategy, but as it is, getting rid of Spades is generally the most effective way to get rid of your cards because other people play Spades to be safe. However, it's like a proxy bbs vs zerg. If it fails you lose.
Players shooting the moon will generally have the A or K, and then play it and claim that it's their spade in order to take the Q. Don't get paranoid though.
+ Show Spoiler [CLUBS] +
Every game is started with clubs, and clubs are generally a dangerous suit to play. People don't like clubs, and Clubs are almost always the suit that people will try to get rid of. So beware when you are trying to get rid of clubs. There are a lot of dirty tricks one can use with clubs. I love clubs.
When passing clubs, there are two goals. One is to get rid of clubs. The other is to severely fuck up the other guy. By fuck up, I mean a very specific fuck up. I mean you give that guy the 2oC and the AoC (KoC if possible). Seems harmless until you realize what it means. 2 is always played first, and most of the club royals are usually dumped on the first turn. So having that Ace means you will take control. On top of that, people get rid of clubs, so if you play the Ace, there is a decent chance you will get the Queen or hearts. The King just adds to the injury.
That's not all you can do with clubs. If you have a lot of low clubs, don't pass them away. If you take control, you should play low clubs ie the 3 and the 4 (5 is dangerous). This gives the person with the queen the chance to dump it on other people.
Having a lot of mid-high clubs in the late game generally means you are fucked. If you take control you are not losing control. Keep that in mind when you play clubs. They are dangerous to both you and the other players.
+ Show Spoiler [DIAMONDS] +
Yeah, diamonds get no love. None of them are for points, no huge point card, and unlike the clubs, there aren't many dirty tricks to be played with them. So why are diamonds awesome?
Well, if you need to lose control earlier in the game, diamonds are the best after Spades. People with the QoS, are usually afraid of playing Spades and will play diamonds to avoid spades. What it also means for you is that you can generally void diamonds reliably. Other than that, diamonds serve little purpose. There are variations where diamonds are good though. More on that later.
+ Show Spoiler [Advanced Strategy] +
+ Show Spoiler [The Queen of Spades] +
Yes, the queen deserves her own article because of what she represents. She is the pinnacle of safety, and also your destruction.
Why is having the queen in your hand very reassuring? It means you can play pretty much any card in your hand without penalty. AoD? NP, AoC? NP. You fear nothing. However, if you do not have enough Spades to weather the bait, she will be your curse.
Here are some tips on her use.
1. If you have the Queen, you must have at least 3 Spades
2. Do not pass the AK. They serve as Spades.
3. Get rid of a suit other than Spades.
4. If you have enough spades, bait yourself.
5. If you pass her, remember who has it.
Having the queen makes others fear you.
+ Show Spoiler [Counting Cards] +
Hey look we can count cards in Hearts as well!
Hearts is full of simple math.
13 cards/ person means on average 3 of each suit and 4 of another. Once a non spade suit has gone around twice, that suit is dangerous. You can exploit that danger by playing an absurdly low card like a 3oC and 2oD. That pretty much guarantees that you won't take it, and since it is the 3rd round of that suit, there is a high chance that there will be a cut.
You can even do teamwork. Discuss stuff with the dude that has the queen. He has no clubs. You have very low clubs. You play very low clubs, some other dude plays a higher club, other dude is fucked.
It can also be used to great affect when shooting the moon. 4 rounds of Hearts bleeds almost all hearts dry, so you need 4 decently high hearts in general. You can also keep track of some of the cards that have been played. (ie the important ones. If you have a 5oH, then you want to watch out for the 2oH, 3oH and 4oH.)
+ Show Spoiler [Shooting the Moon] +
Shooting the Moon defies all common sense. When you are shooting the moon, you generally want high cards. This section will explain how you go about shooting the moon.
There are many ways to shoot the moon. I will go over 3.
2. High Cards
3. Suit Dominance
This is easily the most common way of shooting the moon. The point of this is to gain control, and then play your highest hearts. This is also very card dependent. You must at least have AKQ. Jack and a card from 8-10 is also helpful. Without the AoH you will fail. Any educated player will keep the Ace until it is safe to cut it away.
What this leaves is the problem of getting the Queen. The most reliable way is to have the AoS or KoS. They are essentially a guaranteed QoS.
When playing this way, do not fear the low hearts that you may have. Players have on average 4 hearts. the AKQJ and mid heart takes care of those. If you pass low hearts, it is a dead giveaway that you are shooting the moon.
Stopping this moonshot is best done before the person is able to connect his chain of hearts. You must be able to identify the person who is shooting. Chances are he doesn't have A-10. So what you need to do is keep every single heart. Do not cut hearts, they will serve as a barrier so that when he plays his low heart, you can take it.
Another way to stop him is to take the queen. I recommend against this because then you will take 13. That is terrible, and will probably set you back quite a bit.
2. High Cards
This is also card dependent, but not as much as hearts. You can afford to have holes in your cards, but what you should have are a healthy assortment of Aces (AoH and KoH recommended) royals. This is also straightforward. Take control when the time is right IE when the cards higher than your own are played out, and go for it. This type of shooting is unreliable, and I generally recommend against it.
Simple to stop. Keep some high cards when it is obvious he is shooting. Queens and Jacks will be instrumental. Do not cut them away (Except the QoS).
3. Suit Domination
This is my favorite way to shoot. This way involves having the high cards of a single suit, along with support cards. Heart shooting can be considered part of this. The goal here is to dominate a suit (clubs are preferred here) and simply run down with them. You will also need support in the form of high cards, but you won't need nearly as many.
In order to stop this way, you need to avoid playing his suit, and attempt to keep control from him. This is generally hard because he will have backup cards.
Shooting: Mind games
Aside from just make others take 26 points, shooting has an effect on the mind. Whenever the other person passes you, he will remember that you shot the moon, and he will generally pass you lower cards in fear of another shoot. Generally this is more common with newbies because people who are more experienced will not fear it as much unless you shoot like twice in a row.
When you attempt to shoot the moon, you must realize that at the point where they recognize that you are shooting, it is no longer a FFA. It is 3v1. With you being the 1. Nobody wants you to shoot the moon, so you must watch out for teamplay. Generally people will take 2 or 3 "for the team" in order to keep somebody from shooting.
+ Show Spoiler [Play Order] +
Hearts is positionally imbalanced. Generally the person who starts has the disadvantage and the person who finishes has the advantage, but not only that.
Hearts is generally played in a clockwise fashion. The most painful situation is when the person who has the queen will always play after you unless he starts the round. Which is why I recommend against passing the queen to the left unless it is an extreme circumstance.
Chances are he will fuck you over.
That's it for now. I might add to it later because I haven't really added everything.