I was first introduced to the card game Hearts in college. We had a couple friends that we played the game with for hours. We recently introduced the game to our kids. At first, they were a little confused, but they quickly caught on and now ask to play all the time.

What you need:

First, you need four players to play. You also need a standard deck of cards with the jokers removed. You will also need a paper and pencil to keep track of the score.

The Objective of the Game:

To get as few points as possible.


To start, deal all of the cards out to the four players. Each player will get 13 cards.


In the game of Hearts, the players get the opportunity to pass cards that they don’t want to their opponents. This is accomplished in three ways. For the first play, each player chooses three cards from their hands and passes it to the player on their left. You then take the cards that are passed to you and have to add them to your hand. 

Passing cards that you don't want makes Hearts interesting
For the first hand, choose three cards that oy don’t want to pass to the player on your left.

The second hand, players choose three cards to pass to the player on their right. You then take the cards passed to you and add them to your hand.

For the third hand, you pass three cards to the player sitting across the table from you.

For the fourth hand, you have to keep all of the cards you were dealt.

The pattern of passing starts over again with passing left, then right, then across and no passing throughout the game.

Other players pass you cards that they don't want
You have to accept what cards are passed to you.


Once all of the passing has been done, the player with the 2 of clubs starts the play. The player on her left then plays a card. She has to follow suit if possible. The third and fourth players do the same. The player with the highest card played wins the trick and gets to start the next round. There is a special rule for the first hand: you can’t play a heart or the Queen of Spades. Aces are the highest card in each suit.

The clubs of two is the starting club of the first round.
The player with the 2 of clubs starts the first round.

The player who won the first trick then chooses a card to play. Next, the player on his left then must play a card according to suit if possible. If that player doesn’t have a card in the same suit, then she can play any other card she would like. Play continues to all layers have played a card. The highest card in the original suit wins the trick.

High card of the original suit wins the trick.
The Ace is the top card and the player on the right takes the trick and gets to start the next round.

For example:
First player: 8 of spades.
Second player: King of Diamonds.
Third player: Jack of spades.
Fourth player: 6 of spades.
The winner is Player 3 and gets to start the next hand.

Suits must be followed unless a player doesn't have any then she is free to play any card.
If a player doesn’t have the suit that is played first, then she can play any other card she has.

Breaking Hearts:

When a player plays a heart for the first time, it is called Breaking Hearts. Until hearts are broken, you can not lead a hand with any heart. The exception to this is if it is your turn to lead and all you have are hearts. Each heart that you win will give you one point. remember, you want to get as few points as possible.

A heart has to be played on a different suit before hearts can be lead with.
Hearts are broken when a player plays the first heart. Hearts can not be lead with until hearts are broken.
Hearts can be lead with after hearts have been broken.
Once hearts have been broken, a player can lead with hearts.

The Queen of Spades:

The Queen is very powerful. If you win her, you are adding 13 points to your score. You want to avoid winning this card.

The queen of spades is worth 13 points.
The Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.

Shooting the Moon:

If you win all the hearts and the queen of Spades, then it is said that you have shot the moon. Instead of adding 26 points to your score, 26 points is then added to all the other players scores instead. (Some people play that you have the option of taking away 26 points from your own score instead.) It is difficult to accomplish this but is very rewarding if you do so.


At the end of the rounds, count all of the hearts that you have won. Each one adds one point to your score. The Queen of Spades adds 13 points.

The bottom player has 1 point, the one on the right has one point, the one on top has 5 points and the one on the left has 19 points.


At the end of the round, the card and shuffled and re-dealt. Play beginnings again as it did in the first round.


The first player to get to 100 points loses the game. Everyone else wins. 


Hearts is a very old game and, as such, there are lots of variations. Some always pass to the left, some the player on the dealer’s left always go first. It is best to state the rules before playing with new people to avoid confusion or arguments. 


Hearts is a fun, family card game. I would say that kids need to be in upper elementary to grab the strategy of the game, although it might be possible to play with younger children. The game does take a while to play, so budget somewhere about an hour. Overall, this a great game that we love to play here at FamilyGameShelf.

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