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Hearts Rules – How to Play Hearts

Are you ready to master the Hearts game? Read the full hearts rules and test your knowledge.


Hearts rules

Hearts is a trick-taking card game. It is played by 4 players, each playing solo. It includes all the 52 cards of a standard deck. The cards in each suit rank from Ace (highest) to Two (lowest). There is no trump suit.

Whether you are an amateur or an expert, the information below would help you understand how to play hearts.


The goal of the game is to have the least amounts of penalty points possible. You get penalty points if you take tricks with Hearts or Queen of Spades in them. The game ends whenever a player reaches or exceeds 100 points. The player with the least amount of points is then pronounced the winner.

Dealing and Passing in Hearts

Deal and play are clockwise. Each player is dealt a card until everyone has 13 cards in his hand. The players see only their own cards.

After all the cards are dealt, the Passing phase begins. Each player picks three cards from his hand and puts them face down to pass to an opponent.

  • In the first round, the cards are passed to the player to the left.
  • In the second round, the cards are passed to the player to the right.
  • In the third round, the cards are passed to the opposing player.
  • In the fourth round, there is no passing.

This cycle continues until the end of the game.

How to play

The player who possesses the 2 of Clubs is obliged to play it first. All players must follow suit if possible. If not, they can play a card from another suit, if certain conditions are met. Whoever plays the highest ranking card that follows the suit wins the trick and leads in the next one.

However, there are certain restrictions when it comes to playing the Queen of Spades or the Hearts:

  • You can not play a Heart or a Queen of Spades on the first trick, even if you don’t have any Clubs.
  • You cannot lead a Heart, before “Breaking Hearts” occurs. This term refers to when someone that cannot follow suit plays a heart.
  • The only exception to the above rule is if the player who is leading the round has only Hearts in his hand.

The round finishes after all the 13 tricks are played.


Scoring depends on how many penalty cards each player has in the tricks he won. Each Heart gives 1 penalty point and the Queen of Spades gives 13. That means there are 26 penalty points in every round.

However if a player wins all of the penalty cards (13 hearts + the QoS), he gets 0 points and all of his three opponents get 26 points instead. That’s called Shooting the Moon.

The game ends when a player reaches 100 points. The player with the least points is the winner.

Custom Hearts Options

There are several options different people play differently. All of them can be customised in our custom rooms.

  • End Score
    • 50 – you play until someone reaches 50 points.
    • 100 (default) – you play until someone reaches 100 points.
    • 150 – you play until someone reaches 150 points.
  • Passing
    • Alternating (default) – you pass 3 cards on an alternating basis. You pass to the player on the left on the 1st round, to the player on the right on the 2nd, on the opposing player on the 3rd, and no passing occurs on the 4th round.
    • No Passing – there is no passing. You play with the hand you are dealt every round.
  • Jack of Diamonds
    • 0 points (default) – the card gives no points.
    • -10 points – whoever wins this card in a trick gets 10 points deducted from his score.
  • Shooting the Moon
    • +26 points (default) – the player who made “Shoot the Moon” will score 0 points and +26 points to his opponents. Also known as ‘Old Moon
    • -26 points – the player who made “Shoot the Moon” will score -26 points and 0 points to his opponents. Also known as ‘New Moon
Read more about Hearts terms and alternative variations in different countries. Check the styles of playing Hearts.