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Hearts requires a deck of 52 standard cards.

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Hearts, The Rules

One of the nice thing about Hearts is that it is played with the standard deck of 52 cards. There are special decks made just for the game of hearts, especially children's decks, but these do not in any way materially change the game. The object in hearts is to take as few points as possible, while your opponents acquire points that will put them over 100.

Generally four players are involved in the game, though variations with three, five or even more players are frequently played. A chosen player deals out all the cards, one at a time in a clockwise manner beginning at his left and ending with himself. In the four handed game, each player should be dealt 13 cards. Subsequent deals are passed to the left.

Now, each player chooses three cards to pass to his opponent on the left. When all players have laid their cards on the table all players may pick up their cards. It is often considered permissible for an individual to pick up a pass once he himself has passed. On subsequent hands the pass will go to the right, then across the table, then each player will hold his cards and not pass any. Thus, the passing will always be, right, left, across, hold. It will also always coincide with the same player's deal.

The player holding the two of clubs leads. The game is played in a "No Trump" style. Which means that whatever suit is led is trump. Play must follow suit and goes to the left of the leader. This means that if a player leads a club, every player must play a club as long as he has one in his hand. The highest card of the suit that is led takes the trick. This means that if a 10 of clubs is led, followed by the 6 of clubs, the king of hearts and the jack of clubs, that the jack of clubs takes the trick even though the king of hearts is a higher card. This allows players to slough high hearts and even the queen of spades onto potentially insignificant cards.

Hearts are not allowed to be led until they have been broken (sloughed onto another player). This means that if a player is reduced to a couple of hearts and still holds the queen of spades and hearts have not been broken, then he must lead the queen of spades, with all the dire consequences. But if hearts is all he has left then he is allowed to lead a heart.

Points are accumulated by taking hearts or the queen of spades. Each heart card counts one point and the queen of spades counts 13 points. There are a total of potentially 26 points to be taken every hand. The object, then, is to avoid taking tricks that contain hearts or the queen of spades.

But there is a caveat. A player who takes ALL the potential points, instead of collecting 26 points for himself, gives 26 points to all the opposing players. This is called "running". Running can be rewarding, but failing by a single heart gives the running player a considerable addition to his or her score.

At the end of each hand the points are tallied. The game ends when one player or another goes over 100 points. The person with the lowest score when this happens wins the game.

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For other games:
- How to Play Quiddler
- Learn Go
- How to Play L-C-R
- Learn to play Spades!


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