The game of Hearts is a popular card game. Essentially a trick taking game, the objective of the game is to avoid the winning tricks which contain hearts. The advent of the game can be traced back to the 19th century. Today, Hearts is played in most countries. Furthermore, a number of variations of the game have also appeared, although the American version is the most popular.
Number of Players
The number of players in the American version of the game is four. Each of the players plays individually, although partnerships can be formed. Hearts can also be played by two up to six players. Only a single player is needed to play against the computer.
The Object of the Game
The object of the game is to avoid scoring points. When one of the players reaches or exceeds 100 points, the game ends. Then, the player with the least number of points is declared the winner.
How to Set Up the Game
The standard deck of 52 cards is used. The cards are dealt and played in a clockwise manner. All the cards are dealt between the four players, so that each player has 13 cards in hand. In other variants, sometimes, two decks of cards are used.
After the deal, the first hand requires the first player to choose three cards, and pass them to the player on the right by keeping the three cards face down. After picking up the three cards, the second player similarly passes three cards to the player on the right, and the same game play continues for the third and fourth player. The second round is identical to the first. In the third round, the players start passing the cards to the player opposite to them. In the fourth round, there are no passings of cards. This is the cycle which continues until the game ends.
Each of the cards belonging to a particular suit is ranked conventionally, that is from ace at the top to two as the lowest ranked card. However, there is no trump suit in the game of Hearts.
In the tricks which a player has won, penalty points for those cards are scored by the player. Each of the hearts scores one point while the queen of spades scores thirteen points. These cards are called point cards. If a player captures all the point cards, it’s called “shooting the moon”.
The game ends when one of the four players reaches a hundred points. The winner is the player with the least points.
The player who possesses the two of clubs has to make the first trick. The second player must play a card which belongs to the same suit, if he doesn’t have a card of the same suit, he can play any other card. Leading a trick with hearts is not legal, unless there is no card in any other suit to play. Discarding of a card belonging to the heart suit which subsequently allows hearts to be led is called Breaking Hearts. Painting the Trick on the other hand is the term used when a player discards a penalty card to a trick. Spades can be led to any trick. A number of players try leading lower spades in order to discard the queen. This tactic is called Smoking out the Queen.
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