Hearts is one of the world’s most well known card games. Even if you didn’t grow up playing it, you’ve surely heard of it. An immensely fun card game, Hearts rules are exactly opposite of most trick-catching games. The object is not to catch as many tricks as you can, but as few – none at all is best!
As the name of the game implies, Hearts are the key to winning, and losing. You’ll want to catch as few Hearts as possible. But they aren’t the worst thing to capture. That title belongs to the Queen of Spades. You’ll want to avoid her like the plague!
But enough small talk… let’s get down to the rules of Hearts.
How to Play Hearts in Canada
Unlike so many popular card and board games, Hearts doesn’t have a regional variation of rules. It’s played by the same rules in Canada as it is in most other parts of the world. There are some slight variations that can be applied, like the direction of card exchanges, or the use of a Kitty to increase/decrease the number of players, but the most common rules are detailed here.
Hearts is a game played by four players, with no partnerships. A standard 52-card deck is used, with standard card ranks applied (Ace high, 2 low).
There is no trump in Hearts. The card led is the card followed, giving players ample opportunity to get rid of those dastardly Hearts and maleficent Queen of Spades.
Object of Hearts – Scoring and Winning
Hearts is scored on a penalty points basis. Each Heart captured is worth 1 penalty point. The Queen of Spades is worth 13 penalty points. There is no other way to accumulate points.
Consecutive hands are played until a player reaches 100 points, at which time the game is over. The player with the lowest score (closest to 0) is declared the winner.
Dealing and Passing Cards
A random dealer is chosen to go first. The deal, and all hand play, proceeds clockwise. All cards are dealt until each player has 13.
On the first hand, each player will look at their hand, then choose 3 cards to pass face-down to the player on their left. A player cannot look at the cards being passed to them until they have passed cards to another player.
On the second hand, players will pass cards to the player on their right, instead of their left. Then, on the third hand, cards are passed to the player across from them. This rotation repeats with every three hands played.
Playing the Game
The first player is the one who holds the 2 of clubs. This will be the first card, led to the first trick. All other players, in clockwise order, must play a club. If they do not have a club, they may play any other card they wish. The player who plays the highest club wins the trick, and will lead the next card to the second trick.
Note that a Heart cannot be led until a Heart has already been played to another trick. The only exception to this rule is if a player has nothing but Hearts left in their hand. In either instance, when the first Heart is played, it is called Breaking Hearts.
Game play proceeds until all 13 tricks are caught. Score is tallied, followed by a new hand until a player reaches a score of 100. Then the game is over, and the lowest scorer wins.
Now that you know how to play Hearts in Canada, why not learn a bit more about the game? You can continue your Hearts education on our other pages, including Hearts Strategy and Hearts History.
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