Hearts is a trick taking game which first appeared around the end of the 19th century and is now popular in various forms around the world, including Australia where it is called Rickety Kate and in the United Kingdom where a variation called Black Maria is played.
All games of the Hearts Family are characterized by the objective to lose tricks, and avoid winning certain cards.
In Hearts the objective is to avoid winning tricks with hearts in them or the Queen of Spades. Hearts is typically played by four players. There are no formal partnerships. Each player plays for themselves, though there are times in the game where it is in your interests to help another player.
A standard 52-card deck. Cards rank A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 … 2
The objective is to avoid scoring points, and to do so, you avoid winning tricks.
Each Heart is worth 1 point, and the Queen of Spades, 13 points, which has done nothing for her reputation. The game ends when a player’s cumulative total goes over 100 points. And the winner is the player with the lowest score at that point.
Deal and play are clockwise, and the deal proceeds to the left. All the cards are dealt out one at a time, so that each player ends up with 13 cards.
On the first hand, each player takes three cards from their own hand and passes them, face down, to the player to the left. On the next deal, players pass to the right, and the next they pass across, and the 4th deal no cards are passed at all. And so, the cycle begines again, left, right, across, no pass.
It is important that a player first select and pass their cards before taking up and looking at the cards passed to them.
The player holding the 2 of Clubs leads first, and thereafter, the winner of the trick leads to the next.
It is against the rules to lead a Heart until a Heart has been played to a trick. Once a heart has been played to a trick, this is called “breaking hearts”, then any player after that, who has the lead, can lead a Heart.
In the case where a player only has Hearts, such a player has no choice, and may lead a Heart, even if Hearts has not yet been broken.
At the end of play, each player counts up the number of Hearts they have won in tricks, and scores 1 point for each Heart, and 13 points for the Queen of Spades.
The game continues until one player has reached 100 points, at such point, the player with the Lowest Score is declared the winner.