Play Hearts Game Online

Hearts is a classic trick-avoidance card game that has captivated players for centuries with its simple yet challenging gameplay. The game’s rich history and evolution have given rise to numerous variations, each adding unique twists to the core mechanics. Understanding the rules, scoring system, and strategies is key to mastering this timeless game.

What is Hearts?

It is a classic trick-taking card game where players aim to avoid capturing hearts and the Queen of Spades to achieve the lowest score. Played with a standard 52-card deck by four players, it begins with a strategic phase of passing cards to opponents, setting the stage for the tricks to come.

As the game progresses, players must carefully play their cards to avoid collecting hearts and the Queen of Spades, which carry penalty points. Successful strategies involve managing one’s hand, reading opponents’ moves, and possibly shooting the moon to reverse the score.

Origins of the game

The origins can be traced back to Spain in the mid-18th century, where a game called “Four Jacks” involved avoiding tricks containing Jacks. The game evolved and made its way to the United States in the 1880s, transitioning into a no-trump game where players aimed to avoid taking any hearts in tricks. In the late 1930s, a British variant emerged, known as “Black Lady,” which introduced the Queen of Spades as a penalty card. Many modern versions of Hearts are based on this Black Lady variant.

Hearts Variations

This table outlines various variations of the Hearts game, each offering unique features such as bonus cards, limits, and team-based play.

VariationKey Features
Classic The traditional 52-card game, pure and simple.
Omnibus Introduces the Jack of Diamonds as a bonus card.
Spots Supports up to 6 participants, with numbered heart cards carrying face value points.
Teams Players team up in pairs, sharing a combined score.

How to Play Hearts?

While the underlying concept of Hearts is simple, mastering the game requires an understanding of its nuanced rules and terms. 

Dealing and Playing

The game begins with a standard 52-card deck, shuffled and dealt clockwise to each of the four players. In a typical game, each player receives 13 cards. The gameplay proceeds in a clockwise fashion, with players taking turns to play their cards.

Passing Cards

Before the action truly begins, players must engage in the crucial ritual of passing cards. In the first round, each player selects three cards from their hand and passes them face-down to the player on their left. This pattern continues, with cards being passed to the right in the second round, across the table in the third round, and no passing in the fourth round. This cycle then repeats throughout the game.

Playing Tricks

At the heart (pun intended) of Hearts lies the concept of tricks. Each round, players take turns playing one card, following suit if possible. The person who plays the highest card of the led suit wins the trick and collects all the cards played.

First Trick

The game begins with the player holding the 2 of clubs leading the first trick, during which hearts and the Queen of Spades cannot be played. This rule adds complexity, requiring players to evaluate their hands carefully and make strategic decisions from the start.

Subsequent Tricks

After the first trick, the player who won it leads the next one by playing any card they choose. The remaining players must follow suit if possible or discard any other card if they cannot. Once a heart card or the Queen of Spades has been played (known as “breaking hearts”), these penalty cards can be led in subsequent tricks.


To truly master Hearts, it’s essential to understand the lingo. Here are some key terms you’ll encounter:

  • Trick: A single round of play where each player contributes one card.
  • Breaking Hearts: The act of playing the first heart card or Queen of Spades in a hand, after which they can be led.
  • Shooting the Moon: The ultimate coup – if a player manages to win all the heart cards and the Queen of Spades in a single hand, they “shoot the moon,” earning a significant advantage.
  • Ducking: The strategic act of playing a lower card than necessary to avoid winning a trick containing penalty cards.

Scoring in Hearts

While the gameplay mechanics may seem straightforward, the scoring system adds an extra layer of complexity to the game. Let’s break it down in a way that’s easy to understand.

Quickfire Rules

Here’s a rapid-fire rundown of the scoring essentials:

  • Avoid taking tricks containing hearts or the Queen of Spades.
  • After the deal, each player must pass three cards to an opponent.
  • The player with the 2 of Clubs leads the first trick.
  • Follow suit if possible; otherwise, discard any card (except hearts or the Queen on the first trick).
  • The highest card of the led suit wins the trick.
  • At the end of each hand, count up the penalty points from the tricks you’ve won.

Scoring Essentials

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how points are tallied:

  • Each heart card in a trick you win is worth 1 penalty point.
  • The Queen of Spades is the true villain, carrying a whopping 13 penalty points.
  • If you manage to collect all the hearts and the Queen of Spades in a single hand (a feat known as “shooting the moon”), your opponents are penalized instead, each receiving 26 points, while you score a cool 0.


The ultimate goal in Hearts is to be the player with the lowest score once an agreed-upon target is reached. Typically, the game ends when the first player exceeds 100 points, but you can adjust this target based on your group’s preferences.

Customise the game to your style

One of the beauties of Hearts is its flexibility. Many online platforms offer various custom options to spice up the game or tailor it to your group’s preferences. Here are a few examples:

Shooting the Moon BonusChoose whether shooting the moon adds points to opponents’ scores or subtracts from your own.
Jack of Diamonds RuleEnable this option to receive a 10-point bonus for winning the Jack of Diamonds.
Maximum ScoreAdjust the target score for ending the game (e.g., 50, 100, or 150 points).
Passing MethodExperiment with different patterns for passing cards, such as “scatter” or “mix.”


How many players are required for this game?

The classic version is designed for four players, but some online platforms offer variations that can accommodate anywhere from two to twelve players.

Can I play online for free?

Absolutely! Many reputable online gaming platforms offer free versions.

Do I need to download any software to play?

In most cases, no download is required. Many platforms offer browser-based games that can be accessed directly from your web browser.

How do I set up a private table to play with friends?

Most online platforms provide an option to create private tables or game rooms, where you can invite your friends.

Are there chat features available during online play?

Yes, many platforms offer built-in chat functions, allowing you to communicate with your fellow players in real-time, adding to the social aspect of the game.