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This is a strategy guide for Hearts. If you are interested in rules and variations please visit Alan Hoyle's Hearts page. Hearts is quite a simple game, but very popular because of the strategies involved. Why should you read this? Because you want to win, of course!

Basic Rules

The object of the game is to get the lowest points. The game is over when someone reaches or exceeds the limit. This limit is standard 100.It is always played with four, with a 52-card set. So each player gets13 cards in a round to start with. A round is over after 13 tricks. A trick always has 4 cards.
Points are given to tricks you took:

  • All hearts are 1 point
  • Queen of spades is 13 points
So the amount of points divided in a game is 26. The player with the 2 of clubs starts the round. You always have to follow the suit, unless you don't have any cards left of it. If you don't you can play any card you wish. A trick is won if you played the highest card of the suit the first player came out. So you will mostly want to play lower cards than the rest so you don't get the trick. The player who last got the trick, leads the following one.
At the end of the round everyone counts how many points they have taken. If a player got all points (26) then he "shot the moon". The 26 points isn't added to his score, but to everyone else's.

How to pass

When a new round starts, you have to pass 3 cards first to someone else. This is a very important moment. You'll want to get rid of your bad cards, especially queens, kings and ace's because with these cards you are likely to take tricks. You'll also want to pass away high hearts because when they are leaded you must be able to duck them. But the most important thing is the queen of spades. If you have like 2 spades and the queen of spades,then you are in trouble. Other players will lead spades to fish out the queen. If you don't have enough spades, you will be forced to give it to yourself. So pass her if you don't have enough spades. Also pass the king and ace of spades.
A good pass contains always a bad shooting card. This is most of the time a low hearts. If you pass a low hearts, the receiver won't be able to shoot easily. Another good thing to do is sloughing your suit so you don't have any cards left of it and when it is lead, you can play what you want.


Best way not to take tricks is ducking. It is a boring way of play,but can work fine. Ducking is always playing your highest card under the card that was played by others. So when a trick contains diamonds 10,4,7 you could play diamonds 9. This can work fine but it is a risk to get stuck with high cards near the end of the round. Eg. if you have the ace of clubs you can't get rid of it by ducking. So you'll keep it. When someone leads clubs a few times, you'll have to play it and get the risk to get the queen in that trick. 

Avoiding the queen

The best way not to get the queen is to own it. If you have a lot of spades with the queen than you can avoid the queen fishing. When everyone is out of spades and you still have the queen, they will lead another suit.Try to get rid of all suits and then play the queen.
If you don't have it, try to throw away ace and king of spades as quickly as possible. These cards win the queen easily. Also try to duck clubs and diamonds especially when a few rounds of them have been played. The person of the queen will try to get rid of clubs and diamonds and then throw it on those suits, so it is a risk. If you have high cards, take early tricks with them to get rid of them. Chances of someone dumping the queen early are small.

Getting rid of the queen

A bad thing happens when you were dealt few spades (0-3) and then someone passes the queen to you. You'll be the victim of fishing attempts. You can only hope to get rid of other suits so that you can dump the queen when someone leads such a suit. Best way to do this is not hoping other people will lead other suits than clubs. They simply won't. So take a trick and lead those suits yourself, always leading highest cards first. This way you keep taking tricks and keep leading non-spades until all are gone out of your hand. When that is done, hope for someone to lead a non-spade and dump the queen.

Getting less hearts

If you have low hearts you are unlikely to take a trick that was lead by hearts. These leads are the next most dangerous to the queen. Because they are most of the time worth 4 points. Try to have a low heart (2, 3 or 4) then a middle one (6, 7 or 8) and a high one. With these cards you can duck most heart leads. If you throw away hearts throw your highest ones. don't throw a high heart when they haven't been broken yet if you don't have low ones. Because hearts will be lead directly afterward and you'll most likely take it. If this is the situation, better do it during fishing.

Safe hands

A safe hand is one with very low cards, and no queen of spades. With this hand you can duck all the time getting no points. Be You can also have a safe hand even if you have a few aces or so, as long as you can dump those early. Beware though of having safe hands : It's likely that another player has all the high cards and will shoot. You can't stop him then.

Bad hands

You have the queen and few spades. Or you have very high cards (eg the joker,queen,king of diamonds will force you to take diamond tricks and the points in it). Or you have high hearts without low ones. Not much to explain why it is bad, you'll take many tricks and thus have higher risk to get the queen dumped on you.


Protection cards are low cards of a suit where you have high ones too.Eg if you have 5 or more hearts with 3 low ones you can duck all heart leads until no one has any anymore. So your high hearts aren't a risk for you because you are the only one with it. Best protection to have is spades when you have the queen.

Targeting hand

You have protection for spades and the queen. You also have little club sand diamonds. With this hand you can avoid fishing, slough your other suits and dump the queen easily. Consider waiting to dump it until your target (lowest player score) takes the trick.

Shooting hand

You have high hearts and other high ones. Cards that can make you take all tricks. Even with low cards you can have a shooting hand, you just need to get rid of them early. Other hands are one's with almost all cards of the same suit. You can keep leading it and taking the points in those.


Try whenever possible, especially with safe and targeting hands, to give your hearts and queen to the player with the lowest points, also called the low-man. You'll be surprised when you a are winning how much points come to you and not to anybody else. Make sure not to give points to losing players, because when they are over the limit, you lose too (Winning is the only thing that counts).
However when you are winning, you can:

  • Target the player closest to you
  • Target the loser when he is near the limit.

Targeting is always a risk. You might end up with all high cards because you wanted to target but never were able to. Sometimes you end up with the queen, perhaps leading it in the last trick...
When someone is losing and a trick might end the game you might consider taking it yourself to prevent an early end to the game.


This is by far the coolest thing you can do. You need to get all points,but not all tricks. If you are dealt bad cards you might consider to shoot,and pass good cards and hope to get more bad ones. If you have a lot of hearts then beware to have the ace of hearts. Most shooting attempts fail there. Smart people hang on to their ace to prevent shooting.
Try to get rid of your low cards early in the round, not taking any tricks. When a heart or the queen falls make sure you can take it. Best shooting is to stay low till you have all highest cards, and hoping people dump theirs early. You might lead a low card to get people to dump their high cards so that they can't stop you.
Never come out your high cards too early, or your attempt will get quickly noticed. When they know they will hold their high cards and you will fail. Make it look like an accident when you get hearts. Also don't take a queen trick with a king or leading lower spades after that.
It's likely that you get stuck with a mid-level hearts card. Make sure you get rid of it early when your shooting isn't noticed yet, by leading it. They will duck it.
Professional Shooting requires certainly that you count all cards that are played. You need to know if someone else has still a higher card then you, so that you know it is safe to play it.
There are two different shooting hands:

  • High cards of several suits
  • Many (7+) cards of 1 suit
The first one is easiest. Just get rid of the low ones until all higher cards of the others are out.
Requires some luck though, you might want the ace of clubs to fall but another player might be too scared to do it (in order not to get the queen) and mess up your attempt.
Having almost all cards of a suit is tricky. You need to get rid of other suits, and when that is done, immediately take the lead. If you can't take the lead you're in trouble. This is especially the case with 7+ hearts cards. You might have 10 hearts cards in your hand left, but when someone else leads diamonds you'll have to give him a heart.

Stopping shoots

A good way to make sure people can't shoot is:

  • Pass a low heart
  • When possible dump a heart on someone else instead of another bad card.
  • Keep a high card (especially an ace)
People are often shooting when you see them playing all low cards on high tricks. When you see them leading high cards when that suit has been played before. Also when they play high hearts (never smart). If you see that get rid of high and mid-level cards except one. Don't keep them all or you'll end up being the victim. Preferably, keep the ace of hearts when you have enough protection there.

Advised Links :
  • Alan Hoyle's Hearts Page- Basics, rules, variations, Hearts games to download an play online and Hearts links.
  • Play Hearts online for free at


    Written By Bavo Bruylandt ([email protected])for Http://