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The Hearts card game is generally played by four players, but the various versions can accommodate a minimum of three and a maximum of six players. The game is believed to have originated in America in the early 1800s. Some variations of the game, which are sometimes referred to as Hearts, include Black Lady and Black Maria. The Hearts game is a typical evasion type game and a member of the Whist family of trick-taking games. The original game of Hearts has almost entirely been superseded by Black Lady in the United States and Black Maria in Britain.

A standard 52-card pack is used to play the Hearts game. The main objective of this game is to have the lowest score possible among all the players. At the beginning of the game, a particular score is decided and when any player reaches that score, the game ends and the player with the lowest score wins. Cards are dealt face down and clockwise, one at a time. Each player is dealt 13 cards in a four-player game. But if the game has three players, the 2 of Diamonds is removed and each player is dealt 17 cards. In case of a five-player game, the 2 of Diamonds and the 2 of Clubs are removed and each player is dealt 10 cards.

Hearts Card Game Rules and Scoring

At the end of the hand, each player counts the number of Hearts and the Queen of Spades (if applicable) each player has taken.

The cards of the Hearts suit are worth 1 point each and the Queen is worth 13 points. The aggregate total should ideally be a multiple of 26. And 50 or 100 is generally the maximum points in the game. When any of the players has all the 13 Hearts plus the Queen of Spades in one hand, instead of losing by 26 points, the player gets a score of zero while 26 points are added to the score of each of his opponents.

Hearts Game Variants

  • Auction Hearts

This variant of the Heart game is generally played by four players and if the number increases to five or six, they may form a table. A commendable feature of the game is that once cards are dealt, players may bid in a sequence to declare their penalty suit. The eldest hand begins the bidding as he/she announces the number of chips he/she will pay for the privilege of naming a suit. The other players may then pass or make higher bids.

  • Black Jack

Black Jack and Black Lady are alternative names for Discard Hearts. This game, as the name suggests, introduced the process of discarding for the first time in the Hearts game. It is similar to the basic Black Lady game.

  • Cancelation Hearts

Cancelation Hearts is a variant designed for a larger number of players, typically 6 to 11. Two decks of cards are shuffled together to play this variant. A special feature of this game is that if two cards of the same value and suit are played in the same trick, they cancel each other out and neither wins. And if two such pairs appear in the same trick, the whole trick is canceled.

  • Domino Hearts

The key feature of the Domino Hearts game is that it is played with a stock. Each player is dealt 6 cards and the remaining cards are placed face down on the table as a stock. When any player fails to follow the suit, they draw a card from the stock until they can follow the suit. The last player holding the cards must pick up the remaining cards from the stock and count them with tricks won. The player with the least Hearts wins the game.

  • Joker Hearts

This game variant is known to have originated as early as 1897. One or more Jokers are added to the deck. They can be played at any time whether or not a following suit is possible. They do not win tricks or score any penalty points.

  • Partnership Hearts

This is a rather new variant that is played in partnerships. It has three variants: the partners sit opposite to each other and combine their scores; partners face each other but keep individual scores; after cards are dealt, players bid to shoot the moon by means of all tricks. If no one wins, the game is played without any partnerships, like Omnibus Hearts.

All the Hearts game versions are engaging and entertaining. You can easily learn the rules of the different variants and master all of them with regular practice.