Hearts is a trick-taking card game for four players. The goal is to take as few points as possible. Hearts earn 1 point a piece and the queen of spades 13 points, for whomever wins the trick.
To begin a round, a standard deck of cards is shuffled and each player is dealt 13 cards.
At the start of each round, each player selects three cards from their hand to pass to another player. Who you pass to changes each round. You will first pass to the left, then across the table, then to the right, then on the fourth round you will keep all your cards. On the fifth round, the passing direction goes back to left. When passing, you must select the cards you will pass before looking at the cards passed to you.
Whoever has the two of clubs will play it — face up in the middle — to start the first trick. Play continues clockwise, with each player playing a card of the same suit that was led (always clubs on the first trick). If a player doesn't have a card of the same suit, they can play any other card in their hand. The exception is that no point cards may be played on the first trick. After everyone has played a card, the winner of the trick is the person who played the highest card in the suit that was led. Any point cards played in the trick go towards the trick winner’s score.
After the first trick, whoever won the previous trick will lead a card. Penalty cards (hearts and the queen of spades) cannot be led until hearts are broken. Hearts are broken by someone playing a penalty card in response to a lead card. Each player must play a card of the same suit that was led, unless they have none of the suit.
Play continues until all cards have been played, which is 13 tricks. Each player tallies up all their points for the round, and those scores are added to any previous rounds.
If a player wins all the penalty cards in a round — all the hearts and the queen of spades — then they have 'shot the moon,' and they take no points. Instead, all other players gain 26 points. Alternatively, the shooter can choose to subtract 26 points from their own score, while everyone else’s score remains the same.
Rounds are played until a predetermined score, usually 100 points, is reached by one or more of the players. At that point, the player with the fewest points is declared the winner of the game.