Guest Author - Robin Rounds Whittemore
Hearts is best played with four people. One deck of cards with no Jokers is used as everyone will be getting thirteen cards in every deal.
A dealer is chosen at random and thirteen cards are dealt face down to each player. Once all cards are dealt, the players look at the cards in their hand and arranges them however they would like. Arranging them in descending order in suits is most common; but each player can decide for themselves.
Each player picks three cards out of their hand to pass to the player on the left. Again, some rearranging of the cards in players' hands is called for. This practice continues for three rounds. Every fourth and eighth rounds everyone keeps the cards they were dealt.
The person with the two of clubs always starts the play and play continues to the left. This is the start of the trick taking. Whoever has the highest card takes the pile. Aces are high and two's are low.
Rules forbid the playing of a heart as a lead card for any game. Heart cards have to wait until someone breaks hearts, or there are no other suits in a players hand. This usually does not happen; but it is always possible for someone to be dealt thirteen hearts.
Should a heart or the Queen of Spades be played on any trick, the person with the highest non-heart takes the whole pile. Should only hearts and the Queen of Spades be played in one trick, the unlucky person who takes the whole four cards is the one who played the highest heart card.
You do not want to be stuck with many hearts and especially not the Queen of Spades. Since the object is to have the lowest score at the end of the game, you hope to avoid hearts and the Queen of Spades in every hand.
When all thirteen tricks have been played, to add up the total points, each heart taken is worth one point. The Queen of Spades is worth thirteen points all by herself. If someone has taken all thirteen hearts as well as the Queen of Spades, they have Shot The Moon. This is a good play as all of the other players will have to add 26 to their score.
The game is played until someone reaches a total of 100 points. The person with the lowest score wins the game.