Hearts at Play Instructions

History of the Game

Hearts is found in America in the 1880s, but has its origins in 18th century Spain, where it evolved from another card game “Reverse.” Hearts gained popularity in the 1990s when PCs came loaded with it.  

When your hearts are at play - you can get hurt or you can win big if you shoot for the moon, but you’ll never know unless you play the game.  

Players and Objectives

  • 3 - 5 players
  • Objective - have the fewest points at the end of the game
  • Aces are high
  • No jokers

Winning the Game

The winner is the player with the fewest points when another player reaches 100 points or the agreed upon number of points. 100 points is standard.

Dealing and Game Play

To start, each player draws a card from the deck, and the player with the lowest card is the first dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck, and starting with the player on their left deals each player one card at a time, going clockwise, until all cards are dealt.

Deck Modifications

  • For 3 players, remove 2♣ & each player receives 17 cards
  • For 4 players, no modifications & each player receives 13 cards
  • For 5 players, remove the 2♣, 2♦ & each player receives 10 cards

The player with the 2♣ starts the round by placing it faceup (for 5 people, 3♣ starts). Going clockwise the next player plays a card that matches the suit.  If a player does not have a card in that suit, the person may play a card from another suit.  In the first round, a player cannot play any or the Q♣. A may not be the lead card until a has been played in a round, (known as “breaking hearts”) or the Q♣ has been played. The person who played the highest card in that suit wins, unless a was played.  A will always win, and the person with the highest played wins the trick.  The winner keeps that trick to determine their score at the end of the game.  The winner starts the next round.  


If a player wins all 13 s and the Q♣ the player has “shot the moon” and won the round. For this risky gameplay, the winner can choose to add 26 points to every other player’s score or subtract 26 points from their own score.  


At the end of each round, each player counts the number of points they’ve earned.

= 1 point

Q♣ = 13 points

All other cards = 0 points

It's better to have hearts at play than never to have played at all.