Hearts

Hearts is usually a 4-player game using a 52-card deck.  The object is to be the player with the lowest score at the end of the game. When one player hits the agreed-upon score or higher, the game ends; and the player with the lowest score wins.

Deal the cards one at a time, face down, clockwise. In a four-player game, each is dealt 13 cards; in a three-player game, the 2 of diamonds should be removed, and each player gets 17 cards; in a five-player game, the 2 of diamonds and 2 of clubs should be removed so that each player will get 10 cards.

The player holding the 2 of clubs makes the opening lead. If the 2 has been removed for the three handed game, then the 3 of clubs is led.

Each player must follow suit if possible. If a player is void of the suit led, a card of any other suit may be played. However, if a player has no clubs when the first trick is led, a heart or the queen of spades cannot be played.

The highest card of the suit led wins the trick and the winner of that trick leads next. There is no trump suit. The winner of the trick collects it and places it face down. Hearts may not be led until a heart or the queen of spades has been discarded. The queen does not have to be played at the first opportunity.  The queen can be led at any time.

At the end of each hand, players count the number of hearts they have taken as well as the queen of spades, if applicable. Hearts count as one point each and the queen counts as 13 points.  The aggregate total of all scores for each hand must be a multiple of 26.

Shooting the Moon:  When a player takes all 13 hearts and the queen of spades in one hand, instead of losing 26 points, that player scores zero and each of his opponents score 26 points.

The game is usually played to 100 points (some play to 50).  The game ends when one player meets or exceeds the agreed-upon total and the player with the lowest total score wins.

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