Black Maria (Britain)
Black Maria is the British version of the game hearts. It also goes by the names Black Lady, Dirty Lady, Black Widow, Slippery Anne, and Slippery Bitch. The objective of Black Maria is to get rid of your cards without capturing the queen of spades (the Black Maria) or any hearts. The game is typically played with three players, although it can be played with anywhere from three to seven people. You'll need a standard deck of fifty-two cards to play. For three players, remove the 2.
Dealing the Hand
Black Maria opens with a random dealer being selected. When it's your turn to deal, deal out the entire deck, one a time, face down to the players and yourself. If there are three players, you will each receive seventeen cards. If you're playing a game with four players, you will each receive thirteen cards. Five players will receive ten cards each. Six players will receive eight cards each. Seven players will receive seven cards each. Deal will alternate clockwise with each hand played.
Playing the Tricks
Play begins with the players exchanging cards. With three or four players, you each select three cards from your hand. With five or more players, you each select two cards from your hand. You then pass those cards to the player on your right, meaning you receive the cards from the player on your left. The player to the dealer's left leads the first trick and may play any one card from his hand, including a heart. Play continues clockwise around the table. When it's your turn, you must follow suit if you're able by playing one card from your hand in the suit led. If you cannot follow suit, you must play another card from your hand. The player with the highest card in the suit led wins the trick and leads the next one. Your goal at this time is to avoid taking a trick with hearts or with the Black Maria. When all of the cards have been played, the hand is over.
Each heart is worth one point, and the Black Maria is worth thirteen points. The exception to this is if you collect all of the hearts and the Black Maria in your hand. Then you score zero points, and your opponents each score twenty-six points. When a player reaches fifty points, the game is over and the player with the lowest score wins.
One scoring variation includes adding ten points for the K. Another variation counts each heart at its face value (with face cards worth ten points each and the ace worth fifteen), and the Black Maria is worth twenty-five points.