Hearts derives from Reverse, a Spanish game where the jack and queen of hearts scored players negative points if captured. You play individually, rather than in partnerships, and many people prefer this cut-throat style of action. The objective of hearts is for you to try to get the lowest score by avoiding taking tricks containing hearts and the queen of spades (which are worth points). This is the extreme opposite of trick-taking games because the goal is to lose tricks, not to win them. Hearts is usually played with four players using a standard pack of fifty-two cards. Aces are high, and twos are low.
Rules of Play
A random dealer is selected and deals out the entire deck, face down, one a time, to all four players. You each select three cards from your hand to pass to another player. On the first hand you simultaneously pass the three cards to the player on your left, on the second hand to the player on your right, on the third hand to the player across from you, and on the fourth hand you pass no cards. After that, the cycle is repeated.
The game begins with the player who has the 2 placing that card face up on the table. Play continues clockwise around the table. You each lay one card on the table, following suit if you are able, or playing any other card in your hand if you have none of that suit. On the first trick you may not discard a heart or the Q. The player with the highest card in the suit led collects that trick and leads the next one. You may not lead hearts on a trick unless a heart or the Q has been played on a previous trick or you have no other suit in your hand.
When choosing which cards to pass to another player, pass the ace, king, and queen of spades if you have fewer than four spades, as otherwise you might be forced to take the queen if spades are led. You should also get rid of diamonds or clubs if you have fewer than four cards in either suit. You can then get rid of hearts early on if those suits are led.
After all thirteen tricks have been played, you add up the number of hearts in the tricks you have collected — the number of tricks doesn't matter. Each heart is worth one point, and the queen of spades is worth thirteen points. If a player takes all of the hearts and the queen of spades, he “shoots the moon” and scores zero points while all other players score twenty-six points. The game ends with the first player to reach 100 points. The player with the lowest score at that time wins the game.