Hearts is a popular and fast-paced card game for four players. In the Windows version, all three of your opponents are played by the computer.

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To start a game

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click Hearts.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. Choose cards by clicking them. To change your mind, click a selected card again.

To save a game

  • If you need to finish a game later, just exit the game, and then click Save. The next time you play, you'll be asked whether you want to continue your saved game. If so, click Yes.

To change game options

You can change player names, turn animation or sound on and off, and more.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click Hearts.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. Click the Game menu, and then click Options.

  4. Make your choices, and then click OK.

To customize the game's appearance

You can select different card decks and backgrounds.

  1. Open the Games folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type games, and then, in the list of results, click Games Explorer.

  2. Double-click Hearts.

    (Don't see it? You might need to turn on Windows Games. See Where are my games?)

  3. Click the Game menu, and then click Change Appearance.

  4. Make your choices, and then click OK.

Picture of the game Hearts
Hearts

Hearts: rules and basics

The object

To score as few points as possible.

The table

Hearts is played with a single deck of 52 cards. Your opponents (played by your computer) are West, North, and East. Each player receives 13 cards.

How to play

Players begin each hand by passing three cards to their opponent (except for every fourth hand, when no cards are passed). The player holding the two of clubs plays that card to start the first trick (game-speak for the cards played in a single round).

Players must follow with a card from the same suit. If you don't have one, you can play any card (except during the first trick, when you can't play a heart or the queen of spades).

Whoever plays the highest card takes the trick and starts the next round. In Hearts, the cards are ranked from ace (high) to two (low).

Players can start subsequent tricks with a card from any suit. The exception is hearts. You can't play a heart unless someone has played one in a previous trick. (Or, in game parlance, until hearts have been broken.)

The goal in hearts is to pass all your hearts to other players (who are also trying to pass theirs to you). The game ends when a player reaches 100 points. At that point, the player with the fewest total points wins.

Scoring

Each heart in a trick equals 1 point. The queen of spades is worth 13 points.

Hints and tips

Take tricks with high cards. If you have to take a trick, use the higher of your cards to do it. You can use the lowest card in your hand to lead the next trick. Opening with a low card will often keep other players from ducking the trick by playing a lower card. Ducking, or avoiding having to pick up cards, usually helps your opponents.

Don't pick up hearts or the queen of spades. You only want them when you are trying to shoot the moon or trying to prevent someone else from shooting the moon.

Shoot the moon. In Hearts, a player who "shoots the moon" has amassed all the available hearts and the queen of spades. Your opponents automatically earn 26 points. Your score remains unchanged.

Pass high cards. On hands that begin by passing cards to an opponent, pass aces or face cards if you can.

Count cards. Keep track of played cards—particularly the queen of spades—and whether hearts have been broken. That way, you know if an opponent might be preparing to shoot the moon.

Hold on to the ace of hearts. Almost no other card gives you so much control, especially over situations such as who shoots the moon.