So the most important part of Hearts card game is the part in each hand where you play tricks. This phase makes up the main part of the game and there are some basic strategies you should follow.
First of all it’s worth mentioning (dough it should be obvious) that you should play differently when trying to shoot the moon. Here’s how you should play in a normal game…
There are some basic rules of thumb:
- In a normal game you should always try to get rid of high cards without picking up Hearts or the Queen of Spades.
- You should always use the opportunity to dump off the Queen of Spades on someone.
- You should always try to get rid of Ace and King of Spades without the risk of taking the Queen.
All of these basics seem pretty obvious, but there is some more complex considerations when deciding what to play. What suit high cards to throw away? When to break Hearts? What to lead with? How to defend against the Queen of Spades? Well, let’s start with the first question.
What suit high cards to throw away?
You should usually try to get rid of as many suits as possible, so you should probably throw away the suit that you have the least of (so you can get rid of even more cards when you run out).
That being said, there are exceptions… if you have a lot of cards of one suit, but mostly high cards, you should stop dumping them right away. This way you’ll only have a few high cards when that suit comes into play and you’ll give yourself a better chance to not pick up anything you don’t want.
When to break hearts?
Well, if you have only 2-3 hearts and one of them is T+, then you should break them as soon as possible (unless you also have the option to dump the Queen of Spades in the same trick), so you can avoid taking a trick full of Hearts.
Contrary, if you have a lot of Hearts or at least a bunch of low ones, then you don’t have to worry about breaking them. Chances are that everyone will run out before you get to the high ones.
What to lead with?
The general rule of thumb would be to lead with low cards to avoid taking tricks. However there are exceptions… you can lead with high cards, if they ware not already lead out and you also have only a few of them.
At the beginning there’s a good chance that all players still have at least one of each suit and the chances increase, if you have only a few (because there are more of them spread among other players).
How to defend against the Queen of Spades?
Besides trying to get rid of Ace and King of spades as soon as possible, or the Queen, if you are the one holding it, there are some other ways to defend against it. If you are in danger of taking it with one of the other suits (you have a lot of cards of that suit and mostly high ones), you should try to take control of the game early on and lead out with Spades.
Drawing out the Queen this way is a solid protection strategy, since you’ll have a good chance to either force someone to play the Ace or King before the player with the Queen, or you’ll directly force out the Queen.
It might seem like a lot to think about, but it really isn’t. Most of the strategy described here is just common sens and will come naturally to most people.
Enjoy playing and I hope you crush your opponents with what you learned here!