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Tips and Strategies for Playing Hearts Online

December 28th, 2012 Games

On the surface, Hearts is a relatively simple card game. However, when you really start to move up to advanced play, it can prove to be a fairly complex beast. As one of the more popular games that you can play online, you may have recently found yourself bitten by the Hearts bug - it's easy to pass hours playing round after round. If you're just getting started, here are some strategies that can help you take your play to the next level.

1. The pass. Your first task is to decide which three cards to pass to your opponent. You can set yourself up for some easy hands with a good pass. There are a few fundamental rules you should consider when choosing your cards. First of all, unless you're aiming to shoot the moon, you should never pass low spades, as you'll need a buffer in case a player starts to hunt for the queen. If you are dealt the queen and have three or more lower cards in another suit, keeping it may be a wise decision, as you can likely bait a higher card out after a few tricks. Try to get rid of your clubs and diamonds so that you can easily toss out any unwanted cards, and hold on to a middling or high heart to prevent another player from successfully shooting the moon.

2. Early hands. The early game is relatively easy, as far as strategy goes. If you have the two of clubs, you must play it. However, if you don't, you should use the first hand to discard your highest club - you'll be safe from any points, since no point cards can be played in the first hand. If you should be so lucky as to not have any clubs right off the bat, go ahead and get rid of your higher spades.

3. Hunting for the queen. Usually the early game is occupied with getting the queen of spades out on the table. If a player leads with a low spade, you may find yourself hoping you can ride out the storm. You have a few strategies at this point - if you have three low spades, you may simply play along with the trick. Otherwise, take the first spade with a high card and lead with a high diamond or club. If hearts are broken, you can open with a lower heart, which may distract players long enough for you to get rid of your higher spades.

4. Avoiding the run. If you're passed a series of low cards, the player who gave them to you may be looking to shoot the moon. In order to avoid this, it's important that you and the other players hold on to at least one high heart. Avoid the temptation to play this card until at least two players have points. Otherwise, it may be up to you to stop a run by grabbing a hand of hearts with it. You'll take four points, but it's better than the 26 you'll receive for not stopping the run.

There's a certain amount of opponent analysis that can boost your plays Hearts playing success - for instance, if you've noticed a player continually trying to shoot the moon, chances are the other participants have as well, and you'll all keep a close eye on him. Conversely, more inexperienced players probably won't try it, so you can be a little less cautious of them.