How to play Hearts with 2 Players

By Neal - 3/7/2023

Playing card games is not only a fun way to entertain yourself in your free time. It also encourages socialization, reduces stress, and keeps the mind sharp and active.

One popular game that card players should try is the card game of Hearts. This game, usually played with four players, trains the player’s memory and critical-thinking skills. This helpful guide will teach you how to play a slightly different version of Hearts for two players.

Key Takeaways

  • Hearts is a simple card game in which participants aim to avoid taking tricks with hearts.
  • To play Hearts with two players, you’ll need to remove the 3s, 5s, 7s, 9s, jacks, and kings from the deck.
  • To win at hearts, players need to understand the importance of specific cards and keep track of which cards have been played.

What is Hearts?

Hearts is a trick-taking card game in which players try to get the lowest score possible at the end of the game. It first appeared in the US in 1880 but may be derived from the game of Reversis, which originated in Europe.

In the classic version of Hearts, four players get 13 cards from a standard 52-card deck. Once all players have their cards, they will choose three cards and pass them face down to the player to their left. Then, they will replace them with three new cards from the player to their right.

On the second deal, the players will pass three cards to the right and receive three cards from the players to their left. On the third deal, the players will pass and take cards to and from the player sitting opposite them. On the fourth deal, there is no passing.

The player with the two of clubs, or in some versions, the player to the left of the dealer, plays first. The player to their left will have to play a card of the same suit. If they do not have a card of that suit, they can play any card in their hand. The player who placed the highest card of the suit that was led wins the trick and collects all the playing cards from that round.

The winner of the trick will play first in the next round and choose what suit to lead. Players cannot lead with a heart suit until their hearts have been “broken.” Breaking hearts means a player has discarded a heart on a different suit because they did not have any cards of that suit. Once the players run out of cards, they need to count the points. A heart card counts as one point, while the queen of spades adds 13 points. Players keep playing until someone reaches or goes over 100 points. The objective of the game is to avoid getting the penalty point cards and win by having the fewest points when someone reaches 100.

How do you play Hearts with two players?

The most popular version of Hearts involves four players. However, a different number of players can play the game by making slight changes to the deck. Here is a closer look at the rules to help you understand the two-player version of the game.

Dealing the cards

To play two-player Hearts, the dealer removes the 3s, 5s, 7s, 9s, jacks, and kings from the deck. This leaves 28 cards.

The first card will be a dead card and will not be used, and then 13 cards will be dealt to each player. This will leave a single card, which the dealer will place into the dead card pile.

Starting the game

To start the game, the one holding the two of clubs will be the first player. If this card is not in either player’s hands, the one with the four of clubs goes first. If the four of clubs is also not available, the one with the six of clubs will lead, and so on.

The next player should place a card of the same suit. If they do not have a card of this suit, they can discard any card. The player who played the highest card of the suit takes the first trick. They will collect the two playing cards on the table.

Whoever wins the previous trick leads the next round. They can choose which suit to play next, which can be an advantage to avoid winning the next trick. As with a traditional game of Hearts, players cannot lead with a heart until the suit is broken.

Keeping score

The game will only end once a player reaches 100 points, so everyone should calculate player’s score after each hand.

Each player gets a penalty point for every heart they win. The player with the queen of spades gets 13 points.

However, if a player manages to get all the hearts plus the queen of spades, they get zero points, and their opponent gets 20 points. This special tactic is called Shooting the Moon.

Pro Tip

If you want to win, remember the cards you and the other players have already played. This practice can help you gauge the value of the remaining cards and plan your plays more carefully.

Helpful Tips for Beginners

If you want to be able to win matches against serious Hearts players, you need to be armed with valuable tips. Here’s what you need to know to win your first game of two-player Hearts.


You should try creating an early “void” by getting rid of all your cards of one particular suit. Doing so means that if the opposite player leads with that suit, you have a chance to get rid of your worst cards. Clubs and diamonds are good choices for creating a void since this allows you to get rid of hearts or the queen of spades.


While counting is not strictly necessary to win Hearts, your chances of winning can improve if you track the cards that have been played. You might think this is challenging but less complicated than it sounds.

You want to keep track of the cards to avoid playing into the other player’s voids. For instance, if your opponent has led clubs for the last three rounds, you should avoid leading with a club yourself. Doing so would allow your opponent to dump a penalty card on you.

Bleeding spades

You want to bleed spades as much as possible if you are not holding the queen of spades. Bleeding spades means leading with spades frequently, and it is a smart play because you can force your opponent to play the queen early and take the points. Otherwise, they can create a void in another suit and then dump it on you! However, be careful not to play the ace of spades, as you would then win the trick and collect the points if the queen is played.

Defending spades

Meanwhile, if you do have the queen of spades, you will be in danger of taking it if the other player keeps leading the suit.

Fortunately, you may be able to get rid of it by creating a void as soon as possible. You can do so by leading a suit of which you only have one or two cards. Once you get rid of those cards, you can play the queen if your opponent leads that suit.

For example, if you are dealt a hand with only two diamonds, get rid of them as soon as possible by leading them. This move will allow you to eliminate the queen of spades if your opponent leads a diamond.

Penalty cards

Since each heart scores you one point, you want to get as few hearts as possible.

If you have low hearts, you can easily dump them if your opponent leads hearts. However, you want to get rid of your high hearts as soon as possible. To do this, create a void and drop a high heart when your opponent leads that suit.

General tips

  • If you have the ace of clubs, play it on the first trick after the two of clubs has been led. This guarantees a win, which allows you to choose the next suit to lead and removes a high card.
  • Avoid leading with an ace. Remember that you want to avoid winning tricks if possible, and leading with an ace guarantees a win. However, leading with an ace may be an excellent tactic if you want to shoot the moon.
  • Remember to void suits like clubs and diamonds as soon as possible. This tactic allows you to concentrate on dumping your unwanted cards.
  • Try to keep track of which cards have already been played. Remember that the queens will be the highest card left if the aces are played. Playing them might result in you taking the trick.

FAQs on How To Play Hearts With Two Players

How is two-player Hearts different from traditional Hearts?

Players remove the 3s, 5s, 7s, 9s, jacks, and kings to play two-player Hearts. There is also no passing of cards in a two-player game. In a traditional game, players pass their cards around at the start of every round until the fourth deal. However, in a two-player match, the number of cards are different as two cards are discarded into the dead pile before the game starts. Finally, shooting the moon scores 20 points in two-player hearts rather than the usual 26. This is because six hearts have been removed from the deck.

When should you try and shoot the moon?

Shooting the moon can be a great strategy, as you score zero while your opponent scores 20. However, it is a risky play because if you fail, you could end up with a very high score. In general, you should only try to shoot the moon if you hold most of the high cards and a long suit, i.e., a suit in which you hold at least six cards. Good luck!

What are other card games for two players?

Other card games for two players include German Whist, Cribbage, Gin Rummy, and Go Fish. These two-player card games can be fun and exciting for all ages.