How to Play Hearts with 5 Players

By Neal Taparia - 3/26/2024

Hearts is a timeless card game you can play with family and friends. Boasting a rich history that spans centuries, Hearts promises an engaging and enjoyable game experience you’ll be glad you picked up.

Let us walk you through how to play 5-player Hearts.

What is Hearts?

Hearts is one of the most popular trick-taking games in the ‘80s. It’s a variation of another classic, but much older, British version called Reverse.

The game rose to global prominence with the advent of computers. By the late 20th century, every computer operating on Microsoft OS came preinstalled with a digital version of Hearts.

To this day, Hearts remains a treasured activity to spend time with loved ones.

How to Play Hearts With Five Players

A five-player Hearts game uses the same mechanics as the classic version. Aside from some rule variations in the setup, lead card, and passing rotation, everything is the same.

How to play Hearts with 5 players summary

Setting Up

The traditional four-player game uses a standard 52-card deck. One player shuffles and deals the cards facedown, with each player ending up with 13 cards in their hand.

However, to set up a five-person Hearts, you’ll need to adjust the deck so each player receives an even number of cards.

Typically, players remove the two of clubs and two of diamonds from the deck. This leaves you with 50 cards, giving players ten cards each.

Lead Card

Without the two of clubs, the player with the three of clubs will open the game. In some variations, players appoint the two of spades as the lead card.

Passing Rotation

In a five-person setup, you won’t be able to pass cards like in the 4-player game without messing up the number of cards in your hand.

So, instead of three, you’ll pass around two cards.

In the first round, the players will choose two cards to pass facedown to the person on their left. They then replace the cards with the two cards from the person to their right.

In the second round, instead of passing two cards to their left, they’ll give them to the person on their right and receive cards from their left.

By the third round, the rotation reverses again, and the players pass three cards to their left and receive cards on their right. In the fourth round, the players won’t pass any cards.

The game commences after the passing rotation.

Game Starts

The player with the three of clubs would start the opening trick. The play proceeds clockwise from the lead, and each player must follow suit unless they don’t have a card with the club suit.

In such a case, the next player can play any card except cards with the heart suit or the queen of spades.

The player who played the highest card in the suit wins the trick. They’ll collect the cards from the previous trick and lead the next with the suit of their choice except a heart.

Heart suits won’t be playable until a heart has been broken or played. A broken heart happens when one player doesn’t have the lead suit in their hand and plays a heart card.

For example, if the lead player sheds a diamond and you’re out of that suit, you can throw out a heart card to “break the hearts.” Once broken, the winner of the suits can now lead with any suit.

Suit winners can lead with the queen of spades, also called the Black Maria, anytime after the first trick.

A single round will end when every card in the players’ hands has been played.

Counting Points

After a round, each player will count the points they collected in the suits they’ve won. You go through your cards and pull up all of your hearts, including the queen of spades (if you have it).

A heart card, no matter its rank, is worth one penalty point. The queen of spades scores 13 points. All the other cards are worth zero.

So, if you have a total of five penalty cards in your collected suits, you’ll have a total of five penalty points. But if you also have the dreaded queen of spades, you’ll have 18 penalty points.

Each player keeps track of their individual score.

After recording the round’s scores, the players will reshuffle the deck and start another round. The game will end when one of the players hits the 100-point score ceiling.

The players will then sum up their total scores to decide the winner.

The Goal

In Hearts, the player with the lowest score wins. So, the goal is to avoid as many penalty cards as possible and evade the queen of spades altogether.

You’d want to lose as many tricks as possible throughout the rounds.

Alternatively, you can attempt to “Shoot the Moon” to win the game. Shooting the moon means collecting all 13 heart cards, including the Black Maria, by the end of the round.

If you successfully “Shoot the Moon,” all the other players receive 26 penalty points, increasing your chances of winning.

Pro Tips For New Heart Players

Are you new to the game? Here are some practical tips to keep your Hearts game on top!

Discard the High Spade Cards

Discard the king or ace of spades as quickly as you can. Remember, the player with the highest card in a suit wins, so you might win the Black Maria in a spades suit and lose the round.

Shed Your Highest Cards Early

Shed your worst cards early in the game. You want to avoid winning suits, so having the lowest card values is a great strategy to prevent collecting hearts once they’re playable.

Create Voids to Lose High Cards

Creating a void means losing all your cards in one particular suit. It’s an advantageous strategy as it’ll allow you to discard your worst cards once the lead player opens with your voided suit.

For instance, if the lead throws out a diamond and you no longer possess any card of that suit, you can get rid of your high cards, including the ace of hearts or queen of spades.

Final Thoughts

There you go! That’s how you play the classic Hearts game with five people. It’s practically the same game with a slight twist in the rules. You also learn how to play two players and three players.

Lounging in your living room with nothing interesting to do other than scroll through social media? Spice things up with a fun five-person Hearts game!