Shooting the Moon in Hearts

By Neal Taparia - 6/20/2024

Shooting the moon in Hearts

‘Shooting the moon’ in Hearts is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. The goal is to collect all thirteen Hearts and the Queen of Spades. The player who manages to shoot the moon will get zero points and all others take twenty-six. However, if a player fails to collect all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades, they will be forced to take all the points in their hand.

When playing the classic card game Hearts, shooting the moon can completely alter the game's dynamic. Putting all other players far ahead in points awards a massive advantage to the person who shot the moon. How and when should someone attempt to shoot the moon?

When Should I Try to Shoot the Moon?

Shooting the moon in Hearts is no easy feat. Only experienced players who are familiar with Hearts card game terminology should try this strategy. Attempting to shoot the moon usually requires that a player holds several high cards, including multiple high Hearts.

It isn’t necessary to have the Queen of Spades in your opening hand but it certainly helps. With skill, playing the Queen of Spades can be taken as part of a trick when another player discards her.

Alternatively, if a player is already far ahead in points and likely to lose, trying to shoot the moon can be a hail-mary attempt to turn the game around. It is possible to shoot the moon with only a few Hearts in your opening hand, but a player must have plenty of high cards in other suits.

It is critical to remember that if a player is not successful in shooting the moon, they will take a massive amount of points. Therefore, it should only be attempted when you’re reasonably sure they have the right cards and the proper strategy.

Strategies for Shooting the Moon

Because Hearts is a trick-taking game, playing the right card at the right time is crucial. Players must always follow suit unless they do not have that suit; a Heart cannot be played on Clubs if the player has any Club-suited cards. Once a player does not have any of the suits played, they may play a Heart. This is known as ‘breaking hearts.’

The goal is to have another player ‘break hearts’ on a trick that the player trying to shoot the moon then wins with a high card. Once ‘hearts are broken,’ the player can then begin leading with Hearts. Ideally, a player wants to lead with their highest Heart card, such as Ace, Kind, or Queen. This ensures all other Hearts are lower than the one led with.

Without these high-ranking Heart cards, shooting the moon becomes more difficult. Players must attempt to take all higher Heart cards by leading with high cards of another suit, hoping others must play their Hearts.

Somewhere along the way, the player must attempt to pick up the Queen of Spades. New players often ask if you can pass the Queen of Spades in Hearts. You can, but if you’re trying to shoot the moon, you should probably hang onto it.

Another strategy is to try and hold onto high-ranked Spades cards in an attempt to take the Queen of Spades from other players during a Spades-led trick.

The Brain Game

Psychology plays a huge role in many card games. Goading other players to dump their Hearts onto a trick that the player can win is one option; another is to try to trick players into believing you have a bad hand. Other players might then be caught by surprise when the player comes out swinging in the late game with high cards.

Aim for the Moon

Hearts is a game that is easy to learn and difficult to master. Trying to shoot the moon can make or break a player's entire game, but the strategy is not for the faint of heart. For those bold enough to try, the rewards and potential consequences are great. Try it now in a free game at!