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Hearts is a card game for four players. Fewer can play with a dummy hand, but four is reccomended. Oddly enough, the object of hearts is to end up with no hearts at all. Cards rank from ace high to two low.

Deal all cards singly to the four players. The player to the left of the dealer leads (in some variations, the player with the two of spades leads). The other players must then follow suit. If they cannot, they must discard a card of another suit. If the player cannot follow suit, it's usually best to discard a heart — the higher, the better!

The person who played the highest card of the trick suit takes the trick and lays down the first card to begin the next round. In addition to the hearts, some variations assign 13 points to the queen of spades. Generally, players do not want to win tricks when hearts or the queen of spades has been played. At the end of each round, players tally up their hearts (each is worth one). Remember, a lower score is better.

Players can also "shoot the moon"; that is, win ALL of the hearts and the queen of spades. In this unlikely scenerio, which involves some rather skillful playing, the person shooting the moon gets 26 points deducted from their score (13 for the queen of spades plus one for each of the hearts). Note that this strategy is best followed when a player is either very far behind or has most of the hearts in the deck.

Players play to a predetermined score, usually 50 or 100. After just one player reaches that score, the game is over and the player with the lowest score wins (the player who reached the high score, ending the game, is the "donkey", and, in some places, must buy the next round of drinks).
This makes for some interesting strategy near the end of the game. Players who have more points than the leader may want to delay the game, and may take hearts away from the apparent "donkey", just to force another round.

These are the basic rules, but as there are many variations and many styles of play, hearts is a game that takes minutes to learn but years to master.