Hearts Crash Course
Object: Score as few points as possible.
Scoring: Hearts are worth 1 point each and the queen of spades is worth 13 points. If you capture all the hearts and the queen of spades you score 0 points ('Shoot the Moon') and all your opponents score 26 points.
Play: At the beginning of each hand you will be prompted to select 3 cards that will be passed in the direction indicated. On every 4th deal cards are not passed (the 'Keeper') and you are stuck with what you are dealt. After cards have been passed the person with the 2 of clubs must lead that card. The game ends when 1 or more players reach 100 points or more while the player with the lowest score is declared the winner.
You must always follow suit when possible.
You cannot discard a penalty card (heart or queen of spades) on the first trick. (It is virtually impossible to be dealt all penalty cards and the cards would be re-dealt.)
You cannot lead a heart until one has been discarded during the course of the current hand. If you have no other cards to lead you must pass the lead to the next player.
(There are other variations of hearts but these rules are the simplest.)
For more on the finer points of the game and how to improve your game visit: Hearts - The Card Game blog