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Spades vs. Hearts

by | Last updated: Jan 31, 2023 | Interesting Facts

If we had to rank all card games based on their popularity, Spades and Hearts would definitely be in the top 10. People just love to play them. And this is not a surprise – both games are very engaging. You can write a whole book explaining how to play Spades or what is the best Hearts strategy. The gameplay and rules are rich topics to discuss and share thoughts about.

There are many opinions regarding which of the two games is more popular. A lot of people play them both regularly. Some like one more than the other for different reasons.

We will dive into details on what makes both games exceptional and why you should try them next!

1. Similarities

Spades and Hearts are trick-tacking card games, so there are a few similarities regarding the rules of play. There are several rounds in which players take turns and put cards on the table. The card with the highest value wins the trick.

A standard 52-card French deck is used, and suits have a significant role. Cards are ranked from 2s (lowest) to Aces (highest). Considering the names, you might have a good idea about which card suits to watch out for the most.

Both games are usually played by 4 people (although there is also an option to play Spades with 2). Players are positioned on each side of the table. At the beginning of the game, they are dealt 13 cards each. When playing, they must follow suit if possible.

In Spades, players can not lead with a spade suit unless certain conditions occur. The same is valid for Hearts but applies to the heart suit.

2. Differences

The big difference between Spades and Hearts is the game goal. In Spades, your goal is to take tricks and earn points. The player with the most points is the winner. But in Hearts, it’s the exact opposite situation. Yes, players also gain points, but the final winner is the one who got the least amount.

There are different variations of Spades, but mostly the game is played by 4 players divided into 2 teams. In Hearts, there are no teams, and the score is calculated individually.

Every trick is counted as one point in Spades. In contrast, Hearts players get points only if they capture a card from the heart suit or the Queen of spades. So the general suggestion is to avoid them at all costs.

There is no surprise that spades are always trumps when playing Spades. This is the suit with the highest value when capturing tricks. In the Hearts card game, there is no trump suit. The heart suit is relevant only to the final score.

For Spades players, the number of tricks they win during a round is crucial for the end score. This rule isn’t applicable when playing Hearts, and it does not matter how many tricks you’ve won.

3. Bidding and Passing

Spades bidding is a phase of the game with notable importance. At the start of every round, players must declare the number of tricks they will win. In the best-case scenario, they will manage to get that exact number. But if they fail, there will be a penalty. Read more about overbidding and underbidding in our Spades essentials article, where we have the answers to 10 of the most asked questions about the game.

Many strategies can be built around the passing phase in Hearts. After all the cards are dealt, each player chooses 3 cards from their hand. These cards will be passed to some of their opponents. Most players decide to get rid of high-value cards, so they would have less chance of winning tricks. However, you can choose to “Shoot the moon” and try to win all of the hearts.

4. Breaking Spades and Hearts

Players are not allowed to lead with a spade / a heart in the respective games until someone can not follow suit and plays them. This act is called Breaking Spades (for Spades) and Breaking Hearts (for Hearts).

When playing Hearts, if a player has only hearts in their hand during a round, they can lead with a heart. The same rule applies to Spades.

5. The Queen of spades

In Spades, the Queen of spades is a regular trump card. There is nothing special about it.

In Hearts, this is the card you should avoid the most. If you capture the Queen of spades in a trick, you will get 13 penalty points.

We believe that both games are great, and you should certainly give them a try. Either practice at our free card games section or play them with real people. This way you can decide for yourself which one you prefer.

Hearts online is also available at VIP Games alongside other awesome card and board games.

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