How To Play Hearts With 3 Players

James Lopez
August 5, 2023
How To Play Hearts With 3 Players


How To Play Hearts With 3 Players: Welcome to the exciting world of Hearts—a classic and engaging card game that has captivated players for generations. If you find yourself with a small group of friends or family, eager to dive into a fun and strategic game, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the rules and strategies for playing Hearts with just three players.

Hearts is traditionally played with four players, but don’t worry, it’s equally enjoyable and challenging with three. The objective of the game is to avoid collecting certain cards that carry penalty points, primarily the hearts and the dreaded Queen of Spades. The player with the fewest penalty points at the end of the game emerges victorious.

Whether you’re a beginner or already familiar with the game, our step-by-step instructions and pro tips will enhance your understanding and elevate your gameplay. Gather your friends, grab a deck of cards, and let’s dive into the world of Hearts with three players! Get ready for thrilling moments, strategic thinking, and loads of fun as you embark on this Hearts adventure!

How To Play Hearts With 3 Players

What are the rules for playing Hearts?

Play proceeds clockwise from the led player. Each player MUST follow suit if possible. If a player’s hand is void of the suit led, a card of any other suit may be discarded. However, if a player has no clubs when the first trick is led, a heart or the queen of spades cannot be discarded.

Hearts is a captivating trick-taking card game typically played with four players, although it can be adapted for three as well. The game revolves around avoiding certain cards to minimize penalty points and aiming to have the lowest score when the game ends. Here are the fundamental rules for playing Hearts:

1. Deck: Hearts is played with a standard 52-card deck.

2. Objective: The goal is to have the fewest penalty points at the end of the game. Hearts cards carry one point each, and the Queen of Spades is worth a hefty 13 points.

3. Dealing: In a four-player game, each player receives 13 cards. In a three-player game, the two of diamonds is removed, and each player gets 17 cards.

4. Passing Cards: Before each hand, players pass three cards to the player to their left in a four-player game or one card to each opponent in a three-player game.

5. Starting Trick: The player holding the 2 of clubs starts the first trick. In subsequent tricks, the winner of the previous trick leads.

Hearts combines strategy, tactics, and a touch of luck, making it a beloved and timeless card game that continues to enchant players of all ages. Enjoy the challenges, social interactions, and thrilling moments as you navigate the intricate world of Hearts!

How does passing work in Hearts with 3 players?

After the cards have been dealt, each player chooses three cards to pass to an opponent. Players pick their cards after they’ve looked at them, and before they’ve received cards from their opponents. Cards are passed to the right at the first deal, to the left with the second, and across with the third.

In Hearts played with three players, passing cards is a crucial aspect of the game that adds an extra layer of strategy and excitement. Before each hand begins, players participate in a card-passing phase to exchange cards with their opponents. Here’s how passing works in Hearts with 3 players:

1. Card Passing: At the start of each hand, players select a predetermined number of cards to pass to their opponents. In a three-player game, each player passes a fixed number of cards, making the passing round symmetrical.

2. Direction of Passing: The direction of passing rotates with each hand. For example, in the first hand, player 1 passes cards to player 2, who then passes cards to player 3, and player 3 passes cards back to player 1. In the next hand, the direction of passing shifts one position, and so on.

3. Number of Cards Passed: In a three-player game, each player typically passes 3 cards to their opponent. The number of cards passed may vary based on house rules or player agreement.

4. Strategy: During the passing phase, players must carefully consider their card selections. The cards passed can impact their own hand’s strength and directly influence their opponents’ hands. Players may choose to pass high-value cards they wish to unload or tactical cards to disrupt their opponents’ strategies.

5. No Passing in First Hand: In the very first hand of the game, there is no passing. Each player simply plays the cards they were dealt.

How many cards are in 3 players?

In the 3 player game, the players are dealt 7 cards each, and the goal is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in hand. The players must meld the cards in groups of 3 or more cards of the same value or consecutive order from the same suit.

In a standard game of cards played with three players, each player receives a total of 17 cards. The deck used is a standard 52-card deck, which consists of four suits—hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades—each with 13 cards. However, in a three-player game, one card is removed from the deck to ensure an even distribution of cards among the players.

The most common method used to achieve this balanced distribution is by removing the two of diamonds from the deck. This leaves 51 cards remaining in the deck. Each player is then dealt 17 cards, resulting in an equitable allocation of cards for the game to proceed smoothly.

Having 17 cards in hand presents unique challenges and strategic opportunities for players. The passing phase, where players exchange cards with their opponents, becomes more critical as each card can significantly impact the strength of a player’s hand. Players must carefully consider which cards to pass, trying to offload penalty cards like hearts and the Queen of Spades while holding onto cards that can be advantageous during the trick-taking phase.

What cards do you take out for 3 player Hearts?

In a 3-player game, the 2 of diamonds is removed, and each player gets 17 cards. In a 5-player game, the two of diamonds and two of clubs are removed; each player gets 10 cards. In a 6-player game, the two and three of diamonds and the three and four of clubs are removed; each player gets 8 cards.

In the standard version of Hearts, the game is typically played with four players. However, when adapting the game for three players, one card must be removed from the deck to ensure an even distribution of cards. The card that is commonly removed from the deck to play Hearts with three players is the two of diamonds.

The removal of the two of diamonds does not significantly alter the dynamics or strategies of the game, as it is a low-ranking card and does not have any special role in Hearts. The essence of the game remains intact, with players aiming to avoid taking hearts and the Queen of Spades to minimize penalty points.

Whether you’re playing with four players or adapting the game for three, Hearts remains an enjoyable and challenging card game that requires strategic thinking, card management, and a bit of luck. So, remove that two of diamonds, shuffle the deck, and get ready to embark on a thrilling journey into the world of Hearts with three players!

How To Play Hearts With 3 Players

What 3 cards should I pass in Hearts?

Passing Hearts

Again, the A, K and Q are great candidates to pass, as each one could net you 4 unwanted points or worse. Keeping low hearts is usually not a problem. You can lead them and someone else will likely win the trick. In the game of Hearts, passing cards strategically is a crucial aspect of gameplay, as it can significantly impact your chances of success. To determine the three cards you should pass to your opponent, consider the following key factors:

1. High-value cards: Identify and pass high-value cards like the Queen of Spades and any high-ranking Hearts cards (e.g., King, Ace, or Jack). These cards are likely to accumulate penalty points if you end up holding them at the end of a round.

2. Low-value cards: Passing low-value cards, particularly the 2 of Clubs, is often a smart move. Players receiving your low cards might be forced to play them early in the game, potentially gaining penalty points.

3. Card distribution: Observe the cards in your hand and the cards already played to gauge your opponents’ potential holdings. If you notice a particular suit is well-distributed among your opponents, consider passing cards of that suit to hinder their progress.

The key to successful passing in Hearts is to avoid accumulating penalty points. Passing cards strategically can help you minimize risks and set yourself up for a strong start in each round. Remember that the dynamics of the game can change with each hand, so adapt your strategy accordingly. Practice and experience will enhance your decision-making skills in this classic card game.

Can Hearts be played with only three players?

Yes, Hearts can be played with three players, though it’s not the traditional or most common way to play the game. Hearts is typically played with four players, but if you have three people, you can still enjoy a modified version of the game.

Hearts can be played with only three players, although the dynamics of the game change slightly compared to the traditional four-player version. When playing Hearts with three players, the following modifications are typically made to accommodate the smaller player count:

1. Reduced deck: To play Hearts with three players, you remove the 2 of Diamonds from the standard 52-card deck, resulting in a total of 51 cards.

2. Dealing cards: Each player receives 17 cards, and one card is not dealt and remains unused in each hand.

3. Passing cards: Before each hand begins, players decide whether to pass cards to the left or right, or not pass at all. The rules for passing are the same as in the four-player game.

4. Scoring: The scoring system remains the same, with players aiming to avoid penalty points by avoiding certain high-value cards.

Playing Hearts with three players offers a more intense and strategic experience, as players need to adapt to the smaller deck size and the absence of a fourth player’s cards. The game requires careful observation and shrewd decision-making, making it a fun and challenging variation of the classic card game.

What is the objective of Hearts with 3 players?

The objective of Hearts with three players remains the same as the traditional four-player version: to avoid accumulating penalty points by winning certain high-value cards in each trick. However, with only three players, the dynamics of the game are slightly different, requiring players to adapt their strategies accordingly.

In Hearts, players aim to avoid winning tricks containing Hearts cards and the Queen of Spades. Each Heart card carries one penalty point, while the Queen of Spades carries thirteen penalty points. The player with the fewest penalty points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

With three players, the reduced deck of 51 cards changes the distribution of cards in each hand, making it more challenging to predict opponents’ holdings. The absence of a fourth player also means that fewer cards are in play, leading to a more intense and strategic game.

Players must carefully consider their card play and passing decisions, as there are fewer opportunities to pass cards and manipulate the distribution of cards among opponents. A balance of offense and defense is crucial in this version of Hearts, as players must aim to avoid penalty cards while also strategically forcing opponents to take them.

Do you pass 2 or 3 cards in hearts?

Players assess their hands and pass three cards to another player. Typically, cards are passed to the left, but players can pass cards across the table, to the right, or in whatever fashion the table agrees. Players must accept the three cards they are given.

Traditionally, in a standard four-player Hearts game, players pass three cards to the left at the beginning of each hand. However, in some variations or when playing with a different number of players, the passing rules may change. For example:

1. Three-player Hearts: Players may choose to pass cards to the left or right, or not pass at all. In this case, each player would receive 17 cards, and one card would remain unused in each hand.

2. Five-player Hearts: With five players, passing may involve passing one card to the left, three cards to the right, and not passing in the fifth position. This ensures that each player receives an equal number of cards while still passing some cards around the table.

3. Other variations: In casual games or custom rules, players may agree to pass a different number of cards, such as two cards, four cards, or even more.

Ultimately, the passing rules in Hearts can be customized based on the preferences of the players or the house rules being followed. It’s essential to clarify the passing rules before starting a game to ensure a fair and enjoyable experience for all players involved.

How To Play Hearts With 3 Players


You have now mastered the art of playing Hearts with three players. You’ve learned the rules, strategies, and techniques to navigate this thrilling card game, making it a memorable and enjoyable experience for all.

As you continue to play, you’ll undoubtedly encounter different scenarios that will put your skills to the test. Remember, adapting your strategy to the changing dynamics of the game is crucial for success. Whether you’re aiming to avoid taking hearts, capture the Queen of Spades, or maneuver your way to victory, each decision you make will influence the outcome.

Embrace the unpredictability of Hearts, and don’t forget the importance of bluffing and reading your opponents’ moves. The element of surprise can turn the tide in your favor, even in a three-player game.

Hearts is more than just a card game; it’s a social activity that brings people together, creating cherished memories and moments of laughter. Enjoy the camaraderie and friendly competition as you play with friends and family.

As you gain experience, you may even develop your playing style and become a formidable Hearts player in your circle. So keep practicing, refining your skills, and encouraging others to join in the fun.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge to play Hearts with three players, go ahead and organize a game night, or seize any opportunity to whip out a deck of cards and challenge your pals. May your heart be light, your strategies sharp, and your victories sweet in this classic and beloved card game!

Author James Lopez