Odd of winning Hearts

I’m getting addicted to the computer game Hearts. I tend to think I have a pretty good strategy yet my winning odds are probably less than one in four. Is there any skill to this game? It also got me thinking about other card games I play like Euchre. My mother would claim duplicate bridge is the ultimate skill card game and who could argue that. Has anyone rated card games for skill or luck?

I don’t know whether there’s ever been a scientific study on the skill of various card games, but I can tell you that my Bicycle Offical Rules of Card Games book attempts to rate games based on game play (simple to complex) and skill level (luck to skill). Hearts is rated 2/5 in complexity of game play and 4/5 in skill (i.e. a game more dependant on skill than luck). It’s been awhile since I’ve played Hearts, but I recall my winning percentage on the Hoyle computer software to hover around 50%.

There’s plenty of strategy in hearts, but I don’t play it much anymore because I’ve moved on to games like skat and pinochle which I find more entertaining. If you’re only winning 25% of your games against the computer, either the computer is playing very good strategy (which I doubt) or your strategy is not as optimal as you think.

Of course there’s skill involved. Any game where the entire deck is dealt out has a great deal of skill involved. I win about 75% of the time against the computer 'bots.

I would agree that among popularly played games at least, duplicate bridge is “the ultimate skill card game” in terms of technical difficulty due to having three distinct areas one must be strong in: partnership bidding, play of the hand (as declarer) and defense (in coordination with a partner). In addition, the scoring is based on how well you did on the deal compared to others playing the exact same layout of cards, so even if you got some extremely unlucky distribution happen to you, so did everybody else who held your hand – you’re being scored on how well you handled it compared to them. (Gosh I miss playing that game!)

The skill you would need to develop first and foremost, at hearts, bridge or spades or any other “trick-taking” card game, is to count out the hand. Start with just counting the number of cards in each trick that have been played – you should never be surprised that nobody else follows suit when a card is led. Then, progress to keeping track of the major high and low cards – you should never be thinking, “Is this Ten of Hearts high?”, or “I wonder how many cards there are left out there higher than my nine?” You should know, by paying attention to what’s been played and subtracting from the deck.

You should then work on keeping track of other people’s hand patterns (how many cards of each suit they possibly have left), and then when you’re good enough, count every pip card and not just the Aces and Kings and threes and twos.

After all the counting comes working on planning the strategy: trying to target specific players with tricks at the right time (i.e., wrong time for them).

My strategy for hearts is based on the fact that the best outcomes are in order:

  1. you ‘go out’ by capturing all the penalty cards (all other players take a big score hit)
  2. you take no penalty cards, but nobody else ‘goes out’
  3. you take as few penalty cards as possible
  4. you take no penalty cards, but someone else ‘goes out’

Of course you can only go out with certain hands (typically a long suit + high cards), when you therefore may keep all high cards and hope to be passed the remaining ones you want.
Otherwise (most of the time!) I will pass the Q of spades, then high hearts, then high cards. It’s also useful to create a void for discards. If I have a lot of a suit, including the 2 and other low cards, I am not worried about keeping high cards. (So AKQJ8642 is a wonderful holding, because you can either play to win every trick in that suit or lose every trick.)
It’s important to keep track of cards left, partly to avoid being thrown in to take the rest of the tricks when you don’t want that ‘pleasure’, and also to stop someone else going out.

All card games become more skilful if they can be played in duplicate fashion. So you could deal the same cards to two players, then get them to play against the same computer programs and compare results.
Duplicate bridge is wonderful, especially with the dummy, although not perfect. (Suppose you bid a slam where you need just one of two finesses to work. A 75% chance - well bid! Your opponents stop in game. Alas both finesses fail. You get a bad score, but you deserve better…)

bah. If you are playing Hearts, play Spades instead. Much more fun, because it is played with partners. :slight_smile:

You are definitely doing something wrong then.

I have noticed that playing with the computer, when I try to void clubs or diamonds, way more often than not I’m passed cards that allow me to maintain the void. That does not happen with real players. Against my computer buddies I win about 40% of the time.

Once I won 0-104-104-104.

****** solkoe** So that makes two of us who are addicted to the game.

Dunno what site you play on but for sheer value I can recommend www.silvercrk.com.
A one off payment of $14.95 gets you LIFE membership to hearts.

Slightly higher, $34.95 gets, again LIFE for a whole bundle of about 6-7 card games Euchre included.

As for playing the computer bots, they are so predictable your rate of success against them should be higher than 25%.

DS Young On the site mentioned above you can play with pards if you wish.

If you are saying that you usually pass clubs and diamonds so that those suits are not in your hand then I do the same. Other people say to pass the Q of spades and high hearts. I don’t understand this strategy. I am not a good card counter (it gives me a headache) so that may be my big flaw.
I try often to go for it and get all 26 points but the computer seems to know this and unless I have AKQJ of hearts, one player is always saving a card to screw me. I do not play online.

Sorry GLEE but I am not skilled enough to know what you are talking about but I am very interested in other people’s strategies.

Is this the same game I play???

In my game the object is to get the least number of points towards the final ‘Out’ figure.

Also the jack of diamonds is worth -30 pts if you can capture it, the queen of spades is a massive +50 pts if you are unlucky enough to have that dumped on you…

There is however a variation known as shooting the moon/sun.

To shoot the moon you have to win all tricks except the JoD. Should you manage this then your opponents receive 150pts each and you have 150 pts deducted.

To shoot the sun you have to win all tricks including the JoD. In this case your opponents receive 300pts each and you have 300 pts deducted.

Both the above scenarios are not easy but it is possible,I’ve shot the moon 3 times and the sun once…having said that I’ve played hundreds of games so I aint bragging.

Should have mentioned that the above pts relates to ‘spot’ hearts were each spot is worth 1 pt.

Ace is 14. King 13 and so on down

I don’t know this game. It seems to be a variation of Hearts. Do you play this on the computer or with friends?

Yes, I get what you a saying now. I just had to read it again.

Is there a web link to these stats?

See, I play both, but prefer Hearts by far.

solkoe - I don’t know any links to those stats, I just got them out of my book.

As for more Hearts strategies, other than what’s been mentioned, I generally keep the queen of spades if I am backed up by at least three spades. Having control of the queen and being able to stick it to any player you want is an important strategy in the game.

Also, depending on who I’m playing, I may take more risks at shooting the moon if I know the players don’t ever guard against the shoot by keeping a high heart in hand. You’d be surprised at how many casual players don’t guard against shooting.

I play on my PC against opponents from all over the world but if you wish you can also play against bots.

I gave the website above together with membership fees and I assure you it is well worth the small outlay.

I forgot to mention that every Wednesday there is a tournament, as yet I’ve never progressed beyond round 3, there are some very good players on the site.

Don’t let that put you off tho’ as you can always find players within your range/ability

This is a variation of Hearts with a point scoring system I’m not familiar with.

The most very basic hearts scoring is: 1 point per heart.
Hearts (the most common variation): above scoring and 13 points for queen of spades
Omnibus Hearts: above scoring and minus 10 points for capturing the Jack of Diamonds (or sometimes Ten of Diamonds) in tricks

Shooting the Moon: taking all the positive points (i.e. hearts & spade queen)
Shooting the Sun: winning all the tricks

Most people around hear play hearts with Shooting the Moon rules only.

Shooting the moon is scored either as +26 for the three other opponents, -26 for yourself, or +26 unless this puts one of the opponents over the target score and cause someone else to win, in which case it counts as -26 for you.

Shooting the sun is as above with 52 points distributed.

There are many different aspects of strategy, including different approaches for different opponents. I play the Windows built-in version, and the Hoyle downloaded from CD version, and they’re noticeably different from each other in some regards. Furthermore, they’re both different from playing with other humans.

In the bot games, the other “players” never try to shoot the moon. They do it occasionally, but it’s clear that they don’t plan and execute it the way a human would. They do, however, try to prevent you from shooting. The Windows version does this by holding back high cards after a point card has landed, and by saving their highest heart for the last trick. The Hoyle version does it by making a point of winning any heart trick if you lead with an 8 or higher card, and by taking tricks in other suits to give players a chance to land a heart on someone besides you.

If I’m playing the Hoyle version, don’t want to shoot, and have a high heart I don’t want to get stuck taking a trick with, I intentionally take the first heart trick when I can. Then I can lead my high (but not A) heart knowing it will get taken by their “shoot prevention” strategy.

On the one hand, you have 3 opponents all ganged up to prevent you from shooting, but never trying to prevent each other from shooting. On the other hand they can’t think as well as you, which gives you a chance to exploit certain situations. The Windows version is particularly easy to beat once you’re familiar with their (rather limited) strategy. I shoot the moon a lot in that one.

If you want to do well with any trick-type card game, counting cards in some fashion is necessary. If you’re not counting cards somehow, it’s not surprising you win less than 25% of the time.

Passing the Q/spades to your left is asking for it. That player has the best chance of landing it on you. Passing it to your right is much safer, as that player plays before you on any trick that you don’t lead.

There’s so much more, way more than I can relate on a message board. But you can improve your playing. I probably win about 75+% of the time with Hoyle, 90+% of the time with Windows. Playing in real life with others who are willing to discuss strategy with you is probably the most efficient way to learn.

My pleasure - I was just trying to give an impression of how I play, without typing reams of stuff.

I play a lot of duplicate bridge, so can remember which of the 52 cards have been played. This is not as difficult as it sounds - it starts with counting and involves lots of practice.

If you would like to give a hand or two, we could all say which cards we would pass and why. That might lead to an interesting discussion!

Good idea!!
Look for this or a similar thread in the future.

You can play online at Yahoo for free. I’ve been playing Euchre, Hearts, and Cribbage there for years. They have “rooms” ranked by ability, so you can start learning at the social or beginner levels, and gradually work your way up.

The standard Windows Hearts game has very poor AI. You should be able to beat it at least 50% of the time, and then there’s a world of difference once you play with humans who have some understanding of strategy.