HEARTS, a game of cards of recent origin, though founded upon the same principle as many old games, such as Slobberhannes, Four Jacks and Enfle, namely, that of losing instead of winning as many tricks as possible. Hearts is played with a full pack, ace counting highest and deuce lowest. In the fourhanded game, which is usually played, the entire pack is dealt out as at whist (but without turning up the last card, since there are no trumps), and the player at the dealer's left begins by leading any card he chooses, the trick being taken by the highest card of the suit led. Each player must follow suit if he can; if he has no cards of the suit led he is privileged to throw away any card he likes, thus having an opportunity of getting rid of his hearts, which is the object of the game. When all thirteen tricks have been played each player counts the hearts he has taken in and pays into the pool a certain number of counters for them, according to an arrangement made before beginning play. In the fourhanded, or sweepstake, game the method of settling called " Howell's," from the name of the inventor, has been generally adopted, according to which each player begins with an equal number of chips, say 100, and, after the hand has been played, pays into the pool as many chips for each heart he had taken as there are players besides himself. Then each player takes out of the pool one chip for every heart he did not win. The pool is thus exhausted with every deal. Hearts may be played by two, three, four or even more players, each playing for himself.
Spot Hearts. In this variation the hearts count according to the number of spots on the cards, excepting that the ace counts 14, the king 13, queen 12 and knave n, the combined score of the thirteen hearts being thus 104.
Auction Hearts.- In this the eldest hand examines his hand and bids a certain number of counters for the privilege of naming the suit to be got rid of, but without naming the suit. The other players in succession have the privilege of outbidding him, and whoever bids most declares the suit and pays the amount of his bid into the pool, the winner taking it.
Joker Hearts. Here the deuce of hearts is discarded, and an extra card, called the joker, takes its place, ranking in value between ten and knave. It cannot be thrown away, excepting when hearts are led and an ace or court card is played, though if an opponent discards the ace or a court card of hearts, then the holder of the joker may discard it. The joker is usually considered worth five chips, which are either paid into the pool or to the player who succeeds in discarding the joker.
Heartsette. In this variation the deuce of spades is deleted and the three cards left after dealing twelve cards to each player are called the widow (or kitty), and are left face downward on the table. The winner of the first trick must take the widow without showing it to his opponents.
Slobberhannes. The object of this older form of Hearts is to avoid taking either the first or last trick or a trick containing the queen of clubs. A euchre pack (thirty two-cards, lacking all below the 7) is used, and each player is given 10 counters, one being forfeited to the pool if a player takes the first or last trick, or that containing the club queen. If he takes all three he forfeits four points.
Four Jacks (Polignac or Quatre -Valets) is usually played with a piquet pack, the cards ranking in France as at ecarte, but in Great Britain and America as at piquet. There is no trump suit. Counters are used, and the object of the game is to avoid taking any trick containing a knave, especially the knave of spades, called Polignac. The player taking such a trick forfeits one counter to the pool.
Enfle (or Schwellen) is usually played by four persons with a piquet pack and for a pool. The cards rank as at Hearts, and there is no trump suit. A player must follow suit if he can, but if he cannot he may not discard, but must take up all tricks already won and add them to his hand. Play is continued until one player gets rid of all his cards and thus wins.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)