OBJECTIVE OF AUCTION HEARTS: The player with the most chips at the end of the game wins
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 Players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 Cards
RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Ace (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Trick Taking Card Game
AUDIENCE: Ages 12+
INTRODUCTION OF AUCTION HEARTS
This is Auction Hearts as it is described in Bicycle’s Official Rules of Card Games. Although it is in the Hearts family, it is quite unique from its cousins. Players bid on the ability to name the pain suit for the round. This means that Hearts might not even be the suit to avoid. At the end of the round, each player pays a number of chips into the pot based on how many cards of the pain suit they capture. If a player manages to avoid capturing any cards from that pain suit, they win the pot. This game can be played for points or cash, and it ends once a player has run out of chips (or money). An alternative endgame can be decided upon prior to the start. For example, players might agree on playing a specific number of rounds.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
A 52 card pack is required. Cards rank (low) 2 up through Ace (high). Give each player the same number of chips. Fifty chips per player is a good number. If playing for cash, players buy in for their chips. The money is placed in a pool that will be divided out at the end of the game.
Determine a dealer for the first round and have that player dole out 13 cards to each player.
Bidding begins with the eldest hand (the player seated left of the dealer). That player says how many chips they will pay to name the pain suit (the suit to be avoided). Each player gets to bid one time. If a player does not want to bid, they may pass. The player with the highest bid wins. They pay that number of chips into the pot and name the pain suit.
The bid-winner leads the first trick. They are not allowed to play a card from the pain suit. Continuing left around the table, each player must follow suit if they can. For the first trick, if a player is void of the lead suit, they may not play a card from the pain suit. Whoever plays the highest card in the suit that is led collects the trick and leads the next one.
BREAKING THE PAIN SUIT
From the second trick onward, if a player is unable to follow the lead suit, they may play any card from their hand. Once a card from the pain suit has been played, that suit is broken. This means that any player may now lead the trick with that suit.
It should be noted that Bicycle does not explicitly state that the pain suit cannot be played on the first trick or until it is broken. In regard to basic play, they simply say “play proceeds as in the regular game.” Of course, the game can be played with rules agreed upon by the group (or dictated by the House).
The round continues until all of the tricks have been played. At that point, it is time to pay the pot and collect.
Players add one chip to the pot for each pain-suited card they capture.
The player who captures zero cards from the pain suit collects the pot. If two players avoid capturing any pain cards, the pot is split evenly. Leave an odd chip in the pot if one is left over.
When a single player captures all 13 pain cards, or all four players capture at least 1 pain card, the pot remains for the next round. Nobody wins it. The deal passes left, but the same bid-winner as before names the pain suit. They lead the first trick and play ensues. Players pay into the pot accordingly, and the pot is awarded if possible. If nobody wins the pot again, the process is repeated.
The game continues until one player runs out of chips (or some other agreed upon ending such as a specific number of rounds). If playing for points, whoever has the most chips wins. If more than one player has the same number of chips, the game ends in a tie.
If playing for cash, payments are made based on the number of chips each player has at the end of the game.