Insurance Hearts

Contributed by Daniel Calizaya

For this variation of Hearts all standard rules apply. These are only further options that could make the scores a more precise reflection of the players' abilities.

In brief, the three optional rules are:

• Insurance: Players analyze their hands and select an insurance against taking a trick containing the queen of spades.
• Bidding: Players will only be dealt 12 cards and there will be an auction for the remaining four cards.
• Foot rule: once in each game, if a player considers his or her hand too bad to play, it can be called a 'foot' and all cards are to be thrown in.

Insurance

When players see their 13 cards (or 12 if playing with bidding) but before passing, they can analyze what is their chance of getting the Queen of Spades in a trick. Then they are to select a number from 0 to 6, and that's the player's "insurance" against the Queen of Spades.

This is how it works: at the end of the round, the player who has the Queen of Spades in his tricks has his amount of insurance taken away from his total points for that round. Each of the other players adds their own chosen insurance to their total. Therefore a good analysis of a hand can be very useful and experienced players will benefit greatly.

How about shooting the moon? If a player shoots the moon, the shooter's insurance will be taken away from every player's 26 points.

Note: Every player should have a piece of paper in which they will write a number representing the amount of insurance chosen at the start of each hand, before cards are passed. No other player is allowed to know what any other player has chosen and the paper should only be revealed at the end of each hand for scoring purposes. (To prevent cheating, all papers could be collected in the centre of the table.)

Bidding

Only 12 cards are dealt to each player, and the 4 cards remaining are to be placed face down in the middle of the table. When insurance and passing is finished, these 4 cards should be revealed. This is when the 'auction' takes place.

Every player is to write down on a piece of paper the card they want to acquire and a number representing the amount they will bid for it. The number a player writes down is the number of points the player will add to his score if he does acquire the card. Also each player must select a card from their hand and put it face down over the paper. When everyone is ready, all papers (bids) are to be revealed, and also the cards placed on top of them. The person with the highest number (bid) for a certain card gets it. If two or more players tie up on the same number for the same card, the card revealed will be used as the tiebreaker.

The 'strongest' tiebreaking card will be decided first by suit: spades (strongest), then hearts, diamonds and clubs. And then by rank: Ace (strongest) down to 2. Therefore the strongest card for tiebreaking purposes would be the ace of spades, and the weakest the 2 of clubs, and the 2 of spades will beat the ace of hearts.

Also, all cards have a start-up bid (the minimum number that can be bid for a card of that suit):

• All spades have a 3-point start up bid
• All hearts have a 2-point start up bid.
• All diamonds have a 1-point start up bid.
• All clubs have a 0-point start up bid.

Players are also allowed to choose a 0 'no bid'. In that case, the card they show will be compared to other 'no bidders' to determine who has preference to choose their card (of the left-overs) first.

Players whose bids weren't successful will be treated as if they opted for a 0 no-bid. Between all the no-bidders, the player with the strongest card shown selects which card (of the left over ones) he adds to his hand, and then the next strongest card holder, etc.

Foot Rule

Players have the chance to call a foot, and therefore cancel that hand. This foot can be called regardless what the player holds, but only once per game.

This announcement must be written in the paper for insurance, and advised only when all players have finished writing their insurance. Something like an F should be written there.

A foot can only be called once per game, so its use should be careful. Also if more than one player calls a foot in the same round, the round is cancelled as normal, and it will count that both (or as many) players have used up their foot lifeline.

After the foot is called, all cards are thrown-in and the next hand is to begin, dealt by the player to the left of the one who dealt the cancelled hand. (For example, if the foot was called in a hand of 'left pass', after the redeal there will be a 'right pass', etc.)