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Cancellation Hearts

Double-Pack Cancellation Hearts is a variant of Hearts for 5-11 players.

With a large number of players Hearts can be played with two packs. This allows each player to hold more cards and gives a four-person feel to the game. However, this means that there are two of each card and can lead to confusion about which is the highest card to take the trick. The normal convention when playing with two decks is that identical cards cancel each other out. For example, if hearts is lead, and both Aces (of Hearts) are played, then they cancel each other out (yet still count as points) and the next highest card takes the trick. If all the cards on that trick are either cancelled out or do not follow the suit, the whole trick is cancelled and the cards are given to whoever takes the next trick. If the trick happens to be the last trick of the hand, then the trick is won by the second of the two highest-value cards.

This double-pack variation also adds a strategy often called “The Aardvark,” in which a player leads the queen of spades hoping that the other player holding the queen of spades will also play it, thus cancelling them out from being the highest cards, and giving 26 points to the unfortunate player who takes the trick.

Rules for different numbers of players

5 players

A 5-player game is played with two packs of 52 cards and a joker (giving a total of 105 cards; 21 for each player). The joker starts the first trick and is treated like a "zero of clubs", meaning that all the other players have to follow in that suit and that the joker cannot win the trick (unless all the other cards in the trick cancel out).

6 players

A 6-player game is played with 102 cards (two packs of 52 cards, excluding one 2 and one 2). Each player gets 17 cards. The first trick is started by the other 2.

7 players

In a 7-player game, each player gets 15 cards (giving 105 cards in total; two packs of 52 and a joker). As in a 5-player game, the joker starts the first trick.

8 players

An 8-player game uses 104 cards (2 packs of 52 cards, excluding a 2 but including a joker). Each player gets 13 cards. The joker starts the first trick.

9 players

A 9-player game is played with 99 cards (two packs of 52, excluding one 2, both 2 and both 2). Each player receives 11 cards. The remaining 2 starts the first trick.

10 players

This game is played with 100 cards (two packs of 52, excluding one 2, one 2 and both 2). Players receive 10 cards each. The remaining 2 starts the first trick.

11 players

An 11-player game involves 99 cards (two packs of 52, excluding one 2, both 2 and both 2). 9 cards are given to each player. The first trick is started with the other 2.

Alternatively, an 11-player game could be played with 154 cards (three packs of 52, excluding two 2). Each player gets 14 cards and the first trick is started with the remaining 2.

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Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy