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  Hearts Tips and Strategies




Transcript of Holiday Hearts Expert Chat with Joe Andrews




February 15, 2002




+Shine@MPlus> Welcome to the Zone Theater Chat, everyone. Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to participate in this event. It's a pleasure to have Joe Andrews here with us tonight. Joe Andrews, expert card-player author of Win at Spades, Win at Hearts, and Win at Whist, is a columnist for the MSN Gaming Zone. Joe is also a Consultant to USPC (Bicycle Cards), the Director of the National Grand Prix Series Grand Prix Tournament Spades, Hearts, Euchre 2002, and overall, nice guy :-) His next book, called Rock, Roll, and Reminisce -- A History of Rock and Roll Music, is due out on May 1, 2002, published by Pro-Star Publishers. It is my pleasure to have you back on the Zone tonight.

Bartbear_2002> Hello, you all! And thanks for the intro.

+Shine@MPlus> Welcome, Joe! Great to have you here. Shall we get right into it?
> Hearts is where it all started back in '83! Let's rock and roll! "The bear" is in the building!

+Shine@MPlus> Soda, welcome tonight.
_zSoda> Hey there, Joe. First I want to thank you for taking time to chat with all of the people that attended this.
1) When should you NOT use the Q of Spades? Like, should you use it right after hearts/tricks are broken?
2) How long have you been playing cards?
3) How did you get started in cards?
> 1. I assume you mean that the Q should dropped as soon as hearts are broken? It all depends on the score, content of your hand, and safety of the Spade holding. Aiming for "low players" is the basic tenet of the game.

Bartbear_2002> 2. have played cards for 40 years now (started at age 12)

+Shine@MPlus> Joe, care to comment on how you got started in cards?
> My uncle taught my sisters and me several card games. Canasta, Hearts, Spades, and Bid Whist. Bid Whist was very popular in the 1950s. And Canasta was the # 1 card game in the US from 1949 to 1955.

AAC_News> What is the goal that you try to accomplish in hearts during a game?
> I count everything that is played, and try to remember all of the cards that have been played as the hand progresses.

Bartbear_2002> Secondly, I try to play with good players who understand defense, passing technique, and aiming for the low person. Basically, and I do mean basically, the idea is to win a high card early and then exit in the suit. However, each hand is different, and you must assess your strategy after the pass has been made

AAC_News> Oh okay. So the person or team with the lowest score wins?
> The score is critical and is always the first consideration. Low person , as the game is "cutthroat" (four individuals playing for themselves). Hearts is a game of collusion, and you must be prepared to enlist the "help" of anyone at any time. The winners at this game are those who are always aware of what is going on, and make the effort to count out all hands. Thanks for your question.

GOD_OF_BLINK> Good evening +Shine, +Charli +JCBear, +Kath_ie and Mr. Andrews, how are all of you today/tonight? Mr. Andrews, since I don't know much about card games, I was wondering, what got you hooked and made you keep playing cards to this day?
> I am just fine on a Friday "date" night! LOL

> I have always enjoyed cards. The challenge is there, and it is also a social activity.

GOD_OF_BLINK> Is it the fun in it? Or something else?
> This is why the Zone and other Internet sites offering games have done so well. The fun is there in the social rooms.

GOD_OF_BLINK> 40 years is a really long time.
> The competition is there in the ladder or rated areas. Yes, 40 years is a very long time (and I'm getting old) LOL

GOD_OF_BLINK> LOL. Well, I thank you for your time, have a nice weekend…:)
> Take care!

I_Try2_Help> Hi, thanks for joining us. Can you tell me what inspired you to play cards and write books? Are any of your family members as talented as you at cards?
> Thanks for the nice words. My sister Patti is a great card player. My uncle always enjoyed cards, and I played for cash in college. I just really enjoy card games -- especially, Bridge, Hearts, and Canasta. Cards are cheap, entertaining, a good time, and challenging.

Bdags> What method of counting do you use?
> Distribution. If on the first round of a suit all four players contribute one card of that suit, then I know that nine cards are left. If on the 2nd round of the same suit, all follow, then I know that five cards are left, etc.

Bdags> Do you keep track of high cards played?
> You train yourself to memorize specific cards as well. Yes it is very necessary to track all cards. For example, in spades, the first thing you learn is to place who has the A, K, or Q. I know that if I hold the Q of spades (without the A or K), I am sure going to keep an eye on when those cards are played!

Bdags> OK, just takes practice I guess. Thanks.
> The heart suit is also critical, as you may need to keep a key high card to stop a possible "Shoot" (Moon). A lot of inferences may be drawn by who plays which cards and WHEN! For example, a player going for the "Moon" will usually toss low cards early, and then show up with higher cards.

aquafishy> Hi, Bart, and smooch :o) Can you tell me percentage-wise on average just how difficult it is for left of low to hit low with the q of spades when working in tandem with a good lowman team? I like being able to quote statistics!!! Whee!!!! I find it easier to help people who are trying to learn if I can be specific!
> A good question -- it all depends on which cards you hold. If the low player is on your right, you have an excellent chance of waiting for him or her to rise with a winner in a side suit, and the hit him or her with the Q

aquafishy> Sometimes, as we all know, that is not possible, due to split on deal, or other factors!

Bartbear_2002> If the low player is on your left, this is much more difficult, as he or she can try to duck a trick which has a speculatively thrown Q of spades. Hearts is a game of discipline. Hitting the player on your right is much easier, as I said.

aquafishy> Any idea percentage-wise how much more difficult?
> Percentages do not apply here, as we are dealing with generalities.

mlr_games_4_fun> Hello, would like to hear more about the passing strategy. Specifically, what are your feelings about passing to void a suit while keeping another long, vs keeping two short suits.
> Voiding a weak Club or Diamond suit is usually good technique. There are those who are dogmatic about ALWAYS passing a low or middle heart; this is a good idea, if you are able to do this comfortably

mlr_games_4_fun> Yes, to prevent the Moon. We need to learn how to get the others to play the voided suit.
> If you hold a short spade suit, it is essential that you try to void a minor suit in order to protect against a pass of the A, K, or Q of spades. There are times when dumping three high Clubs or Diamonds will allow an opponent to Shoot the Moon, but this is usually worth the risk. Remember, the purpose of the pass is to IMPROVE your hand -- not to hurt a particular opponent

DSchweinz> Talk to us about passing techniques: like early on before high man is way out there and game is still really cutthroat, is it smart to most often pass a low heart instead of, say, voiding yourself in a suit?
> There are those hands when you are not able to pass a low heart.

DSchweinz> I mean to establish yr game. Which is preferable?
> However, it is good technique to pass a low heart when passing to the LOW man. I always try to keep my opponents off balance by mixing up my passes

Bartbear_2002> Sometimes a low heart pass, and then three big Clubs or Diamonds, or even three middle useless hearts on occasion! LOL. Don't forget this, too -- in the Zone you must ADD on the 26 points to all scores when you shoot. This really does affect play as the game nears the end stages. If you are winning by more than 26 points, you can take some liberties on the pass -- especially if anyone has 74 pts or more!

Bdags> How would you suggest targeting the low man if you're dealt the Q of spades? Should you pass it to him or her if you can…how would you attempt to drop it on him or her if you hang on to it?
> If you are long in Spades, then passing the Q to the low man is a good move, IF you can obtain the lead enough times to drive the Q out. A lot of players prefer to have control of the spade Q, and then try to work with the other ops in order to "set up" the low man. In any case, you must pass the spade Q if you have less than four backers.

Bdags> How do you "set up" the low man?
> It all depends on just who your tablemates are, and if they can play a "team" game. You hold the Q of spades, and try to have an opponent lead through the low player. Or you remember WHICH cards have been played in a particular suit, and try to get a tablemate to lead that suit into the low man. This requires tracking the cards in a key suit in which you are short or void. A lot of players will not track suits in which they are void.

Bdags> Thanks.
> You're welcome -- a good insightful question

DSchweinz> Please clarify what it means to "lead through."
> Hearts is a game that encourages greediness, and that is the downfall of a lot of players! If you hold the spade Q and are void in diamonds, and the low player (who is opposite you) holds the A 2 3 of diamonds, and your opponent on the left leads the King of Diamonds, you wait until the low player is forced to rise with the Ace -- you hit him off.

DSchweinz> Right on. Your comment on "greedy," especially on the Net -- what is yr strategy when confronting that?
> With the spade Q -- this is an example of leading through (in this case w/ Diamonds). There are some players who will not take a trick w/ one measly heart in order to stop a Moon!

DSchweinz> I know -- it gets me crazy.
> Others will pass a stopping card to a certain opponent, and then will duck this trick when that opponent eats the spade Q and tries to exit with that passed card. Does it sound familiar?

DSchweinz> lol -- too familiar. Then I get angry and make stupid moves.
> I just love it when the greedy person tries to cover up his mistakes and criticizes the others as to why they did not stop the shoot.

DSchweinz> But yr right. I must remember Hearts is a game of discipline
> Or, the greedy player says "Nice Moon" when he knows he could have stopped it! LOL! Yes, it is game of discipline.

DSchweinz> And I have grown immune to stupid unjustified comments. Thanks.
> Yes, indeed. This is why Hearts drives some people crazy! LOL

 mlr_games_4_fun> On passing. Was wondering: How often do YOU modify YOUR basic passing strategy, after becoming used to your opponent's play? Often, never, or every change u get? Lol
> Well, I try to pass a low heart when I safely can, but voiding a suit is sometimes necessary. If you pass a low heart on the first hand to a certain player, he or she may assume you will do it again when you pass to him or her the next time. Passing follows three basic rules -- 1. check your spade suit 2. check your heart suit 3. dump a bad diamond or club suit.

Bdags> Why do you prefer to pass a low heart?
> Perhaps I should have phrased that, "Pass your SECOND highest heart." Never pass the Ace of hearts, and try to avoid passing the 2 or 3 of hearts, as they are vital exit cards in the end game.

Bdags> Is this preferable to voiding a suit?
> Voiding a suit is preferable, BUT you must consider the score AND who you are passing to.

+Shine@MPlus> Joe, other than practice, how can one improve on remembering cards?
> Play in a social or fun room, and start with one suit (spades is a good idea). If you have tracked all of the cards, then do the same with two suits. In time, you should be able to do this easily. The worst thing to happen is not to count, and to lead the 13th card of a suit. And you MUST watch the opponents' discards -- especially in a suit where you have length.

+Shine@MPlus> That would be bad. Just need more practice I suppose. Thanks, Joe. Looks like soda's back for our last question
_zSoda> Yes, I am, Joe, are you playing in the tourney tomorrow?
> Nope, I will be away -- just don't have the time these days

_zSoda> Ohh, that would be good to see you win.
> My books keep me so busy as well as the "live" events. Winning is tough - I lose a lot more often than you think! LOL There are lots of great players out there, and the cards often decide, too

+Shine@MPlus> Well, Joe…it's that time again. Do you have anything to add?
> Thanks for moderating, +Shine. I really enjoyed the questions. Take care and have a nice night.