# Can two players tie for first place in Hearts?

At Pagat's website, it says game of Hearts (the card game) ends when a player reaches 100 points or more: http://www.pagat.com/reverse/hearts.html#scoring

This implies that the game ends even if two players are tied for first place. I've always played it this way.

But recently someone told me that they use a rule so that you must continue playing until there is a single first-place finisher (i.e. single low-scorer).

Is there a clear rule for this, or does it vary a lot?

• What is wrong with having to players tied for first place? I have never played with a version where you play until not tied as that could make a game go on for a long time until one of those players scores more points than the other player. Jan 10, 2016 at 16:07
• Well, there's nothing wrong with tying, from my point of view! So I can't defend the other position. But since someone told me about this alternate way of scoring, I wondered how popular it was. Jan 10, 2016 at 17:43
• I would guess it is not that common since in hearts you are really playing to avoid losing rather than win Jan 10, 2016 at 17:45
• I found it interesting that you said "you are really playing to avoid losing" about Hearts. There seem to be two camps about this. Some people play to avoid losing, but others do play to win! And they get very frustrated by the people who play to just avoid losing. Jan 30, 2016 at 3:28
• I don't think of 100 as being a "losing" score. It is just the signal that the game has ended. Suppose at the end of the game, 2 players are over 100 and 2 players are under. Are the 2 latter players winners, while the former are losers? No, the rules say that the lowest scoring player is the single winner. From my perspective, if the point of the game is to heap points on a single player, then you're probably going to wind up with 3 players who come in below 100 and 1 who is above. If you say those 3 players are "winners" then it doesn't sound like a challenging (or fun) game to me. Jan 30, 2016 at 12:00

I cannot recall encountering this situation. I reckon that ties are not common, and that there is not a clear rule.

How it is handled would depend on the scoring system in use. For example, the description in Hoyle lists three settlement methods: "Cumulative scoring" and "Howell Settlement" avoid the issue, whereas in the "Sweepstake" method, if two players are clear then they divide the pot.

Pagat does refer to it in the section about variations of scoring. It does say "may" continue, so i suppose that each game should declare whether the low points are shared or whether the game plays on. (Pagat does not mention those other settlements.)

If a player reaches or exceeds 100 points and there is a tie for low score, additional hands may be played until there is a clear winner.

In real life games, we did not bother with settlement: as soon a someone blew it, then end of game, move on to the next. Online games would need to utilise settlements, especially if doing rating.

Do you have any statistics from your online game, regarding how often this situation occurs?

• Hi David, I don't have stats for this, but I agree that it would be interesting to record it. I will look into doing this! Jan 30, 2016 at 3:35
• At my site, when two people tie, the rating is just computed as a tie for the two winning players. Elo ratings were developed for chess, where a stalemate is possible... so this is something that the ratings system can handle. Jan 30, 2016 at 3:36

Ties can be relatively common in Hearts, depending on the difference in skill levels between participating players. If you're playing for fun it might not seem right. If you're playing for wagers, it simply means that those who are tied receive an equal share of the pot.

As Joe W points out in his comment, you can 'win' at hearts by not losing. This can lead to 3 players pinning nearly all the points on a single, weaker player. I've played on a site where this was common practice, the remaining 3 would usually be very close to each other in terms of scoring and occasionally tie for first (or second) place. There is no real incentive to break this tie position.

• Most people I've played with have been vehemently opposed to the idea that you win at Hearts by avoiding losing. The general idea is that there's only 1 winner in Hearts, and you are not a winner if you come in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. People who subscribe to this rule get very frustrated at the ones who think they are "winning" by piling points on the person with the highest score. It doesn't seem like much of a game if your chances of winning are 3 in 4. Jan 30, 2016 at 3:34