Coming across this node reminded me of the days when I was much more deeply invested in this game. It's truly a brutal and ruthless game at heart, pun intended, and as a teen I found its strategy and cutthroatedness appealing, at a much faster pace than chess and more conducive to my smaller groups of friends. It greatly improved my ability to count cards and anticipate, but ultimately I decided I didn't have a mind rapidly mathematical enough to be able to play competitively at a higher level. So the hobby fell by the wayside, in conjunction with my friends.

A large part of the appeal to the game was, for me, the jargon I created for it. I had an entire lingo system I used for moments and scenarios in the game, which gave it a kind of quirky exclusivity. Predictably, me and my chronic obsession with lists and all, I decided to write them down one day. I found the list recently and transcribe it here for all to carry on a strange and unnecessary tradition.

Pool, or 'Pool In'
To push an opponent into making a play. Usually a bad play, or else a play that benefits you somehow.

Being on the receiving end of a pool.

To intentionally play a specific card, usually the Queen of Spades, on a trick you know an opponent will take, so as to "give" or "dish" them your card.

Press the issue
Continuing to play spades as you lead tricks in an attempt to pool an opponent into playing (and often taking) the queen of spades. An aggressive strategy, but usually used more preventatively, and not the way you would usually approach an Assassin Run.

To ditch an attempt to shoot the moon.

When nobody else on the table can mathematically take a trick away from you for the remainder of the tricks in the round (usually used when successfully shooting the moon).

When you possess only black cards to play.

I See Red
When you possess only red cards to play.

When you possess only one suit of cards to play.

When you possess two suits of cards to play, usually different colors.

Blind shot
Leading with the Queen of Spades on a trick where you know the another player's only play for the trick is either the King or Ace of spades.

Tanking, or Tanking a Shot
Intentionally taking a trick to interrupt another player's bid to shoot the moon.

Assassin run
A round where you try to dish as many points as possible to one specific opponent, without shooting the moon. Usually ran in situations where there is only one opponent you need to catch up with in points. Most classically approached by keeping the queen of spades and attempting to dish it to the opponent.

Protection run
A round where a secondary objective to keeping your own point intake low is making sure another specific player doesn't take too many points, usually for fear that the player will reach over 100 points and end the game while you're not in first place.

Shot run
A round where you attempt to shoot the moon.

Shot bid
A hand with which you're considering trying to shoot the moon.

Death Row
The Queen of Spades, King of Spades, and Ace of Spades, generally used when the three are traded at the start of a round.

Agh, just think of how epic that blowjob would've been
A phrase acceptable and totally appropriate in any situation where you barely miss any arbitrary objective in a game of hearts.

To intentionally pool one specific opponent into taking heavy points quickly in attempt to finish a game as soon as possible.

Break hearts over your head
Breaking hearts on someone else's take.

A set of 4 cards that a player took from the trick.
*(This one a source of debate and derision, I've often been corrected of the distinction between a 'trick' and what I call a 'take'. I don't need to hear it again.)

A round where hearts aren't broken until very late into the round (typically not until there are 5 hands or less to play).

(take a) 25
Taking 25 points in a round, mathematically the worst individual round possible.

Starting a round with no hearts in your hand.

Playing hearts off-suit continuously and indiscriminately, dealing points to players on every trick.

Take yo' beating
(Sightly obnoxious) expression for someone who's taking a lot of successive points late in the round.

To fail a pool, especially in an assassin run.

Similar to running, except it's off your turn and it doesn't matter which order you play the rest of your cards in, because they're all basically the same play. For example, a hand with the 7,8,9,10 of clubs is a 'falling' hand, because there isn't any strategy you can use in the order of cards you play, and the order in which you play them until the end of the round is irrelevant.

etch-e-sketch hands
A series of rounds where a nonsubstantial amount of hearts were taken, but the queen was avoided. Usually used flippantly by someone with a comfortable lead.

Under (expression: "we're under")
After points have been distributed to more than one player, through a tank, luck, or other circumstance, indicating that nobody will shoot the moon in the round and that it's "safe".

Set hand
Every fourth hand you're dealt, on which you are not allowed to trade cards with any other player, in traditional rules.

Being relatively early in a game, in terms of the points system

Being in the later stages of a game, in terms of the points system

In a trade, anyone who passes you the only club in your hand, and the Ace or King of spades. Because really, fuck that person.

To reiterate, this is not in any way universal knowledge, and is my own arbitrary system of nomenclature. But hey - if you read something that makes sense and sticks, feel free to have as much fun as I did.


Oh yeah.

Hearts is also an album by America released on Warner Brothers in March of 1975. It's considered the last of their 4 classic records, succeeding America, Homecoming, and Holiday chronologically respectively. It was the last LP to have tracks featured on their immensely popular compilation album, History: America's Greatest Hits. Its lead single, and to many its only significant song yielded was the Jackson Browne-inspired Billboard #1 hit Sister Golden Hair.


01. Daisy Jane
02. Half a Man
03. Midnight
04. Bell Tree
05. Old Virginia
06. People in the Valley
07. Company
08. Woman Tonight
09. The Story of a Teenager
10. Sister Golden Hair
11. Tomorrow
12. Seasons

I once bought a copy of History at a flea market when I was 19. Or, should I say, I bought a copy of the sleeve for History that contained a copy of Hearts. I haven't had the heart to throw it away yet, but it truly is a milquetoast 1970s American soft rock album if ever there was such a thing.