Friday, May 9, 2008

Does Microsoft Hearts CHEAT?

This is really a rhetorical question because I am convinced that the program (Hearts card game) by Microsoft DOES in fact cheat.

I first noticed it on XP. But, I've REALLY noticed it on Vista. Here is what I mean.

I've played X amount of games. The game keeps track of overall stats. Whenever I go over a 38% win rate (which isn't really all that hot but it's respectable) the program starts to gain up on me and kick my ass. I mean, seriously. I get dealt hands that NO ONE could do anything with. I will lose over and over again; then, once I drop back down to 37%, I will start to win again (I'll be dealt hands that any idiot could shoot the moon with).

This has happened over and over again. I cannot get past 38%!

I looked this up on Google and someone said, "Well, I don't think it is cheating, rather, like with "real" people, once one person starts to get ahead, the computer might attempt to "gang up on you".
Ok, this is true. If you are playing with REAL people that are half-way respectable, they will, in likelihood, "gang up on you" if you are out ahead.

But, this is NOT what happens with the program. No, not at all. First off, "real people" can't deal you particular rotten hands over and over and over again. And, "real people" won't allow someone else to shoot the moon just to get YOU (not in my experience, anyway). But, the program continually allows one of the other players to shoot the moon (whilst I sit by unable to stop them and watch my opponents throw the Ace of Hearts or something on someone trying to shoot the moon...I mean...DUH!)

Obviously, this blog entry is meant to be somewhat mindless. A ramble, a rant. Man, this pisses me off, though, which is why I am writing about it.

I played one game this afternoon and just hit 38% AGAIN. Any guesses as to who will NOT win the next game?

Mrs. B

1,503 comments:

1 – 200 of 1503   Newer›   Newest»
Mr. B said...

Hmm, I think that we have had this discussion before.

The people that created the program must have set the limit at 38% as the point to make the game more difficult to keep people interested and trying to exceed that point. The way it's programmed, however, sounds like no one will though. Did you see anything in your search that should anyone having a higher winning rate?

Anonymous said...

I can typically maintain about 65% for a couple of games...but I know what you mean...once I maintain at least three one games in a roll...it throws me the ace, king, or queen of spades...EVERY round. How is that statistically possible...and more times than not, if I give up the queen, I end up with the ace and king...with only one other spade to play with. It also only gives me high hearts...like 6 or above...which means an almost guaranteed 4 hearts a round. It sucks...I think that we should be able to kick the PCs ass once in a while...but not with Vista Hearts...it gets mad and gets even.

Anonymous said...

I'm on a 60% percentage score in vista with about 500 games under my belt and just had a 14 game win streak, never noticed any extra difficulty, have never been down to 38% though so maybe it is harder.

Anonymous said...

Another cheat that drives me crazy is that the computer players always know what cards are being held, at all times.

If you or another only has the king or ace of spades, the next trick is started with the queen of spades. This has happened too many times on the second trick of the game to be a coincidence.

I'm not a serious player, but it seems if they're going to keep stats (Vista) the computer shouldn't cheat!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does "cheat". I have played and tracked results with a spreadsheet of over 1000 games and it is almost impossible to exceed 40% and finish all games. Even as I got much better my percentage only rose slightly. The winner of the previous game catches the Queen over 90% of the time on the first hand of the next game. And you are right, there are hands played that I have never seen in real player games.

The computer never stops runs for other computer players, it is always up to the real player to stop all computer runs.

Anonymous said...

my wife and i have a 46% win margin after 360 games and it's getting better [we live in Nigeria and don't get out at night]. couple of strategies help - 1] quit after each game and come back in - the game is a bit kinder in the 1st round we think, and 2] be aggressive with shooting the moon when you sense the game may be against you.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the discussion: I just played an hand, on XP, where the PC made a very sstrange move. Some hearts had already been thrown to a PC player, but no the queen of spades, that was with the player in front of me (I was aware of that because it was me that passed the queen to him before the hand). I had the ace of spades and I was forced to play it by the player on my right, but the computer kept the queen with him!!! Why, I wonder?!!
Not logical at all, really looks like cheating...

The Websters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Websters said...

I can totally relate to this. I can play like 4 rounds taking almost no cards, then suddenly the computer ups and gives me the worst cards possible.

After, ALWAYS by convenience of course, it gives me the Queen of Spades, and easily the only cards above it, in at minimal 2 of the remaining rounds.

You can't contact Microsoft about it without having to pay minimally 59 bucks, and you'll be the end of many of their techie's jokes because they simply say that the computer shoots the moon.

The program will most likely never be truly fixed, and yet, here we remain, still playing the game once in a while, hoping that by some small chance the computer decided to go on vacation so we could win for once, and not end up frustrated beyond belief.

By the way, found your blog looking on Google to see if Hearts really was cheating. Well written, Mrs. B.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever taken no cards in a hand and yet MS gives you the points from an opponent's hand? It happens to me all the time, often more than once per game. It's not a sweep, because it doesn't meet the criteria, and even if it was, it should have given the points to all players, not just me - Talk about cheating!

Holger said...

I agree - the program is cheating badly. Just deleted it from my system - I will search now for a good hearts freeware.

Anonymous said...

Don't pass hearts and you will rarely get one. Pass hearts and you almost always get some.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the MS Hearts program is rigged and the deal, pass off, leads and play by the other "players" is fixed.
Case in point:
If you pass hearts you will receive hearts and probably either the queen, king or ace of spades for good measure (try repetitively starting a game and pass hearts, see what happens, cancel the game and repeat).
Once you have been targeted by the program to lose the game the play is rigged for the other "players" to dump points on you even if you are high hand. Conversely if you have been targeted at the start to win the game some hands are ridiculously easy.

All MS games where the cards are hidden are rigged. The only honest game is Free Cell where all the cards are face up and cannot be "reshuffled" during play.

Anonymous said...

The game is not rigged, you just suck. I was running at about 44% at the start (200 games) as the game is more difficult than XP, but have increased to 54% as of 600 games.

If you don't like the game, stop playing. If you want to cry because you suck, put on your dress and keep playing.

Anonymous said...

Well (comment poster above this one)...u are about the only idiot that thinks so!

charvakan said...

1) I don't believe that the program cheats in the normal sense of the term. I can't get above 61% (nearly 800 games so far), but I attribute this mostly to chance and my shortcomings as a player.

2) The computer stinks as a hearts player. If I'm winning most of the time against three computer players, and microsoft cheats, then the programmers are so bad that Vista would never even boot up, no matter how bad the program is at hearts. My computer opponents frequently pass low spades; that's just stupid strategy.

3) The one thing the computer does well is count cards that have been played. Of course the comnputer player will "know" when the only unplayed spade that it doesn't hold is an ace or king, and will lead out the queen. You should be this aware too. If card counting strikes you as cheating, you are just a very poor card player and should never try bridge unless you want your partner to divorce or strangle you.

4) I too have had a computer player refuse to drop a queen of spades on me. In my experience, this has been on hands where the computer has a reasonable chance to shoot the moon and is keeping the option open. I don't think it's good strategy, but it isn't cheating.

5) Runs of good and bad luck can look like cheating. Don't trust paranoid explanations for what is more likely just to be statistics in action.

6) Some tips:

- Don't play angry at the game. You'll make bad decisions and lose.

- The single biggest factor in my raising my win percentage from an original 50% to above 60% is that I don't try as much to shoot the moon, both on the pass and in the play. Just play safe if you can and if you don't have a virtual lock on the shoot.

- Don't pass the queen of spades (and higher ones) with four or more spades in your hand.

- Don't give up hope on hands. I've come back from being in last place by over 50 points to win games. You could get lucky. Just concentrate on how you can win. You're never out of contention until someone goes over 100.

Anonymous said...

I just played a game and came across something that can only be explained by the computer knowing what cards I had.

I pass three cards to my right, one being the King of spades, I am void in spades. Of course I get passed the Queen of spades, the computer plyer to my right leads a low spade and forces my queen. Now you may think that is a sound strategy for any player, But I paid close attention to all the spaids the east player played. Come to find out east had 2 low spades and the King, any player in that postion would NEVER lead a low spade

Anonymous said...

The computer players don't play particularly well on the whole, but seem to compensate by deciding their individual actions vis-a-vis your hand, creating an implicit form of collusion that often is akin to cheating. I don't know if this is intentional or quick programming. Annyoing, but can be adapted to.

What bothers me more is that it doesn't appear that card distrubtions are anywhere near random. When winning, the predictability of having a 5h mean that the 2h,3h and 4h are *exactly* distributed equally among opponents shows me that the card distribution is weighted. This way, after hearts are broken, a computer player leads their 2,3, or 4, and you must take 4 points with your 5. It happens over and over again.

To me, this clearly shows that the compensation of lack of sophisticated AI is card manipulation. This can be overcome to some degree (some times), but ultimately makes the game more frustration than fun...

James said...

Cheating is something that only humans can do. I suspect that it is the programmers are cheating Vista Hearts players.

I just finished a game where I was passed or had the queen of spades in every hand but one (the one was a keeper). I got stuck with the queen five times (!) and shot the moon twice to squeak out a win.

In general I have noticed that the computer players aggressively lead spades any time that I hold the queen, otherwise they use low card leads in long suits.

I am maintaining a 60% win rate after 220 games. This is only because I have figured out that chances of shooting the moon are actually increased when the program is "out to get you". Keeping low hearts can be the worst thing you can do when you have a bad hand. It prevents you from switching strategies after you are burnt by the program.

I think Vista hearts is more difficult than the XP version. I have not shot the moon four times in a row, which I manage in XP on a few occasions.

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog looking for verification that MS Hearts cheats, and I believe that it does. First, I'm sure the players collude, in that I've seen situations where players work together in situations where it is not in their best interest. Secondly, almost always from the first hand, one player gets 'hot', and that player continues to stay hot all game. It seems to be East a majority of the time. Lastly, I have a question. I'm on version 5.1. I don't have any win/loss stats. Is that because I upgraded from 2000 and didn't wipe my drive?

Anonymous said...

Yet another person who thinks that Microsoft Hearts isn't entirely on the level.

As with other people, I've seen the computer make moves that no person in their right mind would make without collusion. On one hand, I was keeping track of what cards were left, 2 tricks to go, and there was a 3H, KH, and AH left. East was definately trying to shoot the moon. It lead off with KH. West followed with a 3H. OK, last trick, and an AH left. Probably east had it. I was wrong, as West had it. You're telling me it wouldn't sacrifice one for the team so we all wouldn't get 26? And I've seen at different points the computer lead off with cards to force me to get multiple points where any normal player would never play anywhere near as stupidly. But like other people, I think it's trying to compensate for overall poor playing.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a bit off topic, but has anyone managed to burst all the little "heart bubbles" at the end of the game? I've got close, but never managed to get them all. I just wondered if anything special happened.

Mrs. B said...

To the person that posted Feb 3 at 9:58 am, I'm sorry, I don't know enough to know about your scores being wiped. I HAVE noticed, though, that East seems to win a lot. I've been known to mumble "Fu$$ing East did it again!" while playing.

To the person who posted right befoe this, I did not even know you could pop the bubbles! Now, I'll have to try :-)

Mrs. B

Anonymous said...

I think the term "cheats" is nonsensical. It's also paranoid. By the same token, the game isn't played by the rules of chance and there are not really any specific cards in any players hands except the human player. I've seen too many ridiculous outcomes to believe that. Rather, the program determines, not which of the other computer players will win, but what percentage of the time the human player won't, or will, take your pick. Since I don't know the programming or the intent of the programmer, I don't know the rationale behind the way it plays. I too have seen the program withold the queen when an ace or king was already on the table and too many times I've had the cards to attempt a run only to find all the rest of the hearts in one other players hand. Nevertheless, I continue to play because, apparently, I enjoy it. Maybe that's what MS was after all along.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the program "cheats," for lack of a better term. If you've taken even a basic statistics class, you can tell that after 10 hands. Those people claiming otherwise are just trying to make themselves feel smarter than everyone else.

Mrs. B said...

Well, here I am getting close to a year after I first posted this. I still play the game and have edged my way up to a 44% win rate. I even won one game (just one) with a score of zero!

East still seems to win the majority of the games that I do not.

Thanks for all of these comments...it's been fun reading them and seeing where everyone is from.

Google is amazing!

Anonymous said...

To 2/27 Anonymous:

Don't say "of course it "cheats"" and then condition your statement with "for lack of a better term". The better term is "programmed". Programs can't cheat and since it's obvious to everyone else that when playing against a computer, you have very little chance of winning at all, unless the program wants you to, cheating isn't necessary or possible. It's doing exactly as the programmer intended. It simply doesn't want the human to lose all the time.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough on my "cheats" comment. You are correct. A program can't actually cheat. Didn't realize the semantics police were out in force. My bad.

Anonymous said...

HELLO MR. & MRS. B! WOW, ALMOST A YEAR STRONG BLOG, AND ALL THE TALK OVER MICROSOFT HEARTS! HOW INTERESTING. I TOO AM A HEARTS PLAYER, SEEKING TO VENT A LITTLE FRUSTRATION FROM MY RECENT LOSSES. EVERYONE'S COMMENTS HAVE BEEN NOTHING LESS THAN INFORMATIVE AND AT TIMES QUITE AMUSING. KEEP THE PAGE ROLLING! I'M OFF TO DOWNLOAD VISTA HEARTS FOR MY XP SYSTEM ; )

ProCardPlayerProgrammer said...

In reply to 2/27 Anonymous: yes, it is very correct to say a program cheats if it does things against the rules of the game. There are computer vs. computer and computer vs. human tournaments held every year, with serious prize money at stake, in games like Poker, Bridge, and Chess. When a program violates the rules, it is disqualified for cheating. Secretly sharing information about hidden cards with other players is a form of collusion. It is a serious no-no in card games like poker, bridge, and hearts, and definitely qualifies as cheating. Rigging the shuffle to come out a certain way is an even more serious form of cheating. Some humans "card mechanics" do this kind of thing, too, and they get kicked out of the game, beaten up, or worse if caught.

Anonymous said...

If Microsoft Hearts is cheating, it sure isn't cheating very well. Statisically, all players being equally talented, any one of them would win 25% of the time. Some of the posters have reported a success rate of 60% and still maintain that the game is cheating them. If a computer program was cheating, you wouldn't be winning. I suspect it is just not programmed to perfection.

Anonymous said...

No, I do not think it cheats... I reckon it is just bloody good programming... I played well over 300 games and have a respectable winning rate of 67%... I have observed that if I have a good hand of exclusively clubs or exclusively diamonds (>6 cards), and play them strategically, I always win (i.e., I do not get the Queen of Spades but end up with 2 to 5 hearts)...

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. B,
I found this facinating blog today and want to add my 2 cents. I am sure that the game breaks the rules but am not sure that it was programmed to do so. My latest example, and the one that led me to this blog, is one where I am void in hearts and setting up an easy shoot when the player in front of me leads a heart. Hearts had not yet been played and the player had other suits available. Made me mad enough to quit the game and end up on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I suspected something was amiss when I lost so frequently when I first started playing Microsoft Hearts on my Windows Vista computer. I had won so consistently on a Windows XP computer that I eventually stopped playing, as there was so little challenge. I had also "mastered" a freeware 3D Hearts game. As a result I thought I was pretty good, but came crashing down to earth when I started losing about 50% of the time in Vista Hearts,

However, I modified my strategy a bit, e.g. started discarding high hearts and rarely trying to shoot the moon and I started winning again. Currently I am at 79% wins and feeling good again.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Mrs B.

I came across your blogspot when, out of sheer frustration, I crawling the Net for some "cheat" strategies on Windows Hearts.

I always play my games fair and square but, when a mindless robot beats you 17 consecutive times, you're just about to axe the robot in half.

Right now, I believe the robot has this funny smirk behind the glow of the monitor....

Anyway, I am playing Vista Hearts and have not found any cheats... YET.

Before the 17 consecutive losses, my winning rate was 38%. Now, I can not get past 30%.

Thanks for your blog.

Waldoh said...

As a test: There is a way to see your opponents cards. I used this to track the plays of the computer. Yes it indeed cheats. It will hold the Queen when it can play it on another opponent if it can play it on you in the next one or two hands. It will also deliberately "juggle" the plays in order to give you the queen or prevent you from shooting the moon. Again, YES MS HEARTS CHEATS!!!

Mrs. B said...

So...Waldoh...how do you see your opponents' cards? Do tell!

Jeshurun said...

You can see your opponent's cards in XP by adding the following key to the registry at
HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version/Applets/Hearts
On the right pane choose "New String value". Give it a name of ZB and a value of 42.
To see your opponent's cards, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F12 during play.
Note that this doesn't seem to work in Vista.
And adding to the topic, Vista hearts $ucks to the core.

Anonymous said...

I played Hearts over the Easter break and I can DEFINITIVELY say that it CHEATS...

My proofs:

1. The other "players" [West, North, East] do NOT know (or is unwilling) to block others from "shooting the moon" other than you. When it is obvious that one is gunning for the moon, the others just give it all the chances. You have to block it yourself, if you can. When I try to do it, I get ganged up.

2. At the start of a game, when I have two to four spades, one of them the Queen or an Ace, and I pass this to another player, I get in return the King, Queen, or Ace spade. The same thing happens when I pass on high value Hearts. This rarely happens when I pass clubs or diamonds.

3. When it becomes clear that you are "losing", the others gang up on you.

Try it for yourself. The game is one big cheat....

Anonymous said...

Hearts DEFINITELY cheats...

When you're running second or third in the middle of a game, Hearts will "save" the player who is leading, give you all the crap cards, and make the fourth place player lose some more so that there is no way for you to catch the first place player...

To them, second or third place is a loss so your overall statistics gets even crappier....

Oh, well, since when did Microsoft play fair?

Anonymous said...

I agree with "2) The computer stinks as a hearts player." Using the cheat on XP I found out that always Queen, King and As of spade is passed - regardless of how many spades the player has. To complete the cards, high hearts are passed. If you want to shoot the moon, play low hearts first, they aren't taken at all - only if it is the last card. On playing clubs or diamonds, the last player always takes the highest card unless a heart is inbetween.
And yes, they toss happily their high hearts if one of them makes a run, but not on you...
Is there a better free version around?
Cheers :)
H.

Anonymous said...

i didn't read the whole thread so if i'm repeating sorry. in addition to the 38% issue i think the also renegs. happen to anyone? keep an eye out.

Mick said...

Have any of you actually played Hearts against humans? The Vista version of Hearts definitely plays better than previous versions, but still not as well as humans. All of the behaviors that I see complaints about are exactly what human opponents would do but that previous versions were not quite intelligent enough for. After 100 games I am at 70%, and as I learn the "personalities" of the players, I am sure that percentage will go up. I see absolutely no evidence of cheating, just decent, somewhat intelligent play.

Michael said...

I just re-install my vista on my HP computer.. I played the hearts program on a whim.. shot the moon 4 times in a row. never in my life have i done that. i even have some screen shots to prove it.

Anonymous said...

I dont think it cheats because if you create a shortcut on your desktop and quadrouple click on it real fast so that two game start within the same second, you get the exact same game (all hands are exactly the same throught the entire game) So it must calculate a ton of rounds from the start.

Anonymous said...

also to add to my above comment, there is a cheat so that you can see all your opponents hand the whoel game through by editing your registry. Here is how to do it:

Look At Other Player's Hands for Microsoft Hearts
1. In the Start Menu, select run.
2. Type in ''regedit'' and then hit enter.
3. Click on H_KEY_CURRENT_USER
4. Click on Software
5. Click on Microsoft
6. Click on Windows
7. Click on CurrentVersion
8. Click on Applets
9. Click on Hearts
10. Select New String Value from the Edit menu.
11. Name the string ZB, and give it a value of 42.

Now open up a hearts game and you should now be able to press ''Ctrl-Alt-Shift-F12'' to see your opponents hands.

I did it and it works fine.

Anonymous said...

I read this thread with much interest. Most of those who have replied seem to agree that the softwriters have included a degree of bias, whether by design or accident, and this reinforces what I have long suspected, i.e. that success in playing the game does not depend solely on what should be the only two criteria: the human player's expertise, and the luck of the draw.

The question that remains for me is this: how good a player am I? Based on results alone, using the XP version over thousands of games, it seems that I am reasonably good, with a win percentage of over 60% calculated over the last 150 or so games. That, however, only compares me with the "players" that the softies created and I suspect that if I were to play with three competent humans my rating would take a big tumble.


I have never played Hearts against human opponents and would be very interested to learn of the experiences of those who have.

Graham, Belper, UK

PS I have recently acquired a Vista pc and find it much more difficult to win, which seems to indicate that a bias was written in to one or both versions.

Anonymous said...

There is NO doubt that Vista-Hearts 'cheats', by utilizing any of the equalizing methods mentioned above.

I've had other players 'fall on the grenade' by, say, saving an Ace of spades to eat the queen to prevent me from shooting the moon--before it would be obvious to any human player (that didn't know my hand and thus my likely intentions), and their hand was junk and they could've safely dropped the ace before. It's maddening.

I fully agree with what clearly appears to be the majority here--that in Vista the Hearts is rigged. In XP it was much easier to ride herd on the players--they were idiots.

The registry hack cheat shown above doesn't appear to work in
Vista--I'd like to 'get even' myself, does anyone know of an 'equalizer' for Vista?
--James

Anonymous said...

Vista hearts definitely captures many human traits than XP before, nonetheless the programming is not perfect. There are many things that human opponents in hearts do not do but statistically the computer player tends to do as per Vista programming logic. Few examples below...

1. Computer player at 80-90 started taking all the points in order to let another computer player win. A human would have tried to take as less points as possible.

2. Computer player do not give points to another computer player on the first pass of a void trick. A human would have passed the point, we normally hold points only when we anticipate that one of the player is trying to shoot which is not possible early in the game.

3. Computer player plays queen of spade when there is only an ace or king of spade in the human player's hand and other small spade(s) in another computer player's hand. That's a hell of a risk very few human will take.

4. When a computer player shoots, more often the other computer players rarely hold their point cards.

Having said that initially the game do allow you to win, but after you notch up a certain win percentage new set of rules kick in ... guess they have a heuristic programming that becomes harder as time passes. I am currently stuck at 57% after 500 games ... often when i almost reach 58%, the computer starts winning and i am back at 57% :-(

In conclusion, I will say if you have programmed where the computer takes advantage of the knowledge of other players hands from the start of the game, then it is not interesting any more.

Anonymous said...

After about 225 games I'm at 51%, with my longest losing streak being 12. As far as the software goes, I think the game's got pretty good AI; in a live game I think most players gang up on the leader so I don't think it's unrealistic that the computer always gangs up on the live player. Playing lots of online poker has proven to me that I'm not very good at cards, but I do have a basic strategy for hearts. If possible, I pass all of my clubs, 2nd choice I pass all of my diamonds. If I can't completely dump either suit, I consider shooting the moon. I rarely shoot the moon if I can fully get rid of diamonds clubs or hearts. I try to never pass any spades, unless I have only AKQ, then I might pass them all. I've noticed that the computer often holds it's final ace out no matter what, if you play your hearts with this in mind you can sometimes fox it. If anyone else has strategy, I'd love to hear about it. I'm sure the couple from Nigeria who are above 60% have evolved some strategy as well!

Anonymous said...

Even the guy who says you're just whining admits that the game is harder than it was under XP. HUH? How the hell would a fair, randomly-dealt game get harder if the game itself is not manipulating the cards? Has this guy never played hearts with, you know, like, cards?
I have not tracked statistics on it, and while I've seen some whacky deals, randomly, you're going to get some odd hands from time to time - so I'm not so sure about it manipulating the deal. But two things I'm certain it does: 1. Play based on what's in other pc-player's hands, e.g. deliberately moving the lead around amongst itself to set you up for the queen. (if the guys at lunch did that, they'd be called cheaters), and 2. 'protect' one of the hands. If you get close, one of the other hands will suck up points to lose so that the protected pc hand wins. I win about 30+%. and I don't suck as a Hearts player. If I were playing 3 guys who played the way the game plays, I'd either win 75% of the time or accuse them of cheating.
Is there a reasonable hearts game out there?

Anonymous said...

Found this blog looking for cheats for Microsoft Hearts on Vista because I got so frustrated with it. I wondered if the game might have been programmed to produce a more and more difficult game, as it seemed like it was stacking the deck against me with lousier hands each time I won a hand. It also seemed to 'know' whenever I had the Queen of Spades and very few other spades, as the other three players would bombard me to force me to produce the Queen and take the trick. I can understand if the game is programmed to analyze and counter my strategies, as any human opponent would do that, but unless I'm playing against psychics and telekinetics, I would expect more variance of good and bad hands, and more cautious draws when presumably the only players who know who is holding the Queen are the one who is holding it and the one who passed it. Exiting the game for a few hours does seem to reset whatever part of the program is tripping the computer to collusive tactics. I hope Microsoft figures out a way to create a tough game without resorting to letting the computer collude against the human opponent.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever had a perfect round? i.e. 4 shoot the moons in a row? The closest I have come is 3 in a row and then a 25, just missing out on the last heart. Also the other perfect hand where the three computer players all end up with 125 points?

Mrs. B said...

To the person who commented today 8/10 at 10:15...ok, it seems to me that YOU should be posting some tips here :-)

Anonymous said...

Microsoft Hearts Network That I play. Being programed into my comp. I dont know how it is programed but it is a cheating ptece of sh__. I have learned to play hearts on this program and have multiple multiple times I have recorded on paper the hands played. I just think that if the comp. does not want to get beat you can not win. Publish this if you want these are my personal feelings and I will continue to play. thanks for your website I finally found to vent.

Anonymous said...

Well they do seem to gang up on the human opponent but I have maintained a 70% record with 11 consecutive wins at one point and only a 4 game losses in a row

Anonymous said...

MSHearts is a wonderful concept by Microsoft. What other organization has a "flagship" game which perfectly reflects its corporate philosophy? Gang-up on people,steal knowledge and ideas and, when all else fails, just blatantly cheat. Absolutely brilliant!

Mike K. said...

I searched around for some info on whether this game cheats because of some hinky play by the computer. Primarily, leading with the Queen when I only have an Ace or King left (without enough spades having been played to know this) and the fact that the computer players will never prevent each other from shooting the moon.

There's another quirk to the program that I haven't seen mentioned here, but it can't just be me. I'm taken aback whenever I don't have the 2 of clubs. I think I have the lead first at least 19 hands out of 20.

Anyone else have this happen?

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what people here are calling "cheating" is simply just a better AI than existed in the Windows XP version of Hearts. How anyone can say that it "cheats" when they are winning 60+% of the time (or even "only 37%) is beyond me! After all, statistically you should only win 25% of the time!

I have found one very simple rule that the computer players always do, and knowing that rule gives you a HUGE advandage: If a computer player is dealt the queen of hearts, it will ALWAYS pass it (when there is a pass hand). Knowing this simple little fact allows you to know who does not have the queen (that is, if you don't have it). For example, if you are passing to the left, and you don't pass the queen, then you KNOW that the player to your left does not have the queen.

I am currently at 55% win rate. If I was more serious in counting cards, keeping track of what cards were played, etc., I'm sure I could easily be in the 60+% club.

Anonymous said...

I just played a hand where, with most lower spades still out, East led with the Queen of spades very early in the hand. Why? Because I had no spades other than the Ace and King, of course! The other "players" both had spades in their hands. This is the sort of nonsense play that cannot be attributed to the East "player" being better than me. No one who had less than perfect, actual knowledge of an opponent's hand would lead that way. There were so many spades unplayed at that point that it was many times more likely that the player leading the Queen would take the trick. And it was not part of an attempt by East to shoot the moon... East had far too poor a hand for that, as proven in the course of the hand.
And the observation that the "players" collude to permit one of them to shoot the moon appears to have merit, as well. I have too often seen cards that could have stopped the moon shot played at what would otherwise be described as poorly chosen moments, while I watched helplessly. The nearly-universal, even distribution of the 2,3,4 and 5 of hearts is another anomaly I had noticed, too. There have been very few occasions where that nice little pattern did not hold true.
Another point: in many games, there seems to be one "player" that is designated to "take one for the team" by repeatedly taking the most points. One or both of the other players maintain low point totals while you become the one who is most likely to gather all points not taken by the "sacrificial lamb". Looks like collusion again.
Whether due to intent or to poor programming, the result is the same - Microsoft Hearts cannot reasonably be described as "fair". (But as noted by a few commenters, that pattern does seem to fit well with Microsoft's approach to business...)

Erik said...

When I first logged onto this blog, I was winning 50% of my Microsoft Hearts games (Vista). Now I’m winning 2/3, thanks to some strategy I picked up here. I could probably do better if I paid more attention.

I don't think the computer players 'cheat'. I think they play in a mechanical fashion and that it's possible to exploit that. They DO try to prevent moon shots, but they usually wait until the last minute. That’s why it seems like you’re always jumping in when they don’t.

The most useful tip I saw here bears repeating: The computer players ALWAYS PASS HIGH HEARTS (Queen, Ace and King), even when it makes no sense for them to do so. They also frequently pass low hearts, even though this rarely makes sense. This means that you should pass spades less frequently than you would if playing human players. Humans only pass the queen when there’s an advantage to doing so.

When playing the game, try to figure out who has the queen. If you don’t have it and you didn’t pass it, then the queen is with one of the other 2 players.

Some tips:

..Before passing, see if it's possible to shoot the moon. Most of the time, it will not be likely.

..If you have an ace / king of spades and 3 clubs or fewer, short the clubs. If you don't get any clubs passed to you and you don't get the queen, you can get rid of the high spade in the first trick. If you do get the queen passed to you, the high spade can help protect you from the queen.

..If you're not trying to shoot the moon, try to have as many spades as possible, and at least one low card (5 and under) for each high card (6 and over) of the remaining suits. Count the 2 of clubs as a high card and the ace as a low card, unless you have both. If you have both, count them both as high cards. Pass clubs and diamonds first. Then look to pass hearts.

..Try to figure out who has the Queen of Spades at the beginning of each round and play accordingly. If you don't have the queen, and you didn't pass the queen, then the queen is in the hand of one of the two players you did not pass to.

..If you don't want to count all the cards, then count the cards of just one suit (either spades or the suit which you have the most of). When 13 cards are accounted for, then no other players have cards of that suit in their hand.

..In the first trick, the computer players always play their highest club, or the 2 of spades. If you don't have the Ace and the Ace doesn't win the trick, it means that the player who threw down the 2 of clubs also has the ace.

..The computer players play mechanically. When they start a trick with a low card, they start with the lowest card of that suit. A human player won't always do that. If I had the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of diamonds, I might start a trick with the 6 so that other players won't know I have the 2.

..In general, try to have the other players distribute points among themselves. Once the queen of spades is played, hearts are broken and nobody is shooting the moon, try to steer the other players into playing with suits you don't have, or where you only have low cards.

..If you want to 'cheat' your win/loss percentage in Vista, set your preferences to automatically save games on exit and to automatically load the saved game. Then play a game where you are one card away from winning. Exit the game so that this is your saved game. When you resume, play the card and win the game. Then, instead of starting a new game, exit when the congratulations window is still open. When you start the game again, you will be back at the original point, one card away from winning the game. Win the game and exit without starting a new one. Repeat as much as you like. You can 'win' 10, 50, 1000 or even a million games in a row if you like.

Erik said...

I just played a hand where, with most lower spades still out, East led with the Queen of spades very early in the hand. Why? Because I had no spades other than the Ace and King, of course! The other "players" both had spades in their hands. This is the sort of nonsense play that cannot be attributed to the East "player" being better than me.

Some possible explanations:

- if hearts were not broken, the queen of spades might have been the only card the player could play.

- it's possible the computer player was trying to shoot the moon. Say they had the Ace, King, Queen and Jack of some other suit or the highest 2-3 cards of 2 or 3 other suits. If they toss the Queen out and nobody takes it, they can shoot the moon. If they toss the Queen out and you take it, then they sock you for 13 points.

Lee A. said...

I found this very very interesting! I understand logic and how the game works just as much as the next programmer. HOWEVER, the computer does cheat!

"Proof"...open a game, then save it. Open the saved game in your games folder and scroll past all the gobledegook...it stores the game in an XML format. I doesn't take a massive genius to read the XML, tags and their meanings, and the values.

After parsing through the file I thought to myself...

...I don't like to say the word cheating, I usually like to call it "Finding a better way to win".

Now seeing as the whole MS Hearts on <= XP's reg hack "ZB" - "42" no longer works. I'd go ahead and use my web development knowledge and use PHP to parse the saved game data.

The computer knows your cards, knows which cards you will get and calculates the percentages out before you throw a single card and continues to do as you play. I evened the odds by using the generated web page to see their cards!!

You might say, "where's the fun in that" but trust me, it cheats enough to still screw you into the Q of spades from time to time!

Don't get mad because it's cheating you..."cheat" back - OR - find a better way to win.

Erik said...

I think it depends on what you mean by "cheat". To me, cheating would mean that the computer uses information that it cannot possibly know to screw you over.

If the computer can deduce that another player has the King of Spades and no other spade, then leads a trick with the Queen of Spades, that's not 'cheating', IMO.

If the computer throws out the Queen on the second trick because it knows you only have the King of Spades, that would be cheating (unless the 2 through Jack are already accounted for, either having been played, or passed by the computer player to a different computer player, or in the computer player's hand).

Cheating would also be adding the score wrong and such.

I have never observed the computer player actually cheating. It's obvious that the computer player keeps track of the cards it has, the cards it passed, and all cards which have been played, but that's about the only advantage it really has.

I should mention that I'm only playing on Vista here, so if there are issues with XP hearts or some other version, I wouldn't know it.

Here's something you can do on Vista: Save your game at the beginning of each round. If something nasty happens, like you get the queen or too many hearts, exit the game without saving and play the game a different way.

When I've done this, I've noticed that I always get passed the exact same cards, and the computer players play consistently.

Once in a while, you will get stuck with the Queen of Spades, even with this method. But that's just random luck the way the cards were dealt. For instance, one time I had 4 clubs, and the lowest was the six of clubs. No matter how I passed the cards, the same player always had the Ace of clubs. They always led the second trick. They always threw out the 4 of clubs, then the Queen of Spades was tossed out by the next player and the 3 of clubs was played by the other player.

There is no way to avoid getting the Queen of Spades in that situation. The only thing you could change through passing and playing is how many additional points you wind up with.

However, overall, you can eventually win 100% of the games with that method. Unfortunately, each time you exit without saving, the computer counts it as a loss. So your actual win percentage will be very low.

But it is a useful exercise for figuring out how the computer players think and act.

Anonymous said...

Cheating programming luck sorcery. . . whatever you wanna call it. I think in the next version you should be allowed to select your difficulty level. easy if you wanna win% 65-85 medium for win% 45-55 and hard with a win% of 35-15. So if your feeling lucky/clever and you want a challenge crank up the difficulty and if you have had a bad day and feel like completely dominate you can play on easy. It's a game and should cater to our desires not frustrate people into a frenzy. It's about the players enjoyment and not some programmer nerds need to be statistically accurate or whatever. let me decide how much i'm gonna win. simple

Anonymous said...

Well I have played about 200 games and have maintained about 55% win percentage. I have noticed a considerable increase in the computer level because with Windows 98 hearts I had an 88% win percentage after 500 or so games. I don't know if that is due to Vista cheating or not.

Jon said...

Twice I have caught it cheating in my book (knowing what cards my hand contains.) I play the xp version. It has lead the queen of spades into me when I have had the lone king, forcing me to take it. After watching further cards come out during the play of the hand, I found out that they did have other more safe leads with low cards and there where other low spades out in the other hands so that it wasn't guaranteed that the queen was a safe lead. It's possible that it was a test to see if a run was possible but the other cards the hand had didn't look runnable in my opinion.

I still play it and I do fairly well. (In a real game I rarely lose in hearts, spades, pitch or many other games.) It is quite a challenge to beat somebody that cheats and I suspect that's why the programmers did it that way. It's much easier to make the program competitive by cheating then to make it actually make intelligent decisions.

Anonymous said...

The people that claim that MS Hearts, at least in Vista, is not cheating are wrong.

I so far believe the shuffle is above board, although I do seem to get the 2 of clubs lead 90% of the time, something that shouldn't happen in a truly random shuffle/deal.

The issue: you are supposed to be 4 "players" individually trying to win, not 3 against 1, according to published Hearts rules.

When you have the Queen, all 3 will hunt for it, but when one (any one) of THEM have the Queen, the computer players will lead non spades. This is contrary to the rules.

In a 4 real person Hearts game, if the other 3 players are playing together, telling each other which cards they have and trying to help each other, all against you, you'd have maybe a 5% win rate, if that.

Another already mentioned: I'm behind by 50 points; I start catching up to the leader. Since everyone is suppoed to be trying to win, in a real game, no sacrifical lamb, but in MSHEARTS the high score player then takes on a suicidal mission to try to obtain 25 points every hand, hell bent, with the other computer players helping him to break 100 before you can catch THEIR leader.

The point is, the reason for gaming is the randomness; we accept this. But if you went to Vegas and found out the dealer knew which cards you had and used that knowledge to decide on their strategy, what would you say? If the poker we see today on TV - if you found out that the 3 other players could see the other player's hand (any maybe yours) but you couldn't see theirs, would you call this Cheating? By definition.

For the person who says in effect, "Computers can't cheat" - sure they can - the software, not the hardware (duh....).

When the Queen hasn't been played and I don't have it (i.e. one of the computer player's has it), the others very very rarely will lead a spade, but if I have the Queen, I often close my eyes, point to my spade - you can be sure a spade will be lead.

I have played over 2000 games. No one in their right minds could say the program doesn't cheat. It does. End of story.

Here is what I think: the more intelligence you put into each computer player, the more programming code (i.e. TIME=$$$$) it costs to develop/write the program, so the computer players don't have as much intelligence as a reasonably competent human player (you'd be surprised at how much programming it would take, just for the game of Hearts, to have the computer players mimic the human brain), so the human wins. First time players after losing start getting the hang of the strategy after say 100 games and start winning. I might even say at this point the program has not been cheating. But then the program checks your stats and decides "whoa".

MS could have then switched to a more advanced (more code, more $$$) model of playing, emulating you playing against more seasoned players, but they took a different approach.

Instead, it was easier for the 3 computer players to start sharing their hands with each other (at least, which of them have which cards; I don't yet go so far as to say they swap cards during play, but I wouldn't say no either).

Even then I do maintain a 60% win rate because I'm that much smarter at the strategy than the computer players. Just because you win most of the time doesn't mean the losers didn't cheat.

Bottom line: computer players play differently whether YOU or THEM have particular cards in your hand, and they do know who has what cards; that means you are playing 3 vs 1, which is against the published rules of Hearts, therefore CHEATING; you may still win the majority of the time because even with the cheating, the players still haven't enough programmed intelligence.

MS may have good intention - if we won the game all the time, we'd get bored and not play, and it would be expensive to write Hearts where the computer players were as smart as a seasoned human Hearts player, but I still think they should acknowledge that you are playing 3 against 1.

Anonymous said...

I've just lost 14 straight games after being above 60%

Anonymous said...

Erik, sorry but your defense of the program in response to one of my observations on 9/3/09 just doesn't hold water. Here is what I'm referring to...

On 9/9/09 Erik copied the following from my 9/3 post:

I just played a hand where, with most lower spades still out, East led with the Queen of spades very early in the hand. Why? Because I had no spades other than the Ace and King, of course! The other "players" both had spades in their hands. This is the sort of nonsense play that cannot be attributed to the East "player" being better than me.

Here is Erik's response...

Some possible explanations:

- if hearts were not broken, the queen of spades might have been the only card the player could play.

- it's possible the computer player was trying to shoot the moon. Say they had the Ace, King, Queen and Jack of some other suit or the highest 2-3 cards of 2 or 3 other suits. If they toss the Queen out and nobody takes it, they can shoot the moon. If they toss the Queen out and you take it, then they sock you for 13 points.
.........................

Nope, neither of your possible explanations was the case... East had cards other than hearts, most sapdes were still out, and as I said in the very post you responded to, East had far too weak a hand to attempt a moon shot. East had safe leads of lower cards in other suits, with neither the firepower nor the pattern of other cards to enable it to shoot the moon.
Erik, you said "To me, cheating would mean that the computer uses information that it cannot possibly know to screw you over." I suspect you meant to say that cheating would mean that the computer uses information that even the best real player could not possibly know, in orfer to screw you over - since the computer DOES know every card that each player has. The problem is that it pretty clearly accesses that perfect knowledge of each hand and uses it in an unfair way.
The 9/27/09 post by Anonymous makes the most logical observations. In essence, it is just cheaper and easier to have the computer engage in collusion between its "players" than it is to enhance the program to the point where each player acts completely independently. As a result, the game gets harder to beat but it also leads to the same sort of anger and frustration that a human cheater would cause.

And that's why people have been posting here.

Anonymous said...

I have played over 4000 games of hearts on Vista and keep a 62.3% average. I am able to get to this level because I know how to "game" the program. But, I am convinced that the programmers, instead of making a brilliant AI program, stack the deck about 37% of the time to compensate for people like me who have learned how to "game" the program. I echo many of the comments made before me.

I know for a fact that the XP version will cheat; I've caught it twice not leading the queen when hearts have not been broken and it only has the queen and hearts. XP hearts is exceedingly easy to "game": it will hold the high [usually] heart for the last trick and dump the A & k of spades as soon as possible. Just play the j, q, k of hearts and the queen of spades last. (Vista will eat the queen or take a heart early to prevent you from shooting, XP won't.)

Anonymous said...

I played XP version hearts for years and maintained a 90% win ratio. The game seemed to play a set way that you could manuever around easily...but then I started playing Hearts (Vista) and I know this version plays to stack the deck against the player to keep you more challenged. The problem is that it is so obvious that it is cheating that the thrill in playing is gone. I'm stuck at a 53% win ratio and can't seem to get beyond this. If I start losing, the games get easier.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous from 9/27 created this post:

I stand by my comments that I posted earlier. I'll add that how strongly Hearts cheats is based upon how many games you play and what your % win is; it starts out not cheating, and anyone with a basic knowledge of hearts wins; as your # games and % increase, you cross the threshold and it increases its #/% of cheats.

I earlier said that it is obvious that the 3 computer players know what is in each other's hand, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that they exchange cards DURING PLAY (not talking about the passing of three cards - I'm talking about passing DURING PLAY); if I find time, I'm going to test this out so that I can post DEFINATIVELY HERE, whether or not this is occurring. How? In XP there is a mod so that you can see the other player's hand, but not in Vista, so......

Following a deal, I'm going to stop my computer and take a snapshot; then continue to play, and record which cards each player played; I now KNOW which player has which card. I will then restore my system to the exact point in time of the start of the round, except that this time, I will already know who has which cards.

I will then play different cards from what I did previously, and watch to see if the computer players STILL HAVE the same cards they were dealt.

One way or another, (if I have this time), I will post the results here, which will absolutely confirm if the computer players are passing cards amoung themselves DURING play.

Example (knowing which cards each player has): NORTH:"geez my computer friends, that darned human has lead a spade; I only have the queen (they don't know that I know who has what) - I'm going to have to eat it";

WEST: "oh don't fret my dear - take these spades to cover - have you got some low hearts you could give me in return as I've only got the ace")

Regarding a Computer Cheating:

Rather than saying "the programmers that wrote MS HEARTS programmed the Intel chip, using Windows API calls and Visual C# to share the content of their programattically created hands unbeknownst to the stupid human", we human people say "the program/computer players cheat" - easier/less typing; I don't think anyone here meant that the Intel chip has a personal vendetta against you (that would be paranoid).

So to the person that says computers don't cheat - give us a break - you know what was meant.

Mrs. B said...

Ok, this last comment (above) really cracked me up!

Thanks to everyone for commenting on this post. Seriously, I was (originally) just ranting when I posted it well over a year ago on my Blog. I had no idea so many people would find it.

Most of the comments have been very helpful, as well as interesting. I get a particular kick out of those of you who are bickering back and forth!

Alas, despite all your helpful input, I can't seem to get beyond 44% (at least I've increased my win percentage since the original post!)


Mrs. B

Blue said...

The whole point of a bot is to program it to act like a human. I have noticed that when a bot is losing badly, it will take all manner of chances at a moon shot when it is clear it isn't going to happen, especially the player at high Noon on Vista. But, it does speed the game along.

I suspect that all three bots do not have the same skill level. For example, High Noon is both dumber and smarter than the other two, depending on strategy at the time. Also, they are programmed to play against one another as well as you. I understand that. But, surely there is cheating in the way the cards are dealt. I recognize that there can be order in randomness but when a pattern exists for 10 or fifteen hands in a row, even in multiple games, I'm suspect.

Everyone has a hurdle. It is unrealistic to think you could ever maintain 100%, for example. After all, if all players were to have equal skills, any player should win 25% of the time, over time.

For those who can't cross a hurdle in Vista, if you don't mind sacrificing the integrity of your score, you can cheat yourself and see what the response is. To do that in Vista, save a game that is one click away from a sure win then don't save any other games. Every time you start a new session, you get a freebie. Use that to push you over your hurdle and see what happens. Of course, after the test has been done, you will have to start back at zero games for your scores to mean anything to you. Just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm really fed up with this. This game definitely CHEATS. (Glad I found this blog--so I won't commit myself to an institution after all).

For the record, I play on XP, so I don't have any known percentage, however, it's got to be well below what most are reporting here...I'm sure I win less than 30% of the time, if not even less. I know I can NEVER win more than three in a row.

Often, the bots just seem to play DUMB...and at other times they CHEAT IN MY FAVOR (own up everybody, haven't you had unintentional-yet-welcome Moonshots crammed down your throat at times?). Lots of times, I think it's just poorly programmed patterns of play that just have to run their course, but it does often seem like the others gang up on the human...one or two of the bots take on the role of whipping boy, allowing the the third to hardly ever take a heart or a queen...and yes, as others have noted, soon as one of them gets up into the 60s, he starts vacuuming up as many point cards as he can...all but one, that is, so the game accelerates to close before you can even up with the low score bot.

But contrary to one report, I have indeed seen--several times--one bot valiantly disrupt another bot's moonshot attempt...when I was powerless to do so.

However, something I've long suspected, but can never quite prove because the cards whoosh past too fast (even on "slow"), is that every so often, I am given tricks that I should NOT get...that is, I lay a lower value card than what is led, yet I get ALL THE CARDS, including all the hearts AND have to lead the next trick...and this is where I'm suspicious...usually this happens when most of the suits are almost played out, and I only have high cards left...of course, I end up with the queen in that trick. Anyone else seen this? Can we prove it?

--AnonyMouse in Boston

Anonymous said...

AnonyMous, some of what you are describing seems 'way out there. When I was on XP, my goal was to have scores of zero. The game is tougher in Vista. I suspect you would do well to delete the program and reinstall it.

Anonymous said...

Just finished my 3629 game, which I won. Winning 54% of games. Went you play this many games it takes a very long time to change 1%. Have had 4 or 5 games scoring 0. I'm playing the Vista version.

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Anonymous said...

I tried this simple experiment: I began a game and each time I either was dealt the Q of spades or was passed the Q I started a new game. It happened 15 straight times! The odds of that occuring randomly is quite high and thus improbable.

Anonymous said...

The odds of you being dealt the Queen of Spades are 1 in 4. The odds of it being passed to you are 1 in 3. That's in one game. To have the Queen of Spades in your hand for 15 games in a row might happen once in two lifetimes with paper cards. I don't think the cheating is in the game. The bots are "pretty smart." The cheating is in the dealing. One person theorized that dealing changes if you change your playing pace but I haven't found that to be true. I checked to see if closing the program and reopening it made any difference but I didn't see any. The card shuffling is not random. Patterns just do not occur that often with random dealing.

Anonymous said...

I agree the game cheats in the dealing process, but when one opponent begins to lose in a game, he suddenly begins to lose badly. If you can change the play to cause a different player to begin to lose, he then begins to lose badly.
Don't forget about how the other three players seem to know when there is a card you have in your hand that will take the Queen, and when it makes no semse for the Queen to get played unless the other players are seeing your cards, it's played.

Anonymous said...

When someone is losing badly, some other players want them to lose faster and some want to help slow their losses. If one player is well ahead, there are times when it is to your advantage to help them shoot the moon. I don't think other players can see your hand and I don't think they share their hands with one another. But, I do believe the three bots are "counting cards." I believe they have a perfect memory of what has been played by every other player. I have the facts to do that but not the mental ability. To "keep a sheet" on it would turn fun into work, so I don't do that.

Anonymous said...

I have played 2200 games on vista hearts and hav a 61% win rate. First of all the computer counts cards (so do I) and the computer never makes a mistake. The computer also always remembers who played which card. With this information the computer can guess who has which cards and as the game nears an end the computer can deduce this perfectly thereby "knowing" who holds which cards.
You should easily be able to get your score above 50% becaus the computer stinks at passing and seems incapable of taking a trick it doesn,t need to to avoid more points later in the hand. The computer will also play a low card last when they should play a high card and hold the low one.
I have long suspected that the computer looks at your cards but I can't be sure.
For the record I am very good against human player but have had rounds where it seemed I got the Queen almost every time.
Only once have I had 4 straight "shoot the moons" to start the game, but I have done it 3 times in a game at least a dozen times.
If you want to improve your score learn to count cards and when it looks like your going to lose a match "go for the moon", there's nothing to lose and you might get the right pass to pull it off.

Anonymous said...

This game does cheat. I have not only seen the majority of issues discussed in this blog, but others as well. For example, I was dealt the Q of spades. I passed it to the person on my left, but was given the A of spades. When the person on my left played the K of spades, I knew it was safe to play the A because the left player had the Q. The right player then played the Q giving me the points. I have passed a card to another player just to get it right back in my hand. I have played cards out of my hand, and later in the game, the computer would play that same card to hurt me. My husband has also noticed this discrepancy in the game. At first I thought maybe I was just mistaken. I have a program that records repetitive screen shots. I used this program during game play, and sure enough, I caught the game doing this on a number of occasions. If this is not cheating, then I do not know what is. Needless to say, I no longer play this game.

Anonymous said...

Apparently some think programs do not "cheat". Tell that to that poker site where the prior owner coded in a way for him to see everyone's cards. They had paid back $25,000,000 to those who lost by the "program" last I heard.

Anonymous said...

I relate to all that has come before, but because I am an old hand at all the previous versions of MS Hearts I see an ever developing level of artificial intelligence being introduced.

1) Don't assume that all three computer players are operating at the same intelligence level.

2) Don't assume that you are as good as you think. I used to play hearts at lunch with other programmers and we played multiple decks and up to eleven players in a hand. Cut-throat to the max. In fifteen years I shot it successfully only once with two decks.

3) A computer player AI that USES all of the information at its disposal can be formidable. One of my card playing buddies was able to count all the cards in each suit as they were played. And based on his starting hand and the pass he could predict when a trick would force the queen to be played. He won 30 percent of the time with 6-7 other players consistently. Over the long haul he was the one to beat.

4) With Vista there is something going on. BUT. Consider that each time you start the game there is something which keeps track of whether or not you have ever shot the moon. This is true for XP and earlier. The computer opponents are suddenly aware of your ability to do it again. The programmers do not want the novice to become discouraged. But the more capability you display then the more important it becomes to challenge you. If you like shooting the moon then just restart the game each time and hope for a good pass from the player to your right.

5) Don't be so eager to pass away your high (A or K) spades. If you can pass out of clubs then the single high spade can be got rid of on the first trick. And if you get the Queen passed to you then so much more protection can be yours.

I have become convinced that I am running into a wall of skill level and nothing more. Everyone can get a run of bad luck. But if I just kept getting the best of these computer players I would stop playing.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the game "cheat" in the sense that it fudges scores or doesn't follow suit, etc. However, I will say that the overall game algorithm is poor. Okay, okay, I was being kind. It's actually pretty pathetic.

Here are some of the things I've noticed and how I've managed to work around them.

1) In large part, the game makes up for its algorithmic shortcomings by skewing the randomness of dealt cards. Simply put, cards dealt to you will tend to be worse than what you'd experience in real life. This becomes very apparent if you begin to fall behind in a game. Conversly if start getting a sizeable lead, the cards dealt to you tend to be much better than what you'd see in real life. Moral of the story, try to get an early lead and you'll probably win the game.

2) When your opponent has the Ace, King or Queen of spades, it will always, always, always pass those off, regardless of how many other spades it has. I've not seen where that isn't the case. In real life, a good player may keep these cards if he has enough other spades in his hand. At times, you can use this algorthimic flaw to help identify which player has the Queen of spades. It can also help when passing to West. For example, suppose you didn't pass West the Queen of spades. You can be assured he will not have it because if he was dealt it, he would have passed it to North. This gives you quite a bit of latitude for getting rid of the Ace or King of spades.

3) Your opponents will do almost nothing to prevent a run by another player other than you. Moral of the story, try to stop the run early by slamming a heart on 2 different players.

I've played hundreds of games now and maintain roughly a 75% average. The games shortcomings still frustrate me so I tend not to play many back-to-back games. But follow these rules and count important cards and you should do as well.

Anonymous said...

After 2 years of playing this fascinating but frustrating game I finally took the plunge and added the applet into the Registry that allows you to see the other 3 hands as you play them.If you take this simple step and play with all the cards revealed you get to see why it can be so difficult to defeat the computer.It also allows you to see just exactly how the computer is going to defeat you and even rather bizarrely how sometimes it lets you win when you should not.As others have said before the "cheating" is in the distribution of the cards rather than in the play. Even with the cards revealed the computer can still be quite tricky, you might want to try it sometime if only for a short time, just to show you that the computer isn't switching cards on you as you play.

Anonymous said...

How about this one then? I was just up to the round where no cards are passed, and I had the 2 of spades to lead. Guess what the 'top' player threw out as their first card, lacking any clubs to play? The Queen of Spades, which 'player 3' ended up winning with a six of clubs (with player 2 throwing a five of clubs). What happened to not being allowed to play a point card as the first card?

Anonymous said...

^ player 1 had the five, sorry.

Anonymous said...

OK, I (same Anon as above two posts) have now passed Q/S on the first trick on the no-pass deal. Vista version.

Anonymous said...

The bulk of the 'cheating' is really in the card deals.

The card play is hard coded, it is what is, it's been discussed over and over above.

If you wish to see how the game subtly shifts in the computer players favor, pay attention to some of these items:

*the frequency you are dealt the 2 of clubs

*on every 4th hand (the non-pass hand) watch the frequency you will get high spades (Q,K,A) with few or no lower spades

*the frequency you get passed high hearts. as others have noted, the comps pass A,K,Q of hearts by default. (You can use this in your favor to shoot the moon if you have, say, the 9,10,J,A of hearts. You have a good chance of picking up the Q, K, or both.)

In summary, watch your scores on the 4th hand. a good player will notice that since he can't pass cards, his score will consistently be higher on these hands as the 'rigged' card dealing can't be compensated for.

Anonymous said...

So , You think it cheats on YOU ! Wait till you finish reading THIS ! I've played HEARTS at both the PC , and at CUT-THROAT company lunch times !

The WORST cheat MS does ( which seems to happen only once about every HUNDRED games ( more or less - ESTIMATE ! ) is the CLASSIC CHEAT : It will target me for success by throwing off a DANGEROUS OFF-SUIT CARD , and on a following trick , WILL FOLLOW SUIT ! NOW THAT IS HARD CORE CHEATING ! I first noticed this after getting VERY HIGH WIN RATE a few years ago , when I'd played several THOUSAND games while I was sick at home for weeks ! Needless to say , the elevated blood pressure helped some parts of my recovery - but probable hastened my very first use of High Blood Pressure Medicine after my PCP noticed this change in one of my weekly follow-up appointments ! When i mentioned that to him , he sugested that I limit my MS-Hearts playing to NO MORE than 1/2-Hr Per Day ! Thereupon , I started a seperate ID'd player Name, and tried to LOOSE as much as possible ! BOY ; DID THAT SCREW OVER THE STUPID PROGRAMMING ! TRY IT SOMETIME !///MRB

Anonymous said...

Yes, MS hearts cheats. I always feel like I am playing against one other player (the computer obviously) instead of three. And that "other player" is cheating because they know which cards I am holding. The computer will do anything so that I am not the winner. I got so frustrated with this that now I play until I am in first place and then I quit the game. That means that sometimes I only play one hand. It sounds silly, but otherwise I get frustrated from constantly losing. Even with this strategy (to quit as soon as I am in first place) you would be surprised how hard it is to do even that! I often play the whole game and lose at the end without ever being in the lead once during the game.

Blue said...

I'm convinced that each individual bot counts cards at least some of the time. I do not believe I am playing "one other player."

I have a score of 52% on 11,519 games.

In earlier versions of Windows, games were so easy to win that my goal was to have no points at all. I would always want the 13-point card in my hand at the start of a game.

On Vista and 7, it is better to know where it is but not have it in my hand.

Oh. And. The dealer cheats. The same pattern can not repeat 15 times over multiple games through random dealing. The dealer is a cheat.

Anonymous said...

I have played about 3500 games and have a 46.3% winning percentage. The cards do seem to have runs where one cannot win and runs where one cannot lose, but I do wonder if it cheats...if it did a lot more respondants who play a lot might be expected to have aroud the same winning percentage.

Anonymous said...

I've had up to a 65% win ration, not at 61% after 750 games. I don't think the program cheats, and I think the program makes some errors that experienced hearts players would not make - passing low spades as mentioned above but also giving points to a player to end the game or shooting the moon when the player who gives the points or shoots the moon is not going to be the winner. If you were playing for points this would make sense, but in MS hearts coming in second does not matter - it's a winner take all game in their own statistics. I find the odds of shooting the moon are much greater in MS hearts than in real hearts - you just have to give the other players the chance to make stupid mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Does it cheat - here's a perfect example. Early in the deal after a few spades have gone round, East leads the Queen of Spades, knowing that there is a King and one other spade out there, but not knowing (if it were a normal player) whether they might be in the same hand or split. They were split, so the King had to take the Queen, but how did it know if it was playing fair and did not know how the cards were split. East had plenty of other cards, so had no need to lead the Queen.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to make the distinction (some posters have, some have not) between XP hearts and Vista hears.

XP hearts may cheat, but it's not very good at it and it's easy to beat XP.

Vista hearts cheats so blatantly and shamelessly that it's just not fun to play. I really love a good challenge, but that's not what the case is.

It really is a microcosm of how Microsoft has conducted itself in the corporate realm--but that's a subject for another blog in another place.

Anonymous said...

Hearts in Vista has an interesting bug with the way it saves games.

If you exit (auto save game) in the middle of the round, then it remembers it's position and returns to that hand when you open the program again.

IF you exit by clicking exit at the end of a round, when you open Hearts again it will return to your previous saved game.

This can result in a skewed percentage if you frequently quit and return. I used to get frustrated when I was losing and exit at the end of the round. When I opened it again it would often take me back to the losing hand that I was playing before. However when I was on a good run, I would tend to keep playing and not double up on good hands.

This can also be used to get a perfect score on as many games as you want. Reset the scores and play until you are one card from winning the round. Then exit (auto save game) and return. Win the game, then press exit at the end of the round. Open hearts again and you will be one card away from winning again.

This is pretty pointless unless you want to show off your high score to others....

Anonymous said...

What a piece of junk this game is!! No serious player passes cards or leads them the way it does. Don't get me started on the so-called "random" cards it deals you. Pathetic!!!

I hope the guys that developed this game at MS are better than the ones developing their Windows Operating System. Hmmm, maybe the same guys:)

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you if it cheats or not but I win 68% of the time(XP). I occasionally point and click the wrong card which accounts for me not winning 75% of the time if I play the perfect game.

Anonymous said...

The game does not cheat, though the deals are statistically "interesting." The other players are computers and, as such, they follow rules; rules that can't be broken. Okay, Neo, if you want to win consistently, the first thing you have to do is learn to count cards and the second thing you must do is learn how the computer plays. For example, I've read here that the computer "cheats" because it refused to take a KH with an AH allowing a computer buddy to shoot the moon. This isn't "cheating" or "colluding," but programming. Use it to your advantage. The computer will duck tricks consistently and always try to stop a run on the last trick. As an easy example, assume that you've pulled the QS and just need the hearts. In hearts, you hold A,Q,J,10. Clearly, you need to pull the king. Fortunately, the previous play pulled in the fifth heart and isolated the rest of the hearts with a single opponent. That means that a single computer opponent holds all 4 remaining hearts, one of which is the king. The computer will attempt to stop your run (or any run) on the last play. This means you can lead Q,J,10,A and pull the king under your ace. No, it doesn't make sense and a human wouldn't play that way, but you're not playing against a human.

I do, however, have sympathy for complaints about the dealing by the computer. Statistically, there is no way that certain things should occur over and over again the way they do. For example, if you hold 5H, just assume your opponents have the three cards under the 5 distributed evenly. I assume the programming has code that attempts to distribute low hearts somewhat evenly. This assumption is further validated by the fact that I've seen a computer lead of 5H get similarly screwed. The thing is, we remember when we get hurt by poor deal programming, not when the computer does too. The trick here is to simply assume the worst and go from there. Passing left and only hold the 9S. Of course you're going to get passed the Queen, so figure out then and there what you're going to do about it. I usually commit to a run because it's easy to manipulate the computer's play, but it's your call. And sometimes you don't get passed the Queen ... lucky day.
You can't win every game because a strange dealing code makes it impossible -- sometimes you just fall too far behind. But you should be able to maintain a win percentage over 80% with little trouble.

Anonymous said...

I just renamed East to A-hole. It's easier to deal with it winning most of the time.

Mrs. B said...

80% win rate? Holy crap, that would be amazing. Almost two years after I posted this, I am only around 42%. I don't do any of these "tricks" suggested here to get a higher win rate (stop the game before the end and restart) as I don't view that as legit. You certainly wouldn't do that in real play.

I completely agree with renaming East as per the last comment. I hate that "guy"!

Blue said...

Windows Vista: My North is the "smartest" bot. He can look stupid and if he can't win, he wants to go out in a blaze of glory in last place. However, when the chips are down, the other bots can't hold a candle.

And, yes, if dealing were random, no one would always be running to 100 while I'm trying to gain position.

Anonymous said...

This has to be the poorest version of Hearts out there. It doesn't come close to simulating a real-world experience.

Patton Pending said...

From what I have seen with the game, every player is on a "team" playing against you. In a real game, each player would be playing FOR himself.
In other words, no single player is trying to win-they are all trying to make you lose.
I am also convinced they 'know' what cards you have. Players play a stupid, one-in-a-billion card that kills you. The only way anyone would play it is if they knew YOU had to take the trick.
So, whenever I play and the game is cheating, I pull my Derringer and shoot every single one of them in knee. Then I play chess.
By the way, if Google is listening, the process to enable one to post this is pure idiocy. I am convinced more and more each day that the world is run by absolute morons. The scrambled words get more and more twisted until you can't possibly make out the letters. and typing your email address twice? NO ONE does that when you have the scrambled words!
Passwords need to be 8 characters-IT IS A COMMENT BOARD! GEEZ!

Suzy said...

For those who think Microsoft Hearts doesn't cheat, think again. For the second time this week, one of the players cheated on the FIRST play of the game! I'm so mad I've stopped my game to make a comment. It seems to be a blatant attempt to cause me to lose. I was barely in second place. The player who was in last place (96 points) played the highest club after the 2 of clubs was led, and then the third player played the queen of spades - blatantly breaking the rules. This brought the point total over 100 and precluded me from having a chance to win. Earlier this week, I lost a game because a heart was played on the first play. I had a clear winning hand to shoot the moon, but not after that! It caused me to lose that game. I have Windows XP but have downloaded Vista games, including Hearts. However, if I click on About Hearts, it says Version 5.1 (Build 2600 xpsp_sp3_gdr.091208-2036: Service Pack 3), copyright 2007. So, I don't know if my Vista version got changed to another XP version when I recently downloaded Service Pack 3.

Has this happened to anyone else (one of the players making an illegal play on the first play of a game)?

My winning percentage stays around 70-73%, and has never exceeded 75 or 76% (which is not bragging, since apparently I'm not playing the Vista Hearts). I wonder if that is the maximum winning percentage my game will let me have, and it will cheat like that just to stop me from winning!? Oh, and finally, the player who cheated by playing a heart on the first play earlier this week did not have all hearts (I had 3 hearts).

Anonymous said...

Beautiful !

First, I don't believe there is a rule against collusion. Playing a certain way (good or bad) either alone or in concert with other players with the intention of sticking a player, is not against any published rules that I have ever read. Humans have a difficult time doing it, so it is assumed that it is against the rules. I have played human only games where three players have been able to do that for several hands and even a game or two in a row. It's called “F” your buddy !

The computer program has a log of what is played, what is passed, and where it is, in order to be able to play. (in this sense the computer is infallible) If it uses this information in collusion, then certainly it could be called cheating. (similar to cross boarding when played by humans). Programmers should not use stored data like this “in a single storage file”, however at one time, in the interest of program size, it might have been necessary. When the computer uses info like this, it does not “know” that it is cheating, it just “knows” that this is it's the best play. (one could say.....”against the human”).

The Queen of Spades theory may not hold water. I have used this system of play when I want to shoot the moon.....lead the queen early. If it wins the trick, you try, if it doesn't, you slough off your potential heart winners. (I don't use it often, but depending on your hand it can work). Remember this method only works if you have cards, to run out the hearts.....usually by drawing the stragglers out early on one of your other long suits, followed by a remaining strong play in hearts. (all other tricks are meaningless) If you lose the lead, and there are hearts still out, that you will not be able to pull it off. Conversely in the computer version of hearts you can shoot the sun (take all the tricks) more often than with a normally dealt deck.

Which leads to the “Deal”. There is a whole theory on computer generated “Random Numbers”. (The method by which any good program deals cards). Basically the numbers and consequently the cards, are not, and can never be truly random, when generated by a computer ! So observations of statistical improbability in the deal are probably true, and since all players (complaining of this) in MS Hearts suspect this is cheating, then take it for what it's worth. The deal can only be as good as the computers random number generator.

I decided to see if there were other freeware programs out on the web, and how they played. The first one I found, would every so often, play the wrong card out of my hand. One that I didn't chose. (I don't believe I could mis-click that many times).The second one was a total “come on” for their "play for money" game, where in practice play, it would deal and play bizarre. (I would get dealt two suited hands, with A, K, Q, 10 +. in each suit and not be able to shoot the moon, because an opponent would always be equal or longer in the suit and hold the J). Hence, I never tried their money games !

When I started to look for other hearts programs ( I came across the posts here). I would like one, where the same hand or game could be played over and over (like Freecell), or a trick could be replayed (like control Z in spider solitaire), or where all cards could be played face up. (I will try the registry patch)......all to better practice my game........ I have not found one.....does anybody know of one ?

Suzy said...

Okay, I'm complaining again. Just played some more hearts tonight, and on two hands, the computer played the queen of spades on the first play, and a heart on the first play. Neither time did that "player" have all penalty cards in its hand. I really wish I could find out if this happens to other people. I need to stop playing, I guess, because it's so irritating. I wouldn't care if the computer beat me because it's better than me (completely possible!) but I hate losing to cheating.

Mrs. B said...

@ Suzy and others who have reported blatant "cheating", meaning, playing cards that are not allowed; I've yet to have this happen to me in either the XP, Vista or 7 versions.

If it did, I'd probably lose my temper, which I've been known to do when East continues to win despite all odds OR when I am continually dealt hands that no one could do anything with but take the Queen and 10 or so of the hearts but not shoot the moon. Talk about frustrating!

All of you who are managing such high win rates, I applaud you. I cannot get much past 45%. So, I just reset the stats and bask in the 100% I may have for a few hands :-)

Thanks for all the helpful comments!

Anonymous said...

I just searched for Microsoft hearts fixed because as I suspected, the game is rigged. I won three games in a row and the house fell in! I thought I saw the computer play a spade late in the game when it had played out of suite earlier.

I get to 33% and suddenly I can't get a hand that wins. Very suspicious.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I've renamed my opponents, Shifty, Shady and Slick!

Anonymous said...

Cheating proven!!! Too many times, it seemed to me that the wrong player was leading off a hand. I slowed the clock speed on my computer and watched as "East" took a trick, and then "North" immediately played the first card of the next hand. Case closed.

Cosmic Runt said...

Slingshot AI is prevalent in a lot of video games, not just gambling games. Any game that employs this method of the ai redoubling its efforts and handicapping the game to put itself out on top seriously pisses me off. That alone will cause me to stop playing a game. If you are ahead for any reason and begin to win by skill alone, you deserve the victory you've earned. What these games do is completely metagaming, they go above the game itself and manipulate the function of the program rather than the game being played. It's just bad coding, and it pisses me off too. :(

Katrina said...

I am so pleased to have found this website. I get soooooooo frustrated with what is obviously "cheating". And there always seems to be one hand that is "control" and that hand consistently gets 0 or 1. And it doesn't matter how well you play! I have lost games by one point because the game throws one extra little point right in the last hand. I don't know why I keep playing!! Why don't I just delete it!! Oh and I ove the comment about Shiftu, Shady and Slick!

Anonymous said...

I re-named my opponents tool, but wad and dumb ass - those shady cheaters

Conrad said...

I don't think it cheats with the card distribution, but the 38-40% bracket is when it shifts to "you vs 1-genius-and-2-morons" so it is a LOT more difficult to win, and you end up endlessly in second place, with 2 opponents with enormous scores and one with a miniscule one.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm playing MS hearts and I can't help but notice how bad some of my deals are...especially when I'm not in the lead. Then I get dealt a hand without a 2,3,4,5 or 6 and I think "WOW, what are the chances of that happening?"

So being a little of a statistics buff, I work out the probability that I could randomly be dealt a hand without a 2,3,4,5 or 6. Excluding the 2 Clubs, it works out to be appoximately 0.10% or 1 in every 1000 deals. That's pretty unlucky. I continue playing and end that game. On the very next game, I get dealt another hand without a 2,3,4,5 o5 6. I smell a RAT. The chances of this randomly happening are about as good as me winning the lottery

I work out the more probabilies. Excluding the 2 of Clubs:
Chance of being dealt a hand without a 2 or 3 - 1 in 8.7 hands. Chance of being dealt a hand without a 2,3 or 4 - 1 in 35.7. Chance of being dealt a hand without a 2,3,4 or 5 - 1 in 179. Chance of being dealt a hand without 2,3,4,5 or 6 - 1 in 1000.

I don't bother playing this game anymore. It tries to make up with poor game play with a rigged deal. Too bogus for me.

darcanion said...

Interesting blog post and comments. Let's just say "programming shortcuts" have obviously been used to achieve a higher level of difficulty at the expense of natural-feeling game play.

Something that bothers me FAR more than this is the slow, halting, choppy pace of the game since the Vista redesign. This is true even on a high-end PC because of the delays programmed in to allow you to see the turned-up cards. This makes me absolutely hate playing Microsoft Hearts anymore.

Most of the time I know what card I want to play next and want to click it before the 2-3 second delay starts. Even with animation turned off I can click on my next card multiple times before Hearts will respond. Very frustrating. Feels like I'm waiting forever before I can click. I guess so many complained about the old hearts moving too fast that Microsoft developers went to opposite extreme. We should be able to control game animation speed.

Sorry if this is off topic. I just couldn't believe not one person mentioned this annoyance.

Katrina said...

But has anyone worked out how to cheat it back yet?? Oh and I tried to do the thing where you go into registry to make changes so as to see the other hands but when I get to the last part there is nothing that says "hearts"!! Any clues?

Anonymous said...

Hate to break this to some of you but there is no "cheating." Even if you play exceptionally well you will lose some of the time if hands are dealt randomly and the opponents play according to the program's rules. The opponents often play worse than humans, allowing me to shoot, because the program isn't that complex. My win rate is 55 percent, with a lot of losses caused by inattentive or uninspired play. I'd guess that a sharp player, who usually remembers what's been played and comes up with clever strategies (as in bridge), could average around 75 percent or better. If you're losing more than half the time, you just need to play better.

Anonymous said...

last game
1 point
7 points
13 points (me)
109 points

seriously unfair play there.

Anonymous said...

I have now totally gone off Hearts on Windows 7.
I passed a King and Ace of Spades to my left and was given a Queen of Spades from my right. First round I didnt use the queen. Second round I still kept the Queen. Third round, I thought I'd use the Queen because the Left side must surely have to use the King or Ace..Wrong. THEY NEVER SHOWED UP! Does the computer cheat? Hell Yes! So no more Hearts for me :(

Blue said...

The game is either rigged or it is a pathetically poorly designed program. I have gotten a pattern 12 to 17 times in a row and this happens often. I can do the math mentally. It is impossible for that to happen with random dealing. If dealing is not random, what's the point?

Katrina said...

The other thing that is soooooo frustrating is - if you are wining more than 25% of the time - then you are the best player! It should show the winning out of 4 instead though, it scores as if you are 1 against 1 instead of 1 against 3!! I hate this game- why can't I stop playing it!!! It is just that I HATE TO LOSE!!!

Katrina said...

Also - I should like to see the perecentage wins of the other 3 hands

Anonymous said...

My North player/bot has greater skill than the other two. North is a cunning risk taker. If he can't win big, he doesn't mind losing big.

Anonymous said...

The only game which is fair is Free Cell which is a set of numbered games.
All other games are NOT RANDOM cards.
Note with Microsoft hearts:-
• The number of times the queen of spades is on the left hand side (Pauline)
• The number of high cards you get dealt at each hand (should average 6 or 7 but it is more likely to be 9 or 10)
• The number of times you receive the queen, king or ace of spades is well above average.
Basically the PROGRAMME decides who should win the game.
Chris

Anonymous said...

A computer program can only do what it's programmed to do; in that sense it doesn't cheat. But the number of times I get the 2 of clubs; the number of times the queen of spades is on the left; the number of times I lead the 5 of hearts and the 4,3, and 2 are evenly distributed; the number of hands I get with high middle cards in every suit; the times I run it without even trying; etc and etc. I've played hearts with real people - the Microsoft game isn't as random as it should be. So after a while it gets boring.

Anonymous said...

Add to that the number of times you get the Ace, King and Queen of spades in a deal and so on. The number of times an opponent gets a free ride up to 15 times in a row. It's Microsoft. That explains it.

Anonymous said...

That's not 15 tricks or hands in a row. Fifteen GAMES in a row.

David said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. To me, collusion is proven beyond reasonable doubt; and that is cheating.

I have the XP version of the game (service pack 3, if that makes any difference)

I always suspected, but this web-log proves it to me.

Mrs. B said...

And if you think Hearts is "cheating", how about Microsoft's Solitaire game? It's even worse!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Solitaire is rubbish too. Like the other person said, FreeCell is the only game that doesnt cheat.

Wish Microsoft would just re-do Hearts properly.

Anonymous said...

Freecell (Vista) is a good game. I can solve all but about 8 games in a million. So can you although some give me a workout. Even it could use some work. If you let it pick your next game--and you must to score correctly--it will pick one of the 32,000 original games that were in XP, not new games. I have six losses due to "technical difficulties." I accidentally quit and I couldn't back out. I now know that a computer reboot will leave the count intact. I also drew one of the games that can't be beaten once. I'm 15,063 for 15,070.

Anonymous said...

Nah, there's no cheating. I have a 90%+ win record after 1000's of games. You just have to figure out the algorithms of the game, each player bot with a slightly different algorithm. You can recognize the patterns after a while. For example, after taking a heart, the east player bot will usually lead back 2H or 3H if it has one. They always play from the lowest to highest, unless they "think" you're shooting the moon. Their strategies are for each hand only, and not adjusted for the overall game; they do not sacrifice to deter the leader who is about to win the game. And being bots, they always keep count of the cards played.

To win consistently, I always aggressively look to shoot the moon, which is not hard to do after a while. My winning % would be so much lower if I just play defensively.

Anonymous said...

If you alter the registry values so that all of the players’ cards are displayed and you will be able to see the rubbish that you are dealt and compare it with the cards that the other players are dealt. Most of the time you will get a reasonable first hand and you may even win the game. Don’t win too many games or rounds because it will “go all out to get you”.

From my perspective it appears:-
The programme selects a player that should win and then deals that player decent cards. However if you start to off load cards so that the players points are becoming UNREASONABLY HIGH it will switch and start to deal the decent cards to the player with the least number of points.
I wish Microsoft would produce card games that deal reasonably random cards.
Having uttered all of the above rubbish, if they ever do produce games with random cards I would probably be the first to complain.

Anonymous said...

To adjust reg key and see all players’ cards


1.In the Start Menu, select run.
2. Type in ''regedit'' and then hit enter.
3. Click on H_KEY_CURRENT_USER
4. Click on Software
5. Click on Microsoft
6. Click on Windows
7. Click on CurrentVersion
8. Click on Applets
9. Click on Hearts
10. Select New String Value from the Edit menu.
11. Name the new string ZB.
12. Right click on the new string ZB and pick modify
13.Give it a value of 42.
Start the game and press CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + F12,
and all players cards will be displayed

Anonymous said...

Even being able to view all the other players cards it is impossible to gain anywhere near a 90% win rate.

Anonymous said...

Impossible? Speaking for yourself, are you?

Anonymous said...

I am now convinced that the game is designed to limit the number of games that you are permitted to win. I have played a large number of games with all cards face up. Michele had the lowest number of points and in a particular round and Pauline had the opportunity to “off load” the queen of hearts to Michele and increase Michele’s score by 18 but instead took all of the remaining cards herself.

fmdave said...

Please excuse me if I mess this up, as this is my first attempt at posting anything on the internet. I didn't realize that these conversations (probably the wrong terminology) could last for so long - amazing. I read all of the comments to date (It took awhile as many were repetitious). One person asked if anyone had ever posted a perfect game (four shoot-the-moons in a row). Apparently no one has - including me, however, I have won a game in four hands that included three shoot-the-moons. I have been playing ms hearts on XP and previous operating systems for more than ten years. Based on the comments regarding the Vista version, I will not be playing that version anytime soon. My advice is to return to the XP version if possible. Even though it may "cheat", it does appear to do it in a logical and therefore predictable way. I would estimate that I have won approximately 80% of the games I've played using many of the techniques mentioned earlier, and the following: 1)Do whatever it takes to get ahead early. 2)If you do not have the spade queen and you have a poorly protected A/K of spades, lead your highest card in a side suit, hoping to keep the lead so you can lead a low card in that suit on the next trick. 3)If the bot with the highest total is trying to shoot-the-moon on every hand - help them succeed, it can buy you some time if you can get him back in the game. 4)Choosing the right cards to pass is about 75% of the game. 5)Almost never try to shoot-the-moon unless you have the spade queen. 6)If it is likely that you are going to eat the spade queen, try to ensure through your passing or play, that you do not compound the problem by also eating a bunch of hearts. 7)If at all possible try to remain within 26 points (we win ties) of the leader. I have won countless times employing this strategy and shooting-the-moon on the last hand to win. 8)I have never eaten the queen on a hand where I was left with one card each in clubs and diamonds after my pass. 9)It is usually good practice to pass the club ace to the left and the club deuce to the right. 10)It is usually ok to pass the spade queen to the right if you have the bare spade A/K or both, freeing you up to pass another potential queen catcher or high heart. 11)Never pass the spade queen to the left if you have at least two other spades, unless the two other spades are specifically the Ace and King. I suppose I could go on, but I think this is probably way to long already. Good luck and have fun!

Anonymous said...

There is a manipulation built into MS Vista Hearts. It can be proven by using simple logic.
(1) Without manipulation, all Hearts games would be equally difficult.
(2) MS Hearts is more difficult in Vista than in XP.
(3) Therefore, MS Hearts in Vista is being manipulated.

Furthermore, the program creators did an abysmal job of concealing the manipulation. Patterns arise repeatedly. One bot gets a free ride over many games in a row—as many as fifteen. The ace, king and queen of spades are dealt to you multiple times in a single seating. You are dealt the 2 of clubs far more than 25% of the time (which would be normal). There are many other examples.

An argument could be made that the bots have different skill levels. The argument could be made and it is true but it doesn’t explain the patterns which often favor any player, including you.

It is not the goal of the bots to win games. It is the goal of the game to make it more difficult than the XP game. But, the manipulation doesn’t favor skill. It produces the same effect as tossing a coin.

I'm 53% on 13,112 games. If all players were equal, 25% would be average. I could make it appear that I have won 100% of the time but no one wins 90% of the time. If you just want to play, go to Freecell and play game number -3 (minus 3) or -4.

Anonymous said...

And how many times have you seen one player who can't be budged into double digits, while you are in second place and someone else is racing to 100 points? That seems to be the standard game most of the time.

I'm working on a theory. Give me some help with it. When I have an extended pattern of losses, I try to break the rhythm of the game. I'm working on doing something that is irrational. At the moment, I'm giving North the three lowest cards in my hand no matter what else is in my hand. If that's just too crazy to do, I do it the next time around. I'm interested to know what you find.

Anonymous said...

In XP, it's better to have the 13pt card than wonder where it is. Then, it's easy to either keep it or get rid of it.

In Vista, decide by the 2nd or 3rd hand who it is who's getting "the cake walk." Someone always get "the cake walk." Unless it's you, THAT'S the person you are playing and that's the person you must beat. The primary way to beat them is to cause them to gain points. If you don't have the 13 pointer and you don't want it, lead with a low card other than spades--get someone else to feed 13 points to the cake walker.

Team play can work but teams have a life span of one trick or less.

Anonymous said...

The game definitely cheats I can't tell you how many times I win a heart trick with the five of heart because the player to the left(who I named Fu Kin Dumas)plays the 4 of hearts the player to the right(who I named Sonyava Beach)plays the 3 and the player across(who I named Yuri Icehole) plays the 2 of hearts. I mean come on how many times in one game can each CPU player be dealt the 4, 3, 2 of hearts respectively whilst I have the five of hearts. The odds that each player would be dealt one heart lower than the five of hearts in a real game of hearts is very low in my opinion yet in ms hearts I win that trick 90% of the time. WTF.

Anonymous said...

The game cheats. There's no question. Most cheating is done by the dealer. If you think you are being set up repeatedly, you are and you are a pawn in the setup as long as you play the most logical cards. When it happens, play something that's other than logical here and there and watch the pattern fall apart.

Anonymous said...

I know that I'm late to the party here, but I just found the memory addresses where the game (mshearts.exe on xp) holds the card values. It's pretty easy on XP, since the game uses the cards.dll to draw the cards - it makes it pretty easy to reverse engineer. At any rate, the game definitely makes some "adjustments" after you've decided which three cards to pass. Frequently, the queen of spades will jump into your hand from an opponent who was not set to pass to you.

QED

ps, changing 0x2f88 from 75 to eb with a hex editor will cause the game to display all opponents' hands.

Anonymous said...

I got bored playing prevent defense in Microsoft Hearts, so now I play every hand trying to shoot the moon. I have never won with 4 consecutive moon shots, but I have done it in 3.

When I do shoot the moon, I occasionally see one of the computerized opponents "fall on his sword;" that is, give up his possibility of victory just to prevent me from winning.

Microsoft Hearts cheats in that you do not play against 3 computerized individuals; you play against a 3 "person" team, where each member is willing to "take one for the team."

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why they programmed the game the way they did. Games should either be relaxing or little mind puzzles. The Vista Hearts is neither. It is just infuriating. I've removed the game thrice from the computer, but for some reason I always ended up having to reinstall the whole operating system because of some mysterious FUBAR in the following weeks. The funny thing is that when I hadn't uninstalled Hearts, I had my computer functioning for two years with no problem. And now I've been running nine months with no problems after not uninstalling Hearts. Yet, there was a strange period of about six months when I had to reinstall Vista and all my software on three separate occasions, and the only connecting links between those three Vista self-immolations were the uninstalling of Hearts and a Logitech mouse. I don't believe the problem was caused by uninstalling Hearts though, it really doesn't make sense, but then again, it doesn't make sense that a mouse I used every single day could randomly mess up my system one day to the point of no return. The wonders of Microsoft never cease. In any case, I'm so scarred by the experience that I don't have the courage to remove this evil game from my computer lest I mess up the computer again and have to spend hours on setting up all the software again from scratch.

Never buy anything from Microsoft, never ever, that is the lesson. Never give them money.

As for the game, all I wanted from Hearts was an honestly random dealing of cards accompanied by reasonably smart computer players (without the computer players basing their calculations on my hand). For Microsoft, however, it is always a priority to infuriate people who have to use their junk.

Anonymous said...

To adjust reg key and see all players’ cards

1.In the Start Menu, select run.
2. Type in ''regedit'' and then hit enter.
3. Click on H_KEY_CURRENT_USER
4. Click on Software
5. Click on Microsoft
6. Click on Windows
7. Click on CurrentVersion
8. Click on Applets


UNDER "APPLETS," "HEARTS" IS NOT SHOWN IN MY VISTA.


9. Click on Hearts
10. Select New String Value from the Edit menu.
11. Name the new string ZB.
12. Right click on the new string ZB and pick modify
13.Give it a value of 42.
Start the game and press CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + F12,
and all players cards will be displayed

Anonymous said...

I have played this game enough to know that it is stupid of me to keep playing when the outcome is blatantly rigged. It's just a stupid game that is about as predictable as tossing pennies into the air. I can't stomach seeing those same patterns appear another several hundred times. It's a total waste of time and this is my last post on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I agree with several who have posted. The other players are programmed to team play against you without any concern for their own scores. All three want you defeated nothing more. Patterns persist, game after game. But, if I change from trying to win to trying to keep my north player in 4th place, my standing remains roughly the same or better but patterns change every game. I chose my north player because that one either plays better or knows more than the other two. The one weakness in the stacked deck is the assumption that you will do what you are supposed to do to try to win.

Anonymous said...

Hey. That really works. East and West counter with trying to give North more moon shots. No problem.

Add these rules. Don't do it a full 100% of the time necessarily but close to 100%.

Another good rule is aggressive play wins games while timid play loses games. Go after north with a vengeance.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Hearts cheats. If you're dealt the Queen of Spades four or five times in a row, you notice it. I also notice that the other players gang up on me, but that the game might have preplanned strategies for giving you the most points. It's as if there's table talk that everyone can hear but you.

Conrad said...

Weirdly, even the scoring is bugged. I have 300 games played, won 132. Which is exactly 44%, but the score says 43%

Anonymous said...

I have found the one weakness in the MS Hearts program in Vista but no one has acknowledged giving it a “road test.” It’s quite simple, really.

You play to (1) protect yourself, and (2) to win. The programming is based on the assumption that you will do exactly that.

What happens if you don’t play your role? Instead...

You play to (1) protect yourself, and (2) to keep your North player in 4th place. You do that even when East or West shoots the Moon. The program wasn’t made for that eventuality.

Here’s what happens. Patterns don’t repeat nearly as much and you win more often. Also, it becomes more natural for you to play aggressively—you are always playing offense. Aggressive play is what you should always do anyway.

Do what you are doing 30 games in a row. Record your win percentage. Then try this for 30 games in a row without slipping back into old habits and record your win percentage. Compare them.

"Blue"

Anonymous said...

Stated another way, to win more, keep your north player's game in total disarray. Don't just play him, go after him at every opportunity. And, don't be predictable with him all the time--keep him off balance.

In human terms, North knows more than any honest player would know and it seems to involve more than just card counting.

You will notice patterns will shift in your favor. You don't get QS as often. Interestingly, you don't get the 2C nearly as often which gives you a slight advantage.

Someone said that all players play him. That's true. It is also true in every game of Hearts. Always. But, I don't think they are "in a conversation" about it.

Various people, including me, have said that the dealer cheats. That's true but "gunning for North" seems to minimize the effect.

"Blue"

.

Anonymous said...

You will often get the Ace King and Queen of spades. You know that wouldn't happen in a fair game. The dealer is setting you up to lose. The program assumes you will discard them. The best way to play it is to try to justify keeping them. You often can.

"Blue"

Anonymous said...

Agree with Blue

Discarding spades isn't worth it if you have 3-4 lows.

Also the computer discards hearts regardless of value. Why would anyone discard the 3 of hearts?

I almost imagine the voices of the players being 2 sensible ones and the third shouting "HAH HAH! You thought you could have a sensible plan, well I'M going to play like a moron so YOU will have to fight to stop me rushing to 100 points while this other play stays on 9!!"

Anonymous said...

This game is such a piece of ****!

Anonymous said...

Discards can be a clue that someone is going for the Moon. If you decide at the outset who you are NOT going to let shoot the Moon, you can make it so about 90% of the time.

"Blue"

PS: to add to earlier posts, play aggressively. Either you "own" the game or North "owns" it.


.

Anonymous said...

That could have been clearer. If you decide that ONE player isn't going to be allowed to shoot the Moon, you can prevent them from doing it about 90% of the time.

"Blue"

Anonymous said...

It definitely does "cheat".

There are plenty of examples as one can see from the posts above.

One very obvious one is the regularity that the game throws you the 2 of Clubs on the no-pass round, a definite disadvantage.

Anonymous said...

To the people with only a handful of games and they think this game does not voilate the rules imposed on real players. (i.e. cheat)

Meaning the programmers coded the program to violate the rules. (For the literal minded chowderheads that quibble about the term cheat.)

I have played thousands of games over the years, since mshearts came out and it hasn't changed much in the way it plays.

To the dim wit that said the ms programmers would be failures if you ever win at this game. The game actually *LETS* you win sometimes. Otherwise... oh never mind.

If you play enough you will see when it decides you are about to lose,

- frequently you get the queen of spades and little of no backing spades in hold hands.
- one computer player is chosen to get low score unless you go after them.
- once you successfully pile points on that player, (sometimes impossible) another takes over.
- they play cooperatively.
- you will often get exactly what you pass. voiding of suits is difficult.
- they will throw off all high cards when an computer moon is in progress. Watch the last hand on computer moons. (All low cards)
- they will all work to stop you from mooning. Watch the last hand. (All high cards) They can't always stop you, but they try.
- etc. etc.

There is enough variability built into the program that the less observant cannot tell the difference or perceive the obvious patterns.

If people I played with pulled the crap I see in MS hearts I would break their knuckles. :-)

Anonymous said...

Sir, I have seen all of that happen. In the real world and if money were on the table, such obvious cheating would result in broken bones at minimum.

Add to that, with all the cheating, they (the bots) are pathetically poor players. With 4 players, an average player would win 25% of the time. I win over 50% of the time. That's mathematical proof that at least two of them (and probably all three) are below average players--they are winning less than 25% of the time.

So, they (bots) cheat for the opportunity to be below average. How pathetic is that?

"Blue"

.

Anonymous said...

When I'm playing against a TEAM of three cheats, I can mop the floor with them. But when I am playing against four cheats (the dealer included), it's not a game. It is a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just had to say that today in Windows 7 Hearts, I had a 4 game winning streak and a 68% win record.

Microsoft was not pleased.

My next 4 deals I was dealt either a lone queen spades or lone ace/king spades--along with *not a single other face card in any suit*.

What are the odds of that happening 4 times in a row??

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i'm starting to get very feed up with hearts. I have windows 7 and have 58% after 500 games or so. Whenever i click over to 59% it just screws me over.

It gives me no spades, crap hands on no pass and stuff like that.

If i try for the shoot the moon, pre-round, it passes me low hearts, if i don't it gives me high hearts.

but i did work out the AI is programmed to play its highest card last to try to stop you. So you can use this to shot the moon easier sometimes.

But something is up with that AI, it is incredible the hands you can get when you appear to be winning, some of them i have never got in my life.

Anonymous said...

The bots also appear to get stronger if they are in front. If they are winning they seem to get better hands and have more chances of shotting the moon. It sucks how you are the one that has to stop them, cos the computers never do it.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised with the lack of comments about solitare. It is even worse, so frustrating how an ace always seems to be at the bottom. 3 at a time is almost impossible if you start to get a streak. Even with the windows 7 addition of the undo button, they still give you impossible games about 20 percent of the time.

Mrs. B said...

Well, this was originally an entry about Hearts because I was pissed off at the game.

But, yeah, Solitaire is awful. I just reset my stats and it took me 20 games to win. Obviously, this is a rook!

I was almost having more fun loosing so that I could see how many games it'd be before I won!

Conrad said...

But a Solitaire game is not necesarily winnable to begin with. It would be nice if Windows only gave you games you could definitely complete (especially as it keeps stats now) but I think its genuinely random.

I am slowly revising my opinion of Hearts to "its simply crap" as I have just been passed 2, 3 and 4 of hearts, and I cannot think of ANY SCENARIO WHATSOEVER in which that would be a logical set to pass. (43% win at the moment)

Mrs. B said...

Yes, in and of itself, you might never win at Solitaire. However, to play 20 games and not win once seems out of the ordinary to me. I remember as a kid playing with a real deck of cards and I'd usually win every six or seven games. Certainly not these long stretches of loosing game after game after game.
With Microsoft's version, there have been far too many times when I've been dealt a hand and NOTHING has played. NOTHING. That does not happen in "real" life!
In general, both of these games are exercises in futility and I have to wonder why I continue to play them.
I get a sick sort of glee by saying "Screw you!" and resetting the stats to zero. At least this way, for a time, I may be at 100%!

Conrad said...

But that sounds like a LOT more hassle to write as a computer programme than one that has random cards. For no real benefit. In a W-L random distribution, like a coin flip, every so often there will be 20 losses in a row.

In the case of solitaire as you play the game tends towards a lost game anyway, and since there are definitely unwinnable configurations if the cards are random, personally I feel that it is a bit of a gyp for it to score number of games won, but a least later versions have a longer undo feature, in case it was a particular decision that froze the cards.

I used to have another solitaire game ("After Dark Games") that definitely ALWAYS had winnable games, but I doubt it would work in Windows 7 now.

Anonymous said...

It's probably a good time to post this. If Hearts and Solitaire were legitimate MS games, they would be too easy and too boring to hold anyone's attention for more than a few days.

Anonymous said...

I just completed play on 20 games of Hearts. I kept track of how often I was dealt the 2 of Clubs on the no-pass round.

Anyone want to take a stab at what percentage of these rounds I received the 2 of Clubs?

Anonymous said...

Oh. I'd say 100% of the time.

--------------------

Worthy Goals:

1. The standard MS Hearts game has one Prima donna and one runner. On every trick, go after the Prima donna. Unless it's you, of course. Don't let anyone get out front of the pack. Unless it's you, of course. If you do, your game will become three against one. Three partners in crime against you.

2. You win by controlling the 13 points AND the clean up. Stay away from trumps toward the end unless you are going for the win.

Anonymous said...

It definitely uses predetermined game sets whereby the "deals" are already determined.

I recently played a few games in which I was passed the "triple threat" (Ace, King and Queen of Spades) six different times. How many times have you had that happen to you when you've played the game in real life with real people and a truly random deal?

The game is playing against you (as opposed to a truly fair game of hearts)and that's why many folks quickly tire of it and move on.

Anonymous said...

This is a typical game of hearts I think. Notice how the game really "intensifies" (i.e.,is out to make you lose) when you are still winning after 10 rounds. The hands I received in the last few rounds were really terrible....no surprise there, eh?

Per hand scores
Hand----Me-----West----North---East
.1---- 3----- 3----- 5----- 15
.2---- 5----- 5----- 16---- 0
.3---- 0----- 21---- 0----- 5
.4---- 0----- 22---- 4----- 0
.5---- 6----- 14---- 5----- 1
.6---- 0----- 0----- 6----- 20
.7---- 4----- 2----- 0----- 20
.8---- 17---- 9----- 0----- 0
.9---- 5----- 13---- 0----- 8
10---- 5----- 3----- 18---- 0
11---- 3----- 0----- 21---- 2
12---- 21---- 0----- 5----- 0
13---- 11---- 0----- 13---- 2
14---- 19---- 0----- 3----- 4
15---- 0----- 5----- 17---- 4

Cumulative scores
Hand----Me-----West----North---East
.1---- 3----- 3----- 5----- 15
.2---- 8----- 8----- 21---- 15
.3---- 8----- 29---- 21---- 20
.4---- 8----- 51---- 25---- 20
.5---- 14---- 65---- 30---- 21
.6---- 14---- 65---- 36---- 41
.7---- 18---- 67---- 36---- 61
.8---- 35---- 76---- 36---- 69
.9---- 40---- 89---- 36---- 69
10---- 45---- 92---- 54---- 69
11---- 48---- 92---- 75---- 71
12---- 69---- 92---- 80---- 71
13---- 80---- 92---- 93---- 73
14---- 99---- 92---- 96---- 77
15---- 99---- 97---- 113--- 81


Placement by round
Hand----Me-----West----North---East
.1---- 1----- 1----- 2----- 3
.2---- 1----- 1----- 3----- 2
.3---- 1----- 4----- 3----- 2
.4---- 1----- 4----- 3----- 2
.5---- 1----- 4----- 3----- 2
.6---- 1----- 4----- 2----- 3
.7---- 1----- 4----- 2----- 3
.8---- 1----- 4----- 2----- 3
.9---- 2----- 4----- 1----- 3
10---- 1----- 4----- 2----- 3
11---- 1----- 4----- 3----- 2
12---- 1----- 4----- 3----- 2
13---- 2----- 3----- 4----- 1
14---- 4----- 2----- 3----- 1
15---- 3----- 2----- 4----- 1

Anonymous said...

Watch carefully. I believe the game doesn't always follow the basic rules, like following suit when you have it.

This game is not worth your time.

Anonymous said...

DEFINITIVE ANSWER ON WHETHER OR NOT MS HEARTS “CHEATS”!

The short answer is that it does “cheat”.

First a FYI, I have Windows 7. I read many of the previous comments. Very informative and many were experiences I also shared.

Okay, here’s what I did. All the comments I have read previously from other folks were related to our human desire to WIN and being gipped out of it. I decided to play to lose……..over and over again. I tried to shoot the moon on every hand regardless of what I was dealt. I would trade off the 2c or not play the Ac on the first hand if I had it. After about half way through a game it began to get harder to do. Sometime I know it’s useless if you don’t have the right cards but I expected to get farther along since my goal was to LOSE. Isn’t it the computer’s goal to ALWAYS win? Isn’t THAT playing fair? Don’t you play to WIN? I kept playing to lose. After multiple loses of hands and games and about half way into a later game I had the Ac for first hand. I played it because I wanted to control the next play. I had the As. I played it. The first spaded played. If everyone had a spade what would you expect? That’s easy. Everyone dumps their Ks, definitely the Qs, and the Js. I got three spades alright but NONE of those cards!!!!!! Not one!! That’s insane! That’s not logical. Computers should be logical. In a card game a computer should be programmed to play fair and play to WIN. It didn’t. North had the Qs and discarded it to East a hand or two later. West and East discarded their cards later in non-important hands. Folks this is cheating. North had a clear opportunity to give me the Qs but didn’t. West had opportunity to safely discard the Ks without fear of getting the Qs (before the Qs was played) but didn’t. The computer had analyzed that I was losing too much. It needed me to win or I might lose interest and not continue future play.

I don’t understand the virtue behind this. There is no honor. No integrity. Winning isn’t fun if the game is rigged. Is it? Really? Do you like winning when you know the dealer set it up for you to win? Even though you are too incompetent or stupid to do it on your own? Winning this way is satisfying for how long? Maybe our feelings do get hurt and some go away never to return but don’t more come back to better understand the rules, the strategies and become better tougher players? Losing isn’t fun either when you’re being set up or ganged up on by three players instead of every person for themselves, or you’re the only player that ever tries to stop a shoot the moon by one of the bots. The computer deliberately stopped me from losing so my ego wouldn’t be deflated and lose interest. That’s sad. This is what computer programmers are doing? I thought you played to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may. Isn’t that what we teach children? Why treat adults as if we are too simpleminded to adapt to this….REALITY? Dishonesty has become the accepted norm.

Anonymous said...

DEFINITIVE ANSWER ON WHETHER OR NOT MS HEARTS “CHEATS”!

The short answer is that it does “cheat”.

First a FYI, I have Windows 7. I read many of the previous comments. Very informative and many were experiences I also shared.

Okay, here’s what I did. All the comments I have read previously from other folks were related to our human desire to WIN and being gipped out of it. I decided to play to lose……..over and over again. I tried to shoot the moon on every hand regardless of what I was dealt. I would trade off the 2c or not play the Ac on the first hand if I had it. After about half way through a game it began to get harder to do. Sometime I know it’s useless if you don’t have the right cards but I expected to get farther along since my goal was to LOSE. Isn’t it the computer’s goal to ALWAYS win? Isn’t THAT playing fair? Don’t you play to WIN? I kept playing to lose. After multiple loses of hands and games and about half way into a later game I had the Ac for first hand. I played it because I wanted to control the next play. I had the As. I played it. The first spaded played. If everyone had a spade what would you expect? That’s easy. Everyone dumps their Ks, definitely the Qs, and the Js. I got three spades alright but NONE of those cards!!!!!! Not one!! That’s insane! That’s not logical. Computers should be logical. In a card game a computer should be programmed to play fair and play to WIN. It didn’t. North had the Qs and discarded it to East a hand or two later. West and East discarded their cards later in non-important hands. Folks this is cheating. North had a clear opportunity to give me the Qs but didn’t. West had opportunity to safely discard the Ks without fear of getting the Qs (before the Qs was played) but didn’t. The computer had analyzed that I was losing too much. It needed me to win or I might lose interest and not continue future play.

I don’t understand the virtue behind this. There is no honor. No integrity. Winning isn’t fun if the game is rigged. Is it? Really? Do you like winning when you know the dealer set it up for you to win? Even though you are too incompetent or stupid to do it on your own? Winning this way is satisfying for how long? Maybe our feelings do get hurt and some go away never to return but don’t more come back to better understand the rules, the strategies and become better tougher players? Losing isn’t fun either when you’re being set up or ganged up on by three players instead of every person for themselves, or you’re the only player that ever tries to stop a shoot the moon by one of the bots. The computer deliberately stopped me from losing so my ego wouldn’t be deflated and lose interest. That’s sad. This is what computer programmers are doing? I thought you played to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may. Isn’t that what we teach children? Why treat adults as if we are too simpleminded to adapt to this….REALITY? Dishonesty has become the accepted norm.

Anonymous said...

Oops! My apologies. I didn't intend to post my comment twice. That's not my ego. It's my ineptness and stupidity. Sorry folks.

Anonymous said...

This is the bottom line. You don't play against three bots. You play a team of three bots. But, even when the dealer gets involved--then you are playing a team of four--the bots are lousy players. It has been my experience that, on average, the bots each win 16% of the time. A rank amateur can do better. If all things were equal, an average player could win 25% of the time--four players. So, the goal of the bots is not to win. The goal is for you to lose. There are only two winners, (1) you or (2) their team and they are pathetic players.

So, accept the game for what it is or do something else.

1. Slow the runner if you can and if you need more time to position.
2. But, first of all, attack the Prima donna. The bots can't protect a Prima donna if there is no Prima donna.
3. Bots will counter with trying for two Prima donnas, in which case you must concentrate more on slowing the runner.
4. Don't always be predictable. The bots learn your patterns so break them from time to time.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

5. Play aggressively. Aggressive play makes things happen. A timid player will always be reacting to what someone else is trying to do to him.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

6. Start a defensive hand by considering that you will have after four discards, not three.

7. Start a defensive hand by considering what you can protect, not simply by discarding high cards.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

The game is a waste of time as it is totally rigged. And, yes, it does cheat. Sometimes, it blatantly cheats by not even following the rules. I've seen it not follow suit on several occasions, usually when you are throwing hearts. (Watch carefully and you'll see one of the positions suddenly have a higher heart as a discard.)

If you like Hearts and want to play on the computer, then play online like at yahoo games or something. Why play a game that is rigged in so many ways?

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to that conclusion. When there are dozens of games in a row where the most experienced player can not win under any circumstances whatsoever, it's no longer a game. It's a piece of crap that wastes your time.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

Besides the well-known trick of dealing you the Two of Clubs on the no-pass round (as well as other rounds, particularly when your position is leading), the game sets some other astronomical odds for placing the Queen of Spades in the West position when you're holding the King and/or Ace of Spades.

I find that this happens most when West plays last and more often than not you're holding the King rather than the Ace (for some odd reason).

The frequency with which this occurs in this game is simply astonishing!

Anonymous said...

This is a rigged game. How do you know you are in a rigged game? There are various ways but here’s a good one. In an honest game, hearts are just another suit. There’s nothing special or significant about them for you to be concerned about. 13 hearts / 4 = 3.25; on average, average players are going to get 3 ¼ points from hearts per trick. You can live with that. You win honest games controlling 13 points and the cleanup.

Have a look at an honest Hearts game at www.games.com. Sign in to get a nice graphics theme. Either you will get used to the commercials or you won’t but see how much different the strategy is in an honest game.

You will see some things that look familiar such as A K Q in a deal. It can happen in an honest game but it can't happen over and over and over.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

... And you can play against other actual people in addition to the bots. It would be worth a few dollars per year to get rid of the commercials--there seem to be less when playing with other people.

--Blue

Anonymous said...

For those that are still using XP, you can use the following tutorial to enable the "easter egg" MS left in the Hearts game included with computers set up on that operating system. It's pretty cool as once you have it set up, you can toggle the function on and off as you like.

What this particular egg does is allow you to see all the cards for all positions. Hence, you'll see that the game doesn't really deal random cards. Rather, it uses predetermined sets that have pretty predictable outcomes for the South postion, i.e., you.

For those who still don't believe the game is rigged, try this on a computer that is running on XP and you'll quickly change your opinion on the matter.

Here's the tutorial on youtube.com:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdntUkrBxgE

Anonymous said...

Right, this blog MAY be just what I am looking for. I am on 37% on 2200 games played. I have the version that came with Windows VIsta.

3 points, I CANNOT find answers anywhere on the web, so tell me if I am missing something here:

First - what I call the 'MAGIC 10'
How many times is it possible to go for the moon-shot when you have QSpades and AKQJ of hearts, and miraculously one other player has about 6 of them to lay, and after you've won all but one of the hearts with your AKQJ and say lay your 7,8 or 9, YES! you are beaten by the miraculous magic 10??

Second. Am I getting an unknown rule wrong, but on 4 or 5 games I have got 12 HEARTS so far, 12 points. My last card is Queen spades, I lay it to shoot the moon, and I get 'beaten' (even though I am laying first on the hand) by a player with the king or other heart? He gets 14 points when I have supposedly shot the moon!!!! grrrr.....
ALSO I have had 12 hearts, my last card is say 3 of hearts, I'm laying first so unbeatable as only that heart remains, and the queen spades is still out there. The same scenario occurs, the player lays his QSpades and wins the hand so he gets 14 to my 12?

IS this a ludicrous programme error, has anyone else seen it, or have I got something wrong?

Lastly, the illogical laying to f*ck my game up by other players. Sometimes it makes no sense.

Dave

Anonymous said...

It makes perfect sense because you are playing either a team of 3 or a team of four (counting the dealer.)

The solution is to play an honest game. I recommend Hearts on games.com. Register for free. Set up a private game and play the bots then play in a public game with other humans. The play is the same. When playing other humans, you get very few commercials. Besides, you need to check your email and Facebook from time to time don't you? If you run out of something to do during the commercials, live chat with the other humans in your game. Maybe you will have time to get in a three-word phrase.

My screen name is RoloCole. If you happen to bump into me, let's have at it.

Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion. Let's keep a "perpetual" private Hearts game going at games.com. For a password, use msheartscheats and let's give it a go. If someone wants to sponsor a particular day/time of the week, just post it here, along with your time zone, and let's see how many show up. Log in first to make sure the password is working as it should. If not, start your own private game and post the password here. A few days notice would be good.

--Blue/RoloCole

Anonymous said...

To ROLOCOLE

Yes, the 3-1 bots make sense, as you say.

But what about the cheating, in the examples I stated. I thought I was seeing things the first time (regarding the unbeatable moonshot being 'trumped' by the bot, i.e. YOU lay first, he beats your last heart with the qspades or your qspades with a heart) but after 5 times now it's obvious there must be a programme error, not just bot-bullying.
I just want a few people to cofirm whether they've experienced it on vista hearts.
Dave

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