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How to Play the Card Game Nertz

This many decks would make a super-crazy Nertz game!
photo by nutmeg www.flickr.com

Nertz is a fast-paced card game that is similar to solitaire, but played with two or more people, who use two or more decks of cards. It is the perfect game for family night--kids can easily learn the rules or play as partners with their parents. It is also perfect for a group of co-workers who want to get-together outside of work or long-time friends who want to play a game after a dinner party.

Shuffle one deck of cards for each person playing the card game. The cards need to have different pictures or designs on the back of each deck.

Count 13 cards face down in a pile and turn this pile over. (Each player, does this at the beginning of the game.) Then each player puts four cards in a row face-up next to the pile of 13. When everyone has a pile of 13 cards and a row of four cards (face-up), someone says, "Go."

Take cards from your pile of 13, and play them on your four cards. You can play black on red or red on black in sequential order, decreasing in value. For example, if one of your four cards is a seven of hearts, and you have a six of clubs on the top of your pile of 13, you can put the six of clubs on the seven of hearts, as in solitaire. Next, you would be looking for a red five to play on this six.

Place aces of any suit in the middle of the table for any player to play. If one of your four cards or the top card on your pile of 13 is the ace of hearts or any suit, put it in the middle of the table. If any other player has the two of hearts, he puts this card on top of the ace of hearts and so on. You want to try to get as many cards out in the middle as possible because this is how you get points.

Use your leftover deck of cards to play, once you have no more moves left with your pile of 13 or your four cards face-up. As in solitaire, you flip over every three cards from your leftover deck. If the third card can be played in the middle of the table or on one of your four face-up cards, you remove it from the leftover deck and play it. Remember to keep checking the top card on your pile of 13 cards because you want to play all these cards as quickly as you can.

Play until one player uses all 13 of his cards from his pile. Remember: each player should try to use the original pile of 13 cards either in the middle of the table or on his four face-up cards. When the pile of 13 is gone, the player yells, "Nertz!" The round is now over. All players stop and count how many cards they have left in their piles (which originally had 13 cards). (You do not count how many cards you have left in the leftover deck from which you have been turning over every third card. You only count the leftover cards in the pile that originally had 13 cards in it.)

Figure out the score for each hand. To do this, you must separate the cards that were played in the middle. Remember every one is playing cards on each other's aces, so there are a whole pile of cards in the middle of the table. Now each player has to get his or her cards back. Each player counts how many cards he or she played in the middle. If a player did not yell, "Nertz," then he or she had leftover cards in the original pile of 13 cards, which were counted as instructed in step 6. The "losing" players must subtract the number of cards left in this pile from the number of cards they played in the middle. This is how you find a score for the round. For example: If Player A had 6 cards remaining in her pile (out of the original 13) and she had 22 cards played in the middle of the table, then her score for the round is 16 cards. The first player to reach 100 points is the winner of Nertz.

Things You'll Need:

  • Deck of 52 cards for each person that is playing (or each pair of people)
  • Score pad
  • Pencil


Two to four people are the perfect number for Nertz. If you have eight or more people who want to play, the game can also be played in partners. The rules are the same; you just have two people per deck. If everyone is stuck (meaning no one has a play), take the top card of your leftover deck and move it to the bottom. Then everyone can resume play by counting out every third card.

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