The Competitive, Fast Paced Card Game …
Have you ever played Nerts before? Have you even heard of it? This is a fast paced card game you can play with as few as 2 players and as many as 12 – 14. Warning this is a crazy game … the more players and decks of cards in play the crazier.
There was a time our family was obsessed with this game. One year between Christmas and New Year we had a family ski trip to Crested Butte, CO. Everyday that week we couldn’t wait to get off the slopes and start playing Nerts. We’d eat, then clear the table, get out the cards, partner up (there were 12 adults), then utter chaos for the next 4 hours. New Year’s Eve, 1979, we’d been playing for hour, the doors and windows were open, tensions were rising (most of our family is pretty competitive). We ended up calling it quits and going to bed around 11:30 … I don’t think anyone was up to ring in the new year.
Funny, but all these years later, this remains a great memory for all of us!
To start, you will need:
- 2-4 players (or up to 12)
- Regular decks of cards per player – with different backs (if more than 4 players we always partnered up – 1 deck per team)
This is a super fast paced game that is like playing Solitaire with other people, while playing off of each other.
OBJECT OF THE GAME
It’s a race to see who can get rid of their cards from the “Nerts” pile first. Play continues in rounds until reaching a pre-determined number.
SETTING UP THE GAME
Each player uses one deck of cards (all have to have different backs). S/he will deal a pile of 12 cards face down, last card will be face up on top (so 13 cards total).
Next to the “Nerts” pile, each player deals four cards face-up, side by side – these are called “work” piles.
The rest of the cards in the players deck are held face down. These cards, called stock cards, will be turned over three at a time onto a face up stack. This will be the discard pile. Players need to be set up across from each other so that they can have access to a common area. The common area will be explained below.
HOW TO PLAY
*Skip to the YouTube video at the bottom if you desire.
- Once everyone has their cards set up, someone will say – “ready, set, go.”
- All players will start playing on their own cards at the same time – similar to playing Solitaire with their work piles.
- Players must alternate red, black, red, black in their work piles.
- The main objective is to get rid of the “Nerts” pile by playing cards from that pile into his/her work pile.
- At the same time, players will move cards into the common area – starting only with an Ace and adding to any stack with the same suit. These are called “foundations.”
- Each player an only use *one* hand at a time to move cards but can hold his/her stock cards in the other hand.
- Each player is only allowed to move his/her cards – in his work piles and in the common area.
If two+ people are trying to play at the same time, the first card played stays there while the others are returned to the player.
If you play with teams of two, one will manage the “Nerts” pile – the pile of 13 cards, this players job is to communicate with their partner with the objective of getting as many cards out in the common area AND to get rid of the Nerds pile first. The other player manages the stock cards turning over every 3rd card and looking where to play.
- When a player gets rid of all of his/her cards in the Nerts pile, he or she will yell out “Nerts” and the round is over.
- There are four work piles – each player deals their 4 out at the beginning of the game.
- Each work pile goes in descending order, alternating color.
For example: if you start with a red 9, the next cards would be black 8, red 7, black 6, etc.
- Like Solitaire, you can move any card in one of your work piles onto another work pile if it coordinates.
- When moving cards and you have a blank space in your work piles (there should be 4 showing at all times), you will take the next card from your “Nerts” pile and flip it over into that blank space.
- To add more cards to the common area, move cards to make room for others and earn more points, each player can take cards from their work piles and add them to the common area in a foundation when it fits.
For example: if there is a 7 of diamonds in one of the “foundations” and the player has a 6 of diamonds showing in one of their work piles, s/he can add it to that foundation.
- With the goal of getting rid of your Nerts cards first, cards from the top of that pile are to be played quickly onto an empty space in your work piles OR if they fit, they can also be played onto one of your existing work piles. Or they can be played directly onto a foundation too.
- When you have played the top card of your Nerts pile you can turn the next card of the pile face up.
- When your Nerts pile is gone, you can call “Nerts!” but you aren’t required to.
- “Foundations piles” are built in the common area.
- They always start with an Ace and go by suits only.
For example: if you have a 3 of spades, the next card to be played would be 4 of spades. A 4 of diamonds could not be played.
- These piles are played until King and then they can be moved aside.
- Players can start a new foundation pile if they have an Ace. S/he just adds it to the common area in the middle of all of the players.
- Players add to foundation piles from the top of their Nerts pile, lowest card from a work pile and/or the top of the card of the waste pile.
- All players can play on any foundation.
- Players can turn over cards from your stock three at a time and put them face-up onto your waste pile.
- At the start of the game, there is no waste pile.
- The top card of the waste pile can be played into one of the work piles or a foundation pile if it fits.
- If ALL players are stuck and nobody can play any of their cards on a work pile or foundation piles, all players can stop.
- At this point, every player would take the top card from his/her “stock” pile in their hand and keeping it face down, move it to the bottom of their stack.
- This will change up the order of cards and players should be able to once again play.
- If only one player is stuck, s/he has to wait for everyone else to get stuck to do this.
- But if other players keep playing, often a play will become available.
- The person who “goes out” doesn’t have to call “Nerts” when they are done.
- They can keep playing to improve their score (more on that below).
- You are never forced to play a card if it isn’t in your best interest – you can always wait.
HOW TO SCORE
- When someone calls “Nerts!” the round is over and everyone takes down their score.
- Each player scores one point for each of their own cards that they played in the foundations of the common area.
- This is where the back of the cards comes into play – the foundation piles have to be sorted out according to the owners of the cards.
- All players except the one who called Nerts also subtract two points for every card left in their Nerts pile when the round ended.
- Calling Nerts does not guarantee the highest score – it depends on how many cards are played in the common area.
- Rounds continue until a player scores a pre-determined number (ie – 100 points, 200 points, etc).
- Whoever reaches that number, wins!