Nerts Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(Above is the traditional set up of a Nerts game for three players)

(Above is the traditional set up of a Nerts game for three players)

Card Game Rules

Nerts, or Peanuts, is a multiple person solitaire game played with a standard 52 playing card deck for each player. Each deck must have a unique design on its back as it will be easier to calculate players’ points. In Nerts, Kings are high and Aces are low. The objective of the game is to win the most points and to play all of the cards in the Nerts pile.

For more classic card games, check out our guides for Go Fish and War.

If you are looking for cards to play Nerts with, check out a standard deck here or on of our newest arrivals here.


Set Up

Each player is given a full deck with a unique design on its back. Players must shuffle the deck first before they form the Tableau and Nerts pile. To form their Tableau, players place four cards up right in a row. To form the Nerts pile, players deal thirteen cards face down. The remaining cards form the Stock pile.


How to Play


Like regular Solitaire, players can lose cards by building up the Foundations. In Nerts, the Foundations are community piles. A Foundation pile begins when someone places an Ace in the middle of the gameplay area. Foundations can be built upon by cards of the same suit and in increasing order. When a Foundation reaches the King, the pile is turned over and placed to the side.


Players may also play cards onto their own Tableau. Cards can be placed on the Tableau if the cards are in decreasing order and of alternating color. The top card of a Tableau pile may be used for a Foundation pile.

Stock Pile

If a player cannot move any of their cards in play, they may deal themselves cards from their Stock pile. Stock pile cards are dealt in groups of three with players only able to use the top card. When the Stock pile runs out, players may form a new Stock pile out of the dealt cards.

Nerts Pile

The top card of the Nerts pile is flipped up and may be played on either the Tableau or the Foundation piles. When someone plays all of their Nerts cards they shout “Nerts!”, gameplay ends, and scores are tallied.


Keeping Score

After someone plays all of the cards in their Nerts pile, the Foundations are collected and counted. A player receives 1 point for every card they played on the Foundations and loses 2 points for every card still in their Nerts pile. The first player to 150 points wins.

For more information about Nerts, check out pagat's article here and The National Nerts Association's website here.


Spite and Malice

Spite and Malice is a two player variation of Nerts. It is played with two decks. Nerts piles are made of 20 cards. Each player gets four tableau piles. The players share one stock pile. After the Nerts piles are made, the top cards are flipped up. The player with the highest card goes first. Players then take turns trying to build up the communal foundation piles. 

For more information on Spite and Malice, check out Pagat's article here.


Looking for more card games to play?  Check out this article:

40+ Great Card Games For All Occasions

About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 08/30/20                              


  • Can you play a card of stock pile in an open slot of the 4 cards ? Or can cards off the nerts pile be the only ones to fill open slots?

    Thank you!
    Jan Gaswint on

  • I grew up playing this game, but we called it Pounce!.

    Robin Young on

  • I just learned how to play this a game night with work friends. Where has this been all my life?!?! What a great hame that can be taken anywhere. Definitely adding this to our camping bucket as well as the house and car/to go bag.

    Gennevive Cook on

  • I have 8 kids and with my wife we play this all the time. My youngest kids ages 7 and 9 and just starting to get the hang of this game.

    Korben Chesnut-Petry on

  • My friend from Jr. High school back in 1967, taught me this game. Love it I miss playing it. Not many people know the game.

    Rita on

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