Nertz is also known as Stits, Nerts, Nerks, Dooker, Canfield, Crunch, Nirts, Nerf, Gluck, "Blitz", Maxcards, Peanuts, Popeye, Pounce, Snerds, Solitaire Frenzy, Scrub, Stop, Squeal, Squeak, Squid, Squinch, Lapu-Lapu Dirty Dance, Swish, Racing Demons, Race Horse Rummy, Lucky Thirty, Grouch, Hell, Hallelujah, Hoorah, Mertz, Moofles, Flip Flip, Knertz, Nuts, Nutz, Nutsy, Kitz Nitz, Double Dutch Bus, and Snatch.
A standard playing card deck per team or player is all that is necessary to play this game. Specialized decks of cards are not required. There are, however, retail game sets that include specialized decks available to those interested. Nertz-inspired games like the Nertz, Llc decks at Nertz.com, Ligretto, Dutch Blitz, Wackee Six, and Perpetual Commotion are all in close relation to one another.
Brief Game Description
Nertz can be played in teams of two, teams of three, individually, or using a combination of both individuals and teams. Each player or team uses their own deck of cards in a solitaire–style competition that requires speed and skill. The object of each hand is to try to be the first team/player to call out “Nertz” by getting rid of their (typically) thirteen-card Nertz pile. A game of Nertz is usually played to a designated score like 100 or 150 points. (However, some players designate a number of rounds to play to instead of a set score. Others just tally the number of hand victories without ever keeping a hand score and in doing so, the hand victory count determines a winner. Scoring is up to the individual preferences of the players.)
For the players that do keep hand scores, the way to receive points during a hand is to play cards in to the common area. Each card a team plays into the common area is worth one point. At the same time a big factor in receiving a higher score is the amount of cards in a player’s Nertz pile. When a hand ends, each card that a team/player has remaining in their Nertz pile is worth -2 points. Therefore, it is possible for a team/player to receive a negative score. This does happen often. Thus, the more Nertz cards a player can get rid of, the better his score will be. (Depending on the variation of Nertz being played, certain cards can be given an added value when played into the common area or Lake.)
Teams that call “Nertz” (typically) receive a 10-point bonus for that hand. (Depending on the region, the amount of this bonus given may vary or be nonexistent.)
Every team or player will need a deck of playing cards that is clearly distinguishable from the rest of the decks that will be used at the table. This is because the decks will be getting mixed together in the common area or Lake and will need to be easily separated after each hand.
After sufficiently shuffling the decks of cards that each player/team will be using, each player/team deals a row of four cards facing up to form the Personal Piles or River. A 13-card Nertz pile is dealt facing down alongside, with the thirteenth and final top card turned up to be available for play when the game starts.
The team’s remaining 35-card pile is now used as the Stock Pile or Stream Pile. After all teams have finished setting their hands, play is ready to begin.
Play begins with one player calling "Go." Once a player has begun there are three areas he/she uses to aid in getting rid of all thirteen Nertz cards. The Lake or common area, the River or personal area, and the Stream or Stock pile are all vital to the Nertz pile.
The Lake (common area) is used by all players to score points by playing on piles in a suited order and increasing numeric sequence. Players with aces available to play put these aces out in the Lake. Anyone can play on card piles in the Lake or common area. Aces always begin the center piles. From there, a 2 of the same suit may be played by any player on top the ace. In Standard Nertz, if an ace of hearts is played, a 2 of hearts can be played thereon, and then a 3 of hearts, and so on. In the center area, all cards must follow what has been previously played both in suit and in numeric sequence.
The River (personal area) is used like the tableau piles in Solitaire in which you may only build down with available Nertz or Stream cards by alternating colors. You may also play the top most cards in your River into the Lake to free a space or just to score points. Again, River cards must be played in decreasing numeric sequence and according to alternating color. For example, if a player has a starting Nertz card and the following four River cards to begin with: A red King atop the Nertz Pile, black Queen, a red Jack, a black 5, and a Red 6. The player can immediately play the red jack on the queen and the black five on the red six. The player can then move the red King from Nertz Pile and move the next card off the Nertz Pile to fill the spaces vacated by the five and jack. Now the player can move the Queen and Jack onto the King, creating one additional space to be filled from the Nertz Pile. The top card on the Nertz Pile should also be turned face up.
Like traditional Solitaire, when players do not have any available plays within the Nertz pile or River they then resort to their 35 card Stream pile or turn deck to find available cards that might aid them. Each player flips over (typically) a three-card group from their Stream in search of playable cards. That player may only play the topmost of three cards either to the River or the Lake. If the third topmost card cannot be played, the next three cards are flipped, with the topmost again being the only playable card, and so on until the pile is gone through. At the very end of the deck, the bottommost card can be played regardless of whether it is the third card or not. Then the deck is turned over and the flipping begins again while properly maintaining its order.
To gain points, everyone must play on the Lake piles. This usually results in a very fast-paced game, as players naturally try to play on the center piles as much as possible. Whatever player lays his/her card down first on a sequence is awarded the play. Once a player/team has rid their Nertz pile of all thirteen cards they may then call or shout "NERTZ". Once Nertz is called play must immediately stop indicating the hand is over.
Once Nertz is called and verified, the cards in the center area are returned to their respective teams. This is why it is important to play with highly distinguishable decks, so the points are awarded accurately and each deck’s playing integrity is maintained. Each player is awarded a predetermined number of points for each card they have played in the central area (often one point per card). Each player is then penalized a (possibly different) number of points for each card left in their Nertz pile (often two points per card). So, using the one/two point system, if a player has fifteen cards played in the Lake or central area, and ten cards left in their Nertz Pile, they are awarded fifteen points, but penalized twenty points, for a total of negative five points. Typically, a 10 point Nertz bonus is awarded to the player/team that calls "Nertz".
Players on average play to 50 points, but depending on the desired length of Nertz games, it is not uncommon find players that play 100, 200, or 500 point games.
Penalties and deductions can occur due to cheating or accidental calls, so it is up the players to determine what actions should be taken if this should occur. Again, use the links below to learn more about how others enforce penalties.
- Stream or Stock Pile: the cards the players turn over looking to play in their personal play area or the common play area. The cards already turned are sometimes referred to as the Waste Pile but remain part of the stream as they will be used repeatedly.
- River or Work Piles: the four cards set in row in which each individual team has their own to play on.
- Lake or Common Area: the area where aces are the starter cards and anyone can play. It is only in the common play area that points can be scored.
- Nertz Pile or Bone Pile: the pile of 13 cards that players are trying to get rid of to win the hand.
- Starter Card: any card that starts a pile, particularly in the Lake. Aces typically are considered started cards when played in the Lake.
- Note: More in-depth terminology can be found using the links below.
Nertz has many variations. For further details on variations, see the external links.
Variations can differ by:
- Terminology used
- Number of River columns
- Number of cards in the Nertz pile
- Whether the Nertz pile is dealt facing up or down
- The number of Stream cards flipped at a time
- Giving certain cards the power to change the numerical direction in which the Lake piles are played
- The value of a "Nertz" call, Nertz cards, and Lake cards
- Whether a hand score is tallied or if the "games won" count determines an overall winner
- Whether players are allowed to move cards to the Stream with both hands or only one hand
- Whether players are partnered (Singles, Doubles (or both), Mandatory Mixed Gender Doubles, or Rotating Partner Games)
- How partners are chosen and how the winners are determined in rotating partner games
- Whether players are allowed to play from both ends of Stream or River piles
- Whether handicaps are implemented for balance between experienced and inexperienced players
- Whether and what penalties are enforced for rule-breaking
- How Shuffling, Dealing, and Set-Up procedure are conducted
- How to indicate when a Lake pile is full and whether and how play is paused and resumed
Related Card Games
- Card Games/Ligretto, a similar game produced in Germany
- Card Games/Dutch Blitz, a similar game produced by the Pennsylvania Dutch
- Solitaire Frenzy, a similar game played on a board sold with standard playings cards
- [Card Games/Solitaire Showdown|Solitaire Showdown]], a similar game played online in Windows Live Messenger
- Solitaire Race, a similar game played online at AOL Games
- National Nertz Association: The Official Nertz Rulebook PDF, page 1. 2008.
- Shuffling and dealing procedure in Nertz can impact the fairness of play and many house rules have been made to ensure balance and order during these processes. These house rules vary. (Details on “Round Robin Shuffling”, “Dealing”, and the “Order of Cards” can be found at the Nertz Terminology link.
- In some variants five cards are dealt in the River.
- Nerts / Pounce / Racing Demon. Pagat. 24 December 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- Nertz llc. - The official Nertz card company website.
- The National Nertz Association - An organization devoted to Nertz players.
- Pagat's Common Rules for Nertz - Detailed rules for hundreds of card games.
- Variations for Nertz at Free Forums - Here you can view many Nertz variations as well as add your own variations.
- How to Play Multiplayer Solitaire or Nertz