Nerts (Pounce)

OBJECTIVE OF NERTS/POUNCE: Get rid of cards in Nerts pile.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2+ players (6+ play in partnerships)

NUMBER OF CARDS: standard 52-card + Jokers (optional) per player

RANK OF CARDS: K (high), Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A

TYPE OF GAME: Patience



Nerts or Nertz is a faced paced card game that is described as a combination of Solitaire and Speed. It is also referred to as Pounce, Racing Demon, Peanuts, and Squeal. The objective is to get rid of all the cards in your ‘Nerts’ pile (or Pounce pile, etc) by building upon them from an ace. Each player requires their own deck, so a 4 player game needs 4 decks to be played. However, all the cards must have different backs in order to differentiate them. 


Each player deals themselves a Nerts pile, this is a 13 card pile, 12 cards face-down and the 13th card is dealt face-up. Beside the Nerts pile players deal themselves four cards, face-up, side by side (but not overlapping. These are work piles. The remaining cards in the deck become the stockpile. Beside the stockpile is the waste pile, it is formed by taking three cards at a time from the stock and turning them face-up next to the stock.

Players arrange themselves around the playing surface and shape their layout (it may be square, circle, etc). In the center of the playing field is the common area. This should be easily accessible to all players and it holds the foundations which players will be building upon. Below is a photo of a general Nerts set-up.


Gameplay does not consist of taking turns. Players play at the same time and at whatever pace they please. Move your cards around your layout, following the stipulations below, and add on to foundations in the common area. Th goal is to get rid of all your cards in your Nerts pile by playing them on either your work piles or on the foundations in the common area. Once your Nerts pile is dry you can call, “NERTS!” (Or Pounce!, etc). Once this happens the game ends immediately, cards in mid-air are allowed to complete their move and be counted accordingly in scoring.

You are not required to call Nerts when your pile is exhausted, you may continue to play and improve your score.

Players can only move cards using one hand, however, the stock can be held in the other hand. Generally, cards may only be moved one at a time, unless you are moving a stack from one work pile to another. Cards may only be moved within your layout or from your layout to the common area.

In the event two players attempt to play on the same foundation at the same time, the player who hit the pile first gets to keep their card there. If there is an obvious tie, both players may keep their cards there.

Players are never forced to play cards, they may also be held and played when it’s in your best interest.


Each of the four work piles begin with one card, face-up. Player build work piles in descending numerical order, alternating red and black, and overlapping the cards. So if the pile has a black 10, place a red 9 on top, and then a black 8, and so on. A card from a work pile may be moved to another work pile. When you consolidate work piles, cards on top of the pertinent card a moved with it. An empty space can be filled with cards from the Nerts pile, another work pile, or the discard. The top card, or lowest ranking card, of a work pile may be played on the foundations in the common area.

If a work pile is empty and you have a card in hand that is one rank higher and the opposite color of the base card, that card may be slid underneath the work pile to save time. For example, a work pile is built upon a black Queen. There is an empty space and a red King in hand. Instead of using the red King to fill the space and moving the black Queen to it, the red King may simply be slid underneath the other work pile.


You may play cards from the top of your Nerts pile onto work piles and empty work piles. Cards from the Nerts pile can also be played on the foundations. Once you play the top card from the Nerts pile you may flip the next card face-up and prepare it for potential gameplay.


In the common area is the foundation piles. They are all built upon an ace. Foundation piles can be added to by playing a card that is one rank higher than the card before it and the same suit. They are built upon until the King is reached. Once this occurs, the foundation pile is removed from the common area and set aside. Foundations are started by players placing free Aces in the common area. Cards that may be played on foundation piles are: Nerts cards, exposed cards on top of work piles, and the top card of the discard. Any player may add to any foundation pile.


You may turn over three cards at a time from the stock to the discard. The discard begins as an empty pile. However, it is important to keep the discard in order, since the top card can be used on work piles.

When your stock is running dry (less than three cards in hand), place your remaining cards on top of the discard, flip over the deck, and continue playing with your new stock. If everyone gets stuck and there are no more legal moves, all players must form a new stock in this manner. But, if you are stuck, and waiting for other players to get stuck, you may move the top card from your stock to the bottom and try to play again.


If a player calls, “Nerts!”, the play ends and scoring begins. Players receive 1 point for each of their cards played on foundation piles and lose 2 points for each Nerts card left in hand. This is why it is necessary that each player has a deck with different backs. Separate the foundational piles by the backs to easily determine points. Calling nerts doesn’t ensure you will have the highest amount of points, however, it does greatly increase your chances. Although, that is why when your Nerts pile is dry it is not necessary to declare such, and you may continue playing.

If all players are stuck, despite the new stockpile, the game ends and is scored as usual. The game continues until one player hits the target score, which is typically 100 points.


Jokers may be added to the deck any may stand for any card in the deck. Before the Joker can be moved and played onto a foundation, the suit and rank the Joker is intended to replace must be declared. Jokers played on work piles do not have to be officially declared as to what they represent. Once a card is played on a Joker in a work pile, though, it now has a fixed existence (rank, suit, color).




Nakoa Davis

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