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Players Ideally 2-8
Skills required Quick reaction, awareness of cards being played simultaneously, counting.
Age range 8+
Cards 52 per deck, each player or team uses a standard playing card deck. Each team's deck must be a different design or color than the rest of the decks being used, to identify cards after the round ends.
Related games
Spit, Dutch Blitz

Nertz is a fast-paced, real-time, multiplayer card game involving multiple decks of playing cards. It is often described as a combination of the card games Speed and Solitaire.

Nertz is known by a number of different names: Hell, Nerts, Pounce, Peanuts, Racing Demon and Squinch The name "Nertz" appears to be the most recognized.


According to the National Nertz Association (U.S.), there is not a known inventor or a specific date of creation for the game of Nertz. The NNA also claims that this game has been around since the 1940s. Canfield, a card game similar in set-up to Nertz, was created in the 1890s and seems to be the closest relative in the family tree of cards games. In fact, if one were to attempt to play Nertz alone, one would essentially be playing Canfield, a variant of Klondike Solitaire or Patience.

The National Nertz Association is a U.S.-based organization offering free international membership that claims to be committed to the growth and welfare of the game of Nertz. It also states that its goal is to someday host a major Nertz tournament.


What makes Nertz different from Solitaire (aside from the fact that it is not played alone) or any other card game for that matter is the fact that players have the option to play cards communally, in real-time, using multiple decks of playing cards. The object in a hand of Nertz is to be the first player or team to get rid of the Nertz pile using a solitaire-style method of game-play. Each player or team uses their own deck of playing cards throughout the game. The number of players or teams that can play in a game is only limited to the amount of card decks and/or the amount of space that is available. This means there may be as many players or teams as desired. All the players or teams race to get rid of their Nertz piles creating an exciting and hectic game experience.


A game of Nertz is typically played as a series of hands. Between hands, scores are tallied and the cards are sorted and given back to the players or teams that played them. After the cards are returned, the decks are shuffled and set up for the next hand and this process is repeated until a player wins.

During a hand, every player or team plays simultaneously (real-time) and may play cards on one another's Lake cards. There are four areas that a player or team uses in Nertz which include the Lake, the River, the Stream, and the Nertz pile. The Lake is the central area, used to score points, which any player or team may use by building suited piles in ascending order without doubles. The River is a 4-columned personal area that a player or team uses by cascading and/or playing cards from columns of alternating color and descending order (like the tableau piles in Solitaire). The Stream is a pile that is continually flipped (usually in groups of three cards at a time) in search of cards to play into the Lake or River. Lastly, the Nertz pile is a 13-card pile that players try to get rid of by playing cards from the pile one at a time, from the top of the pile, into available Lake or River destinations. The first player or team to successfully get rid of their Nertz pile calls or shouts "Nertz". Once "Nertz" is called all play for that hand stops. The diagram shown in this article may help to clarify these four areas and how they are utilized. From this diagram one can conclude that basic Solitaire rules govern this game.

In a hand, players or teams earn points which are determined by a formula using the amount of cards played into the Lake subtracted by twice the amount of cards remaining in the Nertz pile. Awarding 10-point bonuses to players or teams that call Nertz is a fairly common practice among the Nertz playing community. Generally a game is played to a set score like 100 points in which case players will play as many hands as needed until a winner emerges. On occasion, players will keep tallies of games won instead of adding hand scores and then they will use the tallies to determine a winner. It is also not uncommon for players or teams to receive negative numbers for hand and game scores.

Official rules

Until the publication of the first Official Nertz Rulebook, there were no codified rules for Nertz. Nertz rules often varied (and still do) depending on where Nertz was being played and who was playing. The first Official Nertz Rulebook was created in 2004 and made available online in 2007. The current edition is provided at the National Nertz Association's website. Pagat, a card game website, also has rules for Nerts posted on their website. Not every Nertz player plays by exactly the same rules, so when playing with others, one may notice some elements of this game such as the terms, game-play, scoring, set-up, shuffling and dealing procedure, and penalty procedure may be different from those defined by some of the more credible Nertz sources on the internet.

Commercial versions

Nertz-inspired retail game sets like the NERTZ! Llc decks at, Ligretto, Dutch Blitz, Solitaire Frenzy, Wackee Six, Nay Jay!, and Perpetual Commotion are all in close relation to one another. Each is slightly different from the next, however, they all share the same basic elements. They all have piles that players race to get rid of as the hand objective. They all require multiple decks. They all have both communal and personal areas. They all use the same-suit (or color), ascending builds for Lake piles and the alternating-suit (or color) builds for River Piles. Lastly, they all are played in real-time as opposed to many turn-based card games. Taking that into account, it is clear to see why these commercial game sets are widely considered to be Nertz-style games.

Electronic Nertz

The first known electronic Nertz game was Nertz! The Card Game by John Ronnander and Majicsoft for the Atari ST system and was released for purchase in 1995. It was capable linking nine Atari systems for a large human multiplayer experience and also had an option in which two players could play on a single system. Since then many others have produced electronic Nertz-style games in an attempt to bring the Nertz experience to consoles, PCs, and mobile apps. The first Nertz game offered to PC's was eNerts released in 2000 by John Drake. One could purchase and download this game for the Windows OS from the eNerts website. eNerts offered users matches against AI opponents with adjustable difficulty settings. In 2007 Solitaire Showdown was added to the list of free games available to play on Windows Live Messenger (then MSN Messenger). To play this game one would challenge a friend from their messenger friend list to a heads-up match. In 2008, (or AOL Games) added a free online Nertz game called Solitaire Race to there list of games. In this game one could play up to four human or computer opponents. In the same year, two other Nertz PC games, available as software, were released which were Nertz Solitaire and Nerts High Speed Card Game. Nertz Solitaire was a game based on the NERTZ LLC decks using squirrel characters as opponents. This PC game only offered AI opponents and was available for download and purchase online only. Nerts High Speed Card Game was also available for download and purchase online only but this game offered both human and AI opponent capabilities. This game was developed by John Ronnander, the same person who released the first electronic Nertz game in 1995.

'Nertz apps for mobile devices have more recently become popular. Nerts, Pounce, gNerts, Nertz, Reactcardz and No More Solitaire (a Solitaire Showdown like) are just a few of the app names currently available for mobile devices.

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