How to Play Nertz Card Game with Printable Rules AKA Pounce

At our last family gathering, my sisters and I brought out one of our old favorites. Nertz! This card game can also be called pounce. We taught the kids how to play Nertz, and my niece loved it instantly. After hours of playing, we found our Nertz master, and it wasn’t me!

If you love games that can be played with the entire family, check out 10,000 Dice Game and Golf Card Game.

You’ll find directions for how to play Nertz below, along with some strategy tips. Have fun!

How to Play the Nertz Card Game

How many people do you need for Nertz?

Nertz can be played with two to six players. Personally, I think three to four players is ideal for a quick, fun, and competitive game.

Can you play Nertz with two players?

Yes! Nertz can be played with two players. The main downside to playing with two is that it’s a slower game and there is more of a chance of getting stuck. With more people, it’s more of a race to place a card in the middle, adding to the intensity. That said, if I wanted to play and there was only one person interested… I would play.

What do you need to play Nertz?

  • A card deck for each player (the image on the back of the cards should be different for each deck)
  • Space for each player to have a work area and a play area in the center.

How do you set up Nertz card game?

Set up for Nertz is similar to solitaire, but not exactly the same. Each player will use their own deck and set up their own work area.

Deal a Nertz Pile of 13 cards. The top card on the Nertz Pile is turned up.

How to Play the Nertz Card Game - Simple Nerts Rules

Next to the Nertz pile, deal out 4 cards face down, side by side, and not overlapping. The remaining cards are the stockpile and will be held in the player’s hand.

Because all cards that are added to the playing area can be played on by any player, it’s important to make sure the playing area can be reached by everyone. A round table works great for this game.

How to Play the Nertz Card Game

How to play Nertz, the card game.

Once everyone has their work area set up, it’s time to play!

Getting Started: Someone says GO! Everyone turns over their 4 face-down cards to reveal their work area. Everyone plays at the same time, racing to be the first to empty their Nertz pile.

How to Play the Nertz Card Game

Cards are played in your work area just like solitaire. Cards are played in decreasing order K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2 and alternating colors. If you have a red Jack in your work area, a black 10 can be played on it.

Cards can also be played in the play area. Cards in the play area create suited piles. They start with ace and increase in number 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,J,Q,K. Each pile contains only one suit (heats on hearts, spades on spades, etc).  All players play on these cards.

Move Ace cards to the play area. Anyone can play on these cards. (Strategy hint: if you have two cards that will be played in a row make sure you move fast.)

How to Play the Nertz Card Game - Simple Nertz Rules

When a pile in your work area is empty, any card can fill it. (Strategy hint: it’s usually a good idea to use the top card from your nertz pile.)

You can move stacks from one work pile onto another as long as they continue the descending number and alternating color rules.

How to Play the Nertz Card Game | Simple Step-by-Step Instructions

When there are no more moves in your work area and nothing that can be moved to the play area. Grab your stock pile. Turn 3 cards over at a time. The top card can now be used in your work area or the play area. If you can use it, the next top card is available to use. If you can’t use it, turn over the next 3 cards.

How to Play the Nertz Card Game | Simple Step-by-Step Instructions

This continues until you have moves in your work area again. Remember, the most important thing is empty the Nertz pile.

How do you win Nertz the card game?

How to Play the Nertz Card Game - Simple Nertz Rules

The first player to play the last card from their Nertz pile. Yells NERTZ and is the winner.


Do you have a Nertz question? If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for here, ask in the comments. If you’re wondering, most likely, you’re not the only one.

Can you play on your Nertz pile?

Nope. Your goal is to remove all the cards from your Nerts pile (and be the first to do it). If you have a card on the top of your Nerts pile that COULD be played on, you’ll have to wait for a space to open up.

What happens if you get stuck in Nertz?

Getting stuck in Nertz can happen. This is when none of the players can play at all. Everyone has gone through their stockpile again (we usually go through a couple of times to make sure we didn’t miss something), and still no cards have moved.

At this point, everyone can turn one card in their stockpile instead of three until someone can play. Then, play returns to normal.

Remember, if even one card can move, you’re not actually stuck. One card will most likely get the ball rolling again.

How many cards go in the Nertz pile?

The Nertz pile has 13 cards. These cards are face down with the top card turned up.

How many decks do you need for Nertz?

For Nertz, everyone has their own deck. You need one deck for each player. Expert Nertst tips: it’s best if the back of each deck is different. This makes dealing the cards back to their player much easier when the round is over.

Pounce Card Game Rules

If you’re looking for Pounce card game rules, you’ve come to the right place. Pounce and Nertz are other names for the game Nerts. Learn how to play Pounce above.

Printable Nertz Rules

Print these rules for how to play Nertz and keep them with your cards. That way, you can quickly reference them while you’re playing.

Click here to get your printable Nertz rules.


    1. Hi Alex! You can have one open spot in your work area, but I don’t think you’d want to. Since the goal is to empty your Nerts pile, moving a card from there to the open spot would help you.

  1. Just for clarification, if I play the top card from my stock pile and the one beneath can be played too, I can play that one as well? And if the third card from the three I turned over is playable, I can continue to play without having to turn three more cards over if the cards are playable? Thanks!

  2. Can you play a card from the nertz pile on one of your work piles that already have cards or can nertz pile cards only be played on an empty spot of the work piles? I’m seeing this rule on other sites. I’m also seeing rules for nertz that have 5 work piles and some of those work piles have upside down stacks of cards underneath the face up cards.. like a traditional solitaire set up.. I can’t remember which way is correct bc it’s been so long since we have played.

    1. You can play a card from the Nertz pile onto your work piles as long as it follows the placement rules, black 9 on a red 10 or red 6 on a black 7.

      As far as the question of setting up the work space, I think it’s a “house rules” situation. What do you like best? Pick one and use that.

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