The Best Card Game Ever: NERTS!
Every summer my dad meticulously plotted our trip route while my mom organized the car. I would squeeze into a backseat loaded down with pillows and snacks, pop in my headphones and escape into a book. It was our yearly vacation drive north-bound. We always stopped somewhere new—D.C., Dollywood, Asheville, the House on the Rock. But our ultimate destination was never glamourous: Frankfort, Indiana.
My mom’s childhood farm-house.
I will always remember the sound of my grandparents’ gravel drive, the grinding crunch of white rocks spitting dust onto the windshield. My grandmother would be at the back stoop waiting in her faded shorts and t-shirt. The air smelled of sweet corn and rolls mixed with leftover hints of farm animals from years past. We’d load in our stuff and cram into the 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house, one that didn’t have air conditioning or cable. As a kid I would play games alone behind the barn during the days, dare myself to see how far I could wade into the corn field. As a teenager I spent most of my time wishing I was allowed to make long-distance calls or control the 7 channels on the tv…neither of which was an option.
But after dinner when everyone came in from working in the fields and gathered together around the table, the fun started. Elbow to elbow we would sit for hours and play card games. Cousins would come from neighboring houses, worn playing cards packed in their pockets. My grandparents always called the game: Gin, Euchre, King, Rummy. But my personal favorite was Nerts. During Nerts we turned from family to competitors and no one was immune from the heat of it—not the youngest (me) or the oldest (my grandpa). We yelled and laughed and stayed up way too late playing just one more game. Summer upon summer we played, and those hours became the memories that shaped my childhood.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, our office was back after the holiday break and Patti had just returned from her trip home to Kansas. She came into the office raving about the most fun card game EVER she had a blast learning and playing. A game so fun she was motivated to make MORE NL playing cards! I couldn’t contain myself listening to her talk about how they’d stayed up so late, no one wanting to stop playing. I stood up in the middle of our meeting and yelled across the room, “Nerts! You played Nerts!” “Yes!” she said. “It was so fun, it brought all the bored teenagers and adult cousins to life!” “I’ve been playing since I was a kid,” I said. “And now I can’t WAIT to play against you!” With only four NL card designs, we are motivated to keep making more…because it’s even MORE fun to play when the cards are pretty!
How To Play:
What you need:
1 deck of playing cards per person (make sure each one is different!)
How to Play:Shuffle your deck well…you may even want to pass you decks to the left after shuffling to make sure there’s no cheating!
Count 12 cards into a pile and flip the 13th card face up
Face 4 individual cards face up next to the pile in a line
Then you play a basic game of solitaire…except with all the people around the table!
Begin placing cards in descending and order alternating colors on your 4 stacks. To get the cards you need, just use your remaining deck–flipping up every 3rd card to see if it is playable. If the card on top of your NERTS pile is playable, play it and flip up the next card in the pile
.But here’s the kicker…
If you come across an Ace, place it in the middle of the table and begin to stack cards in order of that matching suit.
And the twist….
Everyone can play on the Ace cards in the middle! And it’s a race to get your cards onto all those stacks!
Be the first one to get rid of all the cards in your NERTS pile…and yell “NERTS!” when you do.
Everyone counts up the cards in their NERTS pile–each one you have left equals 2 negative points.
Then you count all the cards you played in the middle! Separate cards according to deck, find your cards and count the amount of cards. Each card played equals 1 positive point.
Subtract your Nerts points from your played points and come up with your score!
(For example, if you have 5 cards left in your NERTZ pile that equals -10. If you played 15 cards to the middle of the table your score is 5.)