How to Play the Card Game Nuts

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How to play Nuts, aka 2 handed solitaire or team solitaire.

I remember when I was a kid, watching my parents play a specific card game with other adult family members and friends. The card game was called Nuts. As I got older and was able to keep up, I was allowed to play the game as well. Now, some 35 years after playing my first game of Nuts, I continue to play the game with my adult children and friends. The game has pretty simple rules but the game play can only be described as chaos. Sometimes the game is slow, allowing for nice conversation while playing. But, with the drop of a single card, in a flash the tempo of the game can escalate to a frenzy.

Because I love this game so much and I have found so little on the Internet to explain how this great card game is played, I have decided to write this article on “How to Play Nuts”. I hope you enjoy this card game as much as my family and I have.

The instructions for this card game are for 4 players, the normal number of people to play the game. Up to 8 players may play, however you must increase the number of card decks by 1 for every 2 additional players.

What you need to play the game:

2 decks of cards, each a different color

A pad of paper and pencil to keep score

A large sturdy playing surface like a dining room table

Game Setup:

Players split into teams of 2

One player on each team will shuffle a deck of cards thoroughly. After shuffling, the player counts out 11 cards from the top of the deck and then places the stack of eleven and the stack of remaining cards side by side, face down, on the table and slides them towards the other team. (If there are more than 2 teams, slide the cards to the team on your right). Each team now uses the deck they were given by the other team.

In each team, one player holds the “Nuts” (the 11 cards that were separated from the rest of the deck), and the other player holds the “Cards” (the remainder of the deck). Players on each team swap what cards they hold on each new hand.

The player holding the ‘Cards”, lays down cards on the table in front of their team in the same manner as solitaire, except only lay 5 cards across. So, lay 1 card face up and 4 face down in a row. Then lay a face up card on top of the second card and 1 face down card on each of the remaining cards. Then a face up card on the third card and so on. These are the “Table Cards”. Retain the remaining cards in hand, face down and in the order dealt.

The player holding the “Nuts” lays the stack of cards in front of him/her face up on the table. The cards must stay in the order they were dealt.

Game play:

When each team has laid out their cards and are ready for play, someone announces “Start” and the game begins.

The “card” holder begins turning cards in the deck., This is done, with the cards still face down, by counting off 3 cards and without changing their order, turn them over and lay on the table in front of the player face up. The player may use the top card showing in game play.

The “Nuts” holder may only use the top card showing in the “Nuts” stack in game play.

Cards may be “played” in either of 2 locations. The teams own “Table cards” or the “Center”. Teams may not play cards on another teams “Table cards”.

When a team is playing cards on their own “Table cards”, the card color must alternate between red and black and must be in descending order. Again, think Solitaire.

When playing cards in the “Center”, any team may play cards. Cards are played in the center starting with an ace and then proceeding in ascending order of the same suit until the king of that suit is played. If a suit is already in play in the “Center”, a second instance of that suit can be started and played on at the same time.

Object of the game:

The object of the individual hand is for one team to use all of the “Nuts” in their hand in game play while at the same time trying to play as many cards in the “Center” as they can. Once a team has played their last card in the “Nuts”, the team yells out “Nuts!” at which time game play stops and the hand is over.

The objective of the game is to be the first team to reach a pre-determined score. Most commonly, a score of 250 is the game winning score, however you may increase or decrees this depending on how long you wish to play.

Scoring the hands:

After a team as called “Nuts!” and the game play has stopped, one person gathers all the cards that were played in the “Center”. While this person separates the cards by team, the holder(s) of the “Nuts” on the other team(s), counts the number of cards left in their “Nuts”.

Once the cards from the “Center” have been divided, each team counts the number of cards that they had in the “Center”. This is the final score for the team who called “Nuts!”. The team who still had “Nuts” in their hand when the hand ended must deduct twice the number of cards they had left in their “Nuts” hand from the number of cards they played in the center. This is that teams final score for the hand. This number could be a negative number and is scored as such.

On a pad of paper, record the final score for each hand, adding or subtracting to each teams score as the hands progress until one team reaches the winning score.

Nuts is a great game that is fun and exciting. You may need to play a couple of hands to get the hang of it, but if you have ever played solitaire before, then you will catch on quickly. I like to think of the game as Team Solitaire. Enjoy!

About Ron Warner

I have never been satisfied with things as they are. Yes I suffer from the "Grass is Greener Syndrome". I have been a ditch digger and the GM of a mortgage company. I have worked as a fry cook, Branch Manager for a major Stock Brokerage firm, a roofer, a car salesman, an IT Network Admin, a landscaper, a radio DJ and the list goes on. 30 years of exposure to such a variety of professions and vocations has given me a wealth of knowledge and a unique insight of the world around us. My family and I have enjoyed the savings I have experienced by being able to do many things for myself rather than needing to hire someone else to do the job. True, some may refer to me as a job hopper. But how many computer geeks can roof their house? What does a car salesman know about investing? Know any Stock Brokers who can change a water heater? Yeah, I did not think so. Yes, Life has been good so far.


1 comment

Mark Grantom
Posted on Aug 24, 2015