Nertz Terminology

The following is a list of terms that Nertz players use when playing.


Anti-Stacker - One who believes the method of stacking in Nertz is wrong, because it spawns a neutral zone, denying other teams opportunities for rightful plays. Anti-Stackers also claim that stacking denies other players a chance to use their speed and skill in card placement and feel that stacking has no place in the game.

Audit - An inspection of a team's deal, deck, or piles by a referee or opponents. This usually happens when a team is accused of cheating. A table vote or referee decision will green light an audit if the suspicion of cheating or Shady Play is warranted. Audits must be called before a hand begins and are most frequently called when someone suspects that a team has put less than the required amount of cards in the Nertz pile. The only time an audit can be called during play is if a team has mysterious piles. It can be called by any team, though the referee or table (majority vote) has the right to decline the audit if they detect an unreasonable accusation has been made.

Available Cards - Any cards that are not blocked by other cards and are open for play or movement.


Blanket Apology - An apology offered by a player to the entire table for any offenses made to others before, during, or after a game of Nertz. This is due to the decreased levels of self control that Nertz usually causes.

Blocked Cards (Unavailable Cards) - Cards in the Stream, Nertz pile, and River that can not be played or played on because there are cards on top of them. It is illegal to pull blocked cards from underneath the cards blocking them.

Bone Pile - (See Nertz Pile)

Build Pile - Another name for Lake pile.

Burn - (1) To "burn a card" or to "make a burn" is the procedure used to change the order of the stream or Nertz pile cards whenever there is an Idled Game. (2) To "burn someone" or to "get burned" by someone means that a player has been beaten by an opponent to a pile that they both were in route to.


Column Moving - The transferring of two or more cards in the River onto another available River card or an open River space.

Common Area - (See Lake)


Dead Pile - Piles in the Lake that have been completed and have been indicated so, by turning the final card, which is a King, faced down on the top of the pile. This limits Lake confusion, by showing that the pile cannot be used anymore. Some players turn the entire pile over while others go a step further by completely removing it from the Lake area.

Deal - (Dealing, Dealt) The act of setting up your cards for play. (See Starting Hand)

Deduction - The act of taking away points from a team typically due to enforcement of a penalty.

Double Fisting/ Pumping - (See Stacking)


End Slot Rule - A rule variation that states that at the end of a hand, if a team has a slot in the River open, they may fill it with a Nertz card. The Last Card In Hand Rule is used in Official Play which negates the End Slot Rule as being the standard for ending hands.


False Call - A call or accusation made by a team or player that can clearly be proven false. False Calls are occasionally made on plays such as a Premature Nertz, Method River Transfers, or Slide Unders. A false call results in no punishment or point deduction unless they become excessive.

False Nertz - The calling or speaking of the word "Nertz" without completely getting rid of your Nertz pile. A False Nertz may hinder another team's momentum in acquiring more points or a possible Nertz. Just saying "Nertz" during play is not a false Nertz, if only, for example, you are using it in conversational sentences or when aiding your partner. "There is a two on top of your Nertz pile", is not illegal to say. However, calling "Nertz" by itself during play is illegal. That is why "Nertz" should be yelled or called at a level above the general table roar.

False Timeout - A "Timeout" called that is unjustifiable by not having a reason that is listed in the definition of "Timeout". This stops or effects play which in turn disturbs the "Flow of the Game". A False Timeout is illegal in regulation games and results in a deduction of ten points. Strategic uses of Timeouts are prohibited.

Flow of the Game - The steady pace of the game. A majority of players feel that plays should always be available because Nertz is a game of speed and quickness, thus rules are set that limit interrupting the flow of the game. The Flow of the Game is a Nertz priority. There are many ways to interrupt the Flow of the Game: Holding a Nertz card, calling a false or premature "Nertz", and calling a false "timeout". If through no fault of any team, there is a stopped moment in a game then card burning may be initiated.

Foundations/ Foundation Piles - (See Lake/ Lake Piles)


Game - A completed series of Nertz Hands


Hand - (1)The set up and order of a deck of cards in Nertz. (2)One of many matches in a game of Nertz that all teams try to win by playing all of their Nertz cards and calling "Nertz".

Hell - Another name for Nertz, possibly an original. Many older generations point out that Nertz used to called Hell but was changed to a more family friendly name.

Holding a Card - Strategically not playing a card, whether it be to deny someone else a play or to wait for a different play that you feel will benefit you more. It is illegal to hold Nertz pile cards. The purpose for this is because of the fact that the card you may be waiting on for personal use could be blocked in your Nertz pile and therefore it affects the "Flow of the Game", especially if this action prevents all other teams from making any plays resulting in an idled game.


Idled Game - A point in the game where play has stopped. Play only stops, without a timeout, when all teams have cycled through their Stream pile at least two times after any order of cards has changed without making a play. If others are still playing and your team can not, then you can not individually burn a card. You have to wait until all teams are stuck. Then, if no team has any plays, all teams agree and simultaneously burn a Stream card. This changes the order of cards and can produce plays. If still after three complete cycles after a burn on the Stream pile there are no plays made from anyone, each team will burn a Nertz card. If any play has been made after a Stream burn then teams will continue to burn the Stream pile as needed, until three consecutive burns with no plays from any team has been made. Only then can the table resort to burning a Nertz card.


Joker - A wild card or added card included in a standard decks of cards. Jokers are typically not used in Nertz with the exception of certain variations.



Lake - The community area in the center of the Nertz table. Lake piles have to be suited and be stacked in this order with no doubles: A,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,J,Q,K. The first cards put in, that start lake piles, must be aces.

Last Card Rule - The rule that states that at the moment "Nertz" is called, the last card in a players hand can be played, only if that player has already spotted his card's proper destination and that player has begun moving to the destination.


Meaningless Nertz - A Nertz call that ends the game but doesn't give the player or team that called the Nertz the victory because another team finished the game with a greater number of points.

Mega Stack - A stack that has four to five cards in it.

Method River Transfers - A time saver in which a card is slid under a River card or card group instead of placing that card in an available slot and having to move an entire River column over on top of it. This easily looks like an illegal slide under but is backed by the available River slot.

Missed Plays - An opportunity to play a card that is no longer possible because either another team beat you to a card, you were not paying attention, or you passed a card up while in a hurry.

Multi-Tasking - A level of play in which you are focusing and acting on more than one play at a time.

Multi-Dimensional - An expert level of play using two hands. It is seeing, anticipating, and knowing what cards are about to be played, while having the speed and quickness to match.

Mysterious Piles - Illegal piles that are created from sloppiness, ignorance, or confusion during play. If a pile is determined a mysterious pile, then the referee or table will vote using the same options given for the punishment of cheating.


Nertz - (1)The name of a fast-paced card game in which more than one deck of cards is used. The game is best described as a cross between the card games Speed and Solitaire. (2)The word said to end play in a hand of Nertz. Usually the team that calls "Nertz" receives the most points and the team with the most points is deemed the winner of the hand. Nertz is typically played in teams of two people, in which one player tries to get rid of the Nertz pile and the other concentrates on the continual 3-card flipping and playing of the Stream pile. In official Tournament play, the control of each pile is switched back and forth every hand between partners. Standard Nertz games are played to 150 points. Therefore, the teams play as many hands as needed to reach 150 points and win the game.

Nertz Pile - The thirteen card pile that every team tries to get rid of, by playing them one at a time into the Lake or River. The person in charge of the Nertz pile at that time is labeled the exterminator. All the Nertz pile cards must be faced down at all times during the game, except the one at the top which is available to play. Once played, the next top card can flipped over for play. It is illegal to look at or use the blocked Nertz cards. Holding the Nertz pile is allowed but it must remain in the vision of all players. Keep in mind that it helps your teammate to see the Nertz card you need to play. For "Flow of Game" purposes, available Nertz pile cards can not be held from the Lake unless a team can immediately play it in the river. Unlike the River and Stream cards which can be held for strategic play. Getting rid of your entire Nertz pile and calling "Nertz" first means your team gets to add ten points to the amount of Lake cards that you played. If "Nertz" is called by two or more teams around the same time, then the Referee or a table vote will decide who called it first. If it is decided that they were called at the exact same time, both of the teams split the ten points, which only gives each team that nerted five points.

Neutral Zone - According to the stacking theory - (every card has a place on the table); it is the imaginary zone created to have a place to stack the group of cards about to be played. Anti-Stackers feel creating this zone or plane is wrong. This zone is usually created off of the table by grouping available cards together within a players hand and then playing that group in the Lake.


One-Tracking - A level of play in which all focus is devoted to making one play at a time, even if you miss other important plays. This also can be called Bird-Dogging.

Open Slot Rule - (See End Slot Rule)

Optimum Play - The desired amount of space, people, and comfort for the “Flow of the

Order of Cards - The set card order achieved after the final cut and shuffle of a team’s deck. After the proper shuffle and cut by the team to your left, the order of cards is not to be tampered with. Dealing and the Order of Cards go hand in hand. To enforce the order of cards, strict rules are set. The first cards dealt are the river cards, which are all dealt faced-up, side by side. There are four of these dealt from the top of the deck. Immediately after the River is dealt, the thirteen card Nertz pile is then dealt. When dealing these cards they must be individually taken off the top of the deck and placed one by one, on the table, and must be dealt on top of the card before it. The first twelve cards are dealt facing down and the thirteenth is dealt on top of those facing up. The remaining cards are used as the Stream pile and cannot be tampered with. The showing of blocked, Nertz pile and Stream pile cards to any player, including yourself is prohibited.


Personal Area - (See River)

Pile - Specific card locations or groupings on the table.

Point Hoarding - Strategically waiting to call Nertz just to try and gain more points. This usually occurs in games with less than four decks. This tactic is legal but may not be wise, because you risk the chance of another team calling “Nertz” and your team not getting an additional ten points. Thus, it is not mandatory to call “Nertz” when you have gotten rid of your entire Nertz pile cards.

Pounce Pile - (See Nertz Pile)

Premature Nertz - The calling of “Nertz” before the final Nertz card has been laid. This is illegal and results in a deduction of ten points in official games.


Quick Nertz - A fast Nertz that usually sets back all of the other teams playing that hand. Also known as "Pulling a fast one".


Referee - An official that regulates a game of nertz. Used in Official play.

River - The four cards set in row in which each individual team has their own to play on. A team can only play a card on a River card that is one number lower and the opposite color of that River card. For Example: If there is a single black 9 in one of the four slots in the River, the only card you can play on it would be a red 8. You can build a River column all the way down to a 2, as long as it follows the red, black, red, black scheme and the numbers count down. You can play a river card in the Lake as well as play a River column on another River column. Doing this creates an available River slot in which you are free to put down a Nertz card to aid in getting rid of your Nertz pile. It is not mandatory to play a Nertz card in these available slots. You can play available Stream cards to fill slots, for strategic purposes, as well. Though, this may not be wise. A team may not use another teams River to make a play.

Round Robin Shuffling - A required method of shuffling for official Nertz play in which the team to your left shuffles at least five times and cuts your deck at least once. After the cards are given back the order of cards is not to be tampered with.


Set/ Set back - A hand that resulted in a loss of points for a team or multiple teams.

Shady Play - Suspicious behavior or actions in a Nertz game. Play such as consecutive, multiple, Quick Nertz' from a team in a game, or the act of shielding certain piles and plays, are generally deemed shady.

Slide Under - A form of cheating in which a card is slid behind a River card without an available River slot open.

Sloppy Nertz - A playing style that looks scattered and unorganized.

Slot - An open space in your River.

Sorting - The process that occurs after every hand to return the cards back to the proper team's deck.

Stack of the Century - A 6 card Stack.

Stacker - One who believes in stacking cards, because the control of the card being played is ultimately that team’s and gives them the right add to any cards for their play. A stacker groups all of his/her available cards that he wishes to play in a Lake pile in one hand and places them in the Lake in a single play. In the NNA stacking is accepted. * When Stacking Becomes Illegal. A stack cannot be made if, for example, a card that is being played from your Stream has a card under it that can be stacked on top of it. This would be compared to a slide under, which is considered cheating. The Neutral zone can only be created for current available cards. At any given time during a Nertz game a team only has six current available cards to play. The top Nertz card, the current Stream card, and the four top River cards. Therefore, the largest stack that can be played, can only consist of six cards. That is known as a "Stack of the Century". Mega Stacks are stacks that have at least four to five cards in them.

Stacking - The controversial method or strategy of placing more than one card into the
Lake at a time by taking the card you are about to play and stacking the next card or cards (that you might have available) on top of that one. Then, placing the group of cards in its appropriate Lake pile. This may prevent or deny other teams from making plays off the single card that you may have played, if you did not have the following card or cards available.

Starter Card - Aces in the common play area; anything can be a starter card in the
personal play area.

Starting Hand - Before the start of hand, it is the set up of cards achieved after a proper deal. Dealing your Nertz pile, River, and Stream in accordance with the rules you are playing by.

Stock Pile - (See Stream)

Strategic River Play - Moving not just one, but columns of cards back and forth through the River columns/piles/tableaus to free a slot, or card you can play immediately or play in the near future.

Stream/ Stream Pile - The faced-down, 35 card pile that plays a supporting role to help get rid of your team’s Nertz pile. It also aids in scoring points, by playing the stream cards into the Lake. When the game starts, the stream pile can be started into play. A team can only play the third card flipped over on the table in the three-card group. These cards are the first three cards from the top of the pile. When a three card group is set and stacked on the table, there will always be two blocked cards underneath the available third card. It is illegal to grabbed the blocked cards or retract a three card group that has cover a possible card you could have played. The two cards that are under the available card in each flip can not be played, unless the available card is played into the River or Lake, that frees the previously blocked card underneath it. It is very important that the order of cards
is not broken when the Runner is going through the Stream. All of the groups flipped must be placed on top of the last group when looking for cards that can be played from the stream. When the pile has been gone through, it is then picked up, keeping the cards in the same order, and turned over to flip through again. It is easy to cheat and not know it, when the Stream order is broken.

Supernatural - Perfect Nertz playing. A flawless, unbeatable, and Zen-like state.


Table Vote - Any voting decisions made by the table for regulation purposes or extenuating circumstances. In regulation games the referee will make all decisions covered in the Nertz Glossary and Rule book. If the rules do not cover a specific instance, then it is acceptable for the referee or table to vote on the matter, in which case a simple verbal majority vote will decide the outcome. The referee will help on the voting options through the regulations and rules. If a team or teams are directly involved in the issue that requires a decision, they may not take part in the vote.

Tapper - One who constantly taps on the table to show his or her partner certain plays, or to make them pick up the pace.

Turn Deck - (See Stream)




Warm-Up Hand - A mandatory hand played before the start of the official Nertz game/ tournament to get a feel for the game and to get into a Nertz playing mode.

Waste Pile - The faced-up pile that appears when playing within your Stream.

White Horse - A hand set before play begins, in which every card is used in play. There are different Degrees of White horses. For example, if you had a red ten, black nine, red eight, black seven in your River to begin a hand with a red six at the top of your Nertz pile, that would be considered a White Horse. That would only clear 3 spots in the River because obviously the ten is still going to be there. Now, if you had four aces in the River and a two in the your Nertz pile it would clear all four River spaces. That is known as a Perfect White Horse. Indirect White Horses are starting hands that can be cleared immediately with the use of another teams starting hand.

Work Piles - (See River)

X, Y, Z

Also See:

The "History of Nertz" page for a list of alternate names and variations for Nertz.

To learn about Nertz Strategies use this link:

There is more Nertz slang and variations in the Nertz forums here:

An informative list of Solitaire-related terminology can be found at this link:

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