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Everything You Need To Know About "Peanuts" - A Fast & Fun Card Game

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I love an easy/fun card game & lately I have been obsessed with one in particular. Let me teach you how to play Peanuts (AKA Nerts)!

How to play peanuts.
updated on:
February 14, 2023

I've always really loved playing cards. Although I live in the southwest, a lot of my family is from the midwest where cards are a staple of entertainment.

In a world where technology is always giving us instant gratification, it's so lovely to sit down with your friends or family and enjoy a simple game of cards. And there are so many fun card games I have learned over the years.

I believe that every woman should carry a deck of cards in her purse for on-the-go play. You always become the life of the party when you get everyone to sit around a table and play a good game of cards. I also think it's fun to have a signature deck that reflects your personality. More on that later.

I know lots of card games, and I also know that like breaking out a new board game, it can be intimidating to learn something new. That's why I'm going to break down for you how to play one of my favorite easy/fun card games - Peanuts!

This is a game that I actually recently learned from my sister - and our whole family had been obsessed with it ever since. Let's talk about it.

how to play peanuts

This post is all about how to play peanuts.

What is Peanuts?

Okay, so in our household we call this game 'Peanuts', but since writing this article I have discovered that it is also known (perhaps more widely) as 'Nerts'. I think Peanuts is a cuter name haha. Basically it is a card game that is a more competitive version of Solitaire - but don't worry! I had forgotten how to play Solitaire before learning Peanuts so you don't need to know it to play!

How many people do I need to play Peanuts?

You can play Peanuts with literally any amount of people! You theoretically could play it by yourself but at that point it would probably be more fun to just play Solitaire.

The more people you have, the more fun and crazy Peanuts can be! I usually play it with around 4-6 people, but there are plenty of times I play it with just me and my fiancé.

Once I tell you how the game works, you'll understand that with more people the game gets crazier and crazier because more card decks are involved which prevents the game from slowing (which can have the tendency to happen when there's only 2 decks in play). Keep in mind that the more people you have play, the larger of a table you'll need, since everyone needs access to a space in the middle.

What kind of card deck do I need for Peanuts?

how to play peanuts

The only thing that might be a little different about Peanuts is you need one full standard card deck for each team (excluding Jokers). When I first learned Peanuts, I was taught to play in teams of two. So if you have 4 people, you only need two decks of cards.

I'm in a family of 5, so if there is one person sitting out, they can play alone! I always volunteer to play alone because it is so fun and fast-paced. Once we all got the hang of how to play, we started to play versions where we all played alone! Technically if you're the only one playing alone you might be at a slight disadvantage just because you only have one set of eyes looking at everything whereas in a team you have two sets of eyes!

You can play with a few individuals and a few teams as well so it's nice. You can play with a teammate if you feel like it or go totally alone while others play in teams.

The other thing about Peanuts is that ideally the card decks you use will differ from each other in some way. This isn't a requirement, but most of the cards will be mixed up in the end so it helps to be able to separate them out.

For Christmas my parents got us each a card deck that was totally our personalities (I got vintage-looking cards, my sister got cards with cats on them, etc.) and it ended up being perfect for Peanuts. It's really fun to have everyone bring their own decks of cards and is another reason I recommend keeping your own signature deck in your purse.

If you like my playing cards, here's where you can get your own:

On The Beach

Buy on Amazon


Buy on Amazon

"I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the imagery on these cards especially at such a reasonable price. The pictures are crisp and colorful..."

There are so many cute ones, I really want to collect them all eventually. So far, I have the vintage summer ones and the vintage romance ones!

Can kids play Peanuts?

Absolutely! I think teaching kids cards is a great way to include them and help them learn counting, competition, and good clean fun.

Peanuts can easily be taught to kids especially when played in teams. All it really is is a counting game. There can definitely be a strategy to it, but it's not super strategy intensive like maybe Hearts or something like that.

It's maybe a more fast-paced game than say Go-Fish but as long as you take the time to teach them what they need to do, I'm sure they'll get the hang of it. If you're looking for strictly kid-friendly card games to start them off with, I would maybe try Uno or Old Maid, but there's nothing about Peanuts that I think excludes kids from learning.

I wouldn't recommend younger kids playing Peanuts on their own to start. The team element can really teach them to have one job because Peanuts definitely can have a lot going on.

It's possible that super young kids wouldn't have the patience/attention span for the game but every kid is different!

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How do I play Peanuts?

how to play peanuts

Okay, so I will explain the game in terms of teams. Of course, if you're playing alone this will apply to you as well, you just won't have a partner playing with you where you can divide the work.

Start by shuffling a full standard deck of cards (excluding the Jokers of course). Flip four cards over one at a time and lay them in front of you face up with a little room on the table between you and the cards. This is the start to your Solitaire row.

Then, count 13 cards facedown and put them in a pile off to the side. These are your Peanuts cards. You'll have a deck of 35 cards left (this is your Solitaire deck). Keep these face down in a separate stack.

If you're playing in teams, select one player to be in charge of the Peanuts deck and another to be in charge of the Solitaire deck. If you're playing individually, keep the Peanuts pile off to the side and hold the Solitaire deck (the bigger pile) in your hands.

It doesn't matter what job each player has. You can switch off and either player in your team can make moves whenever regardless of their "job" in the team. Peanuts doesn't go in turns, everything happens all at once so having two people just allows you to have one person keeping an eye on cards in the middle and Peanut cards while the other can keep more of a close eye on the Solitaire deck.

The Solitaire deck is separate from the 4 Solitaire cards you placed face up in front of you (for now).

All other teams or individual players will do the same with their decks. There should be a communal space left open in the middle.

The goal of the game is to get rid of as many cards as possible. That includes from your Peanuts deck, your Solitaire deck and your Solitaire rows. The more cards you have in the middle of the game=more points for you/your team.

The way you get rid of cards is submitting them to the center of the table starting with the Ace and going up numerically with the same suit. For example, if an opponent submits an Ace of Hearts to the center, I can now submit a 2 of Hearts on top of it. If I have an Ace of Spades, I can immediately submit that to the center.

You can take these cards from your top Peanut card, you Solitaire rows, or your Solitaire deck.

Gameplay will start with flipping your top Peanut card over, revealing what it is. You will then flip your Solitaire deck cards over in threes, with the top card being the only playable card. Keep going in threes until you find something to submit to the center and repeat.

Like I said earlier, everything happens at once and it can go fast. Don't wait around for other people - play what you need to play when you need to play it.

how to play peanuts

Your Solitaire row is there to help you eliminate cards from either your Peanuts pile or from your Solitaire pile. In order to place something in the Solitaire row, it must go in descending numerical order, alternating colors, just like in Solitaire. You can only place Kings in open Solitaire slots and you only have 4 Solitaire rows for the entire game.

You cannot submit any cards from your Solitaire pile that are buried, you must first use your lowest card to access the higher cards underneath.

For example, if the next card needed in the middle is a Queen of Diamonds and it's in one of my Solitaire rows under a Jack of Clubs, I have to get rid of that Jack first before I can access the Queen.

The cards in your Solitaire pile/Solitaire row do not count for you nor against you until they are placed in the middle. Only then are they counted as a point.

Your Peanuts cards, however, count against you if you do not get rid of them. Each Peanuts card left in your deck at the end of the game is -2 points.

The round ends when one team runs out of Peanuts cards, at which point they yell "Peanuts!" Everyone must stop gameplay.

How do I score Peanuts?

how to play peanuts

There are two methods for scoring. The old-fashioned way is to set aside your Solitaire deck and Solitaire row. These cards don't count for or against you AKA they're neutral. Also set your Peanuts pile in a separate spot. Divide the cards in the middle back to their respective teams. Each team counts the cards they submitted to the middle and then subtracts their Peanuts pile, counting each Peanuts card as -2 points.

The scoring hack that we use is this:

At the end of a round count your Solitaire cards from your deck and from your row. Subtract this number from 52 because you want to find out how many cards are in the middle (besides the Peanuts pile). Then, count your Peanuts deck and multiply by 2. Subtract this number from the first number and that gives you your score for the round.

Keep in mind the team that called Peanuts has no Peanut cards left. This is a good thing for them because they do not have to subtract any points from their score.

You keep playing rounds until someone scores 150 points or more. That person/team is the winner!

If you like this post you may enjoy this post: Make Any Hoodie Cuter In 5-Minutes: How To Cut A Sweatshirt Off-The-Shoulder (NO SEWING)

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Peanuts strategy

how to play peanuts

Like a lot of card games, Peanuts is a combination of strategy and luck. The goal in your head is to get rid of your Peanuts as quickly as possible while also trying to score as many points from your Solitaire deck as you can. Once you play a couple of times you will realize that you have to pay attention because people will steal your opportunities plenty of times.

For example, if the card on top of your Peanuts deck is an 8 of Diamonds and someone lays a 7 of Diamonds on top of a 6 of Diamonds, you better be ready to lay your 8 down! If someone beats you to it, you're stuck until another Ace of Diamonds shows up and builds all the way back to the 7.

Your Solitaire row can help you or hurt you. I know I said earlier they were neutral and they are when it comes to scoring, but just the strategy of using your Solitaire row or not can be positive or negative. If all your cards are stuck under different Solitaire rows, that can be frustrating. But if it helps you get rid of a card you've been holding onto for a long time (especially a Peanut card) then it might be worth it! Solitaire doesn't hurt your score but it doesn't allow you to make any points if things are locked up.

Usually the person who gets rid of their Peanuts the fastest is in the best shape. It helps to get rid of your Peanuts because you make others score negatively if you end the game. Sometimes there will be rounds where you will be lucky and get rid of your Peanuts quickly, but you can always choose when to end the game. If you feel like you can get rid of more cards and earn more points before declaring Peanuts, more power to you, but it's a risk.

You don't have to fill your Solitaire up and you don't have to lay any particular card down. If you want to hold onto cards you can, just keep in mind opportunities don't always come back around. For example, my fiancé likes to hold any Aces he comes across in the beginning of the round just to mess with the other players. It forces them to cycle through their cards rather than getting rid of the 2s and 3s they may have in their hands.

In case of a tie

In my family, Peanuts can get intense. You don't have to play it that way, but we love it! There will be times when you and another person will be going to lay down the same card on the same pile. At that point, it's whoever gets there the fastest. If we're not sure, it's usually the card that made it under the other card. I know that might seem obvious, but that method has always worked for us to make things fair.

In case of a stall

Sometimes when you're playing, the cards you all need as a collective group won't showing up. For example, maybe a lot of Aces are buried in everybody's Peanuts pile. This can be hard and the game can feel slow as a result because no one can move forward without those base cards. If everyone is in agreement that we are stuck, we all flip a Peanut, meaning discard the current Peanut card and put it on the bottom of the stack to reveal a new one. Usually this is enough to shake things up.

If you are down to one last Peanut and everybody else wants to flip, it's in your best interest to let people flip their Peanuts to shake a card out that might be helpful to you. Be ready to pounce when it does show up!


how to play peanuts

Peanuts is seriously addictive and fun for the whole family. Have you guys every played Peanuts? Do you call it Peanuts or Nerts???

Like I mentioned earlier, I know lots of card games! Let me know what you would like to learn how to play next.

This post was all about how to play nerts.

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