In a bar, at home, at a party, or on vacation, the Peanuts card game can be played wherever you choose since all you need is at least one friend, standard cards, and some spare time. Let’s learn how it’s played.
In Peanuts, your goal is to move all your cards to the foundation piles in the middle, eliminating your “peanuts” pile. The most successful players score the most points.
As you’ll soon see for yourself, it’s not complicated. Let’s start with what you’ll need for this game.
What You’ll Need to Play Peanuts Card Game?
All you need to play this game is:
- One standard deck of 52 playing cards per player (poker style or similar)
- At least 2 players (there’s no upper limit, but remember that you’ll need many cards for more players)
- Pen and a piece of paper (to score the points)
- About 20-30 minutes of free time
Note: Each player should have a deck with a different style on the back of the cards. This allows you to identify them quickly, which helps with the scoring phase of the game.
The setup of this game is very simple. It only takes a few steps:
- First, each player thoroughly shuffles their cards
- Each of you now separates 13 cards from their deck, creating a face-down pile
- Take 4 more cards and place them face up in a horizontal line next to the pile
- Place the remaining cards face down in a pile above the line
That’s all! Now you’re ready to play Peanuts.
How to Play Peanuts Card Game? Rules And Gameplay
The aim of the Peanuts card game is to earn as many points as possible by moving your cards onto the middle foundation piles (don’t confuse these for the horizontal line of cards – these are your building piles).
When the player successfully moves all 13 of his/her cards to the center, they announce “peanuts,” and the round ends.
1. How to Move Cards?
So, how can you move your cards to get rid of them and earn points? First, let’s discuss the foundation piles.
You and your co-players build them gradually in the center of the table (between your lines), and they are common for all of you.
They can only be started with an Ace, followed by other cards from the same suit in ascending order (A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K). Therefore, each pile is dedicated to a different suit.
Once you reach King in the respective foundation pile, flip it over and move it to the side.
But where do the cards you move come from?
First, players take advantage of their four building piles (the horizontal line), where they can store and rearrange the cards from their deck.
Players don’t take turns; they play simultaneously and can only use their own building piles (these are not common, like the foundation piles in the center).
Also, different rules apply to the movement of cards between the deck and the building piles: you can only place a card on a card that ranks higher in the opposite color (black on red/red on black).
Example: You can place 3♡ on 4 ♤ or 10 ♧ on J ♢.
The top card of any building pile can be moved on the foundation pile whenever it matches.
You can, however, always move only one card at a time. Or you can decide not to make a move despite having the option.
When one of your building piles is empty, you can move another card from the draw deck or the peanut pile into its place.
But where do we get these cards?
As you’ve probably already assumed, the remaining deck (not the one with 13 cards on the side of the horizontal cards) is one of the main sources of your cards.
However, you must turn these cards over in groups of three. You can only use the top one of these 3 first, and only once it’s gone, use the second and the last third cards.
Note: You can move a card from the deck to either building or foundation piles. Just make sure the rules are followed.
When the drawing deck is exhausted, you can flip it over and reuse it. However, you are not allowed to shuffle the cards.
And what about the last pile with the 13 cards?
We finally get to the most unique element of the game: the Peanuts’ pile formed by the 13 cards we have not mentioned yet.
Nevertheless, you use it right from the beginning when both players flip the topmost cards.
Like the cards from the draw deck, you can move the peanuts pile cards on the building and the foundation piles.
When you run out of the pile, you can call it “Peanuts.” This immediately stops the play and ends the round. However, you can decide not to call Peanuts and continue playing.
Peanuts is a competitive game, so the final scoring phase is a crucial part of it.
This is when you will appreciate that the players used decks with different designs; your mission is to sort out all the cards in the center (the foundations).
- Each player gets 1 point for every card they placed in the foundation piles
- Each card left in the peanuts pile subtracts 2 points from the total
To win the game, a player must collect 150+ points. If multiple players reach this threshold at the same time, the one with the highest score wins.
3. Peanuts in Teams
This guide describes the most common and standard rules of Peanuts. There are, however, many alternatives you can certainly try, too.
One of the most popular ones in the teams’ Peanuts game. You can opt for it instead of playing individually if you play with 4, 6, or 8 players, creating 2, 3, or 4 teams.
I personally prefer this in case of a shortage of cards: if you play in teams, each team only needs one standard card deck.
How to Win Peanuts?
Peanuts is pretty simple but creates many opportunities to show off your strategic skills.
In many situations, what appears to be the easiest and most logical move may not be the most advantageous one. Thinking through 2 to 3 steps ahead certainly pays out.
Nevertheless, Peanuts is also a game of speed. In some cases, multiple players throw their hands with identical cards toward the central pile at the same time, yet only the fastest one can put the card in its place.
But sometimes, even the fastest and smartest players lose. Like with all games inspired by classic patience, chance plays a crucial role here, and some games simply cannot be won, no matter how hard you try.
If both players get stuck with no moves left, there is one last trick to try: they both move the top card from their draw decks to the bottom and then try to make their move using the top three cards of the deck. If this doesn’t help, the game is over. What’s the next step? You can either attempt to play the Peanuts card game again or try some other great card games. You can, for example, learn how to play Cribbage or how to play Spades.