FreeCell Strategy

Maddy Marcus / May 22, 2020

Most people know FreeCell as the solitaire game that's included in some versions of Microsoft Windows, but it dates back much farther. The first computer-based version can be traced back to the mid-1970s, but the game it's based on could be from as far back as 1945.

FreeCell is one of the few solitaire games that depend more on skill than luck. You can win almost every game if you play your cards right.

FreeCell Rules

Much like in classic Solitaire, your goal in this game is to clear the tableau of all cards by organizing each suit starting with Ace down to King. FreeCell is a bit different in that the entire deck of cards is available to you from the start. However, you still need to work to free the blocked cards in each row. You have three options for where to place your cards: to the free cells in the top left corner, to the foundation on the right, or stacked on top of one another in the tableau.

When moving cards around the tableau, you’ll only be able to stack cards of opposite suits in descending order. For example, a 9 of hearts can only be stacked on top of a 10 of spades or clubs. As you free more columns on the tableau, you’ll be able to utilize those empty spaces to store excess cards so you can free others. 

Build Your Strategy

Now that we’ve covered the basic rules, let's look at 5 steps for how to win using a solid FreeCell strategy.

Look Before You Leap. It's tempting to put your cards in play as soon as you see some available moves, but don't take the bait! Spend some time analyzing the tableau before you make any moves so you can compare the value of different options. Plan ahead several moves based on each option to see which ones give you more choices and which ones lead to a dead end. Once you move the cards, it's too late!

Focus On Aces and Deuces First. Make aces and deuces (twos) your first priority, especially if they're buried behind higher cards. You’ll want to free them up so you can move them home as quickly as possible.

Save Your Free Cells! The free cells are critical to having enough flexibility to get to buried cards so don't fill them up too quickly. Exhaust all your other options for moving the cards before you turn to the free cells. Once those cells are all filled, you quickly run out of options to access buried cards.

Create an Empty Column. Empty columns are more powerful than the free cells because you can move entire sequences into them, not only single cards. Look for opportunities to create an empty column as quickly as possible to give yourself more flexibility.

Fill Empty Columns With Long Sequences. Once you free up an empty column, fill it with long sequences whenever possible rather than only a few cards. And ideally, fill it with a long sequence starting with a King to get the most out of it.

Bonus FreeCell Strategy Tips

These bonus FreeCell tips will help you maximize this 5-step strategy and give you something to brag about.

First, don't move cards into the home cells too early. Once they're home, you can't get them back and you might need them to move lower cards around the tableau.

Second, if you're unsuccessful in a game of FreeCell, try replaying the same shuffle using a different strategy. This is a good way to try different approaches to see what works well so you can apply those strategies to future games.

Where to Play FreeCell

Now that you have a solid FreeCell strategy in mind, the next step is to play! Visit Coolmath Games to play FreeCell for free. Our daily FreeCell game is updated every day so visit often to hone your skills!