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How to Play Solitaire

Maddy Marcus / April 23, 2020
How to Play Solitaire

Solitaire is very much a game of patience. It teaches you to think carefully when planning your decisions, bringing your mind to focus solely on the task at hand. Learning how to play solitaire is fairly simple. A game of solitaire only requires you to know the four card suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) and to count from Ace to King. 

Set The Table

Before diving into a game, you should know how the table is set up. This is a key component of how to play Solitaire. nThere are four main parts to dealing a game of Solitaire:

The Tableau

The seven rows of cards that make up the main playing area.

The Foundation

The four piles where each suit is organized in ascending order.

The Stock

The stock deck holds all the remaining cards that weren’t used to fill the tableau. Depending on the rules you set, you either draw one or three cards from this pile when there are no moves left on the tableau. 

The Talon

This is the waste pile; where cards drawn from the stock deck go if they do not fit anywhere on the table. This pile is recycled when you finish going through the entire stock deck. 

Luckily, when playing digitally, all the set up is all done for you. 

The cards are separated into seven columns across the surface, with the first card of each row facing up. After the first column, each pile will have a number of face-down cards behind the first. It’s your job to reveal as many hidden cards as possible as quickly as you can.

In the top left corner, you’ll find the stock deck.

Across from the deck is the foundation. This is the area where you organize cards by suit, from Ace to King.

How to Play Solitaire

Solitaire is a fairly simple game with very few rules, so learning how to play solitaire shouldn't take too long. Your goal when playing to clear the board and organize each suit. In order to do that, you must work to uncover all the hidden cards both in the tableau and in the stock deck. 

You can stack cards in numerical order on top of one another across the tableau, but here’s the catch -- you may only stack cards alternating between red and black suits. For example, a red two can only be stacked on top of a black three, a black three can only be stacked onto a red four, and so on. 

At the start of the game, you’ll only be able to move around the first card of each pile. It’s best to start stacking cards up as soon as possible. Oftentimes, you’ll be able to make a few moves just using the cards in the tableau alone. As you stack your tableau cards, you will begin to reveal the hidden cards, giving you more options for placing and stacking. 

Once you’ve exhausted all the moves available in the tableau, you can consult the stock deck to pull new cards. Depending on your level of expertise, you can either draw one or three cards from the stock. If you draw three cards, you can only use the first card of the pull before moving on to the other two. If you can’t use the top card in any way, then move on to the next pull. 

However, in our version of solitaire, you’ll lose points each time you reset the deck! So you’ll have to think about your moves carefully when pulling from the stock. 

When you clear a row of cards, it opens up an empty space on the table. A vacant space can help you uncover some more hidden cards, but you’re only able to populate this space with Kings, so plan wisely! 

Another thing to keep your eyes out for: Aces. Aces don’t have a place on the tableau, so you won’t be able to stack them in the seven main piles. When you come across an Ace, simply send it straight to the foundation. Once you have an Ace in the foundation, you can start stacking cards of the same suit on top, starting with two.

Now that you know how to play solitaire, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve. 

Play Like A Champ

As with any game, the more you play solitaire, the quicker you’ll be able to finish the game. There are a few tricks to playing solitaire that may help you with your organization process and decision making. 

The big reveal. It’s best to start a game with the initial goal of revealing each of the hidden cards on the tableau. The more cards you uncover, the more options you’ll have when planning your moves. 

Think carefully. You may run into a few tough decisions throughout the game, notably when you have a few possible moves available to you. Let’s say there’s two red Queens on the table, which do you stack on top of the black King? It’s always best to go for the card that’s sitting on top of the most hidden cards. 

Patience is key. The biggest asset you have in a game of solitaire is patience. The game makes you think carefully and make educated guesses when plotting your moves. Moving around cards without a thought may back you into a corner and force you to restart the hand. Study each card carefully before moving and remember: it’ll cost you points to undo moves!

Put Your Skills To The Test

Feeling confident about how to play solitaire? Play a game of solitaire to test your knowledge!