How to Play Spider Solitaire: A Simple Guide

Maddy Marcus / June 16, 2020

Bored? Alone? In the mood for a game?

Luckily, there's a game just for the occasion: Spider Solitaire. With its seemingly random "win some, lose some" nature, Spider Solitaire has been an addictive game that has captivated solo players for decades. But evidence has suggested that most losses are due to user error rather than the game setup, meaning there are winning strategies that have yet to be discovered.

In fact, according to a study, roughly 99.9% of Spider Solitaire games are considered "winnable" games, provided a player makes all the right moves from start to finish. Getting stuck is practically inevitable, but you'll get better with practice. 

Before you can get to master status, however, you'll need to learn the basics of how to play Spider Solitaire. If you've got time and patience, you've got everything you need to take on this addictive game. Read on for our complete guide on how to play Spider Solitaire.

How to Set Up a Spider Solitaire Game

An important part of how to play Spider Solitaire is the setup of the game. If you’re playing traditionally, you'll need two standard decks of playing cards with the Jokers removed.

Here's a breakdown of the setup for playing Spider Solitaire:

  1. Shuffle both decks of cards together thoroughly.
  2. Form your "tableau" of playable cards by dealing out 10 face-down cards in a row.
  3. Deal out 3 more rows of 10 face-down cards, creating 10 piles of 4 face-down cards.
  4. Deal 4 more face-down cards on the 4 leftmost piles of cards.
  5. Deal 1 face-up card at the end of each of the 10 piles of cards.
  6. Place the remaining cards in the deck face down to the right of your 10 piles; these will be your "stock" cards.

The face-up cards are playable cards, while the stock cards are meant to be used when you've run out of playable cards on the board.

How to Play Spider Solitaire: The Rules of the Game

The use of playing cards dates back to the 12th century. Since then, solitaire and its alternate versions are among the most popular games played to this day.

The objective for playing Spider is pretty simple: build card piles in descending order from each of the 10 piles in your tableau until you've used every card in the deck. You do this by moving your face-up cards individually to the cards that go right before them numerically. Aces are the lowest value; Kings are the highest.

Any exposed face-down cards will flip over when you move your face-up cards to a different pile. These become playable cards to continue the game.

Once you've run out of moves on your tableau, deal one face-up card from the stock cards at the bottom of each of your 10 piles of cards. If you run out of stock cards and can't do anything, then you lose the game.

There are multiple layouts and versions for playing Spider Solitaire, but we'll just go over the basics: 2-suit and 4-suit.

2-Suit Spider Solitaire

The piles will be built in red-black-red-black order. For example, you can move a black 10 to a red Jack, and so on.

4-Suit Spider Solitaire

When playing 4-suit Spider, you will need to build your piles all on the same suits. For example, you can only place an Ace of Spades on a 2 of Spades.

Winning Spider Solitaire

The objective of Spider Solitaire is simple enough, but one wrong move can leave you stuck with an unplayable tableau. However, once you've built your strategy, you'll find that you use your whole deck more often than not. Now that you know how to play Spider Solitaire, start developing your winning strategy today!

For more game tips, check out our other blog entries.