Learn How To Play Freecell

Maddy Marcus / July 15, 2020

Freecell is a popular form of solitaire. Like traditional solitaire, you can play Freecell on your own. In the game, you try to get all four suit piles, or foundations, built up from Ace to King. There are eight tableau columns set below the foundation cells.

Learn all the moves needed to defeat the deck and give yourself the boost that only a win can do!

What Is the Goal of Freecell?

To win a game of Freecell, place all 52 cards in piles to the upper right of the tableau, which is in the upper right screen of the computer version of the game. Starting with the ace of hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds, you then build the piles from two to ten, followed by the jack, queen and king. 

How to Play Freecell

As well as having four foundation piles where you build up your suits, there are four additional free cells to the right of the foundation and above the last four of the eight tableau columns. You can temporarily place one card in each empty free cell. This gives you a strategic way to skip over cards you can't use right away.

Move cards from the tableau or free cells to the foundations on the top right of the screen or card layout. Organize foundation piles in ascending order (Ace, 2-9, jack, queen, king)

Here are the moves allowed in Freecell:

  • There are four foundation cells, one for each card suit. Move a free ace into any foundation cell. After you have moved an ace into a foundation home cell, place the two of the suit on top of the ace and continue to build the pile. 
  • You can also move free cards at the bottom of any column to a free cell or to any empty column that you have cleared. Cards in the four free cell spots can be used anytime.
  • You can also move the last card in the pile to another column or the foundation or free cells.

If you know how to play regular solitaire, you use the same moves to win. Plus, you now have the advantage of the free cells if you get stuck!

Pay close attention as you pull the cards from the deck. In most versions of solitaire and Freecell, you pull three cards from the top of the deck. Only the first card can be played. However, in Freecell, you can place that card in a free cell to use later. 

Freecell Rules

Freecell uses just one deck of cards. The cards are dealt into eight columns, face-up. The first four columns have seven cards each, while the remaining columns get six cards each. (Unless you use a traditional solitaire layout and just add the four free cells to make it easier to win.)

If you can't use the bottom card of each pile, you can place up to four of them in a free cell, which is basically a holding station to give you access to the next card in the column. 

How do you know if you've won? If there are no cards left in the tableau or free cells, and your suits are arranged in ascending order, you have beat the system or the deck! The correct order goes like this: Ace, 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-Jack-Queen-King.

Remember that you can only play the exposed card on each column of the tableau. Within the tableau, alter the sequence so that the pattern is red, black, red, black. Diamonds and hearts are red suits, while clubs and spades are black suits. Within the tableau, you can move cards to any empty space. So, if you've cleared a column by moving all the cards to the foundation or free cell points, you can split one of the remaining columns to get to cards that you need to build the foundations. 

If you manage to avoid pitfalls and fill up the foundation piles, you win.

Tricks and Strategies to Win Freecell

If you need to kill some time, Freecell is a great resource. However, the game is highly addictive and can kill your productivity if you let it. You can solve most Freecell deals if you concentrate and take advantage of all available moves. However, if you miss or fail to see opportunities, you may lose often when you first start out. Keep practicing and don't become discouraged. Everyone has to learn the ropes before mastering a task. 

Unlike regular solitaire, winning isn't so much a matter of luck as paying attention. You can win most shuffles if you concentrate. Here are some strategy tips to boost your chances of winning. 

  • Before you move, carefully study the tableau. Plan more than one move at a time because the easiest moves may get you stuck later in the game.
  • Prioritize your aces and deuces. Freeing them up allows you to start building your foundations.  Get these cards into the home cells as fast as you can for the best chance of winning. 
  • Don't rush to fill all your free cells at once or you lose your power to maneuver.
  • Don't move cards you may still need to the home cells right away or you may not be able to free up lower cards in other suits.
  • If you get lucky, some shuffles can be solved quickly. Others can take some time. If you get tired, rest your eyes for a moment and get up and walk to get your circulation moving.

In electronic versions of the game, replaying shuffles helps to learn the strategy of the game faster and allows you to correct your mistakes. Learning from your mistakes and paying close attention to the tableau early in the game can turn you into a master player in no time at all. 

Conclusion

Now you know how to play Freecell Solitaire, try our Freecell and Daily Freecell versions to see if you have what it takes to master these versions of the game!