Solitaire Strategy

Maddy Marcus / April 28, 2020

Not every game of Solitaire can be won. Depending on your level of difficulty, only about 80% of solitaire games are winnable. If the cards aren’t right, you’ll find yourself out of moves fairly quickly. However, with the right strategy and enough practice, you’ll be able to notice which hands you can win and navigate the cards seamlessly. 

How To Play Solitaire: The Basics

Your goal when playing solitaire is to collect all the cards from each suit (spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds) and stack them from Ace to King. The deck is divided into three parts: the foundation (your final four piles), the tableau (the seven main piles on the table) and the stock deck (where the remaining cards go). 

In order to collect each card, you’ll have to reveal all the hidden cards. You’re able reorganize cards from King to two within the tableau, but the color of each card must alternate. You can only place a red card on top of a black card, and vice versa. Whenever you come across an Ace of any suit, simply move it to the foundation to start the stack. 

If you run out of moves using the cards available to you on the tableau, you can consult the stock deck. Depending on how you play, you can either draw one, two or three cards from the stock deck, however if you draw more than one card, you can only move the top card in the stack.

Go here for more tips on how to play solitaire.

Building Your Solitaire Strategy

Keep your eyes open. When playing Solitaire, it’s crucial to keep your focus on your playable cards. It can be easy to get distracted and lose track of which cards you have on the table. Going over your face-up cards on the tableau two or three times between moves can help make light of any new combinations you may have missed before.

Know what you need. Right from the start, it’s important to prioritize revealing the hidden cards. It may help to keep a mental list of the cards you need to build up your stacks. For example, if you need to move a black five in order to reveal a new card, be on the lookout for a red six as you flip through your stock deck.

Increase the odds. There are some moves you can make that will increase your probability of winning the hand. Be mindful of the available Kings you have on the tableau. Kings are the only cards that are able to move freely to an open space on the board. If you already have a red King at your disposal, it might be wise to populate an empty spot with a black King. Doing this can open up the possibility for more diverse stacks and more options for placing cards.

On the other end, you can decrease your odds of winning if you open up an empty row without having a King readily available. Doing this just leaves you with one less spot to move cards to. When moving your cards around, make sure you keep all seven spots filled as long as you can.

Build same-suit stacks. Even though you are only able to stack cards of the opposite color on top of one another, it pays to keep your tableau organized. Pick two opposing suits (hearts and spades, for example) then concentrate on building stacks that alternate between the two. This will help organize the cards so you can easily move them into the foundation stacks.

Decisions, decisions. Most of the time, a hand is defined by your decision making. You may run into some tough decisions throughout a game, making you choose between two similar cards to make your move. When you find yourself in a tight spot, you’ll have to think carefully about the outcomes of each choice. In this situation, it’s always best to prioritize moving the ones guarding the most face-down cards.

Take it back. If you’re not too keen on keeping a perfect score, you always have the option to “undo” a move. In our version, you’ll take a penalty for every move you undo, but if you miss a crucial card, you can always go back. You can also use the undo option to your benefit when you’re faced with two similar cards that are blocking several others from being revealed. Try one option, and if it doesn’t work to your benefit, simply undo and try the other.

More Ways to Play

Solitaire can be played in a few different ways, but the goal is almost always the same: clear the table of all the cards. These strategies work best when playing the more popular Klondike Solitaire, though you can shape some tricks to work in other games. Tripeaks and Spider are the other two most popular versions of Solitaire, however, it’s best to master the classic version before trying your hand in others.

Try out these strategies with a game of Solitaire. When you’re done, challenge yourself to a game of Magic Solitaire or Spider Solitaire to see how you do.