Solitaire Game Rules (2023)

Solitaire Game Rules (1)

(Pictured above:The set up of a traditional game of Klondike Solitaire)

Card Game Rules for Solitaire

Solitaire or Patience, as it is commonly called in parts of Europe, is a game that can be played with just one player, and requires only a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The objective of most solitaire games is to organize a shuffled deck of cards into four piles (one for each suit) in ascending order from Ace to King.

The most well-known version of Solitaire is Klondike, which is what is explained here, and is the game that most people identify with “solitaire”. Many other versions of Solitaire also exist, some of which will be covered following this explanation of how to play Klondike Solitaire.

For more classic card games, check out our guides for 40 Great Card Games for All Occasions, and for The Best Two Player Card Games, as well as our index for Card Game Rules..

If you are looking for cards to play Solitaire with, pick up one of our standard decks of Bicycle Playing Cards with red backs or blue backs, or check out one of our more recent arrivals.

A version of Solitaire that you can play online for free can be found here.

The Set Up

In Solitaire, there are four types of piles: the tableau, the stock, the waste, and the foundations.

The Tableau and the Stock

The tableau consists of seven piles. The first pile has one card, the second pile has two cards, the third pile has three cards, and so on until there are seven piles. Only the top card in each pile is face up.

The cards remaining after building the tableau are placed face down and are called the stock.

Solitaire Game Rules (2)

The Waste and the Foundation

The waste is where three cards will be dealt face up from the stock as the game proceeds, with only the top card visible.

The foundations consist of four stacks of cards (one for each suit) in ascending order (Ace to King). At the beginning of the game, the foundations are empty. The goal is to play all the cards to these four foundations.

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How to Play

The object of Solitaire is to move all cards to the foundations in ascending order, beginning with the Ace and ending with the King.

The first thing to do when starting a new game is to move any available Aces from the tableau to the foundations.

In the example below, the Ace of Diamonds and Ace of Hearts can be moved to the foundations.

(Video) How to Play Solitaire

Solitaire Game Rules (4)

Next, you'll want to see if there are any Twos that can be moved to the foundations on top of the Aces already played there. In general, it is a good idea to move low-numbered cards to the foundation whenever possible.

In the example below, the Two of Diamonds can be moved to the foundation, on top of the Ace of Diamonds.

Solitaire Game Rules (5)

When no more cards can be moved to the foundation, take a look at the tableau. Cards can be moved from one pile in the tableau to another pile, as long as the card being moved is one number lower and the opposite color (red vs black) to the card it is placed on.

In the example below, the 10 of Diamonds (red) can be placed on the Jack of Clubs (black).

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Multiple cards can be moved together, as long as the cards in the sequence being moved are in descending order and are in alternating colors (red/black, etc).

In the example below, the Jack of Clubs can be moved onto the Queen of Diamonds, and the 10 of Diamonds is moved together with it.

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When there are no more available moves on the tableau, you can draw 3 cards from the stock.

In the example below, the three cards drawn are the 6 of Clubs, Jack of Clubs, and King of Hearts.

Solitaire Game Rules (8)

Check to see if the top card on the waste can be moved to the tableau or the foundations.

In the example below, the top card is a King of Hearts. This is fortunate because there is an empty pile, and a King is the only card that can be moved to an empty pile. Now the card below it, the Jack of Clubs, becomes available.

Solitaire Game Rules (9)

Keep moving cards from the tableau to the foundations if you can, or placing them on other piles within the tableau, in order to make more face down cards available. When you can’t make any moves from the tableau, flip up another three cards from the stock to the waste, and continue playing.

You continue this process, flipping three cards from the stock to the waste whenever you get stuck. The goal is to keep playing cards to the tableau and to the foundations.

As shown in the example below, if you successfully manage to move all the cards to the foundations, you have won the game.

(Video) How To Play Solitaire

Solitaire Game Rules (10)

Now that you know the rules of solitaire, you are ready to play a game of solitaire online for free. Sites we recommend for doing this include,, and For solitaire software we recommend BVS Solitaire, which is available for all platforms.

If you are still in doubt about the rules, take a look at the video tutorial below.

For more information on the game of Solitaire and its rules, check out the Wikipedia article on Klondike Solitaire.


Solitaire is a delightful puzzle game that boasts a wonderful history. The game was first recorded in the 1780s in a German book about games, entitled Das Neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel. Some early evidence suggests that Solitaire began as a fortune telling game, and only later became a game of strategy. Some variants of Solitaire are still used for cartomancy today.

From the Rhineland, the Solitaire craze moved west into France. From the French we get many of the terms still used in Solitaire today. For example, Tableau is French for “Table”, and Talon is French for “Heel”.

It is popularly rumoured that Napoleon spent most of his days playing Solitaire while he was in exile. In reality, however, it is more likely that he played the common game of Whist, but it does make for a fun item of solitaire-related trivia.

Solitaire became increasingly popular throughout the 19th century, and moved west into England, where Prince Albert was a notable lover of the game. In 1870, the first collection of Solitaire games in the English language appeared, with the book Illustrated Games of Patience by Lady Adelaide Cadogan.

The popularity of Solitaire steadily increased throughout the 20th century. The game became widely played in the computer era, when a free digital version was included in the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Other Popular Solitaire Games

Hundreds of different solitaire games exist other than Klondike Solitaire, and often each of these have multiple variations. Here is a brief overview of some of the more popular ones, as well as an introduction to a few lesser known but interesting versions of the game.


Spider is a popular solitaire game that is more difficult to win than Klondike Solitaire. In Spider there are two decks of cards in play, with ten tableau piles, no foundations, and no waste pile.

The aim is to create a sequence of 13 cards of the same suit in descending order from King to Ace within a single tableau pile, at which point those 13 cards are removed from the game. The game is won if you successfully discard all the cards in the game in this way.

Building within the tableau piles works somewhat similar to Klondike, but when no moves can be made within the tableau, one card from the stock is dealt to each tableau pile.

Solitaire Game Rules (11)


Invented in the 1980s and popularized by its digital version, FreeCell is a very winnable solitaire game that involves real strategy.

The setup involves eight tableau piles of face-up cards, the first four with seven cards each and the last four with six cards each. Instead of stock and waste piles, there are four empty storage piles, called “cells”. Any one card may be placed in these reserve piles, and that’s where the strategy comes in.

Unlike Klondike, sequences of cards cannot be moved within the tableau, but only one card can be moved at a time. Tableau piles can only be built downwards in alternating colours. The goal is to remove all the cards to the four foundations by suit, in ascending order from Ace through King.

Solitaire Game Rules (12)

(Video) How To Play Solitaire with Cards (Klondike)

Beleaguered Castle

Beleaguered Castle is another classic solitaire game, but is more challenging to win.

The goal is to play all the cards to the foundations, which are built up by suit in order from Ace through King. Only the top card in each tableau can be played. Players may also move cards within the tableau as long as the card being moved is one less in value than the card it is being moved to, ignoring suits.

Many variants exist in the Castle family of solitaire games, such as Streets and Alleys. In this variation, the Aces don't begin as starting foundations, but are part of the initial tableau, which consists of rows of seven rather than six cards each.

Solitaire Game Rules (13)


Yukon uses a single deck of playing cards, and all the cards are dealt out from the start of the game, so there is no stock or waste pile.

Set-up happens by making a traditional tableau much like Klondike, but all except the first pile receive an additional five face-up cards each.

Play within the tableau and to the foundations is similar to Klondike, but with the removal of one restriction: a group of face up cards within the tableau may be moved regardless of sequence.

Solitaire Game Rules (14)

Forty Thieves

Forty Thieves, also called Napoleon at St. Helena, is somewhat similar to Klondike, but uses two decks, and has some different rules for tableau building. At the start of the game there are ten tableau piles, each with four cards (making up the “forty thieves” that the game is named after).

There are eight foundations, and like Klondike Solitaire the game is won when all the cards are transferred to the foundations, which are built from Ace through King by suit.

The tableau is built with cards of the same suit (instead of alternating colours) in descending sequence. Any card may fill a space created by an empty pile.

The Forty Thieves family of solitaire games is one of the largest and most strategic solitaire games. Many variations exist, such as Emperor, which begins with each pile having a face-up card on top of three face-down cards.

Solitaire Game Rules (15)

The Wish

The Wish is one of the simplest solitaire games, and fits into the “adding and pairing” family.

You remove the 2s through 6s from a standard deck, and with the remaining cards make eight piles of four cards each, with only the top card face up in each pile.

The goal is to remove all the cards, which happens by removing any pair of cards that have the same value. Once cards are paired, you can flip over the face-down card underneath, and continue play. If you successfully remove all the cards, you win the game!

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Unlike most of the previous solitaire games, Accordion is a non-builder game, so it doesn’t involve building in a tableau or to foundations. To set-up, all 52 cards are placed individually face up in a single continuous line, which is usually done by placing them in rows as space and need requires.

A card can be stacked onto a card to the immediate left or three cards to the left if it is the same suit or if it is the same rank. For example, suppose a row consists of 7H, 8H, 2C, 7D, and 7H. In this case the 7H can be placed either on top of the 8H or on top of the 7D.

(Video) Solitaire for Kids

By making as many such moves as possible, the objective is to stack up the entire deck.

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Bowling Solitaire

Bowling Solitaire is a clever and thematic game created by Sid Sackson. It requires just 20 cards in two suits, and only the Aces through 10s are used. A pyramid of face-up cards with rows of four cards, three rows, two cards, and one card represents the “pins”. Three piles represent the “bowling balls”, consisting of five cards, three cards, and two cards, with only the top card face-up in each.

The bowling ball piles are used knock down pins, which can happen in one of three ways:

  • The pin card has the same value as the ball card.
  • The combined value of two or more pin cards equals the value of the ball card.
  • The last digit of two or more pin cards equals the value of the ball card.

Like regular bowling, the player has two bowls per set of pins before they reshuffle the pin cards and make a new pyramid. If they cannot knock down any pins, it is a gutter ball and they move onto the next ball pile. Scoring is done like regular bowling.

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Kings in the Corner

Kings in the Corner is a variation of Solitaire that can be played with two to four players.

Seven cards are dealt to each player, and the remaining cards are placed face down in the middle of the gameplay area to form the stock. The top four cards of the stock are turned face-up on each side of the deck in a cross-shaped design, and serve as four starting foundation piles.

A player’s turn consists of first drawing the top card from the stock, and then making as many moves as possible by laying off cards from their hand onto the four foundation piles, in alternating color and decreasing rank.

New foundation piles can be established by placing a King in the gameplay area. Entire piles can be moved onto another pile if they continue the sequence, after which any new card can be played to replace the previous pile. The first player to play all of the cards from their hand wins the game.

Other Solitaire Games and Resources

We love solitaire games here at PlayingCardDecks, and they are a wonderful way to use your favourite playing cards. To help introduce you to more excellent solitaire games, we have written many articles about the best solitaire games, and to point you to other great resources about solitaire.

Getting started with solitaire

  • What You Should Know About Solitaire
  • What's Good About Solitaire Card Games
  • The Three Most Played Solitaire Games: Klondike, Spider, and FreeCell
  • Two More Most Played Solitaire Games: Pyramid, and Golf

    Builder solitaire games

    • Popular Builder Solitaire Card Games
    • More Popular Builder Solitaire Card Games
    • 10 Builder Solitaire Card Games With Unusual Layouts
    • 10 Less Common but Popular Two-Deck Solitaire Card Games
    • Single-Deck Builder Solitaire Games That You Should Try
    • Simple Builder Solitaire Card Games

      Non-builder solitaire games

      • Popular Adding and Pairing Solitaire Card Games
      • Popular Non-Builder Solitaire Card Games
      • Single-Deck Non-Builder Solitaire Games That You Should Try
      • Simple Non-Builder Solitaire Card Games

        Solitaire resources

        • Advantages of Digital Solitaire
        • Best Digital Resources For Playing Solitaire
        • Special Features for Your Best Experience With Digital Solitaire

          Acknowledgement: Thanks to John Taylor for his initial draft, Holger Sindbaek for his insights and images, and EndersGame for his corrections, additions, and further development.

          Looking for more card games to play? Check out these two articles:

          • 40+ Great Card Games For All Occasions
          • The Best Two Player Card Games

          About the author:John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company You may view his freelancing profilehere. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. inEnglish from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card gameshereand his LinkedIn profilehere.

          Solitaire Game Rules (19)

          (Video) How to play Solitaire Card Game (aka Klondike)

          Last update date: 05/25/22


          Is there a solution for every solitaire game? ›

          Note that solitaire is a general term that describes many different card games each having unique rules and winning chances. Although different games may have different winning probabilities, there isn't an absolute value. Therefore, there's no way of ensuring that 100% of solitaire games can be won.

          Is solitaire a skill or luck? ›

          If you have a good deck of cards and a good start in your card arrangement, which is essentially luck, you will stand a great chance of winning if you also put in strategy and focus. Some Solitaire games are purely skill-based and require patience, for example, FreeCell.

          Is every deck in solitaire solvable? ›

          All games in: Daily Challenges, Events, Star Club, and easy to grandmaster classic games are solvable. Random difficulty in classic games could be unsolvable.

          What are the rules in solitaire? ›

          The goal is to play all the cards to the foundations, which are built up by suit in order from Ace through King. Only the top card in each tableau can be played. Players may also move cards within the tableau as long as the card being moved is one less in value than the card it is being moved to, ignoring suits.

          What's the least amount of moves to complete solitaire? ›

          Originally Answered: What is the minimum number of moves required to win in Solitaire? You need to move each card once to move it up. That's 52 moves (one for each card). In addition to that you need to reveal all the cards - revealing one that starts on the table doesn't take a move.

          How do you show solutions in solitaire? ›

          To see the solution, touch the graph icon below the calendar and then tap the "Show Me How to Win" button and check out the solution, then replay the game.

          Does solitaire train your brain? ›

          It improves memory

          Having a good memory is crucial, and we all know it. Solitaire can also improve this area of our brain as well, unlike many other games. Playing Solitaire has a lot of subtle and unconscious benefits, including memory improvement.

          What does solitaire do to your brain? ›

          The game will help reduce tension in your body and mind hence one will more often than not, have a great day and quality sleep at night. What's more, solitaire is said to improve a person's decision-making by helping them to enter into a calm meditative state.

          How many possible outcomes are there in solitaire? ›

          Assuing that you're referring to the standard version of the game as described at Wikipedia, and that the order of the cards in the deck is part of what distinguishes deals, the answer is 52!, the number of different permutations of 52 cards.

          How many times can you go through the waste pile in solitaire? ›

          You can go through the stock pile as many times as you want turning over either 1 or 3 cards at a time depending on the setting of the Draw 3 option. Tap the empty stock pile to run through the stock pile a second time and subsequent times.

          What is the most winnable solitaire? ›

          The Solitaire variant with the best winning odds is FreeCell, which boasts a 99% winning probability. Oddly enough, Pyramid, considered one of the most straightforward variants of Solitaire, comes with the most negligible chances of winning, with odds varying between 0.5% and 5.5%.

          What is the objective of solitaire? ›

          Object of the Game

          The first objective is to release and play into position certain cards to build up each foundation, in sequence and in suit, from the ace through the king. The ultimate objective is to build the whole pack onto the foundations, and if that can be done, the Solitaire game is won.

          How do you score in solitaire? ›

          A standard game starts at 0 points, and points are awarded for the following actions: You GET points for: - Moving a card from the stockpile to the tableau +5 points. - Moving a card from the tableau or from the stockpile to the foundation +10 points.

          What are the rules for stacking in solitaire? ›

          Each stack represents a suit (hearts, clubs, etc). They must be stacked by suit and in order, starting with the Ace, then the 2, 3, 4,…..ending with the Queen and then King. Cards that are face up and showing may be moved from the stock pile or the columns to the foundation stacks or to other columns.

          Can you run out of moves in solitaire? ›

          Use the card stock pile if you run out of moves to make.

          Then, if you put down the last card, put down another three cards from the reserve pile. If you cannot make a move with any of these cards, put them in a separate waste pile (taking care not to disturb the order). Repeat until your card stock pile has run out.

          What are the odds of no moves in solitaire? ›

          This estimate suggests that on average 0.25 percent (one out of 400) of all Klondike games are unplayable. Unfortunately the best way to get this probability is through statistical estimations rather than exact numerical calculations, but this gives a pretty good idea.

          Is it possible to have no moves left in solitaire? ›

          The 640 patterns to the immediate left with four different upcards, three of which are 2s or Ks permits a move only if the non-2-K card is one of the 3 out of 20 possibilities that connects with one of the 2-K cards. So 17 out of 20 of the 640, or 544 combinations, permit no move.

          How do you know if you're stuck in solitaire? ›

          Choose Am I Stuck? from the Play menu to find out if you are stuck or blocked. When you can no longer make progress in a solitaire game but you haven't won yet, you are “stuck” or “blocked.” Solitaire Till Dawn can tell you when you are stuck, either automatically or when you ask.

          How many solutions are there in peg solitaire? ›

          An unpublished study from 1989 on a generalized version of the game on the English board showed that each possible problem in the generalized game has 29 possible distinct solutions, excluding symmetries, as the English board contains 9 distinct 3×3 sub-squares.

          Is playing solitaire good for dementia? ›

          Solitaire is fun and it's a favorite of many people, but statistics show that you derive greater benefit from the experience by playing with others. Memory games also work against the effects of brain deterioration and dementia. Matching cards based on recall strengthens the hippocampus.

          Is it healthy to play solitaire? ›

          Yes, playing Solitaire can affect your brain and mental health both positively and negatively. Playing for short periods of time can actually improve memory, reflexes, focus, and mood. On the other hand, playing too much can result in unwanted stress, fatigue, and tired eyes.

          Is solitaire good for mental health? ›

          While playing solitaire, it can put you in a meditative state where you are relaxed and just focusing on the game. For people who are suffering from anxiety or have a hard time focusing on something, Solitaire can come in handy because it keeps you focused and relaxed at the same time.

          Do you have to be smart to play solitaire? ›

          It helps to improve memory

          Unlike with other games, the benefits of playing Solitaire are subtle and often unconscious. Memory improvement is a good example of this case. Having a good memory is not a requirement to play Solitaire. In fact, players do not need any memory skills to be able to win the game.

          What is a good solitaire score? ›

          I really like having a "win threshold" to shoot for, or -- equally as good -- rated ranges of scores against which to compare my performance, e.g.: 250-274 = Fair; 275-299 = Getting Better; 300-324 = Good; 325-349 = Very Good; 350-374 = Excellent... and so on, preferably with more thematically descriptive terms.

          Can you move a card from one pile to another in solitaire? ›

          Stacks of cards may be moved from one column to another as long as they maintain the same order (highest to lowest, alternating colors). If you get an empty column, you can start a new column with a King.

          How many times can you flip the deck in solitaire? ›

          There are no limits to how many times the Source deck can be cycled through in either style. After shuffling, seven piles of cards are laid from left to right. Each pile begins with one upturned card. From left to right, each pile contains one more card than the last.

          Can you take cards from the foundation pile in solitaire? ›

          They start with an Ace, the lowest card in this game, and end with a King. Cards can be moved to the foundations from the tableau as well as the waste pile. Cards from the foundations may also be moved back to the tableau if they are needed for a sequence.

          What are the odds of winning 3 card draw Solitaire? ›

          The probability of winning Thoughtful Klondike (with draw three rules) has been calculated as being approximately 82%, more precisely as having a confidence interval of 81.956% ± 0.096%.

          What is the average Solitaire time? ›

          The average time for a Solitaire Social round is typically 3 minutes, but this depends on your skills as well as your card layout. You might need up to 10 minutes to finish a tournament.

          Can you move a king stack in Solitaire? ›

          You may also move a King to an empty Tableau compartment, an Ace to the Foundation, and thereafter, stack tiles of this suit in ascending order in this compartment. After you play the top tile from the Stock, the tile beneath of it is available to play.

          Can you move a king in Solitaire? ›

          When every card of a pile is moved elsewhere, only a king can be moved onto the open space created. A card can be moved down from a foundation pile if needed.

          How many possible games of solitaire are there? ›

          There are over 500 solitaire variations in the world. The BVS collection, a collection of solitaire games, lists more than 400 of them, which isn't even the total number. If you decide to count those that don't use the standard deck of 52 cards, the number will be even higher.

          What is the probability of winning Klondike Solitaire? ›

          For Klondike, the program dealt 1 million random hands and computed the best strategy for each. It had to examine 20 billion partially played positions, and calculate sequences as long as 2274 moves to find that you have a roughly 82 per cent chance of winning the game.

          What is the world record solitaire? ›

          What is the fastest game of solitaire? The fastest game of Solitaire Social was completed in 30 seconds. The world record in classic online solitaire, however, is five seconds.

          What are the odds of winning 3 card draw solitaire? ›

          The probability of winning Thoughtful Klondike (with draw three rules) has been calculated as being approximately 82%, more precisely as having a confidence interval of 81.956% ± 0.096%.

          What percentage of solitaire games are solvable? ›

          Overall, almost 80% of solitaire games are winnable, but players do not win 80% of games played. That is because at least one bad move results in the game being un-winnable. If one lets the cards from the final pile be moved back to the table in order to create more moves, then the odds do go up between 82% and 92%.

          How do you win every time in Solitaire Cash? ›

          How to Win Solitaire Every Time: 11 Strategies for Solitaire
          1. Learn the Rules of the Game. ...
          2. Flip the Top Stock Card First. ...
          3. Keep an Eye Out for Kings and Aces. ...
          4. Start With Longer Stacks. ...
          5. Distribute Tableau Piles Evenly. ...
          6. Don't Leave a Vacancy Without a King! ...
          7. If You're Playing Timed Solitaire, Move Quickly.
          Apr 14, 2022

          Is Klondike Solitaire always solvable? ›

          Yes, there are deals that are impossible to solve, even if you play perfectly. Take Klondike Solitaire as an example: “About 79% of the games are theoretically winnable, but in practice, human players do not win 79% of games played, due to wrong moves that cause the game to become unwinnable.”

          How do you win Klondike Solitaire every time? ›

          Klondike Solitaire - Winning Strategy
          1. Turn up the first card off the deck before making any other moves. ...
          2. Always move an Ace or Deuce to the foundation whenever it is possible. ...
          3. Expose hidden cards. ...
          4. Hold off the moves that are not important. ...
          5. Do not empty a tableau pile if you do not have a King to put it in.

          Is solitaire 100% winnable? ›

          The short answer is no.

          The term Solitaire encompasses a wide variety of card games, each with its own set of rules and winning probabilities. While the latter can be higher or lower depending on the game, it is never an absolute value, meaning that it is not possible to ensure that 100% of the games are winnable.

          What is the average solitaire time? ›

          HowLongToBeat on Twitter: "It takes on average 5 minutes to beat Solitaire (25 hours for completionists).


          1. How To Play Patience (or Solitaire)
          (Jeff Wright)
          2. Solitaire Games : Solitaire Card Game Rules
          3. How To Play Solitaire [Tutorial]
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          4. How to Play Solitaire : Rules of Solitaire : Solitaire FREE Online Card Game
          5. How To Play Pyramid Solitaire
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          6. Solitaire Games : The Rules of Spider Solitaire
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