How to Play Solitaire

Ready to leap into the world of solitaire? This classic, one-person game is super easy to learn, as long as you have a basic deck of playing cards. We’ll be walking you through the setup and rules of a traditional solitaire game, as well as some fun variations. In just a few minutes, you’ll be ready to play solitaire with your greatest competitor—yourself!

Method 1


Setting Classic Solitaire Up

  1. 1Understand the objective of the game. It is to create four piles of cards – one per suit – in ascending order (beginning with Ace and ending with King). These are called foundation piles.Did You Know? There are a few variations of solitaire, but the most popular version of the game is Klondike Solitaire. This style is so popular that the word “Solitaire” usually refers to the Klondike game rules.
  2. 2Start building the layout. Put down the first card face up and lay six cards face down next to it. Then, put one card face up on top (but lowered slightly) of the first face down card, then put a face down card on top of the other five cards. Continue doing this, so that each pile has one face up card on top and so that the left pile has one card, the next has two, then three, four, five, six, and finally seven.[1]
    • These piles of cards will become your tableau columns as you play the card game.
  3. 3Put the remaining cards in a separate pile. Set the pile either above or below the piles. This is your stock pile of cards where you will go to get more cards if you run out of moves.
  4. 4Leave room at the top for your four foundation piles of cards.


Playing Solitaire

  1. 1Look at the cards on the table that are face up. If there are any aces, place them above the seven piles to start your foundation piles. If there are no aces, rearrange the cards you have, moving only the face up cards. When you place a card on top (slightly lower so that you can still see both cards), it must be a different color than the card you are placing it on top of and have a value of one less. Thus, if you have a six of hearts, you can either place a five of spades or a five of clubs on top.[2]
    • Keep placing the cards on top of each other until you cannot move anymore.
    • Each pile should be alternating in color and move in descending order.
  2. 2Keep the top card on each stack visible. The card on top of each of the seven tableau columns should be face up. If you move a card, remember to turn the card underneath it over.
  3. 3Build your foundation piles starting with the aces. If you have an ace above your cards, (eventually you should have all four aces there), you may move cards of the place cards of the corresponding suit on top of the pile in ascending (A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) order.
    • Each ace will start a different foundation pile. For instance, the ace of spades might start the first pile, and the ace of hearts might start the second pile.
  4. 4Use the card stock pile if you run out of moves to make. Flip over the top three cards, and see if the top one can be placed anywhere. If you play the first card, see if you can put down the next. If you put down the second card, see if you can put down the last card. 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.
    • Once your stock pile runs out, use the waste pile as your reserve. However, make sure that you do not shuffle it!
  5. 5Uncover hidden cards in the tableau columns during game play. If you have a card that’s hidden, you can move cards around until you find places that you can hold and grab the desired card and, eventually, put it in the desired slot.
  6. 6Start a new tableau column in an empty space using a king. If you use all the cards in one of the seven piles, you may place a king (but only a king) in the empty space.



Trying Variations of Solitaire

  1. 1Try playing Forty Thieves solitaire. This version is easier than normal solitaire because you can see the cards in each pile (since they are all face up. The object is still to make a stack for each suit in descending order.
    • When laying out the cards, deal 10 rows of cards with four cards in each pile, all face up.
    • You can only move the top card of each row at a time. There are four spaces above the rows that can be used as holding cells. You can put the top card of one of the rows into a holding cell so that you can get at one of the cards below it.
    • Play the cards in the reserve deck at the same time, but you can only flip one over (not three at a time.)
  2. 2Try playing Freecell solitaire. This is one of the hardest versions of solitaire. It challenges your skill and mental power more than regular solitaire does because there is no reserve deck to work with. The object is still to make a stack for each suit in descending order. [3]
    • Deal out all of the cards into eight piles–four of the piles should have seven cards in them, and four of the piles should have six cards in them. All of the cards should be face up.
    • Do not use any cards for a reserve deck. All of the cards should be dealt out into the piles.
    • Like Forty Thieves, there are four spaces placed above the rows that are used as reserve spaces. You can only play the top card of each pile, but you can place the top card into one of the reserve spaces so that you can play a card beneath it.
  3. 3Try playing Golf solitaire. This is a variation of solitaire where the object is to play all of the cards placed face up in the seven piles, rather than create four suit stacks.
    • Deal out seven piles with five cards in each. All of the cards should be face up. All of the other cards should be placed face down in the reserve deck.
    • Flip over the top card of the reserve deck. You will then try to play any of the face up cards from the seven piles on the card you have flipped from the reserve deck. When you cannot play any more cards, flip the next reserve deck card over and play any face up cards you can off of this new card. Continue playing until you have either played all of the face up cards or you cannot make any more moves.
  4. 4Try playing Pyramid solitaire. The object of the game is to remove all of the cards in the pyramid and reserve pile and place them in the discard pile by creating pairs that equal 13 in point value.[4]
    • Deal out 28 cards into the shape of a pyramid, face up. It should be stacked so that the rows are made of one card, then two cards, then three cards, etc. until all 28 cards have been placed in the pyramid. Each row should overlap the row above it. Note that some people play that you only use 21 cards to make the pyramid.
    • Create a reserve pile with the left over cards.
    • Remove cards one at a time or in pairs. You can only remove cards that have a value of 13. Kings are 13 points, queens 12, jacks 11 and the rest of the cards represent their face values (aces are 1.) For example, you could remove a king; you could also remove an 8 and 5, because they add up to 13. The top card of the reserve deck can also be used to make 13.
    • If no cards can be made into pairs, the next reserve card is flipped over. Once all of the reserve cards have run out, you can take them from the discard pile and return them to the reserve pile so you can keep removing cards from the pyramid.
  5. 5Try playing Spider solitaire. You must use two decks to play spider solitaire.[5]
    • Make 10 piles, four piles should have six cards each, and six piles should have five cards each. Only the top card of each pile should be facing up. The rest of the cards are placed in the reserve deck.
    • The goal is to creating descending card sequences of the same suit from King to Ace within the 10 piles. Once you have completed one descending pile, you can place it in one of the eight foundation squares. You must make a descending order stack eight times. You cannot use the foundation squares as holding spaces for cards.
    • You can create mini stacks (such as 9, 8, 7 of spades) and place them on a 10 of hearts or any other suit while you make other small stacks.
    • The game ends when all eight foundation squares are filled.

Community Q&A

Question: Are some solitaire games unsolvable?

Answer: Yes, some games of solitaire you can’t win no matter what. If you use the classic rules, one mathematical proof finds that about 79% of games are at least potentially solvable.

Question: For classic solitaire, if the top card of the three doesn’t match anything, are all three cards put into waste?


Answer: Yes, that means you cannot use any of the three cards. The top card must be placed in order to reach the second and third card.

Question: Are Jokers used in Solitaire? If so, what number do they represent?

Answer: Jokers are not used in solitaire, classic solitaire uses only the 52 cards of the four suits.

Question: Can I remove cards from the ace’s pile?

Answer: Yes, as long you do it from the top card down. You cannot take cards out from inside the pile; only the topmost card.

Question: If I get to the end of the stack in three card solitaire and only have one card, do I use the waste stack to get to three cards?

Answer: You just use that one card and restart the pile after (or if you can’t play the card you got, start it then).

Question: What should I do when I reach the point where I can’t find any other cards to play?

Answer: You would have to restart. The cards you need would be under the visible cards so you cant get to them.

Question: Can I reuse a card after placing it on an ace?

Answer: Yes, but remember to take only the top card. You can’t take from lower in the deck.

Question: Does the movement of a king to an empty space have to be made right to left if possible?

Answer: Direction does not matter; the only thing that matters in a situation like this is that the king is on top, and that you are moving it to an empty space.

Question: I thought that the ace pile was supposed to go red ace, then black two, then red three and so on. Am I wrong?

Answer: No. The ace pile stays in suit, so it goes ace of hearts, two of hearts, three of hearts, and so on. The layout stacks alternate color.

Question: What do I do when I come to the end of the waste stack?

Answer: Flip the pile back over and continue to use it, do not shuffle the cards.

Question: What do I do if I don’t have an ace at first?

Answer: You work your way towards an ace, it may be in the reserve or in one of the hidden cards.

Question: Can I bring cards into play from the foundations?

Answer: Yes, as long as you only take the top card. You cannot take from lower in the deck until it is on top.

Question: Where do I put the four original piles?

Answer: If you mean the piles that you try to put from ace to king, you can put them anywhere you desire (though it’s suggested you put them on top of the seven piles).

Question: Can I move cards onto cards? For example, if I have a four, can I put a five below it?

Answer: No. Cards can only be moved to a higher card of an alternate color or moved into the ace piles in ascending order.

Question: What age is this recommended for?

Answer: Depending on the type of Solitaire you play, I’d say 8 is a good age for learning Klondike (the version explained in this article).

Question: When playing solitaire, do the lower numbers go on the higher numbers, or do the higher numbers go on the lower numbers?

Answer: The lower numbers go on the highest numbers. The King is on top, then the Queen, the Jack, and so on.

Question: If I use all the cards in my hand and there are still unplayed cards faced down under other cards, do I win, or do all cards need to be placed on the aces?

Answer: No, all cards need to be placed on the aces in order to win. If there are still unplayable cards after the deck is used up, then you lose the game.

Question: Do I have to place the first King that comes up in the empty spot or can I legally wait for another color King?

Answer: You do not need to make any moves, you can leave the king where he is for the whole game if you’d like.

Question: Can I put a king from the reserve deck onto an empty pile?

Answer: Yes, as long as the pile is empty.

Question: When I have two choices, one from the deck and one on the board, which must be used first?

Answer: You can use either, it does not matter which one you use first. Sometimes there might be an option that is better than the other, and sometimes they are both equally good choices.

Question: How many decks are needed for the variations?

Answer: Every one of the solitaire variations shown uses one deck (unless you are playing co-op with someone), but Spider Solitaire uses 2 decks.


  • Remember that to win Solitaire, a certain amount of luck is involved.
  • There are more types of the card game Solitaire, such as suits and four aces. If you are having trouble with this one, or just not getting into it, try one of these.
  • Always start with the deck if you don’t have any aces in your hand of cards.
  • If you need help or want a hint and are on a computer, press the H key.