Solitaire Strategy


Basic solitaire strategy is rather simple to learn. In this article, we will present you with some tips on how to improve your success rate.


Solitaire Tips for Klondike

Klondike solitaire is the classic form of solitaire that comes to mind when people think about playing this game on their computer or with a deck of cards. Actually, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of different types of solitaire games, but we are going to focus our attention on the most common ones.

With this form of solitaire, you have a series of increasingly large down piles with an upcard on top of each one. You also have four ace piles that start off empty but hopefully end up with all the cards because that is how you win. Aces can be played immediately to the ace pile, and then cards can be added to them in sequential order.

Ace piles are sorted by suit, so you can only add spades to the spades pile and clubs to the clubs pile. So you start off playing, for example, the ace of spades, and then you can add the two of spades and so on and so forth. You can move cards, either individually or when in a run that alternates in color, from pile to pile by attaching them to a card of an immediately higher rank and opposite color.

You also have a deck of the remaining cards that you can cycle through and play from. Only kings can be played on an open column and when a pile has no upcards remaining on it because they have been transferred off or moved to the ace pile you can uncover the top card.

Solitaire Tip No.1:

Whenever you have the option to either play a card from the deck or free a down card by moving an upcard, choose to free the down card. The more cards you have in play the easier it will be to finish the game and cards in the deck can always be cycled back to later on.

Solitaire Tip No.2:

Try to keep your stacks even. If it isn’t possible to take the cards back from the end piles, make sure that any cards you place on them couldn’t be used to free any of the down cards. Remember that freeing down cards should be your number one priority, and you should try to free cards from the bigger stacks of downcards first.

Solitaire Tip No.3:

If you have to pick one of two possible down cards to free up, chose the one that is on the biggest pile. Also, take into account that there could be a situation where you can start freeing a bigger pile by actually removing a card on a smaller pile. This happens if you can remove a card that is the last in a pile and then move a king to its position (if the king is on a big pile).

Solitaire Tip No.4:

If you don’t have any kings available, don’t remove cards from empty slots. That way you will leave yourself the most options until a king comes your way. If you clear a slot without having a king that you can play there, you risk jamming things up and running out of moves.

When deciding which king to play in the open slot, opt for the king that will help you free the pile with the most downcards. This king doesn’t necessarily have to free cards from the largest pile of downcards immediately.

For example if the ten of spades is the top card on the biggest pile of downcards, then you would want to give priority to a red king, because that is the colour that matches the ten of spades (black ten, red jack, black queen, red king) and will enable you to work toward freeing this card.

Solitaire Tip No. 5 :

Play any ace or deuce to your ace stack immediately, but be careful about building your ace stacks too quickly with higher ranks. When determining whether or not to play a card to your ace stack, you need to consider if this will interfere with your ability to play other cards.

For example, if both red threes are already on the ace stacks, or if one red three is on the ace stack and there is a four of spades on the board, then you are fine to play the four of clubs to your ace stack.

It is especially important to make sure that you have the option of playing a deuce to the board. Be very reluctant to play a three to the ace stack until all of the deuces are up there as well. Of course, once both red deuces are up top then black threes can go as well and vice versa.

Another good reason to play a card to your ace stack is if by doing so you can facilitate a play or a transfer that is going to free up downcards. Your end game in Klondike is to get all of your down cards out and your cards in the deck on the table. Once that happens you win. So you should prioritize freeing down cards whenever possible.

Solitaire Tip No. 6 :

Be careful about playing or transferring fives, sixes, sevens, and eights. These middling cards are an integral part of your infrastructure, and being overly eager to use them up can land you in serious trouble. Make sure that at least one of the following conditions is met.

#1 – The card in question matches the suit of the next higher up card of the same color in the run. For example, if you are thinking about transferring the five of spades onto a six of hearts, you would check to see if the next card above the six of hearts was the seven of spades. When the suits match in a run you can describe this phenomenon as being smooth. Being smooth is important for middle cards because this is where you run into the biggest probability of getting jammed up.

#2 – Playing the card in question enables you to immediately free a downcard or allows you to make a play that will free a downcard.

#3 – This is the first time a card has been played to this particular column.

#4 – It’s your only move.

Please note that only one of these conditions needs to be met in order to play a five through eight. So you can play, for example, a six on a seven if the six matches the suit of the eight in the run above it, or if by playing the six you will be able to free a downward.

You only need to worry about smoothness with fives through eights. With fours and threes your priority is to get them out as soon as possible so you can place deuces and then start working the ace pile, and by the time you start taking nines and tens off the board, it is pretty much fait accompli anyway.

These solitaire strategy tips are mostly useful for Klondike but can be applied to other solitaire games as well. Multiplayer solitaire may be a contradiction in terms, but if you intend to play against other players here are three other solitaire strategy tips that might help you:

Solitaire Tip No.7 – Be Quick

Practice a lot. Being quick is important when playing against another opponent, especially if the game allows players to take each other’s cards. That also relates to the next tip.

Solitaire Tip No.8 – Brain Exercises

Brain exercises are a great way to get better at solitaire. It doesn’t really matter what exercises you do, you can even just play mind games like chess, sudoku, and solitaire. Having a sharp, fast mind will go a long way to beating your opposition in solitaire.

Solitaire Tip No.9 –Always Know The Scoring System

Whenever you play a match with someone, make sure you know how the scoring goes so you can make adjustments. The basic idea is that you should prioritize moves that give you the most points. How to do this depends on the game you are playing.

Spider Solitaire

Spider solitaire is another variant of the game. In this version, you use two decks of cards and then deal out ten columns. The first ten columns have five face-down cards and the remaining six columns have four face-down cards. All of the columns then get an additional card face up.

During the play of the game, you can move cards from one column to another if it creates a descending sequence. The suit is not important to move a single card, but you can only move a run of cards if they are in a straight flush, so it makes sense to prioritize matching suits whenever possible. Once you have a complete king to deuce straight flush you can move it off the play columns and onto a separate pile on its own and it is out of the game.

You start out by making all of the possible plays that you want on the board. Once you have made all of the plays on the board possible, you then deal ten cards from the deck of remaining cards onto the columns on the table.

Spider Solitaire Tip #1

Give preference to building runs with cards of the same suit. By creating larger and larger straight flushes you will give yourself more mobility and be well on your way to taking an entire stack off of the board.

Spider Solitaire Tip #2

Try to move straight flush runs onto their kings. In order to take cards out of play from the columns you need a complete king to deuce straight flush, so if you can work on that from the top down you will be good to go.

Spider Solitaire Tip #3

Give preference toward moving cards to piles where it is unlikely that you will be able to uncover a card in the near future. Conversely, if you have a pile where you may be able to uncover a card, try not to build there if you can avoid it. Uncovering cards is good and may provide you with a key missing link to complete a full straight flush.

Spider Solitaire Tip #4

Try to empty a column as quickly as possible. Having an empty column can be very useful when you are re-organizing your piles as it gives you an element of flexibility that you would otherwise lack. If you have a choice between playing a card from a pile that is almost exhausted and somewhere else, go for the former option.

Spider Solitaire Tip #5

Prioritize the movement of cards to higher ranks. Because in spider solitaire you are not allowed to move complete runs unless they are a straight flush, you might as well start with the highest rank whenever possible because the resulting run of different suits will be stationary.

Since it can’t move after the fact, you want to get it in the right place to start off. If you start off with a low or medium card the run will quickly terminate and limit your total number of moves.

Spider Solitaire Tip #6

Remember that not every game of Spider Solitaire can be won, so don’t beat your head against the wall if you wind up in a losing position. Actually only half of the Spider Solitaire deals are even beatable. Remember, it is just a game.

I hope these tips will help your game and remember, the number one priority should always be to have fun playing!