How to Play Solitaire (Rules and Instructions)

The perfect card game to play on your own. Once you’ve learned the Solitaire rules, you’ll always have access to a fun game that will help refine your card skills.

The game has the ideal mix of being both easy to learn once you know the rules but challenging that the learning curve to start with is quite steep.

And with the random nature of the game sometimes stumping even the most experienced of players, every round you play is different from the last, which should keep you coming back for more.

If you’re someone who has always wanted to play but was also a tad daunted by the game, start by learning how to play Solitaire by following our guide below.

What Is Solitaire?

Solitaire Card Game Info Image

If you’ve ever owned or used a computer circa 2000, then there’s a good chance you’d have come across Solitaire already.

But if you haven’t, then Solitaire is the single-player card game where players need to follow specific rules to sort all the cards into suit and number order.

The origins of Solitaire are relatively unknown. The first use of the word Solitaire was in 1746, giving the consensus that the game has been around since the 18th century.

Number of Players Required: 1, a solo game.

Who Can Play It: Kids, Pre-teens, Teens, Adults

Difficulty: Medium-Hard.

Length of Play: 5 – 30 minutes.

Similar to: Gold Rush; Klondike; Trigon; Lady Jane; Double Solitaire; Hockey

Main Objective: Sort a shuffled deck of cards into their 4 suits and into numerical order.

Why We Love It: Whether you’ve played Solitaire on your phone, computer, or with a trusty deck of cards, it’s a tremendous yet difficult way to kill some time. Nothing can beat the feeling of satisfaction when you first manage to complete it too. 

Playing Solitaire – What You’ll Need.

For the best games of Solitaire, it’s best to use a good, sturdy deck of cards.

If you play games such as Kemps or Tonks, then simply use the same deck of cards you would use for either of these games.

A deck like this waterproof one from Bicycle fits the bill nicely. It’s robust enough to withstand general wear and tear and any conditions that you may throw at it.

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Also, make sure you’re playing in a large space, as Solitaire requires plenty of room for you to lay out all of the cards within the deck.

If you prefer something a little more electronic to play Solitaire with, then take a look at a handheld version of Solitaire instead, however. Alternatively, these days you can also find many great places to play Solitaire online.

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Related Kemps Card Game | Tonk Rules | Spider Solitaire Rules | Tri Peaks Solitaire Rules

How To Set Up Solitaire

You’ll need to do a bit of set-up before you start playing Solitaire.

Like other card games, the first thing you’ll need to do is give the deck a good shuffle.

There are 4 piles that you’ll need to know about in Solitaire:

  • The Tableau
  • The Stock
  • The Talon;
  • The Foundations.

The Tableau is the main part of the game board where you will need to leave space for 7 rows of cards.

Starting from the first pile, this has 1 card, the second pile has 2 cards, and so on until you have 7 piles of cards.

Make sure that only the top card is face up and the rest are face down.

Gather the remaining cards and place them in a pile face down on the top left-hand corner of your game space to create the Stock.

Draw the top 3 cards of the Stock and place them next to the Stock, with the top card face up – this is the Talon.

Finally, in the top right-hand part of your game space, leave enough space so that you can have 4 piles of cards.

1 for each suit as this is where you’ll lay your Foundations.

Once you’ve completed this setup, it’s time to start playing the game.

Solitaire Rules

Players need to organize the cards into the correct suits, going in numerical order, starting from Ace all the way to King.

Starting the Game

Every game of Solitaire starts in the same way, with the player initially building their Tableau with the cards that are on top of each pile.

Any card that isn’t blocked by another card on the Tableau can get moved.

It’s worth noting that players can only place cards on top of another if they’re in a number sequence.

For example, players can move a 7 if there is an 8 on top of one of the other piles, and can move a 6 to the 7 and so on.

Cards must alternate in color, so black cards must lay on top of red cards and vice versa.

If a player moves a card and there is another card underneath face down, they can turn it over to reveal what it is.

Once the player has made all the possible moves on the Tableau, then they can turn their attention to the Stock and Talon, and the game can truly begin.

How to Play Solitaire

Players can use the Talon to add cards to the Tableau if there is a card that can be moved on top of another card already sitting on the Tableau.

If the player cannot use the top card in the Talon that is face-up, then another 3 cards will need to be drawn from the Stock.

The 3 cards that are being replaced get set aside for now.

Once a player has gone through the Stock and cannot make any new moves, then they can reshuffle the Stock and resume the game in the same way.

As soon as a player comes across one of the 4 Aces, they can move them into the top right-hand corner to lay the Foundations.

The goal is for players to lay the cards in the correct suit starting from Ace to King.

Once the next card of the suit can get placed on top of the Foundations, players can move them over.

While playing, players will occasionally create gaps in one of the 7 spaces on the Tableau.

Players can use these gaps to place a King and create a reverse of the Foundations to help them out throughout the game too.

Once a player manages to place all 4 suits in the correct order, they win at Solitaire.

However, if the player has exhausted all their moves and the Foundations are incomplete, the game is over with the player losing and must start again by reshuffling.

Scoring In Solitaire

As Solitaire is a solo game, there isn’t an official scoring system.

But you can track your progress by timing yourself during the game and seeing what your quickest time is.

Computerized versions of the game will also come with a final score which gets calculated on the time taken to complete and a number of moves taken to complete the game as well.

If you’re keen to play many rounds of Solitaire, try to work out your own scoring system with the time taken and the number of moves, you take too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any way to make Solitaire easier for beginners?

To make the game easier, it would be a good idea to reduce the number of cards drawn in the Talon to 1 rather than the standard 3.

Drawing these 1 at a time makes the game more forgiving if a wrong move gets made.

Can you move cards from pile to pile in the Solitaire rules?

You can move cards from one pile in the Treasury to another pile as long as the card on the bottom is the next number and the opposite color to the pile you’re attempting to add onto.

If there is a gap in one of the Treasury piles, it can only get filled with a King, however.

How many times can you go through the Stockpile in Solitaire?

Players can go through the Stock an unlimited number of times but can only draw them in piles of 3.

To make the game harder, get rid of the reshuffle the Stock rule if you run out of moves.

Alternative Games to Solitaire

Now you know the Solitaire rules, you should have all the information you’ll need to keep yourself entertained if you have a spare 10 minutes and a handy deck of cards.

If you’re looking for card games that require more than 1 player but still use just a deck of cards, stick around as we have guides to the Sheepshead rules, Sequence rules, Kings in the Corner rules, James Bond card game, Devil’s Grip card game and the Pitch card game rules.

Both of these games require players to form tricks based on sequences and sets, which make it similar to Solitaire, and the skills learned are transferable.

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