Skip to Content

How to Play Solitaire (Rules & Objective): 18 Things You Need to Know

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Despite being introduced as a simple learning tool for people to learn how to use a PC mouse, this relatively easy to play single-player card game became one of the most popular and recognizable card games in history. Its wild success and unmatched popularity were a shock for even the developers who made it available online. 

The goal to achieve in Solitaire is to move cards around after arranging them in a particular order over a tableau. Each card has a face value and is associated with one of four suits. 

The object of the game is to make complete sets of each suit, starting with a King (highest denomination cards) and ending with an Ace (lowest denomination card). The way you choose to move cards or arrange them depends upon the variant of Solitaire you’re playing. 

In this article, we’ll touch upon the different rules of Solitaire. Rules that you must know before you decide to try the game for the first time, or if you have just gotten into playing it again and require some quick brushing up of the rules. 

Knowing the rules and comprehending quickly is going to be the first step (of many) to get you to that juicy first Solitaire win! 

Terminology You Must Know:

Before we dive into the rules, let’s look at some of the terminologies that you will have to get accustomed to in order to get a better grasp of the rules and what they entail.

1. Tableau

This is considered the main playing area consisting of seven-card piles, a stockpile, and 4 foundation piles. 

2. Foundations 

A foundation consists of 4 piles, one for each of the 4 different suits. In any card deck, they are four suits; two black and two red – namely spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts.

3. Stockpile

A stock or “reserve” is known as the set of cards that are yet to be flipped over in order to unveil their value.

4. Waste Pile

The waste pile is the part of the stock containing cards that players cannot use, as it results in an illegal move. 

The Easiest Way To Explain Solitaire

If you ever ask a professional to tell you the basics of Solitaire, they’ll all have the same tip. Move the cards from their starting position to the foundation piles consistently, and you win. But to do that, you need to learn the rules of the game so let’s get to it. 

Basic Rules Of Solitaire

1. Descending Order

The first rule of Solitaire is moving your cards from one pile to another in descending order. For example, moving a Jack on top of a Queen, or an 8 on top of a 9.

2. Alternating Colors

This rule is tough to follow and gets frustrating. You can only stack your piles with cards in alternate colors. This means that you can’t place a red Queen on top of a red King. A black queen is required.

3. Freeing A Card

The face-down cards of a pile will free up as you move the revealed card of the pile to another pile. This will allow you to make more moves and give you more options.

4. Ascending Order In Foundations

When filling the foundation, make sure the ascending order is appropriate to the suit. For example, you can only place a 3 of diamonds on top of a 4 of diamonds, followed by a 5 of diamonds, and so forth. Moving cards over to the foundation should only be then if you are running out of moves or need to unstick a card. 

5. Vacancy

To form an empty tableau, an empty space is created when a complete row is moved to other positions. You will require a King to fill that empty spot and start another set. 

6. No Early Sentencing

You can’t use your get out of jail free card, a.k.a your stockpile cards, if you still have moves on the table. In most cases, only move a stock card when you have no more moves left on the tableau. 

7. Making Use Of Stockpile Fairly

Oftentimes, players ignore their moves and start getting stock cards that eventually turn out to be of no help and are moved to the waste pile. This continuous cycle eventually ends up in a loss as the moves get more and more limited. 

8. A Second Chance

If all stock cards are used and moved to the waste pile, the player can go through them again. 

9. The Rule Of Three

In a position where you need to shuffle through the waste pile to get the card you need, remember that you can only turn three cards at a time to the waste pile. After the third card is flipped over, that card has to be played or moved to access the waste pile again. 

10. Face-up cards

As face-up cards are the cards visible to you as the name suggests, they can be moved in an incomplete as well as a complete stack to the foundation. That is, if you follow the rule of the descending order and start filling up the foundation from Ace, 2, 3, and so forth.  

11. No More Breakthroughs

If you have moved all your cards to the foundation piles from the tableau while also having made use of the stock, and still haven’t won, you can’t make any legal moves and ultimately have to restart the game. 

12. Placing The Aces

If you see an ace card, don’t use them for the tableau, as they should be used to make foundations. Foundation piles likewise go up in order; for example, you’ll start with an Ace and end with a King. 

Different piles will start with aces of different suits; for example, if one pile has an ace of spades, the other piles would start with an ace of clubs, hearts, or diamonds. 

13. Hidden Cards

Hidden cards can’t be uncovered without moving the face-up card lying on top of it. Make sure when you have the option to uncover and flip a hidden card, it is at the right time. Don’t move stacks or piles until absolutely necessary.  

14. Filling Empty Spaces

Whenever you see an empty space, know that it can be filled with a King and only a King. If you have a revealed face-up King on the tableau, make sure it takes over the free space as quickly as possible. 

Winning Solitaire (Things You Must Know)

You might not play Solitaire as much as your colleagues or friends, but winning or being good at it is still highly rewarding. Why not maximize your fun the next time you play Solitaire and learn some basic strategies first? 

One thing all of us need to remember is that not every Solitaire game is winnable. An element of the game has to do with luck. The key thing here is to have what the British name for Solitaire suggests: ‘Patience’. Applying strategies can make Solitaire games up to 80% winnable, so why not check out 4 of them below! 

  • Move Aces to the foundations straightaway. These cards won’t assist you with clearing a tableau and will likewise just set you back. Hence, dispose of them as quickly as possible to make more move options available.
  • Try not to rush to make an unfilled space. While you need to clear lines and open space, guarantee that you have a King to put it on the free space first. Note that no one but Kings can occupy the vacant spaces of a square, so on the off chance that you don’t have one, just have patience and wait for the King to present itself to you, maybe even from the stockpile! 
  • Think prior to setting a King in a vacant space. You need to put one that will assist you with uncovering more cards in the least moves. Cautiously analyze your play based on the remaining cards you have in play.
  • Prioritize moving cards from piles that have the most face-down or hidden cards. This will not only fasten up the pace of your game but will give you a better chance of clearing piles. 

All in All

Solitaire is incredibly beneficial to the body and mind. Being a single-player game that is accessible almost all over the world on every kind of device, it is great for passing time while also increasing your focus, patience, and other mental skills

Understanding the rules, strategies, and other intricacies of the game will no doubt make you a better player. However, what is important is having fun, something that Solitaire has heaps of!

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.