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Most card games require more than one person to play, which is part of what has made solitaire so popular: it’s a game meant to be played on your own. While you may tend to think of Solitaire as a simple game of luck, there’s a lot of strategy involved and some deals can be harder than others.

We’re going to look at everything you need to know to get started playing solitaire online, so let’s dive into it.

What Is Solitaire?

Solitaire is a fairly broad term which can be applied to a variety of tabletop games you can play by yourself. For our purposes, we are talking about forms of solitaire that are played with a traditional deck of 52 cards. There are many variations of these card games, but the most common and popular, indeed the one you are likely most familiar with, is known as Klondike solitaire. 

We will be talking broadly about Klondike solitaire today, though much of the same advice applies to many other forms of the game. The aim of most forms of solitaire is the same: build up complete foundations by suit. 

Let’s start with the history of this fascinating game. 

History of Solitaire

Solitaire is also, and was originally, known as patience. The game was first recorded as patience, long before it was ever referred to as solitaire. Even today, many solitaire enthusiasts prefer the name patience as it is more specific to the kinds of card games we are talking about. Lots of tabletop games can be called solitaire, whereas patience is exclusively card games.

The precise origins of solitaire, or patience, are not clear. The earliest written references we have to these types of games come down to us from the late 18th century in Scandinavia and Northern Europe more generally. In 1788, a German book was published which contained the term Patiencespiel, a card game of essentially the same nature as modern solitaire.

Playing cards as we know them today first appeared in Europe in the 1370s, and were first reported in Italy and Spain. Here, though, they were imported from the Islamic world, where they were painstakingly hand-painted, making them a serious luxury item. It seems fair to assume that solitaire, or some form of it, emerged some time before the 1700s when it was first recorded in the intervening 400 years when such playing cards were available.

Throughout the 19th century, the game became much more broadly popular, and rulebooks were published in English, Swedish, Russian, French, and many other languages. The first major rule book in the U.S. was published in 1870. It took off particularly in the States, where it was quickly turned into a gambling game which at the time was known as Canfield.

Though we don’t know for sure, the game is believed to have originated in Germany or Scandinavia. The game may have arisen out of the tradition of cartomancy, or divination through decks of cards. The layouts for this practice were developed and codified shortly before our earliest references to the rules of solitaire. So, it may be that forms of patience existed in the late medieval period, but that the rules were not properly codified until the end of the 18th сentury.

Interesting Facts about Solitaire

  • There are five primary versions of solitaire: Klondike, Spider, Pyramid, Freecell, and TriPeaks. 
  • The modern popularity of solitaire can be attributed in large part to its inclusion in Windows operating systems in the 1990s. An intern, named Wes Cherry, was the person who developed the game for Windows 3.0.
  • Tournaments for professional solitaire players exist and are livelier than ever now. As much as $100,000 can be up for grabs in these competitions.
  • Klondike solitaire gives you around an 80% chance of winning. Other, more difficult forms, like Canfield solitaire or demon patience, only give you around a 1 in 30 chance of winning.

Objective of Solitaire

The objective of solitaire is simple. As mentioned, you have four foundation piles at the top of your spread. You need to build up each of these foundations by suit, starting with aces. The objective of Klondike solitaire is to free up all cards in the stock pile and the face down cards in the tableaus.

Like most card games, there are elements of both luck and strategy. You’ll need to think carefully to win, but at the same time when it comes to Klondike solitaire, luck should be on your side. Most of the time, when you find yourself in the position that you can’t win, it’s because of a wrong move you took, rather than the deal itself being unwinnable. 

Let’s take it step by step and look at how to play solitaire, then. 

How to Play Solitaire 

  • Step 1: The first thing you want to do in a game of Solitaire is take a careful look at your starting spread. Don’t start dealing from the stock pile right away. See what can be moved around in the tableaus early on, and if you can reveal any face down cards in the tableaus first. The more cards you can reveal in the tableau earlier, the better your chances of winning.
  • Step 2: Put any aces into the foundations. Getting aces available for play at the very start of the game is a great advantage, but don’t worry if there aren’t any.
  • Step 3: Try to build up tableaus evenly. Don’t build up one huge tableau sequence while leaving the others untouched. This will leave you with a good chance of getting cards stuck, and making your deal unwinnable. Again, most of the time you get stuck in a game like Klondike is because of a misstep you made, rather than simple luck of the draw.
  • Step 4: Once you’ve made all the moves you can with your starting tableau, you can now turn your attention to the stock pile. In this, the most common form of solitaire, called Klondike turn one, you will draw one card at a time from the reserve pile. Be really careful with how you place cards from the stock pile. Once you’ve placed it in the tableau, it can’t go back in the stock pile.
  • Step 5: Continue building up your tableaus. Any time a card can go in the foundation, place it there. Whenever you have an empty tableau pile, you want to stock it with a king if you can. This gives you the most options for freeing up cards elsewhere. Ideally, you should leave it empty until you find a king to go in it. 
  • Step 6: Continue revealing face down cards in the tableau and eventually you should have access to all the cards you need to build up all four foundations. Once you’ve gotten every card of each suit into the foundations, you’ve won!

Now, let’s look at our best tips for winning Klondike solitaire.

How to Win Solitaire

As mentioned, the most important general thing to remember about solitaire is that, while it can seem like a game of pure luck, there’s actually a good deal of strategy involved. As mentioned, around 80% of all solitaire deals in Klondike are winnable, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a single serious mistake that might derail your whole chance of winning the game. 

The way you win at solitaire is by getting all cards, by suit and in sequence, in the foundation piles. There are a number of things you need to do in order to achieve this. Again, remember to build up tableau piles evenly, so that you give yourself the best chance of getting all cards revealed. 

At the same time, you do want to target the large tableau stacks first. Try to reveal the face down cards in the bigger stacks first, as you will find it harder and harder to do so as the game goes on. The number one reason you’re going to get stuck in a game of Klondike solitaire is because you’re unable to get access to the face down cards in the tableaus. 

Think carefully about every step you take. Often, you can become stuck because of a single move. Don’t think of it as a game of luck – think of it as one of pure strategy. Obviously, there is a great deal of luck involved, but this mentality will help you win. 

If you can, avoid emptying any spots if you don’t have an available king. Think about color when you’re filling spaces. If there’s an empty spot and you have both a red and a black king, think about the whole sequence of the stack and stack carefully to ensure you won’t get stuck later on. 

Think about what cards you’ve got available. There will often be times when more than one card could go in a particular place, so to decide which is best to place there you should think about other cards you have available in the stock pile or elsewhere in the tableaus. 

If you follow these main strategies, the vast majority of deals will be easily winnable. Let’s turn now to some of the most common questions players have about solitaire. 


Solitaire is simple in nature but there are still many questions that both new and veteran players can have about the game. Let’s now address some of these most commonly asked questions. 

How do I play solitaire? 

There are many different ways you can play solitaire. You can play online or with a deck of cards. If you want to play with a deck of physical cards, then you’ll need to learn how to arrange the game. For classic, Klondike solitaire, it will look like this: seven tableau piles, descending from seven to one card from right to left, with only the top card in each column available for play. You then have four foundation piles at the top, empty to start with, and your stock and reserve pile in the top left corner. 

Playing online can be the better way of getting to grips with the rules early on. Where, then, can you play the game online? 

Where can I play solitaire online? 

There are many, many places where you can play solitaire online. In order to find somewhere to play, you can simply type the name of the game into your preferred search engine and many results will come up. You can specify Klondike turn one solitaire, but this is likely the game that will appear if you simply search for solitaire. Playing online is a great way to learn the rules and what you can and can’t do. 

Are there different versions of solitaire? 

There are many versions of solitaire. As mentioned, the game falls into five main categories: Spider, Pyramid, Klondike, Freecell, and TriPeaks. Within each of these groups, there are many subcategories of each type of game. For example, there are variations on Klondike solitaire, such as turn one and turn three. In Klondike solitaire turn three, you turn over three cards from the stock pile at a time, rather than just one.

There are also many versions of the game which are considered to be more challenging. FreeCell is perhaps the most popular of these. Here you have no stock pile, all cards are dealt into the tableaus, and you have four free cells into which you can always move any top card. 

Chinese solitaire deals almost all cards into the tableaus at the start and you can only draw from the stock pile a single time. Dragon solitaire is a variation of this in which you can only build up tableaus in the same suit. 

Some forms of solitaire are even played with multiple decks of cards. Double Klondike, for example, uses two decks so you have to build up eight foundations rather than just four. There are double variations of most forms of solitaire. 

Solitaire comes in many forms, and it’s all the more exciting to explore all of them.

Is solitaire just a game for older people? 

Solitaire is not and has never been just a game for older people. It’s a classic card game that people of all ages and generations have enjoyed for untold centuries. While some forms of solitaire may be a bit difficult for younger children, games like classic Klondike solitaire are really simple and easy to pick up. Solitaire is a really fun game to play for its own sake, or just to pass the time, no matter how old you are!