Solitaire is the umbrella term for games meant to be played alone, generally with a deck of cards. A single-player card challenge – it’s a seemingly basic concept, but not everyone has an easy time playing this game.
Solitaire is so hard because it requires skills and strategizing to win. Not all games are winnable, as there is no guarantee that you can find the winning solution. However, learning and practicing good strategies can help you win a Solitaire game.
In this article, I will provide you with some tips to help you have an easier time completing the game. I will also discuss the probabilities of winning a Solitaire game.
Tips To Make Solitaire Easier
Solitaire is played with the standard 52-card deck. The player’s job is to create a board of cards and attempt to sort them into four piles according to their card suit. The arrangement of the board, or tableau, will depend on the variant of Solitaire chosen.
Although different types of Solitaire exist, you will realize that the most critical factor in winning is the prioritization of revealing downcards, which will increase your odds of beating the game.
1. Always Play Aces and Twos Right Away
At the start of the game, pick out the Aces and Twos that you can see and sort them into the foundation pile. Begin by scoring the Aces first and then move on to the Twos.
You are freeing up your hand by first playing these two card types. However, be wary of scoring cards bigger than Twos during the first rounds, as you could risk losing a helpful card. Twos will never have another card on top of it on the tableau, unlike Threes and Fours.
2. Aim To Expose Larger Stacks First
Exposing as many cards as possible is the primary strategy in Solitaire that will help you win. First, aim for the larger stacks with the most face-down cards. The quicker you uncover hidden cards, the more efficiently you will be able to build your stacks.
When deciding whether to play or transfer cards, choose the option that allows you to expose more downcards. If you want to move cards between columns, only do so to reveal more cards or to smoothen out the columns.
3. Make Sure You Have a King Available Before Emptying a Spot
The King is the most important card you can play. Once you have freed a spot on the tableau, the only card with the power to occupy that vacancy is the King. The rule of thumb here is to only empty columns if you have a King readily available to take over.
Hold off on emptying columns too quickly to give yourself more options when you can eventually start a new stack. If you encounter multiple Kings, choose to use exposed Kings on the tableau rather than the waste deck.
4. Be Aware of the Color Order When You Fill a Space
This follows from the previous tip: be mindful of the color and suit of the King you are using to build a new stack. The type of King you play will affect the color order of your placements moving forward.
Additionally, aim to distribute your cards evenly across the tableau instead of focusing on compiling large stacks. For example, if you have a black King starting one pile, another pile can begin with a red King so that you can play the colors evenly as you go along.
Also, try to play same-suit cards (e.g., hearts and clubs, diamonds and spades) in one pile to have an easier time flipping through a column. This way, you will make downcard Aces that are trapped more accessible.
5. Know When to Play a Five, Six, Seven, or Eight
Five, Six, Seven, and Eight are known as the “middling” cards, as they form the middle section of a complete column. Compared to lower and higher cards toward the ends of the column, middling cards can get stuck. If you play them too hastily, you risk stalling the game.
You should only play or transfer a middling card in these scenarios:
- If it will align smoothly with its next highest even/odd partner in a column.
- If playing or moving a middling card will instantly reveal a downcard.
- If it will be the first card you play or move to a column.
- If there is no other choice available for you to play.
If you play Fives, Sixes, Sevens, and Eights outside of these instances, you can risk extending the game time beyond what you initially expected.
Is Every Game of Solitaire Winnable?
Not every game of solitaire is winnable as luck comes into play during this game. The consensus is that players can complete an average of 80% of all Solitaire games, so don’t be discouraged if you lose the first time.
After just a day of playing and studying you can be good enough to win around 50% of standard Solitaire (Klondike) games.
To make the game winnable, you will need to optimize your strategy to find the path that can lead you to victory. However, the chances of finding that winning path go down with each wrong move, so it is best to practice and learn good strategies.
In the table below, I have compiled a shortlist of the most popular variants of Solitaire and their respective odds of winning.
|Type of Solitaire Game||Probability of Winning|
|Spider||1 in every 3 games (33.3%)|
|Pyramid||1 in every 50 games|
Solitaire is a challenging game for those who do not know how to approach the game with the right skillset. If you practice often enough, you will be able to improve your strategy to tackle the game’s challenges efficiently.
The top tip to remember for Solitaire is always to try to reveal down cards whenever possible. Remember that it is alright to lose a game or two – not every Solitaire session is winnable. The most important thing is to have fun and keep playing.