How to win at Solitaire

A strategy to ace the game


This guide will help you:

Knowledge of the rules and lexicon of Solitaire is assumed.

The strategy presented here is relatively simple. It does not require to “count cards”, i.e. keep track of which cards were seen in the stock (it’s stateless, a computer programmer would say.) It also doesn’t require to make guesses on where (on which pile) such or such face-down card must be located. As such, this strategy is also not optimal; it cannot win all the deals that are theorically finishable. But it’s nevertheless quite good!

On average, it takes and 120 moves to finish a game (i.e. move all of the 52 playing cards to the foundation piles.)

What to do in priority

The key for effective play is to systematically, mechanically pick the best move to make amongst all the possible moves in a given situation. Here is the ranking of moves, ordered from most preferable to least preferable:

Move a card to a foundation if that doesn’t make that foundation overly filled

This can be moving the accessible card from the waste pile, or moving a tableau card. If there are several possibilities, pick any of them to begin with; the order does not matter.

What matters here is to build the foundation piles evenly (±1 card). Otherwise you may deprive yourself of crucial possibilities later on. Note that moving a Deuce (2), or an Ace of course, to a foundation is always OK.

Reveal a face-down tableau card

  1. Revealing by moving some card(s) between two tableau piles is the best option.

    Prioritize moving from the tableau pile with the most hidden (face-down) cards.

  2. Revealing by moving a tableau card to a foundation comes next.

    That means making that foundation overly filled (otherwise you would already have moved the card in 1.) But it’s now worth it.

Make room for a King (free a tableau pile)

See if you can free a tableau pile so that you can put a King there.

  1. First, if you can, by moving some card(s) between two tableau piles.

    Do this only if there actually is a King to be put on the freed pile. Otherwise you are just wasting a move!

  2. As second choice, by moving a tableau card to a foundation

    Note that like in 2.2, this means making that foundation overly filled.

Move the accessible card of the waste pile

This makes the game progress. Moreover, in “turn three” mode, such a move may “unlock” access to the other cards of the waste pile.

  1. Again, first consider moving the card to a tableau pile.

  2. If you can’t, move it to a foundation.

Draw or rewind

Drawing a card (or 3 or less cards, in “turn three” mode) from the stock, or “rewinding” the stock if it’s empty (moving back all the cards from the waste to the stock) shall be done now.

Unless you would be endlessly looping through the stock, of course! If you already went once through all the cards in the stock, consider the last option:

Move any tableau card to a foundation

This is the last resort. This can be either:

  1. Moving a tableau card which is directly accessible.

    This makes a foundation overly filled, and this does not reveal any tableau card, and it does not make room for a King. Still better than getting stuck!

  2. Preliminary moving some card(s) between tableau piles to make accessible such a card.

    It may be tricky to see if such a manipulation exist.