Solitaire is one of the most pleasurable pastimes for one person. Often called, "Patience," more than 150 Solitaire games have been devised.

How to play: Solitaire

Many Solitaire games can be played on areas smaller than a card table. Others require a larger playing area, and these games are often played on the floor or on a bedspread. Alternatively, in order to play with large layouts on a card table, miniature playing cards are available. These are usually half the size of standard playing cards.

The Pack

Virtually all Solitaire games are played with one or more standard 52-card packs. Standard Solitaire uses one 52-card pack.

Object of the Game

The first objective is to release and play into position certain cards to build up each foundation, in sequence and in suit, from the ace through the king. The ultimate objective is to build the whole pack onto the foundations, and if that can be done, the Solitaire game is won.

Rank of Cards

The rank of cards in Solitaire games is: K (high), Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (low).

The Deal

There are four different types of piles in Solitaire:

  1. The Tableau: Seven piles that make up the main table.
  2. The Foundations: Four piles on which a whole suit or sequence must be built up. In most Solitaire games, the four aces are the bottom card or base of the foundations. The foundation piles are hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs.
  3. The Stock (or “Hand”) Pile: If the entire pack is not laid out in a tableau at the beginning of a game, the remaining cards form the stock pile from which additional cards are brought into play according to the rules.
  4. The Talon (or “Waste”) Pile: Cards from the stock pile that have no place in the tableau or on foundations are laid face up in the waste pile.

To form the tableau, seven piles need to be created. Starting from left to right, place the first card face up to make the first pile, deal one card face down for the next six piles. Starting again from left to right, place one card face up on the second pile and deal one card face down on piles three through seven. Starting again from left to right, place one card face up on the third pile and deal one card face down on piles four through seven. Continue this pattern until pile seven has one card facing up on top of a pile of six cards facing down.

The remaining cards form the stock (or “hand”) pile and are placed above the tableau.

When starting out, the foundations and waste pile do not have any cards.

The Play

The initial array may be changed by "building" - transferring cards among the face-up cards in the tableau. Certain cards of the tableau can be played at once, while others may not be played until certain blocking cards are removed. For example, of the seven cards facing up in the tableau, if one is a nine and another is a ten, you may transfer the nine to on top of the ten to begin building that pile in sequence. Since you have moved the nine from one of the seven piles, you have now unblocked a face down card; this card can be turned over and now is in play.

As you transfer cards in the tableau and begin building sequences, if you uncover an ace, the ace should be placed in one of the foundation piles. The foundations get built by suit and in sequence from ace to king.

Continue to transfer cards on top of each other in the tableau in sequence. If you can’t move any more face up cards, you can utilize the stock pile by flipping over the first card. This card can be played in the foundations or tableau. If you cannot play the card in the tableau or the foundations piles, move the card to the waste pile and turn over another card in the stock pile.

If a vacancy in the tableau is created by the removal of cards elsewhere it is called a “space”, and it is of major importance in manipulating the tableau. If a space is created, it can only be filled in with a king. Filling a space with a king could potentially unblock one of the face down cards in another pile in the tableau.

Continue to transfer cards in the tableau and bring cards into play from the stock pile until all the cards are built in suit sequences in the foundation piles to win!

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  • What is the proper order of suits from left to right by foundations?

    • The Bicycle Team
      July 28, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Our rules do not specify that the foundation requires suits to be placed in any particular order, but feel free adjust for your personal preferences!

      Thanks, The Bicycle Team

  • What type solitare does windows xp have?

  • On the tableau, is it not correct to build them in opposite color? ie red, black, red, black until you can place one in the foundation pile(s)?

  • I just would like to say. I was taught playing. The pile of cards you flip over. You turn over the 3rd card. So every 3rd card is the card you flip over and go thru your pile as normal with cards as needed. And when you get to the end. You flip the pile of cards over and just start again every 3rd card you flip over. I’m not sure if that’s another way of playing the game** Amber.

  • When transferring cards, can you move more than 1 card ? (a series of cards over to another on the table). Example: in one of the seven piles you have a series of cards face up 8, 7, 6, 5; can you transfer them over to a 9 face up.

  • CommanderBiffle Bifflite
    November 28, 2016 at 1:04 am

    If I go through the stocks, am I allowed to shuffle the discards and put them back in the stock pile?

  • Ekaterina Kholodova
    November 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    As for me – I play chess with my daughter, 13, and she is so good that she always wins))) nice girrrrrl…))))! playing cards is my and husband’s prerogative) by the way did you know one man has kept Apple’s answer to Solitaire alive for 30 years??

  • Can you move cards from the foundation pile back to the tableau?

    • I just had a game where I had played all the cards in the supply pile and had created three foundation piles (spades, hearts, and clubs) with four kings in the tableau with one diamond covering the last “down” card, which was the last ace (diamonds). The only play I had was to move cards from the foundation pile onto the tableau until I could move the 2 of diamonds that was covering the ace of diamonds so I could turn it up and win the game. Otherwise, there would have been a “stalemate” in solitaire and I don’t believe that’s allowed.

  • Can you move cards from the foundation back to the tableau ?

  • May I move the one top card only from one tableau pile to another tableau pile in order to free the card under ?

  • Do you have to flip three cards?

  • Stanley Sebastian
    July 14, 2016 at 2:40 am

    What happens when I have a king through 2 in the tableau

  • What do you do if (when) you run out of cards in your stock pile?

  • So, I’ve often seen solitaire played so that the Tableau has an alternaiting Black to red to Black color co-oridiation. Is this how it is played or no?

    • The Bicycle Team
      June 7, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Simon,

      There are several different variations on how to play solitaire – that is one version of how to play. The traditional way isn’t played that way.

      – The Bicycle Team

  • In some games, you can’t win no matter what.

  • May I every move cards from the tableau to the stock pile?

    • The Bicycle Team
      April 26, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Hi Andrea,

      No, you shouldn’t move cards from the tableau to the stock pile. The stock pile should be used to add cards to the tableau to build the sequences and build up the foundation piles.

  • I see you reference moving a card from the stock pile to either tableau or foundation, but at what point may you move cards from the tableau to a foundation pile? For example, if I have an Ace of hearts face up on tableau, and a 2 of hearts up, can I move that 2 to the A once it starts the foundation pile for hearts?

    • The Bicycle Team
      April 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Derrick,

      As soon as you turn over a card in the tableau, you can move it to the foundation piles. The foundation piles start with the Aces. So you would move the Ace of hearts to the foundation pile and then you can also move the 2 of hearts to the foundation pile. You continue to build, three of hearts, four of hearts, five of hearts, etc.

      – The Bicycle Team

  • While playing Canfield I learned a thing called shifting, and I want to know how acceptable it is. If you cannot play but still have stock, shifting is putting the top stock card on the bottom before going through the stock again, (in sets of 3 as in Canfield).

    • The Bicycle Team
      March 22, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Shifting is not part of the official rules, but we have heard of this variation before. There are many games that develop house rules or family rules and games get many variations on exactly how they are played. Try it out! Does it benefit you more or make it any easier?

      – The Bicycle Team

  • In the rules, I do not see if you play one card at a time or pick up 3 cards at a time. What is the official way and what are the benefits of each?

    • Hi Zelda,

      There are many different ways to play solitaire. There is a version called Klondike that flips only one card from the stock pile and only goes through the stock once and then the game is over. Klondike is probably the most widely known solitaire game and it is sometimes called Canfield, however, Canfield is a completely different version. The Canfield version flips three cards and you can go through the stock as many times as you want. Some other solitaire games are pounce, accordion, and spider solitaire. It all depends how quickly you want to go through the game and the level of difficult you prefer.

      – The Bicycle Team

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