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Free Online Solitaire Games

Solitaire is one of the most well-known and most played computer games ever. Solitaire games (also referred to as patience games) are card games for one person, played with regular playing cards. Over 500 different solitaire variants exist, each having unique rules and using different fields. These fields can include the tableau where the majority of the gameplay happens, the foundation, the stock, the waste pile, the free cells, and the reserve.

The most well-known solitaire games are Klondike Solitaire, FreeCell, and Spider Solitaire. But the other solitaire variants are also fun to play and can be learned easily because they are all based on the same principles.

Table of contents

Fields

Each solitaire variant can differ in terms of rules but also in terms of layout. Layouts differ in terms of which fields they use and how many piles in each field they have. In total, there are 6 different fields: tableau, foundation, stock, waste, reserve, and cells.

Overview of fields in solitaire games

Game types

One way to classify solitaire games is by the degree to which the cards are visible at the start of the game. Solitaire games in which all cards are visible (face-up) are called open games. If a game has face-down cards, e.g. in the stock or tableau as in Klondike, it is called a closed game. In between is a hybrid group of half-open games.

Another way to classify solitaire games is by the type of gameplay. In most solitaire games, the objective is to move all cards to the foundation, arranging them in runs from Ace to King of the same suit. This process is known as building, and in theory all solitaire games that use this principle belong to the builder type of solitaire games. Often, cards are arranged in reverse order (from King to Ace) on the tableau first. This step in between is known as packing, so games using this process are called packers (while also being builders). An additional distinction is made between games with a reserve (reserved builders and reserved packers) or without (simple builders and simple packers). Games that don’t use building or packing are called non-builders.

These game types are illustrated by the following examples.

Closed games

Half-open games

Open games

Game families

Besides classifying solitaire games based on their type, they can also be divided into different families.

Adding & pairing solitaire games

Games in which cards are removed by pairing them. How cards can be paired differs between games, but often evolves around summing up to a certain amount (e.g. Pyramid, Fourteen Out) or finding pairs (Nestor). Despite not involving pairing, Golf Solitaire and Tri Peaks Solitaire also belong to this family.

Examples: Pyramid, Nestor, Fourteen Out, Golf, Tri Peaks

Canfield solitaire type games

Games that resemble Canfield, having a small number of tableau piles (typically four) and a single reserve pile with a lot of cards.

Examples: Canfield, Acme, American Toad, Duchess, Seven Devils

Fan solitaire type games

Games that have a large number of tableau piles with a low number of cards in each pile. The cards in the tableau piles are laid out in a fan, resulting in the name of these type of games.

Examples: La Belle Lucie, Black Hole Solitaire, Crescent Solitaire, Trefoil Solitaire

Forty Thieves type games

Games that share similarities with Forty Thieves solitaire. Forty Thieves is played with two decks and has simple rules. Because of its simple rules, many variations exist that belong to this family of games.

Examples: Forty Thieves, Thieves of Egypt, Emperor, Diplomat, Josephine

FreeCell solitaire type games

Games that share similarities with the very popular FreeCell game. Because it is an open solitaire game, winning a FreeCell game is all about skill and less about luck. Other games in the family of FreeCell games have variations in the way the tableau is built (e.g. Baker’s Game), the number of free cells (e.g. Eight Off), the number of tableau piles (e.g. Sea Towers), or the number of decks (e.g. Double FreeCell).

Examples: FreeCell, Baker’s Game, Eight Off, Seahaven Towers, Penguin Solitaire

Klondike solitaire type games

Games that are based on the classic and most well-known solitaire game: Klondike Solitaire. Games in this family often have a similar starting deal (one card in the first pile, two cards in the second pile, …). The variations might have different building rules, extra fields (e.g. a reserve), open instead of closed, cards dealt to each tableau pile instead of to the waste pile when turning the stock, and more.

Examples: Klondike, Double Klondike, Lady Jane, Agnes Bernauer, Flower Garden, Easthaven, Westcliff, Kingsley, King Albert

Spider solitaire type games

Games where sequences from Ace to King are not made on the foundations, where the objective is to make sequences from King to Ace in the tableau. Depending on the game, these completed sequences are removed from the tableau.

Examples: Spider, Scorpion, Simple Simon

Yukon solitaire type games

Games where any face-up card can be moved, irrespective of the cards above that are moved along as a group. In solitaire games of other families, only correctly ordered sequences can be moved.

Examples: Yukon, Russian, Australian Patience

Well-known solitaire games

Klondike Solitaire

Klondike Solitaire Setup

Klondike Solitaire is the classic solitaire game we all know. Despite all the existing variants, Klondike is still the most played solitaire game, balancing skill and luck.

FreeCell

FreeCell Solitaire Setup

FreeCell Solitaire is a well-known solitaire game that requires more skill than luck. 99.99% of deals can be won because all cards are face-up at the start.

Spider Solitaire

Spider Solitaire Setup

Spider Solitaire is a very challenging game that can take a long time to complete, but it is very rewarding when you win. The goal is to make 8 in-suit sequences from King to Ace in the tableau, which will be removed when completed.

Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid Solitaire Setup

The deal of Pyramid Solitaire is quite unique: 28 cards are dealt face-up in the shape of a pyramid, partly overlapping. The goal is to remove all these cards from the pyramid by pairing cards that add up to 13. Pyramid Solitaire is probably the most well-known game in the Adding & Pairing category.

Golf Solitaire

Golf Solitaire Setup

Golf Solitaire is played by removing cards from the tableau to the waste pile. Only cards that are one higher or lower in rank than the top card of the waste pile can be removed, irrespective of suit. The rules are very simple, making golf solitaire a very relaxing game to play.

Tri Peaks Solitaire

Tri Peaks Solitaire Setup

Tri Peaks Solitaire has similar gameplay as Golf Solitaire, but the tableau is laid out in the shape of three peaks. It is a short game with a relatively high change of winning.

Forty Thieves

Forty Thieves Solitaire Setup

Forty Thieves is a difficult game despite its simple rules. At the start, 40 cards are dealt face-up into 10 tableau piles. The remaining cards form the stock and can be turned over one at a time to the waste pile. The tableau is built down by suit. Only one card at a time can be moved. Empty spaces can be filled with any card. The foundations are built up in-suit, from Ace to King.

History of Solitaire

Solitaire games date back to the 18th century, with the first reference occurring in a German text (Das neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel, 1783). The first mentions of solitaire seem to indicate it was first practiced as a competitive card game, while now the single player games are most popular.

Despite many games being named after him (e.g. Napoleon at St Helena, Emperor, Napoleon’s Heart, …), Ross and Healey have shown that Napoleon did not play solitaire while he was exiled.

Because many books about patience games were published in Sweden in the first half of the 19th century, it is believed that Sweden is the ultimate origin of the game. In English society, solitaire gained popularity thanks to a book called Illustrated Games of Patience, written by Lady Adelaide Cadogan. The exact date when the first version was written is unknown, but the second version appeared in 1874 and this version is still sold today!

Windows Solitaire screenshot

In modern history, the addition of solitaire to the Windows operating system made solitaire gain broader popularity.

Playing tips

Each solitaire game is different, so it is difficult to give tips that apply across all games. However, we did our best to find some common best practices for playing any type of solitaire game.