Best practices across all solitaire games
Each solitaire game is different, so it is difficult to give general tips that apply across all games. However, we did our best to find some common best practices for playing any type of solitaire game.
1. Think ahead
Always think a few steps ahead before you make a move, especially in open games such as FreeCell.
2. Don't make a move just because you can
Never move a card just because you can. It always has to be part of a tactic, e.g. to reveal more cards. If there is no reason to move a card, don’t do it yet and a much better option might become available.
3. Increase your options
When you encounter a situation in which you can make two moves, choose the move that will increase your options for further play. One example is when there are two cards of similar rank available to play, pick the one that will result in uncovering the most cards or gets you closer to clearing a column.
4. Watch out for Kings and Aces
Most solitaire games don't allow players to move a King on top of another card, so always keep this in mind. Similarly, for Aces it is almost never allowed to put a card on top of an Ace, so once you have an Ace as the top card in a pile, you cannot use that pile anymore.
5. Play Aces and Twos immediately
In almost all circumstances Aces and Twos will not help you move or reveal hidden cards. As such these are better to be placed into the foundation piles the moment you can do so.
6. Use the undo button
Most games feature an undo button, so don't hesitate to use it to your benefit.
7. Familiarise yourself with the rules
Understanding and becoming familiar with the rules of the solitaire game you're playing is key to mastering it. This helps you make calculated steps quickly and accurately, and with practice allows you to master the game.
8. Switch up your strategy
Most players often develop their own strategy for different games with practice. However, if you're struggling with one strategy, don't be afraid to change it up and consider exploring other techniques.
9. Remember, not all solitaire deals are solvable
Though the games are designed to be winnable, there can be deals that simply cannot be solved. Do not be discouraged if you find yourself in this scenario; understand the situation and continue challenging yourself with a new deal.
In addition to the general pointers mentioned above, here are some tips for specific games.
Tips for Klondike Solitaire
- Although banking cards into the foundation pile is the ultimate key to winning the game, it may be more beneficial to use them in layouts to take out more cards from the dealing deck. This is particularly true for cards ranked three or higher - these are often needed later on in the game.
- Watch out for aces - move these immediately when they become available for a chance to free up another useful card.
- Twos are another card that can always be moved straight into the foundation pile, as they won’t be used much in the layouts.
Tips for FreeCell
- Prioritise cards with lower rankings - at the beginning of the game, prioritise finding and freeing up the lower ranking cards. This lets you start the foundation piles, banking away more cards and opening up the field for when the game gradually becomes harder.
- Use your valuable free cells wisely! Try to hold out on using your free cells for as long as possible.
- Watch as some cards may be more useful in the tableau than banked in the foundation. This is particularly true for middle-ranking cards, as these are crucial to moving cards around.
- Empty tableau piles - emptying at least one tableau pile will give you a massive advantage, as this allows you to move a whole sequence of cards.
- If you don’t have a sequence of cards to move to an empty tableau pile, try to build one with the highest-ranking card you have access to (best with a King or Queen).
Tips for Spider Solitaire
- Begin building with the highest-ranking card available to maximise the number of moves you can make.
- Try to build sequences within suits. This will let you move cards around more freely later in the game. You should check cards are grouped into their suits as much as possible before dealing a new round of cards. This helps minimise the chances of cards becoming stuck behind the newly dealt cards.
- This may seem obvious, but try to move cards from smaller piles. Doing so diminishes the pile quicker, giving you an empty column to help you move your cards around. This would also help you achieve the aforementioned tip of keeping cards grouped in their suits.
- More empty columns! The more empty columns you have the easier it is to clean up your existing sequences - back to the most game-winning tip of keeping suits grouped together. It is also ideal to keep empty columns empty for as long as possible.
- Kings can be your downfall! Once a King is moved it will not be moved again until a full sequence is formed and will take up precious column space. The player must therefore be very certain that this is an advantageous move before making it. The best approach is to try to put off moving Kings until all cards have been dealt.