Skip to main content

How To Play Solitaire

When you need a little "me" time, try the solo card game Solitaire. Here's how to play the most common version, Klondike.


  • Step 1: Take out the jokers and shuffle the deck. Then, create seven piles of cards in front of you, called a tableau. To make the first, dealing from left to right, deal the first card faceup, and place six more cards in a row to the right of it, all facedown.
  • Step 2: Place a card faceup on top of the second card from the left. Then place five cards, facedown, on the remaining row of cards to the right.
  • Step 3: Continue this process – placing one card faceup on the third pile with the next four cards facedown to the right of it, until the seventh pile has one card faceup on top of six cards facedown. The pile furthest to the left will consist of one card, the one to the right of it, of two cards, then three, four, five, six, and seven. You've dealt a total of 28 cards to the tableau. Set the rest aside.
  • TIP: Don't have a deck of cards? Find a Solitaire application on any computer that runs Windows, or play online.
  • Step 4: You win Klondike by building four piles, one for each suit, in a row above the tableau, starting with the ace and continuing in ascending order: ace, 2, 3, and so on.
  • Step 5: Now that you've set up the tableau, start playing. The faceup cards on the tableau are "free," meaning you can move them around in the tableau or to the row above the tableau. In the tableau, place red cards on top of black cards of one value higher, and vice-versa.
  • Step 6: Every time you move a free card, flip over the facedown card that was under it for a new free card.
  • Step 7: If you free an ace, place it in the row above the tableau. Start building on top of the four piles in that row as you free low cards of the same suit.
  • Step 8: Create columns in the tableau. For example, if your free cards include a red jack, a black 10, a red 9, and a black 8, stack all of them on the jack, in descending order. Suits don't matter – just the color. After that, if you happen to turn a black queen faceup, move the whole column, jack through 8, onto the queen.
  • Step 9: If you move the last free card from a pile, move a king from another pile into that free space so you maintain seven rows in the tableau. Moving kings to empty rows prevents them from getting stuck on top of a pile, so you can free the cards below them.
  • Step 10: When you have no more moves in the tableau, pick up the remaining cards – called the "stock"– and turn them over one by one, playing them when possible. If you can't play them, they go in the discard pile. Any faceup card at the top of the discard pile may be put into play.
  • TIP: According to some rules, the discard pile is placed facedown, and you can only redeal it three times before the game is over. You can also just continue to redeal the discard pile until you win.
  • Step 11: You win by using all of the cards from the stock and the tableau and placing them in suited piles in the four rows above the tableau. When you have four kings in a row and an empty tableau and stock pile, you've won!
  • FACT: The game of solitaire is mentioned in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Popular Categories