The game of Solitaire is a card game that a single person plays alone with a full deck. Some versions in Europe allow multiple players to compete in a head-to-head arrangement, with the winner having the highest score.

It can be known for many names in varying parts of the world, including:

  • Patience (Europe)
  • Success (France)
  • Kabal (Poland, Denmark, Norway)

Some believe that the origin of Solitaire began with Scandinavian or German roots. The first known mention of this card game in literary works was back in 1783 from a German Book of Games. In the early 19th century, it was gaining popularity in France.

It quickly spread to Britain and North America when it picked up the name Solitaire. There is credit for Lady Adelaide Cadogan back in 1870 with her illustrations of a game known as Patience.

Since then, it has morphed into 100’s of different variations of the game. Individuals around the world are playing it with traditional decks of cards, on their mobile devices, and online with computers.

How to Play Solitaire

There are over 1,000 different ways to play this popular card games when you include all the slight variations. The standard version of this game uses one full deck of 52 cards. Cards are ranked from highest to lowest and by suit. Aces are the lowest card, while kings are the highest.

Players need to move cards around to form sequential stacks in the correct suit. To win, a player must transfer all of the cards correctly into a foundation stack.

To start, players need to create the Tableau, which consists of seven separate piles of cards. The first card is shown face up as the starting stack on the far left. From there, the remaining six cards are face down in corresponding arranged piles.

The next card to place face up goes on the second stack, then follow the remainder five cards face down, one on each of the remainder stacks. Continue this sequence until the last stack on the far right, the seventh one, has six cards face down and one card face up.

In some versions of Solitaire, the four foundation stacks are placed in a row above the Tableau, while other versions have them in each of the four corners.

The leftover cards from the deck are the stock, or hand, pile. A player can transfer any stack cards from one to another to help build up the foundation stacks. Once a card is moved from a Tableau stack, the underlying facedown card can be turned over, to reveal its value.

These foundation stacks will need to follow the same suit and be in sequence. Gameplay can begin by flipping over the top card of the hand pile and placing it on the Tableau where its suit and value will fit. If it is not possible, this unused card gets transferred to a waste pile. At the start of the game, no cards are in the foundation pile.

Players must take an ace that they have revealed and place it on a foundation pile to begin that sequence. You can move any built sequences around the Tableau as required to create an empty space.

When spaces are open in the stack lines due to moving cards around, you can begin a new Tableau stack. This move must be done only with a king card, as it is the highest value and will start the beginning of a new sequence.

If a player uses every card and build up their foundation stacks without any left in the waste pile, they successfully win the game.

The Difference Between Solitaire and Spider Solitaire

Spider Solitaire is just one variety of this popular game that uses two full 52-card decks rather than one deck in the traditional version. There are some significant differences besides the number of cards used during play.

Instead of seven piles, Spider Solitaire uses ten piles of cards. Each stack has four or five cards facedown, with the top card facing up to reveal the value. The object is relatively the same as the traditional version, where players have to assemble stacks to finish the game.

In this version, the stacks need to be in ascending sequential order from the ace to the king. A sequence of face-up cards can be moved, or a grouping can be separated to move across stacks.

After there are no further moves available, the player must deal another row of ten cards face up on the Tableau. The game is complete once all suits are played. This alternative game does not require the colors or suits to match when arranging piles, unlike the traditional version that maintains the same color and suit for each stack.

Alternative versions of Spider Solitaire can increase or decrease the difficulty as a player requires.

What Types of Solitaire Card Games Are There?

There are hundreds of varieties of Solitaire card games around the world that are available to play. For an extensive list of Solitaire games, there are several online sources that describe over 300 different varieties.

While Solitaire started as a physical card game, it has evolved to a digital version that does not require the use of a large tablespace and cards. It is now available on a computer, smartphone, or other digital devices that support running an internet browser or download an app.

Even with such variety, there are five main types which are the most favorite and are played the most often, including:

  • Klondike
  • Spider
  • FreeCell
  • TriPeaks
  • Pyramid
  • Forty Thieves

Klondike

Klondike Solitaire is one of the best versions for beginner players. It is the Klondike version that individuals are referring to when often speaking of the game Solitaire. It uses one 52-card deck without the jokers and follows much of the same rules as other versions. Some Klondike Solitaire variations include:

  • Agnes
  • Aces Up
  • Nine Across
  • Thumb and Pouch
  • Whitehead
  • Westcliff
  • Las Vegas Solitaire
  • Joker Solitaire
  • Double Solitaire

Spider

Spider Solitaire is a popular two-deck Solitaire game. The spider name comes from the eight foundation piles that players use to complete the sequences to win the game. Much like regular Solitaire, these sequences need to be complete on the Tableau and then built onto the Foundation stacks.

With Spider versions, there are ten stacks on the Tableau with six cards in the first four stacks, five facedown, and the top card face up. The last six stacks have five cards in each, with four cards facedown and the top one face up.

The variations of Spider Solitaire include:

  • Spiderette (only one deck)
  • Spiderwort (using three decks)
  • Gigantic Spider (using four decks)
  • Relaxed Spider (spaces do not need filling before dealing another row)
  • Spider 1 Suit (using one suit instead of four)
  • Spider 2 Suit (using two suits instead of four)
  • Spider 3 Suit (using three suits instead of four)
  • Spider 4 Suit (using four suits)

FreeCell

This Solitaire alternative uses one 52-card deck, although it has some fundamental differences from traditional solitaire games. There are very few instances where the game is not solvable. All of the Tableau cards are face up at the start of the game.

The game consists of four Foundation piles, four open cells, and eight Tableau stacks, where four stacks have seven cards, and four have six cards. Some variations alter between four and ten Tableau stacks.

Some popular versions of FreeCell include:

  • Antares
  • ForeCell
  • Penguin
  • Seahaven Towers
  • Stalactites

TriPeaks

A variation of Solitaire, the object of this card game is to clear three peaks of cards. The game begins with three pyramids of cards face down of six cards each and a row of ten face-up cards below it. The next row above contains nine cards facedown that are offset to the right, followed by six cards above that, also offset the equal amount. Three cards will cap off the pyramids.

The remaining 24 cards from the deck make up the Stockpile. The first card from the stockpile automatically gets transferred to the waste pile. Cards on the Tableau that are higher or lower in value move to the waste pile. Players can also use wild cards as a variation to the TriPeaks structure.

Some other well-known names for this Solitaire variation are:

  • Three Peaks
  • Tri Towers
  • Triple Peaks

Pyramid

Another popular variation of the classic Solitaire game, Pyramid gives players a different way to strategize. The object is to remove a pair of cards where the value adds up to 13 and move them to the Foundation pile.

To set up the Pyramid the cards are placed face-up, with the first row having one card, the second row having two cards, then three, and so on. Some games will have six rows totaling 21 cards, while others may have seven rows of 28 cards.

For players to remove cards, they must not be covered. Players can use cards from the Stockpile, combined with the Pyramid cards to add up to 13. Once all the cards from the Pyramid are relocated to the Foundation pile, the game is over.

For those players who want to keep score, it would be the count of how many cards remain in the Pyramid after there are no further moves. A perfect score is 0, meaning that all the cards are gone to the Foundation.

Some variations of Pyramid are:

  • Apophis
  • Giza
  • Triangle
  • Relaxed Pyramid
  • Tut’s Tomb

Forty Thieves

This two-deck Solitaire game variation is significantly hard to finish. The chances of winning are 1 in 10. Other names it is known as include:

  • Napoleon at St Helena
  • Roosevelt at San Juan
  • Big Forty
  • Le Cadran

The rules for this two-deck Solitaire alternative are quite simple to follow. There are ten Tableau stacks of four cards each that are all face up to reveal their values. There needs to be space about the Tableau to place eight Foundation piles. The object is to move all the Tableau cards to the Foundation stacks while only going through the Stockpile one time.

The Tableau stacks are to be built by suit with only one top card from each stack can be moved to the Foundation. Players can use the top card from the Waste pile during play.

There are several alternatives to Forty Thieves, including:

  • Indian
  • Josephine
  • Limited
  • Lucas
  • Maria
  • Number Ten
  • Rank and File
  • Sixty Thieves
  • Streets

Other Solitaire Alternatives

Numerous other alternatives have stemmed from the classic game of Solitaire. Some of these include:

  • Accordion
  • Aces and Kings
  • All in a Row
  • Belvedere
  • Blockade
  • Brigade
  • Busy Aces
  • Corners
  • Colours
  • Crazy Quilt
  • Deuces
  • Duchess
  • Diplomat
  • Elevens
  • Emperor
  • Easthaven
  • Fifteens
  • Four Corners
  • Five Piles
  • Good Measure
  • Gate
  • Good Thirteen
  • Heads and Tails
  • Harp
  • Hit or Miss
  • Intrigue
  • Jubilee
  • Kings in the Corners
  • King Tut
  • Last Chance
  • Louis
  • Matrimony
  • Maze
  • Monte Carlo
  • Odd and Even
  • Old Fashioned
  • Pairs
  • Pas de Deux
  • Perpetual Motion
  • Perseverance
  • Queen’s Audience
  • Red and Black
  • Rouge et Noir
  • Royal Marriage
  • Scorpion
  • St. Helena
  • Six by Six
  • Tableau
  • Thirteen Up
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Tower of Pisa
  • Vanishing Cross
  • Wasp
  • Will o’ the Wisp
  •  Windmill

This list is not a complete outline of the variations, as many countries around the world have adopted their own versions to suit methods that have been passed down for centuries.

The 15 Best Card Solitaire Games to Play Online for Free in 2021
There are dozens of Solitaire games to play online for free for both Apple and Android devices. This classic game continues to be a popular choice for many people, even though they aren’t using a traditional deck of cards. Check out the 15 best ones to choose from and play, on your smartphone or device for free.

1.     Solitaire: MobilityWare

If you are looking for a classic Solitaire game that won’t disappoint you, this is it. For over ten years, this app has been downloaded from both the App Store and Google Play countless times. It is a functional and reliable choice for players who want a game that will work correctly. The game is customizable, with options to change backgrounds and card images.

2.     Microsoft Solitaire Collection: Microsoft Corporation

You shouldn’t be surprised that Microsoft has their own app that includes a Solitaire collection since they were the first ones to introduce the digital version to the world. Keeping with the tradition of this popular game coming with their Windows computers, Microsoft designed an app that is similar in appearance to that of their original version. It is available for download on the App Store and Google Play store.

3.     FreeCell Solitaire: Brainium Studios LLC

Players who enjoy the FreeCell version of this popular game will love this app from Brainium. With an elegant and easy-to-use interface, players will love the graphics and design of this card game app. Built-in tutorials are helpful for beginners to guide them through the rules and direct the correct moves. It is available for both Apple and Android devices.

4.     King Solitaire – FreeCell: P.R.O Corp

Players can enjoy a slight twist of the traditional FreeCell game with this version. In King Solitaire-FreeCell, all of the cards are turned over and show their values. There are four additional cells to move cards to, while the others can move as traditional rules depict. Starting with an Ace, you have only 10 minutes to complete this game and win. It is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

5.     Fairway Solitaire Blast: Big Fish Games, Inc.

This app has an attractive interface and keeps players interested by involving bonuses in the gameplay. The object is to remove all the cards from the playing field, as with other online versions of Solitaire. The main difference with this app is that you can use different bonuses along with the displacement of the cards. Players can download this app for Apple phones and Android devices.

6.     Solitaire TriPeaks: GSN Games

An expansion of the traditional game, TriPeaks includes attributes like golf and pyramid all rolled into one. You will find likable characters and attractive artistic backgrounds for a change in scenery. This version has wild cards, boosters, and hazards that you wouldn’t normally have in a traditional solitaire game. With over 10 million downloads, this is one of the more popular versions of Solitaire. You can find it in the App Store and Google Play.

7.     Pyramid Solitaire Saga: King Ltd.

The ancient world meets Solitaire in this Pyramid Solitaire Saga game made by the creators of Candy Crush. Using the built-in heroes of this game, you will need to find clues and reveal hidden treasures, with every level you complete. This game can sync to multiple devices for a better experience and is available for download on both Apple and Android products.

8.     Solitaire: Solitaire Fun

One of the reasons why this app is so popular is because it does not contain any fancy characters or backgrounds. There is nothing to distract the player from concentrating on playing their game. It supports left-handed and landscape playing modes for added functionality. There are daily challenges, playing hints, different levels, and a timer mode for competitive players. It is available for download at the App Store and Google Play for most devices.

9.     Classic Solitaire Klondike: Aliaksandr Tsitkou

With a classic minimalistic layout, this app version is quite popular for card lovers. It includes various options to choose from, including landscape orientation, random decks, and 3-card draw. Players can play games even offline once they download this app. Perfect for any Apple or Android device, it is completely free and a great way to focus your brain.

10.  Full Deck Solitaire: GRL Games

This Solitaire app boasts 47 built-in versions to keep any card game enthusiast entertained. Its easy-to-use interface includes built-in statistics to keep track of time spent playing and the highest scores. Helpful hints, varying levels of difficulty, and challenges are great for novice and expert players alike. It is downloadable for numerous devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Fire OS.

11.  Spider Solitaire: Mobility Ware

Using two full decks for this digital version, Spider Solitaire delivers everything the traditional card game does and more. With added themes and various card backgrounds, you can customize your game how you wish.

Players can work their way from the easiest level of one suit through to the hardest level of four suits. Novice players can take advantage of the unlimited hints and undo moves for a better learning experience. View on the App Store, Google Play, or through Amazon for alternative devices.

12.  World of Solitaire

This version is entirely free and does not need an app download. As long as you can open an internet browser, you can play this game. It is possible to play offline, but an internet connection is needed to load the game first before you go offline. It includes over 100 versions of Solitaire games to choose from, giving players a wide variety of enjoyment. If you don’t want to download another app on your device, this version is a perfect solution.

13.  Solitaired.com

As another web-based platform, Solitaire.com has over 500 versions of this popular card game strictly online. There is no need to register or download an app, so you can begin playing immediately. The capability of tracking moves and the time it takes to complete a game gives competitive players a way to compare their progress as they learn more skills. It has a Game of the Day and is easily customizable.

14.  Solitaire: Mouse Games

With various built-in options, this Solitaire version is perfect for anyone, no matter what skill level. With Vegas scoring, timing options, and personal statistics, players can use any tools to hone their skills and progress. It has a draw-one or draw-three card option for an assortment of choices. This app does not need internet once you install it and is at both the App Store and Google Play.

15.  Solitaire Card Game 2021: nerByte GmbH

Capitalizing on the classic card game and including attractive graphics, this app uses customizable backgrounds and card decks. The simple and easy-to-use interface is perfect for any device. With left- and right-hand modes, it is suitable for any device. Daily challenges that players can win and collect crowns and monthly trophies. It is perfect for any Apple or Android device.  

The Takeaway

Solitaire can be a great way to calm your mind, build decision-making skills and spend some quiet time alone. If you feel competitive, you can compete against yourself or find online games to see how you measure up to others.

If you don’t have a deck of cards at home, there are several ways to find a free game online to play on your computer or download an app on your mobile device. Technology has given us the option to have virtually anything at our fingertips, including well-known card games like Solitaire.

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