Playing cards waiting to be sorted according to the rules of Solitaire.


Since the 1700s, millions of people around the world have loved playing Solitaire. It’s a game of skill, chance, and perseverance. If you want to learn how to play the game and improve your odds of winning, you’ve come to the right place.

This step-by-step guide can teach you how to play Solitaire—and maybe even improve your odds of winning.

Everything You Need To Know To Play and Win 

In classic Solitaire (also known as Klondike), the goal is to move all the cards from one standard 52-card deck (jokers removed) into four suited piles of ascending order, ending with the king on top. Sounds simple, right?


Even though it sounds straightforward, there is a lot to learn before you can start racking up those wins:

  • Game Components and Layout
  • How To Play
  • Tips for Winning
  • Game Variations
  • The Benefits of Playing
  • Fun Facts

Game Components and Layout

There are four main components to the game. The table below explains how they function.



Classic Solitaire Layout

To get started, set up the layout. Here’s what the Classic Solitaire layout looks like, followed by the steps to achieve it. 

Start the layout by establishing the tableaus. Use these steps as a guide:

  1. Build the tableaus in layers, dealing out one card per column at a time.
  2. Working from left to right, lay seven cards in a row. The first card is face up, and the rest are face down.
  3. Move to the column to the right of the face-up card you just dealt. Lay one card face up. On each of the remaining columns, lay one card face down.
  4. Continue this pattern until the final column on the right has seven cards, six face-down and one face-up. 

The remaining cards are your stock, which is traditionally placed on the table above the tableaus. However, some players prefer to hold the stock while they play. Either of these options is acceptable. The foundation piles will be constructed throughout the course of the game.

Now that you understand the components and layout, it’s time to play.


How To Play Solitaire

Follow these steps to play Solitaire:

  1. Draw cards from the stock. Whether you draw one or three at a time, remain consistent throughout the game.
  2. When you draw playable cards, place them in the appropriate location:
  • Tableaus: cards must alternate between black and red and in descending order.
  • Foundation piles: cards must be organized by suit and in ascending order.
  1. When you draw cards that cannot be played, place them face-up in the waste pile.
  2. When you encounter a face-down card on a tableau, flip it face-up.
  3. Eventually, you’ll empty an entire tableau, leaving a blank space behind. To use this space, place a king to start another tableau. 
  4. When the stock is empty, the waste pile becomes the stock. Keep the cards in their current order, and flip over the pile so the cards are face-down. Repeat until the game ends.
  5. The game can end in two ways: either you can’t make any more moves or you’ve successfully moved all the cards to the appropriate foundation piles.


This video shows you the game in action. Check it out:

YouTube Video Thumbnail


Tips for Winning

The following tips can increase your chances of winning:

  • Move aces to foundation piles at the first opportunity.
  • Build the foundation piles simultaneously. Building them up one suit at a time makes it harder to build sequential runs in the columns.
  • Maximize the number of cards in play by revealing as many face-down cards as possible.
  • Strategically move cards from one tableau to another to access the face-down cards underneath. Groups of multiples can be moved as long as the sequential order and color pattern are maintained.
  • Play strategically and slowly. Take your time. Choose the best move, not the first


Variations of Solitaire on Arkadium

Over hundreds of years, Solitaire has developed many variations featuring different methods and mechanisms. Check out the other variations you can play on Arkadium:


The most popular way to play. Classic Solitaire is also known as Klondike (after the Klondike gold rush in Canada in the late 1800s). This is the version popularized by Microsoft in the 1990s.


Also known as Triple Peaks or Three Peaks, the goal of this Solitaire variant is to clear all cards on the table by making a chain of cards. The tableaus and stock piles must also be cleared to win the game.


Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid Solitaire is a variant that uses a pairing method instead of building sequences. In order to win, a player must form pairs that add up to 13. For example, an eight of clubs and a five of hearts add up to 13. The pair can then be removed from the pyramid.

Forty Thieves Solitaire

Forty Thieves Solitaire uses two decks of 52 cards. Players need to place all 104 cards into eight foundation piles. The game uses ten tableaus with 40 cards while the rest of the cards remain in the stock pile.

Crescent Solitaire

The objective of Crescent Solitaire is to play all the cards from the surrounding pile to the center of the ‘crescent.’ The surrounding crescent piles can be built in any direction, given that the cards are of the same suit.



Golf Solitaire

Golf Solitaire aims to play all cards from the tableau one by one, like golf balls into holes. The tableaus are composed of seven columns with five cards each. In this variant, only the top card can be played from each stack. The rest of the deck lies in the stock pile, which can be drawn one by one and placed in foundation piles.

Freecell Solitaire

Freecell Solitaire requires players to move all 52 cards into foundation piles in sequential order. In addition to the tableaus and foundation piles, four ‘free cells’ are available for uncovering and moving cards. Any card can be placed in a free cell corresponding to its suit.


Mahjong Solitaire

Mahjong Solitaire is a variant of the game that uses tiles instead of regular playing cards. 144 Mahjong tiles are placed face-up in a prescribed layout on the tabletop. They need to be matched into a pair with at least one side free and no other Mahjong tiles on top. Once all tiles have been successfully paired and removed, the game is won. 

Canfield Solitaire

The Canfield Solitaire variant is designed for casino games and players. The objective of the game is to play all the deck cards into four foundation piles. Each foundation pile is built according to a single suit and in ascending order. All foundation piles are cyclic and unlimited in length.

Spider Solitaire

Spider Solitaire is a popular variant of the game in which the goal is to clear all cards from the table by creating sequential runs in descending order. The runs need to be in a single suit to be completed, and They can be played in a single suit or multiple suits.


Addiction Solitaire

Addiction Solitaire requires players to sort and order four rows of cards in ascending order, each according to suit.


Benefits of Playing Solitaire

Learning how to play Solitaire can not only help pass the time but also help players train their brains. Playing Solitaire enables people to stay mentally active by engaging the brain in different ways.

In order to win, players need to recognize objects and patterns, make decisions, take risks, and strategize. Coupled with time pressure and fun twists to Solitaire rules, the game can help keep players’ minds sharp over time.

In a 2017 study entitled “Can Card Games Be Used to Assess Mild Cognitive Impairment?: A Study of Klondike Solitaire and Cognitive Functions”, researchers led by Karsten Gielis found that Solitaire exercised multiple cognitive functions during gameplay.

Health professionals and researchers found the following cognitive functions to be strongly present in participants while playing Solitaire:

  • Attention - ability to select and focus on stimuli
  • Executive function - ability to control other cognitive abilities and make them work together to achieve a goal
  • Object recognition - ability to recognize and recall details of an object by sight
  • Abstraction - ability to isolate a recurring feature or relationship between a number of things ex. recognizing patterns
  • Memory - ability to retain and recall information

The following cognitive functions were also found to be present, though to a lesser degree:

  • Language
  • Motor skills
  • Visuospatial skill

The study’s findings show that Solitaire engages the brain not only in one but multiple ways. Moreover, the researchers found that cognitive functions were often intertwined during gameplay. Among the cognitive functions present, attention and executive function were shown to have the highest correlation as well as abstraction and object recognition.

Solitaire showed such promise as a tool for measuring mental faculty that the study authors recommended its potential as a non-invasive tool for assessing cognitive impairment.


Fun Facts About Solitaire

We have discussed how Solitaire can help keep the mind active over time. But here are some things you may not know about Solitaire:

  • May 22 is National Solitaire Day.
  • Microsoft originally introduced Solitaire as a way to teach new personal computer (PC) users how to use a mouse.
  • The odds of winning Classic (Klondike) Solitaire is 1 in 30.
  • According to a recent YouGov survey, 83% of U.S. adult citizens have played Solitaire.
  • Solitaire is one of the most loved card games (38%) among Americans.
  • Over 500 million people around the world have played Microsoft Solitaire since its debut in 1990.

Play Solitaire Now With Arkadium

A game of strategy, risk, and decision-making, Solitaire’s endless variety offers hours of enjoyment. Discover why millions love this classic game.

Can you beat the odds and win? Try it now with our free online Solitaire games—no download needed! All of our games are browser-based and can be played anytime, anywhere.

Klondike Solitaire

Klondike Solitaire - Play Online for Free | Arkadium

Feel like you’ve mastered classic Solitaire? Perhaps it’s time to up your game. Learn how to play these Solitaire variations and see how high you can score:


Did we mention that we created the Microsoft Solitaire Collection for Windows 8 and 10? That’s right—we are the official designer and creator of Microsoft Solitaire. So you can expect to enjoy high-quality games with our in-house game development experience.

Discover more free online games at Arkadium, home of the world’s best games available to play online.