A suit of hearts from a deck of cards

A fun variation of the classic game, Spider Solitaire puts your strategy and skill to the test. This step-by-step guide explains the rules and gives you some tips for winning.  


Spider Solitaire Rules 

Spider Solitaire requires two decks of cards with the jokers removed. From here, players take two different approaches to the game. Either they use all of the cards from both decks, or they remove the same suit from each deck and work with that smaller batch of cards only. Regardless of which option you choose, the rest of the game works the same. Here are the rules.  

Layout. Deal the cards into 10 columns using the following layout: 

 The tabletop layout for Spider Solitaire.

Goal. To win, a player must assemble a complete suit in descending order, from king to ace, using the tableaus. Once a suit is complete, it is removed from the tableau and placed in one of the foundation piles above.  


Difficulty level. Spider Solitaire can be played using one suit of two decks, two suits of two decks, or all four suits of two decks. 

  : Players can choose one-suit, two-suit, and four-suit games according to Spider Solitaire rules)

The more suits there are, the more difficult the game is. The number of suits also determines the number of foundation piles that need to be filled with the completed suits.  

Play. Cards can be moved between columns by themselves or as a stack, as long as the stack is in a descending sequential run.  

Foundation piles. As soon as a suit is completed from ace to king in a column, move it to one of the foundation piles above the tableaus.  

Stock pile. Once there are no more moves, deal one card onto each tableau. This can be a double-edged sword as you might get an important card or ruin a run, so use it with caution.  

Empty columns. Unlike classic Solitaire which only allows kings to populate empty columns, Spider Solitaire lets you place any card or group of cards in an empty column. This provides players an opportunity to organize their cards or free up hidden cards. 


Let’s Play Spider Solitaire 

Now that you know the rules of Spider Solitaire, it’s time to play: 

  1. Decide your difficulty level, to determine how many cards you’ll need from each deck. Once you’ve removed the cards you need, shuffle them. 
  2. Deal 10 columns. The typical Spider Solitaire layout starts with six cards in the first four columns and five cards for the rest of the columns.  
  3. Place the remaining cards into the stock pile. Flip the top card of each column so they are facing up. 
  4. Move cards from column to column to build sequences. Unlike classic Solitaire, Spider Solitaire doesn’t require alternating colors to build sequences in the columns. A card can be moved as long as they are one rank lower than the top card of the column it’s being placed on.  
  5. Build a suit from king to ace. Once a suit is complete, take it off the tableau and place it in the foundation pile. Flip the next card in the tableau face up. 
  6. Once there are no more moves, deal another row of cards onto all columns (including empty ones). 
  7. The game ends when a player successfully sorts all cards according to Spider Solitaire rules into complete suits, or if they run out of possible moves.  


Seeing the game in action can be helpful, so here’s a short video on how to play Spider Solitaire: 

   How to Play Spider Solitaire Video


Tips for Winning 

Use the following tips to increase your chances of winning: 

  • Start building runs with queens, then work your way down to the aces. This makes it easier to complete a run while waiting for a king.  
  • Build your skill by playing one-suit games at first. Later, as you become familiar with the game rules and strategy, you can gradually increase the difficulty level to two- and four-suit games.  
  • Utilize the empty columns as temporary storage of unplayable cards or runs. Use it to organize your cards and build a complete suit.  
  • Use the stock pile with caution - it deals a new card onto every column with each move. That includes potentially useful empty columns.  
  • For online games, use the ‘hint’ button. 


History of Spider Solitaire  

How did Spider Solitaire get its name?  

Sources say it originated in 1949 as a twist to the classic (or Klondike) Solitaire. Presumably, the game variant began using all four suits of the two decks, resulting in eight foundation piles to be filled.  

This is where it got its quirky name—the eight suited-foundations refer to a Spider’s eight legs. Later, people adjusted the difficulty of the game to one suit, two suits, and four suits.  


Variants of Spider Solitaire 

Much like a Spider web, Spider Solitaire has produced other variants of its own that further extend the possibilities of the game. Check out these Spider Solitaire variants: 

Spiderette - This variant incorporates more elements from classic Solitaire. Spiderette is played with one deck of cards instead of two. It also uses seven piles much like the Klondike layout. Players can build sequences of any suit or color from king to ace. Once a complete suit is built in the tableaus, it is removed from the piles similar to Spider Solitaire.  

Will o’ the Wisp - This variant copies Spiderette game rules in all aspects but one: instead of laying out seven columns, Will o’ the Wisp deals the deck into seven columns of three cards each. The top card of each column faces up as in Spider Solitaire.  

Mrs. Mop - This variant adds yet another twist to the web of Spider Solitaire games. In Mrs. Mop, two decks of cards are dealt into 13 columns each containing eight cards. All the cards are dealt face-up instead of face-down. Players will then complete all eight suits from king to ace. Once a uniform suit is built, it is removed from the tableau as in regular Spider Solitaire. 

Simple Simon - This variant is another one-deck game based on Spider Solitaire. Simple Simon deals cards in 10 piles. The first three piles contain eight cards facing up while the fourth pile contains seven cards. The last three piles contain a decreasing amount of cards until the last pile only contains one card. Players then build sequences and complete suits in the tableaus. All cards in the columns face up all the time.  


Benefits of Playing Spider Solitaire  

Much like its cousin classic Solitaire, Spider Solitaire offers mental health benefits to players. According to Caliber Magazine, playing this variant of the game helps improve cognitive abilities.  

These include pattern recognition, problem-solving skills, task flexibility, decision-making, and strategic planning. The game forces players to respond to challenges and think several moves ahead to overcome obstacles, much like navigating the challenges of daily life.  

Playing Spider Solitaire also offers psychological benefits aside from a mental workout. Playing an intense but rewarding game helps players relax and give their minds a break from daily worries.  

Players gain a sense of accomplishment by creating order from chaos. The rhythmic pace of the game itself helps a person to calm down and focus on the present instead of being stuck in thoughts of the past or concerns of the future.  

Caliber Magazine stresses that building a routine is key to consistent cognitive engagement and enhancement. By playing Spider Solitaire and other brain games regularly, players can help keep their minds active while also reducing stress and elevating mood.  


Trivia About Spider Solitaire 

We’ve talked about how Solitaire helps keep the mind active over time. But here are some fun facts you may not know about Solitaire: 

  • Spider Solitaire is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) 2-deck variants of Solitaire, thanks to its inclusion in the Microsoft Solitaire collection which debuted in the 1990s.

  • According to studies, normal Spider Solitaire games with good play have one in 3 chances of winning.
  • The classic layout of Spider Solitaire consists of 10 tableaus with six cards in the first four columns and five cards in the remaining six columns. 
  • In a typical game of Spider Solitaire, 54 cards are dealt out in the tableaus while exactly 50 cards remain in the stock pile. 
  • In 1-suit Spider Solitaire, the typical suit of choice is Spades.
  • In 2-suit Spider Solitaire, the typical suits of choice are Hearts and Spades.


Try Spider Solitaire Now with Arkadium 

Spider Solitaire is not just a game of luck but of skill, strategy, and decision-making. 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.  

 Play Arkadium's Spider Solitaire

Did you know we are the official designers of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection for Windows 8 and 10? So if you’re looking for a high-quality online game of Spider Solitaire, you've come to the right place. 

Learn how to play Spider Solitaire and discover more free online games at Arkadium, home of the world’s best games available to play online.