Master the Basics: Your Complete Guide to Starting Solitaire

Gaming Guides

Solitaire, a game beloved by millions, offers a mix of challenge, strategy, and solitude. If you’re aiming to grasp basic Solitaire rules, this guide is tailored for you. Whether you’re relaxing at home or looking to refine your card-playing skills, understanding how to set up and play solitaire effectively is your first step towards mastering this classic game.

Understanding the Solitaire Game Setup

To begin a game of solitaire, the correct setup is essential. Here’s how you can lay the groundwork for a successful game:

  • Deck: Use a standard 52-card deck.
  • Layout: You need to create seven tableau columns. Start by placing one card face up in the first column, and then lay six face-down cards across the remaining columns. For the second column, place one face-up card on the first face-down card, followed by five face-down cards across the remaining columns, continuing this pattern until each column has a face-up card.

The Foundation and Stock

Besides the tableau, solitaire includes other key areas:

  • Foundation: This consists of four empty spaces where you’ll eventually build the card stacks in ascending order by suit from Ace to King.
  • Stock and Talon: Remaining cards form the stock (or deck), which you can draw from to play onto the tableau or foundation. The cards from the stock go into the talon (waste) when turned over.

Basic Solitaire Rules

Grasping the Basic Solitaire Rules is pivotal for anyone starting out. The objective is straightforward: clear the tableau and stock by building up the foundation piles in sequential order and suit.

  • Movement Rules: Move cards between tableau columns to reveal hidden cards. Columns must alternate colors and be built in descending order.
  • Draw from the Stock: If no moves are available, draw cards from the stock. You can typically draw one card at a time or three, depending on the type of solitaire.
  • Using the Talon: Play the top card from the talon when suitable cards to advance your game are unavailable in the tableau.

How to Play Solitaire: Basic Strategies

While solitaire largely relies on the luck of the draw, several strategies can increase your chances of winning:

  1. Expose Larger Stacks First: Focus on turning over the cards in the larger tableau stacks early in the game to increase your options.
  2. Empty Columns are Gold: Empty a tableau column as soon as possible. This gives you a free space to maneuver other cards, especially advantageous for moving kings and reorganizing cards from other columns.
  3. Foundation vs. Tableau: While the ultimate goal is to build up the foundation, sometimes strategically leaving cards in the tableau for longer can open up more moves.

Tips for Winning Strategies for Solitaire

Incorporate these tactics to refine your solitaire gameplay:

  • Be Strategic with the Stock: If you have a choice between drawing from the stock or making a tableau move, consider if the tableau move will reveal a new card. If not, it might be better to draw from the stock.
  • Plan Ahead: Always think a few moves ahead. Try to anticipate where new openings and potential blockages can occur, depending on the cards that are visible and the order of the deck.
  • Use the Undo Button: If you’re playing digitally, don’t hesitate to use the undo feature to learn about consequences of different moves without affecting your actual game progress.

Looking to Level Up? Learn Variations of Solitaire Rules

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you might want to explore other solitaire variants to keep the game interesting. Each variant comes with its unique twist on the traditional rules, providing new challenges and ways to play.


Starting solitaire can be as simple or as strategic as you make it. With the right setup, understanding of basic Solitaire rules, and a grasp of elementary strategies, you’re well on your way to becoming proficient. Ready for more insights on solitaire, including advanced strategies and different versions? Check out our articles on how to play solitaire, winning strategies for solitaire, and variations of solitaire rules to continue your journey toward solitaire mastery. Enjoy the process of learning and the eventual rewarding experience of mastering solitaire!