By Mike - 11/03/2022
On its face, Klondike Solitaire looks like a game that is won based on luck. Surely players win a hand of Solitaire based on how the cards were shuffled and dealt, right? Perhaps not. While there are no doubt “unwinnable” games of Solitaire, over the course of centuries, master Solitaire players have developed strategies that can exponentially increase the odds of winning if implemented correctly.
These winning Solitaire strategies are what we will be covering today. For all of those times you feel like you’ve hit a wall in a game of Solitaire, where there appears to be no more moves to make, for every seemingly unwinnable hand, join us, and secure your victory. There are, of course, many, many different effective strategies, but we will be going over just 10 of them.
Before any other moves are made, when you’re in the analysis phase of a game of Solitaire, take half a second to draw your top stockpile card. Revealing this top card is useful because it opens up an extra option when you’re deciding where and how to move your cards.
Can that stockpile card be placed on the tableau? Can it go straight to one of the foundations? Either possibility is likely, and having those possibilities open to you to kickstart your game is ideal. Pro Solitaire players want as many options as they can get at any point in a game.
We’ve all been there. You’ve just made a hasty move in a particularly intense game of Solitaire, and you’ve placed yourself firmly in something of a bind. What now? Well, if you’re playing our digital version, which happens to be more popular and accessible than the physical version, you’ll have access to a handy little button that will undo your last move.
Turning the clock back to a time just before you made a crucial move can give you a lot of insight as to what the best possible move is if you pay close attention. Make careful notes of the cards that become available before you undo a move, and after your next move.
At that point, you can decide which move to lock in based on which one unlocks a more beneficial card. Sneaky, I know, but the pursuit of Solitaire victory takes no prisoners!
After you’ve played more than a handful of games, you’ll begin to notice a trend: One of the four foundations will usually lag behind the others as you get deeper into a game. This will typically happen because unlocking a low card for that category takes longer than the others. This is a natural part of the process, but building your foundations should happen as evenly as you can manage.
First, playing Solitaire this way is more aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly, it will ensure a more swift victory versus completing the other three foundations and then bumbling around to complete the last one. Taking the time to balance the foundations is key, but unfortunately so is speed. Practice will make this easier over time, but if you’re building up your Solitaire skills, take the time to focus on that.
Another strategy that has cropped up over the life of Solitaire is something that seems like cheating, but it’s actually more of a gray area. That strategy is to study your stockpile cards after a new game starts. Now, obviously, you won’t be able to memorize every card in your stockpile unless you have some kind of superhuman memory, but having even a vague idea of the card you will draw next can help quite a bit.
If you have a rough idea of what cards are coming up next, you can focus your energy and moves on those foundations, so when you draw them, you can sort them right away. This will cut down on time spent searching for cards and trying to figure out moves.
Any Solitaire player worth their salt knows that clearing out columns on the tableau is important. These empty columns represent new homes for King cards, on top of which you can begin to build new stacks for movement up to the foundations. The leftmost columns contain the fewest cards and are therefore the easiest ones to clear, so they should be completed first.
Placing kings in these columns creates new spaces for you to place and sort unlocked cards, so the faster you go through this process, the greater the likelihood of completing your game in record time.
In Solitaire, speed is the name of the game. Well, OK it’s not, it’s Solitaire, but speed is still crucial. Most of these winning strategies are built around cutting down playtime, and this next one might be the most effective way to do that.
Our version of Solitaire has a feature called hotkeys, which are keyboard keys and combinations that complete actions instantaneously, rather than moving your mouse cursor around, clicking and dragging. Some of the generally accepted hotkeys across our and other digital Solitaire games are Ctrl + Z to undo, H for hints and D to draw a new card from the stockpile.
A rookie mistake when playing Solitaire is to make moves that don’t have a clear purpose. Moving cards around the board without a clear intention is a recipe for disaster and something that should be avoided at all costs. There is, of course, the previously mentioned undo button, but that shouldn’t be used as a crutch.
Doing this runs the risk of locking useful, potentially game-winning cards behind stacks in such a way that they become unobtainable. There’s nothing more embarrassing than bumbling your way into a fail state, so be resolute in your moves.
Once you reach the point in a game of Solitaire where you have plenty of cards available to you, it is wise to begin the work of making piles of compatible suits. For instance, if you already have a pile of alternating clubs and hearts, you should only be adding more clubs and hearts to that pile.
This will prevent situations where you need a specific card from a pile, but you can’t get to it because it is locked behind a card with an incompatible suit. It’s a simple enough mistake to make in the heat of the moment, but if you can avoid it, you’ll be in much better shape for late-game moves.
Don’t be stubborn. Never be so locked into a particular strategy that you make yourself completely inflexible to the ever-changing tide of war in a game of Solitaire. When the usefulness of one strategy ends and makes that game seem unwinnable, there is usually another one that has a clear path to victory.
And again, there is a chance that you’re dealing with an unwinnable game, but don’t accept defeat until you have exhausted all of your options. Test new strategies as the need arises. You might be surprised at how often you can turn things around just by looking at a problem differently.
In closing, we hope that you’ll implement these 10 strategies into your regular Solitaire play. You might find that they completely change your perspective on certain situations and make you a much better player overall. And, of course, there are many, many other strategies that can be implemented to make your odds of success higher. You might even discover some on your own through intuitive play! (And yes, we want to hear about them.)
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Solitaire can be more than just a card game. It can also be a mirror we hold up to ourselves to see how we handle everyday life. Sometimes, things don’t seem like they will work out, but if we take a second to calm our minds and approach issues from a new angle, we might find that absolute victory is just a few moves away.