Last Updated on April 4, 2020 by Jake
Single player card games allow you to have fun even if you don’t have a playing partner with you. The best single player card games can be a great way to pass time or even to break a mental sweat!
Many people don’t know this, but the term solitaire actually refers to any one-player card game. For many, the term is synonymous to Klondike – which is probably the most popular solitaire game. Klondike is definitively one of the best one player card games and one to start with. We will go through the most popular and enjoyable single player card games and how to play them.
Best Single Player Card Games
The first card game we will be looking at is Klondike. This game is one of the most popular and best single player card games, especially in North America. In North America, most people simply call this game solitaire. People in the UK just call it patience. In many other parts of the world, this card game is called American Patience. The game derives its name from its region of origin – Klondike.
Klondike uses a standard 52-card deck. The objective of the game is to arrange all the cards into 4 piles of sorted suits starting from Ace and ending at King.
Once the cards have been shuffled, seven columns are laid from left to right. All the columns have one revealed (upturned) card which is the last card of the pile. From left to right,
- the first pile ha a single revealed card,
- the second pile has two cards, the first is unrevealed (downturned), and the second (topmost) card is revealed (upturned),
- the third pile has three cards, the topmost card is upturned, and the two bottommost cards are downturned,
- the fourth pile has four cards, the topmost card is upturned, and the three bottommost cards are downturned,
- the fifth pile has five cards, the topmost card is upturned, and the four bottommost cards are downturned,
- the sixth pile has six cards, the topmost card is upturned, and the five bottommost cards are downturned,
- and finally, the seventh pile has seven cards, the topmost card is upturned, and the six bottommost cards are downturned.
You arrange the cards on the foundations starting from Ace to King. There are four foundations with each containing cards of the same suit.
The objective of the game is to stack the cards from lowest to highest on the four foundations with each foundation containing just one suit. The highest card is the King and the lowest card is the Aces. As such, each foundation pile starts with an Ace and ends with a King. At the start of the game, the foundation piles are empty.
You can move the cards from a column to another. Revealed cards in the columns must be arranged in descending order with cards alternating between black and red. For instance, a black 8 can be placed on a red 9. You can move sequential stacks of cards from one column to another. For instance, if you have a red 9, a black 8, a red 7, and a black 6 in sequential order on one column you can move this sequential stack to another column with a last revealed card of a black 10. As you rearrange and reveal cards, you can build your foundations.
When a column is finally empty, you can place a King there or any sequential run which starts with a King.
You can also use the deck on the upper-left corner to draw more cards. There are several ways of doing this.
- You can turn a single card at a given time, and you can pass through the deck just once.
- You can turn a single card at a given time, and you can pass through the deck as many times as you want.
- You can turn a single card at a given time, and you can pass through the deck just thrice.
- You can turn three cards at a given time, and you can pass through the deck just thrice.
- You can turn three cards at a given time, and you can pass through the deck as many times as you want.
Winning The Game
To win the game, stack all the cards into the four foundation piles.
In all, there are 8×1067 possible hands that can be dealt. This is 8 followed by 67 zeros. This is an impossibly large number. Since the game was invented, all the possible hands haven’t been dealt yet, and it is near impossible to play the same hand twice. Although about 79% of all games can be won, an expert player should be expected to have a win ratio of about 43%.
This mental one-player card game is extremely entertaining and a great exercise for the brain. You can play it online and for free here!
This is another entertaining and interesting card game for a single player. The objective of this game is to get all the cards in the titular pyramid into a single foundation. The game is played using a standard 52-card deck.
The pyramid is built with 28 cards. One card is dealt upturned at the top, two cards are placed beneath the first card, each card partially covering the first card. Then three cards underneath this until you have seven rows and 28 cards. The goal is to select two cards that add up to 13, or a single card if you select a King. For instance, you can select a 5 and an 8, or a 9 and a 4. For face cards, a King is worth 13, a Queen is worth 12 and a Jack is worth 11. The suit and color of the card are not important.
- The two cards (or one, if you select a King) you can select can be from the table, the deck or the waste pile. Cards in the deal are not revealed until selected. When a card from the deck is selected, it’s turned face-up and goes to the waste pile.
- The deck can be passed through thrice. You can deal a new board twice a game.
- For a card on the pyramid to be selectable, there must be no other card atop it (or resting on it).
- Once the two cards that add up to 13, or just a King are selected, they move to the foundation.
Winning The Game
There are several different winning conditions. We will look at the two most common conditions.
- Traditionally, the game is won once all the cards (both in the deck and in the pyramid) has been moved to the foundation.
- With another variant, only all the cards from the pyramid need to be moved to the foundation for the game to be won.
Another one of the best single player card games is Spider. This game uses a standard 52-card deck just like the others. Unlike the other games, you need a double deck. In this game, Ace is the lowest card, while King is the highest card. Only two suits out of the double deck are used for the game – Hearts and Spades. As such, there will be two Kings of Hearts, two kings of Spades, two 10s of Hearts, and so on.
The objective is to move all the cards off the table and into a single foundation. To do so, you need to move cards around so as to form columns of a single suit (such as Hearts) arranged from King to Ace – with the King at the bottom followed by the Queen, then the Jack until you get to the Ace. Once a column contains all the cards of the same suit (for instance King of Hearts to Ace of Hearts) in the right order, the column is moved to the foundation and off the table. You start with 10 columns and you can have at most 10 columns at any time.
First, the cards are shuffled. Then 10 columns of cards with each column having 6 cards (5 are downturned, and the 6th card, which is the topmost card, upturned) are created. The rest of the cards form a downturned deck. Cards can be dealt from the deck pile onto the columns as far as there are 10 columns.
To build the column with a single suit, you can move cards from one column to the another as far as the cards follow the right order. The card you move another card onto must be just one higher. When moving the cards around, the suit doesn’t matter. However, to create a column that can be moved to the foundation, the suit matters (all cards need to be of the same suit).
Once you have an empty column, you can move a card or any pile there as far as the cards follow the right order.
If you have no moves left during the course of the game, you can deal a new row as far as you have 10 columns. When you deal a new row, a new card is placed on every column.
Winning The Game
The game is won when all cards are moved off the table.
There are several variants to the game, namely –
- Spider 1 suits – Here just a single suit is used, usually Spades.
- Spider 2 suits – This the regular Spider card game, where two suits are used, usually Hearts and Spades.
- Spiderette – A single 52-card deck is used.
- Spiderwort – Three decks are used.
- Relaxed Spider – You can deal new cards even if there aren’t 10 columns.
- Gigantic Spider – Four suits are used with four decks.
FreeCell is special as you start the game with all the cards upturned. This game is played with a standard 52-card deck which doesn’t have Jokers. There are four free cells and four open foundations. There are eight columns of cards, dealt randomly.
Four columns start with six upturned cards and four columns start with seven upturned cards. The columns cascade, as in one card is placed on another, with another placed on it, so on until you get to the last card. The last card can be moved to the foundation, to a free cell, or to another column. If there is a sequential run of cards, the entire sequence can be moved to another column.
With FreeCell, the object of the game is to arrange cards from lowest to highest in four foundations. These foundations are usually found at the upper-right corner of the table. Each foundation must contain cards of a single suit. As with most one-player card games, Ace is the lowest card while King is the highest
You can move cards between the 8 columns. To move a card to another column, the last card of the column you wish to move to needs to be one higher than the card you intend to move, and of an alternate color. For instance, a red 9 can only be placed on a black 10 when it comes to moving cards between columns.
On the upper left corner (adjacent to the foundations), are four free cells where you can keep single cards. You can place one card in one free cell. Some play the game with just 2 free cells. Others play with 6 or 8 free cells. The choice depends on you. The more free cells you have the easier the game will be.
As you play, you can move cards to foundation whenever the chance presents itself. For instance, if you have an Ace of Hearts already in the Hearts foundation pile, and you come upon a 2 of Hearts, you can move the 2 of Hearts to the Hearts foundation pile as well. However, once you move a card to a foundation pile, you can’t have it back.
As you play, you may end up having less than 8 columns. When that happens, you can move any card to create a new column. You can have at most 8 columns at any given time.
Winning The Game
Once all cards are moved to the respective foundation piles, the game is won. Most deals are winnable. Very few deals are unsolvable.
The last game we will look at on this list of the best single player card games is Tri Towers, also known as Triple Peaks, Tri-Peaks, or Tri-Peaks. This solitaire game is very similar to Golf card game or Black Hole card game.
A single 52-card deck is used. Eighteen cards are dealt downturned (face down) on the table. These cards form three pyramids, over these are 10 upturned (face-up or revealed) cards. The cards overlap until you reach the peak of each pyramid. The cards lower the pyramid are atop the cards higher.
The objective of the game is to move cards on the three towers to the waste pile. The first card from the deck is placed face up in the waste pile.
With this game, only the card’s value is important, not the suit or color. You can move a card to the waste pile as far as it is one above or one below the top card in the waste pile. If the card in the waste pile is Jack, you can move a 10 or a Queen to the waste pile. If a Queen is moved to the waste pile, the Queen becomes the top card. So you can move a King or a Jack to the waste pile. When a card on the pyramid has no cards atop it, it can be turned over so the value shows.
Aces are either high or low depending on the card that precedes it or follows it. Ace is higher than King (if King is the top card in the waste pile) but lower than 2. King is also higher than 2. It’s like a cycle.
If there are no more moves, the deck can be used. A new card can then be dealt from the deck. This new card becomes the top card in the waste pile.
Winning The Game
The game is won if the pyramids are cleared before the stock deck. If the stock deck is cleared before the pyramids and no card can be moved to the waste pile, the game is lost.
For a more strategic game, the game starts with all the cards in the pyramids face up. This allows players to plot their way through.
Best Single Player Card Games – Wrap Up
These aren’t the only one player card games in the world. There are over 1000 one-player card games! However, these are some of the most popular ones, and these wonderful games can be played at casinos, at home, or even during your break at work.
Although these games are designed for single players, you can also play many of them with others, either as a team or as opponents. When two or more players play against one another, these games can be scored by the number of moves it takes each player to finish a game. There is so much you can do with a deck of cards and the best single player card games. Your imagination is the limit!
Need ideas for your game room? Check out our post on 101 game room ideas next!