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How to play FreeCell Solitaire
Watch our video to learn how to play. Otherwise, continue reading below.
Tableau: This is the are where all 52 cards are placed face up in 8 columns. The first 4 columns have 7 cards and the last 4 columns have 6 cards.
Free cells: These are the 4 open cells in the top left of the game. Any playable card can be moved here to help you open up new cards to play and to sequence cards.
Foundation: These are the 4 open areas on the top right of the game. In each foundation pile, you want to sequence cards from Ace to King by suit.
The goal of FreeCell is to move all 52 cards to the foundation. You do this by freeing up cards in the tableau and sequencing them according to the following rules:
- When you start the game, the cards that are available to play are the last cards in the tableau. In other words, you can move cards that have no cards on top of it. If an Ace is playable, you can move it to immediately to the foundation.
- In the tableau, you can move a card on top of another playable card as long as its of the opposite color and of a higher rank. For example, a playable 3 of Hearts can be moved on top of a 4 of Spades that is at the bottom of another tableau column. On the other hand, if you have 7 Hearts and a 6 of Diamonds, you cannot move the 6 on top of the 7 because they are the same color. Below each black card will need to go a red one, and it needs to be one rank lower. For example, a five will go below a 6, Queen below King, and so on.
- Groups of sequences cards can be move together on top of another card of an opposite color and of a higher rank.
- You can move any playable card to one of the four free cells. Only 4 cards can be in the free cells at any given time. Even though you can use the free cells as much as you want, try to keep them available for future cards you may need to move around.
- During the process of moving cards from the tableau board to the foundation, you may clear out an entire column. In that case, you can grab any free card and move it to an empty column. It doesn't matter which card it is, as long as it is a free one.
- Cards can only be moved to the foundation from Ace to King, and they need to be of the same suit. For example, if you moved the Ace of Diamonds to the foundation pile, the next card you can place on top of it is the 2 of Diamonds.
- The advantage of FreeCell is that all cards are uncovered, meaning that there will be no surprises, and you can strategically plan ahead. There may be a situation where you will be left with no options or possible moves. You can undo moves to try other ways of solving the game, or you can start a new game.
There are number of strategies that can help you win FreeCell. For example, trying to free up Aces allows you to start building the foundation. Check out our FreeCell strategy guide to learn more.
What are other games similar to FreeCell that I should try?
Are there different versions of FreeCell?
Yes, there are variations in the number of free cells, columns or decks. Check out all our FreeCell games here.
Are all FreeCell games winnable?
Nearly every FreeCell game can be won. Only a very few FreeCell games are unwinnable. Using the basic deal numbering system that most FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell.
When looking at our data, however, we don't see a nearly perfect win rate. Of 296,733 games played, only 40.9% of them were won, or 121,239. This means the human win rate is much lower than the theoretical one.
What is the history of FreeCell?
FreeCell is one of the most popular card games. It was first introduced in 1978 by Paul Alfille, who programmed the first computerized version of it as a medical student on a PLATO computer at the University of Illinois. It was popularized in 1991 when it came preinstalled with every version of Windows.
The game is played with one deck of cards, and even though there is an infinite number of possible deals, don't expect to be able to learn all of them. Mathematically speaking, there are 1.75 times 10 to the power of 64 possible games.
Is FreeCell good for your brain?
FreeCell has various cognitive benefits. At its core, it’s a problem solving game where you have to figure out how to get all the cards to the foundation by using the free cells. Trying to solve the game pushes your critical and strategic thinking skills, where you have to plan and visualize outcomes, helping you stay sharp. In fact, a study by Oregon Center for Aging & Technology found that playing FreeCell can help identify individuals with memory problems.
Outside of the direct benefits to your brain, FreeCell is often fun for players, reducing stress levels and allowing you to think more clearly.
What are the minimum moves to beat FreeCell?
Based on our analysis of thousands of games, you can beat a FreeCell game with a minimum of 48 moves. Not every game can be won like this. It depends on the cards you are dealt. On Solitaired, you can replay the same game to try to solve it in less moves. Under new game, simply click restart game, or click the restart button on the congrats modal.
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