How To Play Pyramid Solitaire

By Neal - 07/25/2022

What is Pyramid Solitaire?

Pyramid Solitaire is a variant of traditional Klondike Solitaire and is similar to TriPeaks Solitaire. The aim of the game is still to move the cards into the foundation pile, but the goal and the layout make it a completely different game.

The objective is to remove pairs of exposed cards that add up to thirteen and clear the entire pyramid – as opposed to traditional Klondike Solitaire, where you juggle cards between multiple columns.

How to set up a game of Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid Solitaire is simple to play and equally easy to set up.

Firstly, shuffle a deck of cards and place it face down. From the pile, turn up the first face-down card and put it on the table.

This first card acts as the peak of the pyramid. From there, turn up two more cards and place them underneath the first card. Next, turn up three more cards and place them face-up under the previous two.

Repeat this pattern until you reach a row of seven cards at the base – this means you've completed the pyramid. The remaining cards will form the stockpile that players use if they run out of available plays on the pyramid.

For reference, a finished pyramid should look like this: Pyramid Solitaire

Better yet, why not try our free online pyramid solitaire game with standard face cards and card backs.

How to play Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid Solitaire is one of the least challenging variants to learn. With quick hands and a fast-paced tempo, it's perfect for when you've got a few minutes to kill.

However, it's crucial to understand how to navigate the pyramid to better your game and win more matches.

Pyramid Solitaire rules

Like other variants of Solitaire, Pyramid Solitaire has its own unique spin on the rules.

When it comes to the gameplay itself, players should be aware that:

  • Only kings can be removed from the pyramid on their own – Because the value of a king on its own is 13, it can be removed without being paired – exposing other cards on the tableau.

  • Only cards that aren't covered can be removed – Once a card has been removed, the card above is deemed "exposed" and is now in play, meaning it can be freely matched with other exposed cards and removed from the pyramid. As long as a card isn't overlapped by any other card, it's in play.

  • You cannot reuse cards in the foundation pile – once pairs that add up to 13 are matched, they are in the foundation pile and no longer in play. Keep the foundation pile face-down and the waste pile face-up to avoid confusion.

  • You can play between the waste pile and the deck – If the face-up card on the waste pile and the card face-up on the deck add up to 13, you can also remove these from play.

  • There's a limit on pile cycling – Players can only cycle through the waste and stock piles three times. If a player cycles through more than this on either pile, they forfeit the game.

  • Empty spaces in the pyramid cannot be filled – Once you remove a card, the slot cannot be filled with another card – you must remove the pyramid as is.

Other Pyramid Solitaire variants

Because of the low chance of winning at Pyramid Solitaire, other variants can provide players with a more enjoyable experience, for example:

  • Relaxed Pyramid – Only the cards in the pyramid need to be cleared. In this variant, you can still win with cards remaining in the stock and waste piles.

  • Apophis Solitaire - Uses three waste piles instead of one. This gives the player more options to match cards with any exposed cards in the pyramid.

  • Triangle – In this variant, the pyramid is inverted, redeals are allowed, and there is a further reserve pile of seven cards.

  • Cheops solitaire – This is a variation of Pyramid Solitaire in which you remove pairs of cards with consecutive ranks rather than pairs that add up to 13.

Basic play

Firstly, examine the bottom row of the pyramid. Out of the available cards on the row, see if a combination adds up to 13. If so, take them both and place them into the foundation pile to eliminate them from play.

If you can't move, turn up a card from the face-down stockpile and see if its value can be added to any exposed cards to make thirteen. If you can't, place it to the side to form a waste pile and pick up another card from the stock pile until you can make a match with any exposed cards in the pyramid. Cards are only considered exposed when no other cards overlap them.

The game ends when one of two end conditions is met. Players win the game when all the cards in the pyramid, waste, and stockpiles are moved to the foundation pile. The game is also over when you have cycled through the stock and waste piles three times.

Also see our video tutorial.

How to win Pyramid Solitaire

Because of how challenging it can be to win a game of Pyramid Solitaire, it's even more important to know tips and tricks of the trade to give yourself the greatest possible chance of winning.

Following these simple pointers, you can transform your game.

  • Look for blockers – Blockers are any cards or card formations that seriously impede your ability to win or make the game unwinnable. For example, a seven surrounded by all four sixes means the game is immediately unwinnable. Kings also act as blockers, so remove these as soon as you expose them. Many versions of online solitaire highlight blockers and filter out any unwinnable games to save you time and hassle.

  • Play Kings as they pop up - A king is already valued at 13, so no other partner card is needed for it to be removed. No matter where it is, there's no reason not to play a king immediately. Despite being a free card, a king can block a path to victory if you're not observant enough.

  • Hold off from matching cards between piles – In Pyramid Solitaire, players are allowed to cycle through their deck and waste piles up to three times. Because the cards are always in the same order, you can remember which cards are where and match them later.

Waiting until later into the game gives you the best chance to clear as much of the pyramid as possible before matching cards from the piles.

  • Prioritize the discard pile - Even if a card turns up that you need to play to the pyramid, put it into the discard pile first. You can play the move from the discard pile while revealing a new card at the top of the deck, giving you additional information to work with.

  • Get more information - Delaying your moves and getting more information about your stock and waste piles opens more doors in the game. Don't pass up a card you need, but if you can get more information before committing to pairs, you'll be able to better adapt to your game situation.

  • Spread the play - Try to remove the pyramid evenly on both sides. If only one side is gone, you have to get extremely lucky to pull the exact cards that can eliminate seven rows of cards on one side to win.

Pyramid Solitaire glossary

Blocked - When you can't make or find any more moves to progress the game. Being blocked is a pivotal point whereby you can win or lose.

Blocker – A blocker is a card that is causing an obstruction. This is because you might not have seen a way out, or reserve cards need to be cycled to remove that card from play or win the game.

Deck (stockpile) - A conventional pack of 52 playing cards. Within Pyramid Solitaire, the word deck also refers to a pile or hand which you can also deal into the game.

Exposed cards - The cards in the pyramid that aren't overlapped by any other card on the layout and are available to pair.

Foundation pile - This is a pile or area on the layout. In this case, the aim is to stack all the cards from the pyramid, deck, and waste pile onto the foundation pile.

Pyramid – The pyramid is the starting layout of the first 28 cards on the tableau – with each row containing an additional card to form a pyramid shape.

Rank - The value of the card. Card ranks change depending on the game type. For example, in Pyramid Solitaire, aces are valued at one, while the jack, queen, and king cards are respectively valued at 11, 12, and 13. Every other number card holds the value stated on the card.

Tableau – Refers to the main playing area and is the part of the layout where all action happens. In Pyramid Solitaire, this is where the pyramid itself sits.

Waste pile – An additional pile for unused deck cards. Cards from the stockpile that cannot be immediately used are cycled into a waste pile to reveal new cards in the deck.

Pyramid Solitaire Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many cards do you use in Pyramid Solitaire?

A traditional game of Pyramid Solitaire uses 28 cards. There are 7 rows of cards – the base having 7 cards. As you go up the pyramid, each row has one less card until you get to one card at the pyramid's peak.

Why do you add to 13 in Pyramid Solitaire?

When using a standard 52-card deck, each suit has 13 cards – meaning attributing a value to the jack, queen, and king cards is what makes the game possible.

What are the odds of winning Pyramid Solitaire?

Surprisingly, one of the simpler Solitaire variants has one of the lowest chances of winning.

It's estimated that the win rate of a traditional game of 28-card Pyramid Solitaire is anywhere from 0.5% to 5.5% - making it extremely difficult for the player to come out on top.

What are the values of the cards in Pyramid Solitaire?

All number cards represent their respective value. For example, ace represents one, two represents two, etc.

The face cards follow the same trend. The jack has a value of 11, the queen has a value of 12, and the king is worth 13.

How many times can you go through the deck in Pyramid Solitaire?

You can cycle between the waste pile and the deck three times each – if you cycle through any more than three times, the game is lost because you can't make any more moves.

More games to try

If you like Pyramid Solitaire, be sure to try:

If you’re looking for other classic games, you can always play:

View our full range of over 500 free online games – including Pyramid Solitaire – all of which are completely free to play, now.

About the author

Neal Taparia is one of the founders of Solitaired. He loves playing card games and is interested in understanding how games can help with brain training and skills building. In addition to card games, he also likes fishing and mountain biking.

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