How to Play: Pyramid Solitaire

Solitaire, as the name suggests, is a good game to play by yourself both for fun and as a challenge. It's an easy game to set up, it often goes fast, and you don't have to go through the trouble of getting people together to play. Whether you're playing solitaire games with your own card deck with real cards or playing a free online game, you can always strive to beat your own personal best record or go up against the records of others. Some people have completed card games in just a few seconds!

Klondike Solitaire is the version most people are familiar with, so much so that it's often simply referred to as "solitaire," and many people don't realize that there are actually other ways to play the game. Pyramid solitaire is just one of the alternative options for a fun solitaire game. Also called Solitaire 13, Pyramid is a simple game that's quick to set up and can often be completed in just a few minutes. Here is our detailed guide for pyramid solitaire how to play.

The Pack

Pyramid is played using a standard 52-card deck. If you're looking for a classic card game experience, try our pyramid solitaire free online game with standard face cards and card backs. You can naturally play with a novelty or custom deck if you want, but our guide will use the rules and terminology intended for a standard deck.

The Object of the Game

The objective of pyramid solitaire is to move pairs of cards that add up to 13 from the pyramid down to the foundation (discard pile). You can match cards based on their face value to remove them. With standard rules, the face cards are valued as follows.

  • Jack = 11
  • Queen = 12
  • King = 13
  • Ace = 1

Since kings are already valued at 13, they can be immediately moved to the foundation as a single card. A perfect score for pyramid is zero since the idea is to move every card to the foundation. If there are remaining cards that can't be paired, the game of pyramid solitaire results in a loss. This makes it different from many games where you're attempting to earn the highest score possible.

Starting a Game

The pyramid solitaire rules for setup are relatively simple. It's a unique solitaire card game in that it requires you to arrange the tableau (the play area for building your foundation) in an unusual way. Instead of using the typical seven-row foundation of the original game, you'll be building the tableau in the shape of a pyramid.

After you shuffle the deck, begin by placing a single card as the top of the pyramid. Below the top card, you'll place a pair of cards forming a triangle. You'll then place three cards beneath them and so on until you finish with a row of seven cards. In total, you should have 28 pyramid cards. The remaining cards in the deck are placed to the side and used as the stock pile (also called a draw pile).

The Play

At the start of the game, you'll reveal the top card of the draw pile. This is your first stock card, and you'll attempt to use it as one of the combination cards with an exposed card on the pyramid to add up to 13. If you're successful, you can move both combination cards to the waste pile (sometimes called the talon). Solitaire uses a single discard pile, meaning each card in the wastepile is placed on top of the previous. If you're unable to form a combo (reaching an impasse), the stock card will have to be placed in the wastepile on its own.

You'll continue pulling new cards from the draw pile and making combos when you can to whittle down the form of a pyramid. The game ends when the draw pile is exhausted and you can no longer pair combination cards or when you've successfully removed all pyramid cards. Only the latter results in a win.

Strategies

There are a few pyramid solitaire strategy tips you can use to increase your odds of winning. Every new game can be thought of as a puzzle you'll need to figure out.

Firstly, instead of worrying about clearing the pyramid from the top row to the bottom, try to remove each side evenly. This will give you more options for combos as the game progresses.

Another important tip is to always use the wastepile when you can. Even if your next card from the stock creates combination cards, you can still place it over a useless card in the talon. This gives you a viable option in the waste pile and lets you draw another stock card, which gives you more valuable information for the game.

Lastly, if your pyramid has multiple cards of the same rank (three Queens, for example), try to match those cards with other pyramid cards instead of cards from the stock pile. The lower the stock gets, the lower your chances of finding successful combination cards.

We hope our games and tips will help any fan of cards during their pyramid solitaire saga. We have other free games as well including spider solitaire and freecell solitaire. All our games come with functionalities to undo turns, receive hints when you're stuck, and customize your cards.