By Neal - 10/25/2022
If you’ve got some time to kill, one of the best ways to do it is with a deck of cards. Whether you go online or use one or two decks of cards, we have a list of 13 of the best single-player card games that only need one person — yourself — to play.
This guide helps you understand and play 13 different solo card games — some based on Classic Solitaire, all of which are lots of fun.
If you’re just getting started with playing card games, these beginner-level games are a great way to jump right in and challenge yourself.
Pretty much everyone knows Solitaire, sometimes referred to as the patience game or Klondike Solitaire. With a standard deck of cards, you try to get all four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades) into foundation piles from ace to king.
This game likely originated sometime in the late 1790s to early 1800s. It’s appealing as an individual game because it’s easy to learn, and you can try to beat your own scores online. Many other games on this list are derived from this classic solitaire card game.
Get a standard deck of cards.
Create a tableau (or “table”) where you lay out the cards by dealing seven cards in a row from left to right. The first card to the left is face up, and the other six are face down, forming the initial columns
Deal six new cards, starting with the second column, with that card face up and the remaining five cards face down. Repeat this until each of the columns has a face-up card. The first column will have one face-up card and no facedown cards, while the last column will have one face-up card and six facedown cards.
Once you’ve dealt the cards, the remaining cards make up the stockpile. You can draw from it and play it in the tableau or foundation piles.
To access the facedown cards on the tableau, you will need to remove the face-up cards on top of them by moving those cards either to the foundation pile or to their opposite color in descending order on other face-up cards.
You win the game by completing each foundation pile from ace to king.
The object of the game for Poker Squares is to get the best ten poker hands as possible — five in each column and five in each row. You have five cards in each column on the tableau, and then you draw from the deck to determine which column should build onto the hand you are creating. You get 10 points for a royal flush, nine points for a straight flush, eight points for four of a kind, and so on — all the way down to two points for a pair.
Take a standard deck of cards.
Deal five cards in the first row face up.
Flip the first card from the draw pile and determine which column to put it in.
Gradually build up ten hands of five cards each.
Tally up the score based on the point system for poker.
Win by beating your highest score each time you play.
The objective of The Wish is to match cards of equal rank no matter their color or suit, and to clear all the pairs off of the table. This deceptively simple objective requires a lot of strategy. You will use an unorthodox 32-card deck (a standard deck with all the twos and sixes removed), and you will build eight columns of four cards face up in each column. As a matching game, this can be super satisfying to play by yourself.
Get a standard deck and remove all of the twos and sixes.
Deal the cards so there are eight columns with four cards each face up.
If a row showing the entire cards has a pair, such as two kings on the first row, match them and remove them from the table.
Keep matching until you match all of the cards.
Keep in mind you can only match cards that are on the row where you can see the full card.
The objective of Pyramid is to get all of the cards from the pyramid into one pile, which you can do by pairing cards together to add up to 13 (with aces being worth one point, twos being worth two points, and so on, all the way up to kings which are worth 13 points). Keep in mind that kings don’t need to pair to be sent to the foundation pile in this game.
This game originated in the 1990s in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack as a variation called Tut’s Tomb.
Take a single deck and deal it into a pyramid with one card at the top, followed by two cards below that, then three, and so on until there are seven rows with the final row having seven cards — all face up.
You can play from the stockpile and the tableau by playing cards in pairs that add up to 13 (so a six and a seven, for example).
The color and suit of the cards do not matter, so you can pair diamonds with clubs and so on.
Once you pair them, remove them from the pyramid.
You can match a card in the stockpile with a card in the tableau (the pyramid).
You win when you remove all cards from the pyramid.
Devil’s Grip is a one-player card game where you take two decks of cards with aces removed and try to stack all of the cards with matching suits. You must do this in a specific sequence:
Top row: two, five, eight, jack
Middle row: three, six, nine, queen
Bottom row: four, seven, ten, king
You place three rows of eight cards in the tableau, all facing up, and then the stockpile at the bottom of the grid.
Take two decks of cards and remove the aces.
Set up the tableau with three rows of eight cards, all facing up, and place the remaining cards in a stockpile below the grid.
Play by swapping cards from row to row while keeping the three-row, eight-card layout. For example, if you have a four in the top row and a jack in the bottom row, you can swap them so that the four is in the bottom and the jack is in the top. You are trying to get them into the sequences listed above.
Once they are in their correct row for the sequences, you can stack the cards according to sequence and rank.
After making all possible tableau moves, you can tap into the stockpile, drawing three cards at a time to see if you can play the first card from the draw on the tableau. If so, you can play the next card drawn, and so on until all three cards are used (or you have to draw again).
You can keep swapping cards from row to row throughout the game.
If you have an empty space on the tableau, you can use the top card from the stockpile to fill it.
Once you have run out of moves, the game is over.
Your score is the number of cards left in the stockpile at the end when there aren’t any more moves, so the lower the score you get, the better.
If you’ve decided it’s time to move on to a bigger challenge, these fun card games offer an intermediate-level of play that may be just the trick.
In Sea Towers, you’ll use a regular deck of cards and try to get four foundation piles built up from ace to king using 10 columns in the tableau with five cards in each column. This leaves two cards that will go in two of the four free cell columns, leaving space for any other two cards as the game progresses.
Take a standard deck of cards and deal 10 columns of five cards each into a column, and place the remaining two cards into the four free cell spaces.
Move cards to and from the tableau columns to gradually build columns in descending order by rank (and in the same suit).
Keep in mind you can only move single cards, and only kings can be placed in the empty spot.
You must get all cards into the foundation piles to win.
Spider Solitaire is different from Classic Solitaire in that you use two decks of cards and can play one suit, two suits, or four suits depending on how difficult you want to make the game (the more suits, the more difficult it is).
Spider Solitaire likely originated back in the 1930s but came to renewed popularity after it was introduced in Microsoft Windows. It’s called Spider Solitaire because, with the four-suit version, you must collect eight sequences (like a spider’s eight legs) due to the fact you’re using two decks.
Take two standard decks of playing cards, regardless of how many suits you decide to play with (one, two, or four).
Create 10 columns of cards in the tableau, with the first four columns from the left having five cards face down and the final sixth card face up. The remaining six columns should have four facedown cards and a fifth face up card.
In Classic Solitaire, as soon as you have access to an ace, you can move it to the foundation pile to start building it. But in Spider Solitaire, you must first build the foundations in the tableau from king down to ace before you can start building the foundation piles.
After completing a sequence on the tableau, you can remove that sequence of cards and keep playing until you have all eight sequences. Keep in mind you can play a red queen on top of a red king, and then a black jack on that red queen, unlike in Classic Solitaire where you must alternate colors.
The objective of Beehive Solitaire is to get all cards in groups with matching ranks and then move them to the foundation piles. Suit is not a factor in this game. It’s basically a twist on a matching game.
Take a standard deck of cards and deal six cards in one row, all face up, to form the tableau.
Take the “beehive,” or a stack of 10 cards with one card face up, and put it to the right of the tableau. You can only use the face-up card in the tableau.
Use the remaining deck of cards as the stockpile. You can draw three cards at a time from the deck and you must use the top card first, and then the cards beneath it if you can clear that card.
To win, stack all cards in groups with matching ranks by moving matching card ranks to other card ranks on the tableau. So, if two kings are on the tableau, move one of them to the other to start a stack of kings, and then move any other card to the free space.
Emperor is a game where, using two decks of cards, you try to get all cards to their eight foundation piles in sequences (ace to king).
Take two decks of cards and create the tableau by dealing 10 columns with three facedown cards each, and then a fourth card that is face up.
Build on cards in a column by taking a card that is one rank lower and alternating color, and putting it under the face-up card — just like in Classic Solitaire.
You can only move one card at a time, not whole columns, and any card can fill an empty space.
Like in Classic Solitaire, an ace starts the foundation pile, and you can tap into the stockpile when you run out of moves on the tableau (although you can only go through the stockpile once).
The objective is to build eight foundation piles from ace to king.
In Clock Solitaire, you want to get all 13 face-up piles of four of a kind, and you lose if the fourth king is turned face up before you complete all the other sets. You will use a regular deck of cards for this game. Keep in mind that this game is almost entirely about luck.
Take a standard deck of cards and deal them face down into 13 piles of four cards that are in a circle so it looks like a clock, with the 13th pile in the middle of the circle.
Turn the top card of the 13th pile over to see the number or face on the card, and then move it under the pile on that card’s number (so if you turned the card over and it’s a two, you would place it in the pile that would be where the clock hand would point to if it were two o’clock).
Draw the top card of the pile you just placed the last card into, and see what card you get, and then move it under the appropriate pile. For face cards, jacks would go in the 11th pile, queens into the 12th pile, and kings in the 13th pile in the middle.
Once all 13 piles are face-up piles of four-of-a-kind, you win. But you lose if the fourth king is turned face up before the other sets are complete.
Looking for an even bigger challenge? These advanced level games may scratch your itch.
As the name implies, Forty Thieves involves using 40 cards that are dealt into 10 columns on the tableau. To win, you must build eight suits into the foundation piles in ascending order from ace to king, with the remaining cards in a stockpile.
The game — also called Napoleon at St. Helena — has an interesting history, and there is a rumor that Napoleon once played this game (although it’s unlikely).
Take two standard decks of cards and remove 64 of the cards to create a stockpile above the tableau. You will only get one pass through the stockpile.
Take the remaining 40 cards and deal 10 columns for four cards on the tableau, all face up.
You will build eight foundation piles from ace to king, and you will draw from the remaining cards in the stockpile during gameplay.
You move cards on the tableau by placing cards in descending order of the same colors (unlike in Classic Solitaire where colors must alternate).
To win, move all tableau cards into their foundation piles.
The goal of Beleaguered Castle is to get all cards into four foundation piles from ace to king, with the four aces already placed in the foundation piles (making this an easier version of Streets and Alleys).
Take a standard deck and place the aces in the foundation piles.
Deal eight columns of six cards each to make up the tableau — all cards face up.
Build the tableau in descending order without worrying about alternating colors, but you can only move a single card at the end of each column to the other — no moving of entire stacks.
You win when you get all cards into their foundation piles.
In Canfield, the first card you deal begins the first foundation pile, and it also serves as the base for the other foundation piles. So if you play a three of diamonds, all of the other foundations (hearts, spades, and clubs) must start with a three.
The game was introduced by a casino owner in the 1890s. It’s a very hard game to win at, so it’s a great option if you’re up for a real challenge.
Take a standard deck of cards and deal four cards face up to form the tableau.
Place a reserve pile of 13 cards to the left of the tableau, with 12 cards face down and a 13th card face up.
Place the remaining cards in a stockpile above the 13 cards.
Play the first card drawn from the stockpile into the first of four foundation piles — whatever card you chose will be the base card for all the other foundation piles as well, so if you drew a six, all the other foundation piles must also start with a six.
Build the tableau in descending order and with alternate colors, like Classic Solitaire.
Draw three cards at a time from the stockpile, and you can only play the top card of the three (and if you can play that card, you can access the next one, and so on).
To win, build the foundation piles to collect each suit.
This guide just scratches the surface of all of the single-player card games you can play, either online at Solitaired or with a card deck, whenever you’re bored or just want to challenge your brain with something new.