Solitaire Chooser FAQ

Last updated: March 23, 2010


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Here are the answers to a couple of questions I've been asked by people who have used my Hand-Choosing program


Question 1.

Now that I've used the Sol chooser, I am wondering (having forgotten if you already explained this) how you came to devise this "predictor". It's puzzling to a non-math person like myself how a program comes to know on the basis of only 7 cards how the game will ultimately play out????????????/

Answer 1.
Excellent question.
Answers:
1. In your original email to me you said something about "---the odds that the programmer built in to the Solitaire program--". Well, I don't think the programmers built in any particular odds, but the fact that each card is (more or less) randomly chosen for every location with every new deal supplies the basic "odds".
What this means is that every card you turn over in the 7 columns could be ANY card left unchosen at another location. So, my rules attempt to optimaize the effect of any new card you turn over.
From playing many many hands of Klondike Solitaire, I have observed that, generally, the more "help" you get right at the beginning of a hand, the more likely you are to win it. So, my handchooser (the "Dealing" Rules)attempts to evaluate each hand dealt for its immediate value in getting you off to a good start.

Once started, (ie, you have used up all the beginning moves you can make) all help from the handchooser is lost except for this IMPORTANT FACT: You will have already turned over a larger number of cards with a high handchooser score than with a low handchooser score.
Then, using my PLAYING rules becomes very important.

2. The name of the game is uncovering cards as early as possible so as little as possible is UNKNOWN to you at any given time. The sooner you know MORE, the better adavantage you can take of "shifting" the cards in the upper left stack.
You still have to be smart to win often. But you have to depend somewhat less on random chance.

Another example of "upping the ante":
We used to play Clue a lot with one or two other couples when we were first married. No video games, no money, etc. My wife was always better at remembering cards played, etc,, than I was. So I devised a way to use 4 columns of the "detective notes" so I could learn something from every play that anyone made. After that, I never lost a game again. You see, it was a simple defensive measure to bring myself up to her level.
Everybody got tired of me winning ALL the time, so I showed them my method. After that, it took about 4 times as long to play a game, but everybody was a lot more involved, and I didn't win so often.

If you study the webpage again, you will see, almost exactly how the chooser "thinks". This link:
http://www.spaco.org/solrules.htm
lists the Solitaire rules, but not the exact scoring method. And I added about 4 more rules when I finally coded it up. Some of the rules have higher values than others and some actually have negative values. Low cards (below 8, except for the ace) have negative values. 8's and 9's have no value at all unless they are part of a move. 10's and up have a plus value of 1, pairs a value of 2. Aces only have a value of 1 because all they really do for you is to provide one more spot to put a card, etc, etc...

In my old (first version) solitaire scoring program format, the reason for each total score was displayed as the "score" element was computed.

Question 2.
I dealt my hand, then entered the cards from L to R on the SolChooser. Then I played my hand and won (truly won...all cards moved to the four ace piles).

Finally, I hit "run" on SolCh, and lo and behold I got a score of -1 -- surely not an indication of a winning hand!

Am I doing something wrong?

Answer 2.
The top 7 cards ARE only 7 of the 28 cards in the 7 columns. I guess I should have commented about your earlier question asking how the top 7 cards can "predict" a win. They can't. All the chooser does is to give you a better CHANCE of winning, because you have a "head start".
You aren't doing anything wrong. Random chance is always at work here.
But, that "head start" is valuable in winning more games. The higher the score, the better the head start. Of course, higher scores don't come up as often as lower scores. Someday I plan to automate the Solitaire handchooser so I can just tell it what score I want and then have it present only those games for me to play.

Question 3:
> Hey..., whatever happened to doing the best you can with the cards you are dealt?

Answer 3:
Good question!
Here's what's at issue, as I see it:
Do you want to be a victim of statistics, or, knowing what's at work there, optimize the chances of winning?
If you simply take the hand as dealt, you are using one level of brainpower.
That's the area that I address with my "playing rules".

It you decide to optimize, you are using 2 levels of brainpower. I feel that the 2-level approach is much more rewarding. That's the area that I address with my "hand choosing'" rules.

Sure, you can simply take the cards you are dealt and see how often you win a game.
Let's say one is seven is your average. Then you compete with yourself to see if you can move to 1 in 6.5 or 1 in 6.0 over a long period of time.

Or you can take my approach. Then, you can work to move from winning one game in two to winning 3, 4, or 5 consecutive games.
And, if you want, keep track of your average win time and "best ever".

More brain work is required as you move up each step.

If all you want to do is to use up some time, and you don't feel you need to keep pushing yourself, no need to pay any attention to anything I might say.