Pete's Rules for winning at Solitare

Created: January, 2004
Last Revised: October 22, 2023

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There is not much point in playing a "hand" that doesn't give you a good start. Statistically, anything can happen, so first, spend a little time applying my "Dealing Rules" until you get a GOOD beginning hand. Then apply my "Playing Rules" to improve your odds of winning the games you DO decide are worth your time. Using these rules, I can win at least one of every two hands, and am often able to win three or more hands in a row.
I have built a program to apply my rules by plugging your "hand" into my program. It scores the "goodness" of the hand. Contact me if you are interested in SolHandChooserV1.exe

Dealing Rules

Deal out the hand in the normal way. Now look at the cards that are face up on the seven columns (the board). Don't even start playing unless these dealing rules are met. Just re-deal.

1.Must have at least one ace showing.
2.No duplicate values, even if they are different colors
3.Half of the non-aces of each color
4.Half of the non-aces must be face cards
5.If an ace is in the first (leftmost)position, then rule 2, or 3 or 4 may be voided, especially if there is a king showing.
6.You must be able to make at least two moves from the board, plus put up at least one ace, without using ANY cards from the stack. If you can't, then abandon that game.

In December of 2003 I committed these "Hand Chooser" rules to a computer program. These "computer rules" are slighlty different, but substantially the same. If you are really into this, email me and I will send you the program. It is a Windows program, so most likely it will run on your computer.
To use this program, I run solitaire in one window, down in the lower right hand corner of the screen and run the "Hand Chooser" program in the upper left hand corner. I enter the value and suit of each card from the new hand into the program and press "run". The program does its thing and prints out the "score" for that hand. My "scoring" system delivers results from about -10 to +10 and suggests that you only play hands whose score is +4 or higher, although a +6 give you a lot better chance of winning.

Playing Rules (not necessarily in order of importance)

Once you have an acceptable beginning hand, use these rules to maximize your chances of winning.
1. Your main goal is to turn over all the cards on the board first. So, whenever you are faced with either taking a card from the stack or moving a card on the board, ALWAYS move the card on the board first. The second priority (NOT the first!)goal is to get all the aces up asap. The third priority goal is to get all the kings showing as soon as possible.
The reasons for these 2nd and third goals is to increase the number of places where you can play a card.

2. Always make all the possible moves on the board before turning over any cards in the stack.

3. When there is a choice of two things to move, always move the card from the column with the smallest number of unturned cards first. This readies an empty space to receive a king as soon as possible. Also, after all four kings have been turned up or placed on the board, there is no point in emtpying any more spaces. Sometimes it may even be detrimental to do so, because it limits your ability to add to a card in the middle of a set because you just covered it up.

4.When there is a choice of two identical moves, always move the one with the shortest stack. For example, let's say you have two red tens either of which could be moved to a black jack. One stack has three unturned cards and the other has two unturned cards. You move the red ten from the stack with two unturned cards.

5.When you are stumped for a move, consider taking cards OFF an Aces pile, putting them back into play in an appropriate position on the board, to enable further productive moves.

6.When you are stumped for a move, consider moving cards or a set of cards from similar sets to enable adding to the ace piles so that you can eventually uncover a useful card in the stack.

7.When taking cards from the stack, after going thru the whole thing once or twice, don't take more than two cards in a row. If you take only one or two cards, then the remaining cards will be automatically and legally "shuffled" the next time around, giving you a higher probability of finding a useful card. Watching the 2 "underneath" cards in the each 3-card draws carefully can direct your planning how many easy-to-use cards to take the next time through the stack.

8.As you are going thru the stack, particularly at the beginning of a game, start to notice whether or not "needed" cards are present. If not, abandon the game.

9.It is important to get as many cards shifted on the board as possible right away. See rule 2. When the going gets tough, don't use the card at the end of the stack even if you can play it because it will always be there anyway and it won't shift in the deck anyway. That is, unless playing it will CLEARLY enable another productive move.

10.During the first one or two passes through the stack, when a king becomes available and there is room for it, don't place it on the board unless you have either a queen of the opposite color or a jack of the same color somewhere else at the top of a column on the board. The reason for this is that there is a fair chance early on that a king of the right color (quickly playable)will come up later in the stack.

11.If you see that a needed card value appears or will appear twice in one run through the stack, always take the earliest one. This assures that the shifting of the deck will effect more cards.

Using these rules, you may find that you have to deal as many as ten times to get an acceptable hand, but the hands that you DO play will be much more productive.

Disclaimer of Everything Really Bad

I hereby cheerfully accept all accolades for having done a good job at my initial shot at publishing these rules. By the same token, I accept no responsibility whatsoever for any sleepless nights caused by trying to figure them out if my command of the English language was insufficient to convey my meaning. I will, however, accept a certain, forever to be undefined amount of mild criticism of their presentation here.

Email me to fill me in on any goodies that I have not yet discovered or about any major dicrepencies.
This offer does not extend to commenting upon my spelling errors. It n'ist my fwlt-dis brwsr dosnet due it fourme.