How to Play FreeCell Solitaire

Solitaires Team

FreeCell gained massive popularity in the 1990s when it was included as one of the card games in Microsoft Windows. It's unique among Solitaire games because it's a game of skill with almost all deals being solvable. Along with Spider Solitaire and classic Klondike, FreeCell became one of the most played Solitaire games around the world. Now it's time to explore FreeCell Solitaire rules and learn how to play this game.

Setting Up FreeCell Solitaire

FreeCell Solitaire requires laying out a standard deck of 52 cards in a specific order.

How to Play FreeCell Solitaire: Setting Up
  • Tableau: This is the main area consisting of 8 columns of cards. Each of the first four columns holds 7 cards and the last consists of 6 cards. All cards are dealt face-up, revealing their values and suits.
  • Free Cells: Above the tableau, there are four spaces as the free cells. These cells are used to temporarily hold cards during play. When the game begins, all free cells start out empty.
  • Foundation Piles: There are four foundation piles in the upper right corner of the playing board. These piles will remain empty at the beginning.

So, let's go over how to play FreeCell Solitaire in more detail.

The Objective

Your goal is to move all the cards to the foundation piles by organizing them by suit and in ascending order, starting from an ace and ending with a king.

How to Play FreeCell Solitaire

FreeCell is the type of Solitaire where strategy rather than luck plays a key role. It's not difficult to learn how to play FreeCell Solitaire. But, since its rules significantly differ from classic Solitaire, they are worth paying attention to.

Move Cards Around the Tableau

Cards can be moved from the bottom of any tableau column to another tableau column if they are one rank lower and of an alternating color. For example, a red 6 can be moved onto a black 7. In this way, you can make sequences of cards. You can also move a sequence from one column to another, provided that the top card of the sequence is one rank lower and of the opposite color.

FreeCell Solitaire Rules: Step 1

Note! The number of cards that can be moved in a sequence on the tableau is equal to the number of free spaces in free cells and empty tableau columns. For example, if you wish to move a sequence of three cards, you need at least three empty spaces combined across the free cells and empty tableau columns. If all free cells are empty, and let's say there is 1 empty column on the tableau, this gives you the opportunity to move a sequence of 5 cards. So, the more empty spaces you have on the playing board, the more maneuverability and options for moves you have.

Build Up Foundations

Four foundation piles are assembled in ascending order from ace to king, sorted by suit. Cards are moved here automatically from the tableau or free cells as play progresses.

FreeCell Solitaire Rules: Step 2

Use Free Cells

Four free cells can temporarily hold one card from the tableau each. Holding cards in free cells allows you to free up moves that would otherwise be impossible. However, the fewer cards in the free cells, the more options you have for moving sequences of cards in the tableau.

FreeCell Solitaire Rules: Step 3

Fill Empty Tableau Columns

Any available card can be moved to an empty tableau column, but strategically it’s often wise to move a king to fill the space.

FreeCell Solitaire Rules: Step 4

Now that you have learned how to play FreeCell Solitaire, you can go directly to the game and test your ability to think strategically! 

How to Win FreeCell Solitaire

FreeCell Solitaire especially requires strategic planning. So, below we have some useful tips that will help you win.

Start with Aces and Twos

At the beginning of the game, prioritize moving aces and twos to the foundation piles as soon as you can. This clears out tableau space and begins the foundation stacks.

Use Free Cells Wisely

The free cells are important for maneuvering cards around. Use them to temporarily hold cards that are blocking others you need to access. However, remember to keep them as empty as possible for greater flexibility.

Create Empty Columns

Clearing an entire column creates an open space that can be used to move sequences of cards. Kings are the best candidates for filling empty columns since they are the highest rank and cannot be placed on any other card.

Plan Ahead

Think about how a move will impact your options for future moves before you make it. Try to plan several steps ahead.

What Are the Odds of Winning FreeCell?

The odds of winning FreeCell Solitaire are significantly higher than those of many other Solitaire games. Skilled players potentially achieve win rates of over 99%. Unlike games that are heavily dependent on the initial deal, nearly every game of FreeCell can be won. Give FreeCell Solitaire a try, and you'll find yourself engrossed in its thrilling gameplay.


Solitaires Team

Solitaires Team

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