11 One-Player Card Games for When You’re Tired of Solitaire

published Sep 18, 2023
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Hands of someone playing cards at table. The cards are bright and colorful. Snacks and other games on table
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

If you’re anything like me, you learned to play solitaire at a young age (and then played it all the time while your brothers had fun with their own friends). But playing the same card game over and over can get a little boring. Make cards fun again by adding some other card games to your rotation that you can play all on your own. Each of these games use a standard deck of 52 cards — although in some, you might have to remove some choice cards. Happy playing!

1. Pyramid

Aside from regular solitaire, this was my go-to game. It uses a full deck. In Pyramid, you make — wait for it — a pyramid with the cards. You start with one face-up card, then layer two face-up cards on top of that, then three, then four, and continue until you have seven face-up cards. The goal is to remove the whole pyramid by making card pairs that equal 13.

The face cards have specific values: jacks are 11, queens are 12, and kings are 13 (meaning they’re the only ones that don’t need a match to remove). Put the remainder of the deck on the side, face-down, as your stockpile. You can turn three cards up at a time from the stockpile. Using only cards that don’t have another card on top of it, eliminate as many cards as possible with values that add up to 13. Once you can’t remove any more, the game is over. If the pyramid is gone, you win. If not, you lose.

2. Scoundrel

For Scoundrel, remove the jokers, red face cards, and red aces from your deck. You’ll probably also want a piece of paper or something to keep score on. In this game, you’re trying to move through a dungeon without getting killed. Each card’s suit means something. Spades and clubs are monsters, diamonds are weapons, and hearts are health. You lay down cards in rows of four to represent the dungeon rooms — and then you battle your way through. To win, get through the entire dungeon.

3. Beleaguered Castle

In Beleaguered Castle, the goal is to get all your cards placed into numerical order by suit and color, from ace to king. Start by putting the four aces in a row down the center of the table. Put all the other cards in rows, six on each side of each ace. You can move cards around the sides as you play, as long as they go in descending numerical order when you stack them. Ultimately, you’ll want all the cards moved into the middle.

4. Forty Thieves

You’ll need two 52-card decks to play Forty Thieves. Shuffle all the cards together, then lay out a row of 10 face-up cards. Follow that by an overlapping row on top of those 10, and then two more rows of 10 face-up cards. The rest of the cards are your draw pile. Basically, you want to create two piles of each suit, all running up from ace to king. You can move one card at a time from the layout to either another row on the layout, or up to the final piles. The draw deck can be turned over one card at a time. Win by finishing all your piles.

5. Hope Deferred

Hope Deferred uses a pack of 32 cards called a Piquet deck. You can make your own by removing all the twos through sixes. From there, your goal is to eliminate the clubs in the deck. Deal out three face-up cards and remove every club. One by one, deal out four more lines of three cards, discarding clubs as you go along. At the end of five rows, shuffle and repeat. Repeat the process one more time, for a total of three shuffles. If all the clubs are out after that, you win!

6. Beehive

What could be more fun than a solitaire game completely dedicated to helping bees pollinate flowers? In Beehive, the goal is to separate the deck into four-of-a-kind sets. First, make a pile of 10 cards, face up, with only the top card showing. This is your beehive. Then, lay out two rows of three face-up cards. These are your flowers. Go through the game by sending bees to the flower garden, creating sets of four cards.

7. Accordion

In Accordion, the ideal goal is to get all 52 cards into one pile. It’s a simple game — you lay cards out in one continuous row until you get a match. It can match by either suit or value, but you can only match the most recent card to the one immediately to its left, or the third card to the left. Continue with your row until you’ve run through the whole deck. You can compete with yourself by seeing how few piles you can get the deck into on each play.

Credit: Nancy Beijersbergen/Shutterstock

8. Bowling

If you like to bowl, you’ll love Bowling. Take a standard deck and remove all the face cards. You only want aces (representing 1) to 10s. Put 10 cards face-up in a bowling pin configuration — one card on the bottom up to four cards at the top. Put the remaining cards into three piles (one pile of five, one pile of three, and one pile of two). Now, you have to knock down pins by matching card values. Amp up the fun factor by using a bowling score sheet to score your game.

9. Monte Carlo

For Monte Carlo, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck. Lay out a grid of 25 cards — five rows and five columns — all face up. The rest of the cards are your stockpile. Now, try to match the face-up cards in pairs by value. The cards must be horizontally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent to count as a pair. Remove each pair from the tableau. When no more matches exist, move the cards up to the top left and then fill in the empty spaces from the stockpile to complete the grid again. Continue matching and restocking until you can’t do any more.

10. Osmosis

Osmosis is a unique solitaire game because you only need to match suits — the order of the cards doesn’t matter. Start with a 52-card deck, and lay down a row of four face-up piles of four cards each. Deal one card, face up, next to the top row. Try to match the suit of that card with any of the cards in your four piles. Add each card of the same suit to that foundation. Eventually you’ll have four foundation piles, one for each suit. But the trick is, you can only play the same numerical value of one of the cards in the foundation above it. So if my first foundation is hearts and has a five, jack, ace, and two, I can only use one of those cards in another suit to begin my second foundation row. If you’re more of a visual learner, watch this video for a better walkthrough.

11. Devil’s Grip

For Devil’s Grip, you need two 52-card decks with the aces removed. Start by placing three rows of eight cards face up, and place the rest of the cards in a pile face down as your draw deck. The goal is to create piles of the same suit in the following order:

2, 5, 8, J

3, 6, 9, Q

4, 7, 10, K

You’re free to rearrange the cards as needed to make the pile organization easier. Stack your cards into the proper spots, filling in holes in the grid from your draw deck as you go along. Once you can no longer make any stacks, pull cards from the draw deck in sets of three to try to finish the order.