In most online casino’s the odds of winning are clear prior to placing a bet, however is this also the case when playing Solitaire or Casino Patience?

An interesting question is what the odds are of moving all cards when playing a game of Solitaire, Patience or Klondike. Most games, especially casino and online casino games have a RTP (Return to Player). This is a statistical figure that gives an idea about the house advantage. For instance most Roulette games have a return to player of about 98% – 99%, this means that the house has only 1% or 2% advantage. For you as a player this basically means for every USD/EUR wagered you will loose on average 1 or 2 cents in the long run.

Normally you will get the RTP by playing a huge number of games (millions) and then look at the result. Sometimes it’s also a mathematical solution that can determine the RTP, for Solitaire I was unable to find either.

So let’s start at the beginning, can you actually increase your chances of winning when playing Solitaire? I mean its just a bunch of cards that have been shuffled so how much influence do you have right? Or are there a handful of strategies you have to follow to achieve the maximum outcome?

Obviously never draw any cards from the stockpile until you are absolutely sure that are no more moves to be made. This sounds kind of logical but this is actually the biggest challenge of the game, especially after playing many games in a row you might loose out on your sharpness and the 7 column stacks. Most versions of Solitaire have the ‘undo’ button, this will allow the player to correct a move but only if the cards hasn’t moved into one of the foundations yet.   Aim to unlock as many cards as possible but don’t move cards unless there is immediate gain. Sometimes it’s possible to move cards without unlocking new ones, although this might seem tempting at first as you want to ‘organize’ your game and utilize all the possibilities its not always a winning strategy. Consider yourself moving a 5 of Hearts onto a 6 of spades without unlocking new cards, but just to open up a new space on the tableau but there are no Kings to put there yet. The 5 of Diamonds might be next card on the Stock Pile, and you wouldn’t be able to place this on the deck if you already moved 5 of Hearts in that position.   Try and avoid moving your cards into the foundation stacks unless you are absolutely sure you won’t need them to anchor or move lower ranked cards from the stockpile.  Sometimes its tempting to move as many cards as possible to the foundation stockpile, especially in Casino Patience or Casino Solitaire where you get a return for each card you move into the foundation, however this might prevent you from placing low (er) ranked cards from the stockpile into the game.   When faced with the choice of moving two similar cards, one from the stockpile or one from the tableau, always try and expose a card you cannot see. The cards in the stockpile will all become visible at one point in time, for those cards face down in the tableau it might be the only opportunity to move them in the game.   If a card from the stockpile can’t be placed in the column stacks but can be placed directly into the foundation, move it in the foundation.  

Despite following the above-mentioned tips, you might still be confronted with games you can’t finish. Perhaps even the best players might just not be able to finish certain games of solitaire. Solitaire is a game that existed long before modern technology, and that means that all the cards are truly shuffled, without the computer peeking in to verify the game is solvable. So if you play a game of old fashioned Solitaire or Patience with a real deck of cards and shuffle them manually, you might indeed end up with a game that can’t be solved. An extreme example to clarify: If all of your cards face up on the tableau are red, and from the cards that come up every third card is also red, and none of them are aces.

The number of different starting scenario’s for a Solitaire is immense, basically 52 factorial shuffles can be made. If you would have to put that into a number that would be an 8 with 67 zeros behind it. To store even a small amount of these starting scenarios would require a substantial amount of terabytes because of the astronomical number of probabilities involved.

So it really depends on the software developer if a game can be solved or not it seems. If you only want to play only Solitaire setups that can be won, this might just be a good place for you:

I had a look at the Casino Patience that is currently on offer at Betsafe, Casino Euro, Betsson, Oranje Casino Kroon Casino and Nordicbet and according to the rules of the game the theoretical return to the player is 91.63%. There has been some interesting research into Klondike, Patience and Solitaire and the math / complexity of the game. Especially the paper ‘Solitaire: Man Versus Machine’ from researchers Yan, Diaconis, Rusmevichientong and Van Roy from Stanford University is a good read should you wish to know more about this.