How to Play: Freecell

FreeCell Solitaire is a variation on the classic game and is widely considered one of the most challenging Solitaire games. Sometimes referred to as Baker's Game, FreeCell has become one of the most popular versions of Solitaire after being included as a default game on Microsoft PCs. In fact, Microsoft FreeCell is still popular enough that there have been demands for an online version that mimics the old game and display on Windows 95 and XP. Free Cell is regularly adapted on modern consoles as well with a version available via a Nintendo Switch Online membership that also grants access to classic Super NES titles.

When most people hear of Solitaire, they're likely thinking of Klondike. This is the classic game mode that most people start with, and there are several other great game variants including Spider Solitaire, Pyramid, and more. We're dedicated to providing a great online Solitaire experience with plenty of great features and no advertisements, so you don't have to worry about an ad blocker. We're proud to regularly add new games, and our FreeCell game is one of the most recent. FreeCell may be considered hard, but the good news is that if you follow our guide, you'll be well on your way to becoming a FreeCell pro.

Also, if you like FreeCell, try our other games: Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Mahjong, Minesweeper, and Unscrambled Words.

Check out Solitaire Brain as well, and learn fun facts while you play!

The Pack

A game of FreeCell is played with a standard 52-card deck with the wild cards (Jokers) removed. While you may play with a novelty or custom deck, and our site even allows for you to change card backs and faces, this guide will use terminology pertaining to a standard card deck with typical face values and suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs).

The Object of the Game

The goal of the card game is to build the four home cells in ascending order from Ace up to King. Each suit has its own homecell that will require its own correct sequence of cards. Completing all four sequences wins the game.

The Deal

After shuffling the deck of cards, you'll begin arranging them in eight piles to create the tableau (play area). The first four tableau piles will consist of seven cards, and the remaining four piles will have six. All the cards should be placed face-up with the cards in each tableau column slightly overlapping each other.

Unlike other Solitaire card games where you would have extra cards making up a draw pile, in Free Cell, every card is an exposed card from the start. This means you can immediately analyze any number of cards and potential moves making FreeCell an excellent puzzle game of skill like Sudoku.

Make sure to leave room above the tableau for your empty free cells and homecells. Your homecells act as this game's foundation piles, and each of the four empty freecells can be used to temporarily store single cards throughout the game.

The Play

At the start of the game, you'll want to begin building your homecells as soon as possible. This is similar to any good Solitaire play where you want to get sequences in your foundation piles. Aces are generally safe to move, but be sure you won't need a card before moving it to a homecell since traditional Free Cell rules dictate you won't be allowed to place it back on the tableau or in an empty free cell. Of course, our site's unlimited undo feature will let you undo bad moves.

Cards at the ends of each tableau column are free to play. You can move any of these cards to an empty freecell at any time to free up a new card at the bottom of a column if you need to, but it's generally considered best to avoid this for as long as possible.

You can move exposed cards from the end of one tableau stack to the bottom of another column so long as the cards form a sequence of descending numbers and alternate colors (red suit, black suit, red suit, black suit, etc.). You can even create an empty column this way which will become a powerful tool to help you win.

You can even move an entire sequence of cards if you have the proper amount of freecells open, which is why keeping them open for as long as possible is such a crucial FreeCell strategy. Here are how many cards you can move depending on your cells.

  • Four cells: Five cards
  • Three cells: Four cards
  • Two cells: Three cards
  • One cell: Two cards

The more sequences you can move, the easier it is to control the tableau and create additional empty spaces. Speaking of empty tableau columns, these are the most powerful spaces that allow you to perform supermoves. The number of cards you can move based on your empty free cells doubles for every empty tableau column you have. This means a supermove could theoretically move long sequences of up to ten cards at a time, but the most common use it to move four cards when you only have one of your open cells. Either way, a supermove will always change the game state dramatically. The game ends when you're either done stacking your homecells or when you're out of available moves.

The good news is we automate the counting of how many cards you can move at any given time. You just keep playing!

Free Cell Solitaire is one of the most difficult versions of the game, so don't get discouraged if you're having trouble winning at first. With a bit of practice and strategy, anyone can become a FreeCell pro.