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Spider Solitaire Advanced Tips

Plan concurrently

More often than one might think, it's possible to accomplish more than one objective concurrently.
For example, if moves are made in the correct order, it is often possible to guarantee a card turned in more than one column while moving cards in a different order will not.
Usually, one should play the combination of moves that results in the most gains, but what is given up should also be a consideration.

Find the best move

To win the highest percentage of Spider Solitaire games, one should continually play the move that is most likely to lead to a victory.
However, often there are no good options. In these cases, take your time and play the move you feel is most likely to do the least damage, which is equivalent to the move that is most likely to lead to victory.

Order of moves matters

The order in which moves are played does make a difference. Often it can even determine whether a game is won or lost.
For example, you might encounter a game state where you can obviously cause a card to turn in a column. Perhaps it can be accomplished in only three moves.
However, after more study, you discovered that if you move cards in a different order, taking five moves instead of three, you can not only turn that hidden card but also ensure that a hidden card in another column can be flipped.

Move with purpose

Try to resist playing a move simply because it's obvious. Often it pays to forgo a move.
For example, you might have the opportunity to play the six of hearts onto the seven of hearts.
It looks innocuous, so you play it. A bit later, you turn the last hidden card in a column, which happens to be the six of diamonds.
Furthermore, there is much improvement that might be made to the order of the current game state if only a column could be emptied. Unfortunately, there is no open seven available on which to place the six of diamonds to clear the column. But, there would have been an open seven if you had not earlier moved the six of hearts onto the seven of hearts.

Situations such as this can very often make the difference between a win or loss. Sadly, in very many (or most) instances, the player fails to even notice that they committed a grave error.

View open cards as a resource

An open card is one that is visible and has no other card atop it. Unless the card is an ace, at least one more card can be placed atop of it.
Thus, an open card that is not an ace should be viewed as an asset or resource that, once used, is gone. When a card is placed atop of an unused card, it is no longer called unused but is called used.
The idea is to use a card (by placing another card atop of it) in a manner that best increases your chance of victory.
In other words, don't use a valuable resource until you have to but don't be afraid to use it when you feel that it's in your best interest to do so.

Don't waste a vacant column

When a column is vacated, it provides an area to temporarily place cards while transferring them from one column to another.

When a column becomes empty, look for ways that you can use it to move cards between the columns in an advantageous way.
However, even when such a situation is found, it might not be in your best interest to do so immediately (or at all).
Study the game state to be sure and make the moves when you either have to because you are about to close the column (put cards into it that cannot be removed) or when it's to your best advantage.
Making good use of vacant columns is a crucial skill if one wants to win many Spider Solitaire games.

King extraction

Most seem to believe that a king should never be placed into the only empty column but only extracted when more than one column is clear.
As a general rule, this might be good advice, but not always. There are times where kings are jamming up so many columns that if something isn't down very soon, a sure loss is in hand.
In these cases, it might be a good idea to extract a king into the only clear column, since if not, you most certainly will lose anyways.
It's often an act of desperation, offer backfires, but does sometimes pays off with a win. The tricky part is knowing when to go for it.

Leave last card under king

Many players are quick to move a king into the only clear column if only one or two hidden cards are beneath the king.
The reasoning is that the newly turned card(s) is apt to be placed right away, and an empty column will be regained.
However, this often backfires. It's usually better to simply not be concerned with a single hidden card (or two, or even three) beneath a king. But when there is nothing better to play, yes, using the only clear column to turn the final hidden card from under a king is usually a good strategy.

Shift in strategy

A huge mistake that very many players make is believing that the entire Spider Solitaire game is about gaining empty columns.
There is much to this strategy, and indeed, in the early rounds, it should be a major concern.
However, well into the game, if it is to be won, a shift in strategy must occur to one more of ordering the visible cards, rather than turning the hidden ones. It's a judgment call when to do so, and there are some games where the shift cannot occur due to a failure to turn a sufficient number of hidden cards. Usually, the shift can not occur until at least one column has been cleared, but there are occasions where significant ordering of the visible cards can be achieved even without a vacant column to assist.

Sometimes forgo building a suit

Logically, one might think that whenever a suit can be completed that it would always be in the player's best interest to do so.
However, this is not true. There are occasions when it pays not to finish building a suit, even though it's possible.
In fact, there are occasions where it can make the difference between winning or losing.
As a general rule, though, if completing a suit causes the relevant column to vacate, it's not a mistake to do so. But be careful. Even here, there might be exceptions.

Steve N. Brown
I hold a master's degree in mathematics. As well as solving difficult math problems, I've always enjoyed playing games of strategy because they challenge me to think. So, when Spider Solitaire became popular around the turn of the century, it was very easy for me to get hooked on the game. At that time, there were no good books on how to play the game and the online advice was also very poor. So, I learned how to play the game on my own through experimentation, careful observation, and an awful lot of practice. One thing led to another and, eventually, I wrote a book on the topic: 'Spider Solitaire Winning Strategies'.

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