by Ron Plachno

(three cards from unused deck turned over at one time instead of 1 card)

FORWARD - Now a 16% winner

I do not claim to be an expert. However I did improve from low percentages of winning to over 10% games won to lately mostly above 15% of games won. Right before I write this, I am now over 16% won and that is over an accumulation of games. So this is an article how to improve, but not a total answer. First some general things before the strategy.


I tend to think of this game as having three card areas: The deck you are flipping, the Kings high area below you are trying to turn over cards, and the Ace Low area that you fill when you are getting near winning.

Part 1: GENERAL APPROACHES to keep in mind

BALANCE - It seems to me that 3 card solitaire is a balance, sort of a choreography where everything must happen in its place in time. Doing one item to an extreme might paint yourself into a corner. There are times to notice to change general direction if one item is doing well and another is behind.

WHAT NOT TO DO - The goal is not to use up or get rid of the card deck you are flipping over too rapidly. When that deck is gone and you have no more moves, the game is over. Best not to just take cards off unless "they lead somewhere."

THINK AHEAD - Just as in chess or even checkers it is best to think a few moves ahead. For example, I often will not take a deck card down below to the King high fill in area unless I think it can either lead to a second move immediately or later. Why take a 5 card for example to the Kings area if all decks there are a 5 or higher card when that will not lead to combining decks? Also, if you need a red Queen, for example, where is it in the deck you are flipping 3 cards at a time from? If there is a card you can take before getting to the group with the red Queen, will that line up the Queen the next time you go through the deck? Is there another way to reach that card, or another red Queen?

THE ACE LOW AREA - Yes, this area gets filled in for the win. But sometimes putting cards up there early can limit you. You might need those cards below to combine decks in the King high area and if a card is missing, you could be stopped. In the game I play, sometimes it lets me take cards on the ace stack and let me bring them down to the below King high area, and sometimes it does not. So putting cards in the Ace Low area either from the Kings area below or the stack you are flipping should take some thought since it could hurt later. On the other hand, if you are nearing having cards turned over completely below, you need to ensure that at that point you did not totally neglect the ace low area since that could mess up the sequence of cards in the deck you are flipping. It is a "balance" and "what to do when" type of thing.

KINGS AREA HOUSEKEEPING - I believe there are 7? Deck stack areas in the Kings high area. It never pays to make that 6, or 5, or 4 until the game is won. What do I mean? If you already have four kings high and have seven decks areas running, it makes no sense to bring a partial deck over to one of the kings. It will give you less flexibility than keeping 7 decks separate. And so, you only combine decks when there is a need - to open up an area for Kings or to turn over upside down cards. If all cards are turned over, combing decks can only hurt you.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE OF KINGS? - And only one open slot below in the Kings high area? Then examine the flipping deck and also the Kings High area, and then pick the correct king, red or black, that can lead to extra plays quickly.

LOOK FOR DECK MOVEMENTS - Example: What? You need the 5 of clubs in the Ace Low area but in the Kings High Area it is covered by a red four and the 5 of spades is the card showing open and available in the Kings High area? Move the red four from the 5 of clubs to the five of spades, then the five of clubs is free to go to the ace low area. Then afterwards, if it opens up one of the 7 decks below you can always move the 5 of spades and the red four to the red six now open since the 5 of clubs left. So you can sometimes get two actions going at once from one complex play. The type of play I am describing here I find to be common. Find the card you need, where it is, and then ask yourself how to get it.

NO GOOD MOVES?  MAKE "THE NEXT BEST" MOVE - I have had times when I could find no good move and thought the game was over.  But I have learned that I can make mistakes and not see something.  So I will just make any move I can, as earliest in the flipping deck that I can since that will change the most cards I will see the next time through.  Or perhaps I move a card from the Kings high area below to the ace low area above even if I do not see where that leads.  Some times, it leads to a win.  Never say die unless there are zero real moves left.  If your game is electronic and offers you suggestions, see what they suggest.  Some times the moves are dumb and just move things around.  But perhaps it might show you something you did no see.


Perhaps in order, but remember balance:

ACTIVATE KINGS AND ACES - Whether or not you are going to fill in the ace area, having aces turned over as well as Kings gives you something to work with. The more kings and aces you see, generally the more options you will have.

TURN OVER CARDS AT THE BOTTOM - The goal is to turn over the cards at the bottom. So combining decks, looking for cards mostly from the flipping deck of 3 or even stealing a card from the Ace low area may help you combines and flip cards over. If all cards are flipped over, and you had done something of a balance and at least sent some cards to the ace low area so the flipping deck area does not jam itself in the wrong order, you might win.

CAREFUL OF ACE LOW AREA - As said above, at the start I only move cards to the ace low area on top when it will allow me to turn over cards on the below kings high deck area, or give me aid. Note that there are times you need to do three things at once to have a good play. For example, you might have the 3 and 4 of diamonds below in your Kings high deck area that you never moved to the ace low area since there was no good reason why. But now you see that a 5 of diamonds can get some good action going. So then you would move the 3, the 4 and then the 5 of diamonds in that order to the ace low area to give you the movement and play that you wish. Look for those multiple moves, I find them at times - that if I do this, that and the other, then things work out. Then I look to ensure that I can really do all three before making my move.

CAREFUL OF KILLING THE FLIPPING DECK TOO EARLY - The game can be over if you have no more plays and no more deck of cards to flip (sometimes on the upper left), So the goal is not to kill that deck, but to use "key cards" before their time.


Does the above work? The strategy there has improved my game. But also as stated above, recall that it is a balance. You should think a few moves ahead and then always keep in mind about where you are in each of the three areas. They should move somewhat in balance, but perhaps the fastest being combining and turning over cards at the bottom.

Of course, there is likely even more to know. This is what improves my game, but I likely have more to learn.

Hope this helps.

Ronald J. Plachno

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