6 Fun Card Games to Play Alone & Engage Your Mind

Updated May 12, 2022
solitaire card game

Playing card games alone while sipping on a cup of coffee isn't only relaxing; it also engages your mind and sparks strategic thinking. While solitaire is definitely the most well-known singles card game, there're many card games to play alone besides solitaire. Although you may not have heard of these games, people have been playing and enjoying them for years, and with just a little bit of practice, you can too.

Hope Deferred

Hope Deferred is a simple card game that can be played with a Piquet deck (a pack of 32 French suited cards). If you don't have a Piquet deck, you can create one by removing the 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s of each of the four suits in a standard 52-card deck.

  1. To begin, decide on a suit, say clubs.
  2. Shuffle the deck and turn up the first three cards, placing them face-up on the table, putting any of your chosen suit cards (clubs) that may be among the three to the side.
  3. Turn up three more cards and once again throw out the suit cards (clubs), placing these with the other suit cards (clubs) that are set aside.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3, five times, then shuffle the cards that've already been used except for the clubs cards that you set aside and proceed as before.
  5. Repeat this process three times.
  6. If you extracted all the clubs, you've won. If you still have clubs left in your hand, you've lost.

The Amazon Queens

Closeup shot of four queens

This version of Amazon Queens is a card game that modifies the traditional idea of Amazon Queens solitaire by removing the Kings (but keeping all of the other cards in a standard 52-card deck) and focuses on forming four families using the rest of the deck. Each family consists of a complete suit beginning with the Ace (low) and ending with the Queen, and follows a basic solitaire-style set up that's impossible to lose to at.

  1. The first step in Amazon Queens is to remove all four Kings from a standard 52-card deck and toss them aside.
  2. Then, you shuffle your deck and turn up the first four cards in the deck in a horizontal row in front of you. You should end up with four different piles of one card each.
  3. If an Ace is among the four cards selected, place it in a new row above the row directly in front of you. Eventually, you'll end up with four Aces in this row directly mirroring the initial set up of a regular game of solitaire.
  4. Then proceed to deal four more cards (one per pile) on the piles in front of you.
  5. Again, if an Ace shows up, place it in the top row.
  6. Once all four Aces have been placed, you'll begin moving cards of the same suit on top of the Aces in ascending order (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s...).
  7. When none of the cards from the lower row can be played and the deck has been fully dealt out, pick up all of the cards and reshuffle a new deck.
  8. Repeat the beginning steps by dealing out four new cards and placing cards on the family suits as they appear.
  9. The goal is to complete every family suit in as few moves as possible; however, based on the gameplay, it's impossible to lose this game. So, if you hate losing, this solo card game is perfect for you, and with this digital version, you don't even need a deck of cards to enjoy this game.
  10. If you want a more challenging version of this game that you can actually lose, instead of moving cards from any pile up to the appropriate slot in the top row, only move cards up to the top row if they of the same suit as the cards in the row directly above them. This creates the chance for you to get stuck and lose the game.

Note -- When you're playing this modified version of Amazon Queens, don't forget that you can't move cards out of order from the row in front of you. Once a card's been placed on top of another, the card in the background can't be moved onto the Aces row until the card in front of it has been moved first.

Infographic Amazon Queens Card Game instructions

Devil's Grip

Devil's Grip is a unique solo card stacking game. Two standard 52-card decks with the Aces removed are required to play this game.

The Set-up and Goal

Shuffle all of the cards and deal out three rows of eight, face-up. Set the remaining cards aside as a stockpile. The goal of the game is to stack the cards of matching suits in a specific sequential order. The sequential order for the three rows is:

  • Top row: 2, 5, 8, and Jack
  • Middle row: 3, 6, 9, and Queen
  • Bottom row: 4, 7, 10, and King

The Play

Once the cards are dealt, you begin by swapping out and moving any 2s, 3s, and 4s on the layout to their respective rows.

  1. Now continue the game by stacking the cards by suit from anywhere on the layout.
  2. When you move any card to its appropriate place in the rows, you must pull the top card from the face-down stockpile and put it into the empty space that the original card left behind.
  3. Once you've come to an end of the moves available to you, pull three cards at a time from the stockpile.
  4. Place these cards on their appropriate pile and again replace the empty spaces created with the top card from the stockpile.
  5. Continue cycling through the stockpile by pulling three cards until you've run out of moves, or have sorted all of the cards into their piles and won the game.

Clock Solitaire

Clock solitaire is easy to learn, but almost impossible to beat. If you're in for a challenge, this is the solo card game for you.

The Set-Up

Shuffle and deal the cards face down into 13 piles, with four cards in every pile. Place 12 piles into a circle and the 13th pile in the middle. These piles should end up resembling a clock. Once you've done this, you can turn the top cards on the center pile of the circle face-up.

It's important to understand that all of the cards have a specific place that they're meant to end up. These places are:

  • Aces = 1 o'clock
  • 2's = 2 o'clock
  • 3's = 3 o'clock
  • 4's = 4 o'clock
  • 5's = 5 o'clock
  • 6's = 6 o'clock
  • 7's = 7 o'clock
  • 8's = 8 o'clock
  • 9's = 9 o'clock
  • 10's = 10 o'clock
  • Jacks = 11 o'clock
  • Queens = 12 o'clock
  • Kings = the center pile

The Play

To being play, take the face-up card in the middle pile and put that card face up underneath the pile on the clock where that card's number is supposed to be. Then turn the card on the top of that pile face-up and put it face-up under its appropriate pile. So, for example, if your card is in the 1 o'clock space is a 9, then you'll place that card face-up underneath the 9 o'clock pile. If all 12 piles become four-of-a-kind before the fourth King turns up, then you win the game.

Roll Call

Roll Call, played with a standard 52-card deck, is a fast-paced game in which you attempt to call out the cards.

  1. Shuffle the cards and hold them in your hand
  2. Deal the cards one-by-one face up to a single "stockpile" counting aloud -- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, Knight, Queen, King - one, two, three, and so on.
  3. When a card turns up that corresponds to the number called, throw it aside.
  4. After you've worked through the deck for the first time, pick up the stockpile without disturbing the order and deal again, still calling the numbers, continuing from where you left off on the first go-round.
  5. Go through the stockpile as many times as needed until the cards are gone, and you've won the game. However, if after several attempts, the cards come up in the same order, and no card answers Roll Call, you've lost.

Four Seasons Variation

Typically, most card players are familiar with the Four Season solitaire card game, but there is a variation that modifies the game play. The goal of this Four Seasons variation is to attempt to form four suits, from Aces (low) up to Kings in sequential order.

  1. Pick out the four aces from a deck of cards and place them face-up in a vertical row, alternating them from red to black. Shuffle the remaining cards and place six cards, also face up, on both sides of the vertical row of four Aces.
  2. If there's any ascending cards in these columns to any of the Aces (in the first instance a two, and so on), place it on the Ace and in like manner, any higher card in sequence to the one already played on the Ace.
  3. Fill the gaps in the side rows from the remaining deck until there are no longer any cards that can be played to the center row.
  4. If any of the cards in the two, newly filled, outer rows are the same suit and are in sequence to each other (for instance, a four and a five of clubs), place the smaller card on the larger card, and fill the void on the empty pile with a card from the deck. Doing this can make one or two more cards playable in the center row and the empty space filled with a card from the remaining deck.
  5. Cards that can't be used either in the center or side rows are placed in a waste-pile to be used again.
  6. If you deal through this waste-pile without being able to put every card in its proper place above the corresponding Ace, you've lost the game.
  7. If all four Aces form the foundation of four complete suits, from Ace to King, then you win.

Single Player Card Games for That Solitary Life

According to YourDictionary, solitaire means "a hermit or recluse," "a diamond or other gem set by itself, as in a ring," and "any of many card games that are played by one person." In honor of those solitary moments, you can unplug from society and fill your alone time with these challenging card games to play alone.

6 Fun Card Games to Play Alone & Engage Your Mind