How to Win Spider Solitaire: Strategy Tips

By Carol Finch

Like other solitaire games, you win a game of Spider Solitaire by building ordered stacks of cards from King to Ace in suits. You get ten columns of cards, some of which are turned over and some of which aren't, and have the freedom to shift cards on to matching or different suits while you build your stacks. Spider is more challenging -- and sometimes more infuriating -- than some solitaire games, because you have a wider choice of moves and more chances to get things wrong if you don't use the right strategies.

Learn From Experience

Spider Solitaire games often come with different levels of difficulty. For example, a game may offer an easy option with one suit, a medium option with two suits and a hard one with four suits. It's worth spending some time on the most basic level -- even if you find it easy -- because this will teach you about the game's strategies. If you find a one-suit game much too easy and win every time, move on to the next level. Don't try a four-suit game until you're confident on lower levels.

Don't Just Focus on Same Suit Stacks

Although building stacks of the same suit is your primary focus, this isn't always the best option. If you only build by suit, you'll paint yourself into a corner quite quickly. Sometimes, the only move is to put a card on a different suit; there will be situations where this is better than building a same-suit sequence. For example, say you have a ten of spades at the bottom of a column. When you look for a nine to put on it, you see that you have a nine of spades at the top of a column on a pile of face-down cards and a nine of hearts that is the last card on another column. Here, it's better to put the heart on the spade to create an empty column slot.

Use Empty Slots Wisely

As soon as you can, turn over cards that are face down in columns and try to open empty slots. You can use an empty slot as a temporary holding area, moving cards in and out while you build stacks on other columns. If you're doing this, it's better to move same-suit stacks into the slot, so you can free it up again more easily. This also helps you manage cards such as Kings, Queens and Jacks, if they block your movements in other columns. Shift them to empty slots and you can build stacks on them more quickly and open up your options to move other cards around.

Only Deal When You Have to

When you exhaust possible moves, you deal another ten cards on to your columns. Although this might open up your options, it may also place unwanted cards on stacks. Before you deal, always check that you have made all possible moves in your current columns. It's not always easy to see moves that you've missed so, if your game has a "Hint" function, use it. This tells you if there is still a move to make or if you have no other option but to deal again.

Don't Be Afraid to Undo

No matter how long you analyze your cards, you'll sometimes make a move and then immediately realize that a better option was staring you in the face. If your game has an "Undo" button, treat it like your friend rather than as a way to cheat. This allows you to reverse one or more moves and start over. Being able to undo mistakes also teaches you useful lessons about game tactics, helping you avoid similar mistakes in the future.