How to Play Canfield Solitaire

Woman Relaxing And Playing Solitaire
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The most popular solitaire card game, Klondike, is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Canfield. The real Canfield Solitaire, according to Hoyle's Rules of Games, was named after the proprietor of a Florida gambling establishment in the 1890s. Players could buy a deck of cards for $50 and win back $5 for every card they played into the foundations, or $500 if they were able to play all 52 cards into the foundations. Which should give you a sense of this game's difficulty level.

  • Players: 1 player.
  • Deck: A standard 52-card deck.
  • Goal: To move all the cards onto the four foundations.

Setup for Canfield Solitaire

  • Shuffle the deck.
  • Deal 13 cards off the top and set them to your left, face up. Be careful only to reveal the top card. This pile is known as the reserve.
  • Take the next card from the deck and set it on the table face up. This is the first foundation (and worth $5 back from Mr. Canfield). The other three cards of the same rank will be the other three foundations. If they become available, move them to the foundation row.
  • Take the next four cards from the deck and set them on the table in a row below the foundation, face up. This is the start of your tableau.
  • Set the remaining cards on the table, face down. This is the draw pile. (Some players prefer to hold the draw pile in their hand.)

Building the Foundations

Available cards are added to the foundations in ascending order. For example, if the foundations are the 8s, cards would be added in this order: 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Cards added to a foundation must be the same suit as all previous cards on that foundation.

Building the Tableau Piles

Cards may be added to the tableau in descending order, alternating colors. For example, if a card in the tableau is the 9 of clubs, the next card could be either the 8 of hearts or the 8 of diamonds.


The top card from the reserve is always available for play on a foundation or a pile in the tableau.

The top card of each tableau pile is always available to be played onto a foundation.

Cards from the draw pile are turned face up three at a time as you decide to do so, forming a discard pile. The top card of the discard pile is always available for play. Cards below it may not be played until the top card is played.

To move cards from one tableau pile to another, you may only move the entire pile. When space is available in the tableau, immediately use the top card from the reserve to fill that space.

If the reserve is exhausted, a space in the tableau may be filled from the top of the discard pile. In this situation, you may leave the space open for as long as you wish.

When the draw pile is exhausted, pick up the discard pile and turn it face down, without shuffling it. This becomes a new draw pile. You may do this as many times as you wish until you win or until the game reaches a standstill.

Winning Canfield Solitaire

You win by building up all four foundations to 13 cards. This happens about 3 percent of the time.