How to Play Clock Solitaire

The complete rules for the card game clock solitaire

shot of cards set up for clock solitaire
Mich Salangsang/Flickr

Solitaire is probably the most popular card game for one but if you're looking to spice things up you might want to try Clock Solitaire. This variation on the old classic is set up to look like a clock face, which is where the name comes from. While it's rare to win Clock Solitaire, the game is still loads of fun. What makes it so hard to win is that it's a card game which is entirely driven by luck. Clock Solitaire is also known as Four of a Kind, Hidden Cards, Sun Dial, and Travelers.

How to Play Clock Solitaire

  • Players: this game requires only one player.
  • Deck: a standard 52-card deck.
  • Goal: the goal of the game is to complete all other four-of-a-kind sets before the fourth King is revealed.


Shuffle the deck and deal the cards, face down, into 13 piles of four cards each.

The piles should be arranged to mimic the numbers on a clock, with the extra pile in the middle of the circle. The "numbers" of the piles (One through 12 on the clock; the middle pile is 13) is important.


Turn the top card on the 13 pile face up (that's the pile in the middle of the circle). Place the card, still face up, under the pile of that card's number. For example, a four would go under the four pile. An Ace would go under the one pile. Face cards are placed as follows: Jack under 11, Queen under 12, King under 13.

Then turn the top card on that pile face up and place it, still face up, under the appropriate pile. Continue in this manner until the game ends.

If the final face-down card in a pile belongs to that same pile, continue the game by turning the next (moving clockwise) face-down card face up.

How to Win

You win if all 13 piles become face-up piles of four-of-a-kind. However, you lose if the fourth King is turned face up before all the other sets are completed. Clock Solitaire is only won about one percent of the time because it is entirely based on chance.

Variations on Clock Solitaire

If regular clock solitaire isn't challenging enough for you there are some variations which you might like. In some versions of the game, the goal isn't just to stack each card in four-of-a-kind piles but to alternate the card color as you do. This would mean you could only place a red Ace on top of a black Ace and so on. As you can imagine this variation makes the game even more challenging. If you are following this rule then you might want to introduce a waste pile for when you can not place a card yet. Usually, players are allowed to reuse the waste pile a maximum of twice before the game ends. Although most games end before the waste pile is used.