Basic Strategy for Winning Pyramid Solitaire

Pyramid Solitaire

Erik Arneson

Pyramid solitaire, also known as King Tut or Tut's Tomb, is a simple solitaire game that plays differently from the usual Klondike solitaire. The goal is simply to remove the cards adding up to 13, which becomes easier with a few strategy tips.

Basic Play

The basics of pyramid solitaire are that 28 cards are dealt in a pyramid of seven rows, starting with one card at the top and each row having an additional card, ending with a row of seven cards.

The face cards have values of 13 for the king, 12 for the queen, and 11 for the jack. The other cards have their numerical value.

You can remove any exposed pair that equal 13, as well as the king by itself since it equals 13. On the tableau, exposed cards are those not overlapped by other cards. The top card of the draw pile is considered exposed, while those under it are not.

Pyramid Solitaire Strategy

Use these tips for your play:

  • Before starting your game, quickly scan the board to see if the game is obviously unwinnable. If you have a 7 in the top row, and it's buried under all four 6's, you cannot ever win the game. Checking the board quickly before you start for cases like this will help save you from wasting time on impossible games. (Some computer solitaire programs will do this for you, and never present you with games that cannot be won in that way.)
  • If a pyramid has three of the same rank on it (e.g. three jacks), try not to play the fourth card of that rank from the deck. In other words, if you have a 2 that needs matching, try to match it with one of the jacks in your pyramid, rather than the one in the deck. Otherwise, those jacks will be very hard to get rid of later.
  • Play kings whenever possible. A king needs no other match, so any time you can play a king, whether from the pyramid or the stock pile, there's no reason not to play it immediately. Think of it as a free card.
  • If you are playing multiple times through the deck, never make a match between your stock pile and waste pile until your last time through. The cards will be in the same order, so you'll have another chance to match them later, and you may want to match them with cards from the pyramid in the meantime.
  • Always play from the discard pile, rather than the deck. Even if a new card turns up on the deck that you need, if the card currently on top of the discard pile is useless, discard the new card. This will still let you play the useful card, but will reveal another new card in the meantime, giving you new information.
  • As a general rule, you should delay your decisions as long as possible. Don't pass up a card you need, but if you can get more information before removing cards, you might learn a little more about your situation.
  • Try to remove the pyramid evenly on both sides; the worst thing in the endgame is to have a single line of cards five-deep, because it means you need to flip five specific cards in order to win.