Pyramid Solitaire Card Game Rules

The complete rules for Pyramid Solitaire, also known as Solitaire 13

illustration of how to play pyramid solitaire
Illustration: Nusha Ashjaee. © The Spruce, 2018

If you are looking to switch up your solitaire game, then try a different version. Pyramid, also called Solitaire 13, is a solitaire card game with very simple rules. It is easy to learn and takes just a few minutes to play each hand. It is perfect when you have just a few minutes to kill. 

Like traditional solitaire, the game is played with one player and a standard 52-card deck; the goal is to removal all of the cards from the pyramid.

How to Setup the Game

The setup of the game is one of the key things that is different about this version from the original version. As usual, shuffle the deck. Deal cards to form a pyramid, starting with a row of 1 card, followed by a row of two cards, and so on, down to a row of 7 cards. Each row should overlap the previous one. The pyramid will include a total of 28 cards when complete. The remaining cards are set on the table face down to form the draw pile.

Gameplay

Reveal cards from the draw pile, one at a time. If a card from the draw pile is not used, it should be covered up by the next card from the draw pile. It can be used later in the game, but only if it gets uncovered because any draw pile cards on top of it are able to be discarded.

When two exposed cards total 13, they can be discarded. (This is why this version of the game is sometimes referred to as Solitaire 13.) Discarding is always optional, and there may be times when it is a better tactical choice not to discard.

Cards in the pyramid are exposed if no cards are overlapping them. Only one card from the draw pile is exposed at any given time in the game (the most recent draw pile card to be turned up is the only card from the draw pile that's exposed).

For example, if a 9 and a 4 are both exposed in the pyramid, they can be discarded.

If a 5 is exposed in the pyramid and an 8 is exposed after being turned up from the draw pile, they can be discarded.

Card Values

Aces are worth 1, jacks are worth 11, queens are worth 12, and kings are worth 13. Kings can be discarded as a single card.

Some possible discard combinations:

  • King: As a single card
  • Queen + an ace
  • Jack + No. 2 card
  • No. 10 card + No. 3 card
  • No. 9 card + No. 4 card
  • No. 8 card + No. 5 card
  • No. 7 card + No. 6 card

Draw Pile Alternate Version

Instead of revealing cards from the draw pile one at a time, reveal them in sets of three. The first set of three is laid on the table to start with three distinct piles. When future draws are made, the three new cards are spread over these three piles. The order in which cards are placed on the piles should remain constant throughout the game.

How to Win the Game

You win the game when all of the cards have been removed from the pyramid or when the draw pile has been exhausted, whichever happens first.