Best Single Player Card Games to Have Fun & Pass Some Time
Last Updated: October 4, 2023
Checked by: Zvonimir Potocki
If you ever find yourself home alone and bored, there are many different things you could do to pass the time. Playing a video game or watching a movie are usually among the first things that come to mind.
However, if you’re looking for something different, you should consider card games for one.
While many card games like gin rummy are meant to be played by two or more players, there are also quite a few single player card games. These can be a lot of fun and offer a great way to pass a couple of hours.
In this article, I'll give you an overview of some of the best solo card games. Some are harder to learn than others, but the great thing is that you can take as long as you need.
Since you're playing against yourself only, it doesn't matter if you make a mistake or forget about some rule along the way.
Even if you’ve stumbled upon this article by accident, I encourage you to stick around and continue reading.
One player card games are usually underrated in this day and age. But, if you give some of them a chance, you’ll see just how entertaining they can be.
Solitaire – The King of Solo Card Games
Of all the card games for one person that exist, solitaire is probably the oldest and most popular one. It has been around for centuries in one form or another.
Modern solitaire rules are fairly straightforward. You need the standard deck of playing cards with no jokers.
You begin by creating seven different piles of cards on the table, moving from left to right.
The goal of solitaire is to move all the cards from these piles as well as all the cards remaining in the deck to the foundations’ area.
Foundations contain four separate spaces to hold four different suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades).
Cards are added to their respective foundations in order. You begin with an ace and build upon it (deuces, treys, etc.)
Solitaire is a simple game. The hardest part is learning how to arrange the initial piles, also known as talons – and even that’s not too difficult.
You can play this game at home or anywhere else where you have a bit of space to set things up. As long as you have a deck of cards in your pocket and know how to play solitaire, you can easily tame the boredom during long travels, for example.
Spider Solitaire – Another Card Game To Play Alone
Spider Solitaire is a game you might be familiar with as it was one of the more popular single player card games delivered with older Windows editions.
If you aren’t, that’s no problem, as we have an extensive article covering Spider Solitaire rules.
Unlike the classic option, this game requires two decks of cards, and it is slightly more challenging and complicated.
You’ll set up the game by shuffling the two decks together and creating ten columns on the table. Each column contains five cards face down. To finish the setup, you’ll add one more face-up card to each of the first four columns.
You'll then turn over the top-most card of each of the remaining columns, and you'll be ready to go.
The goal of Spider Solitaire is to complete all possible columns, starting from the highest card (King) and finishing with the lowest (Ace).
You can move single cards and a group of cards (builds) around from one column to another and to empty spaces. The exact rules for moving cards depend on the Spider Solitaire variation you choose to play.
If you haven’t had a chance to play the game before, it may take you a little while to learn, but you’ll get there. You should be able to also find some free games online if you want to practice.
Accordion – Fun & Simple Card Games for One
It’s true that solo card games are somewhat limited in terms of what they can offer. There is no element of surprise or an opponent you’re trying to beat. Still, Accordion is another fun variation from the group of solitaire games that you might want to give a try.
You need a single deck of cards (no jokers) to play Accordion.
The game is pretty simple. You start by shuffling the deck and turning over the first card. Then you’ll immediately turn over the next card right next to it.
If the card matches in either suit or value to the card to the immediate left, you can move it on top of it.
- You start by turning over 3h
- The next card is 7d
- The third card is 7h
Now you can move the 7h on top of 7d because they match in rank. Now the top card in the second pile is a heart. This means you can move that entire pile to the first pile as it matches the suit (3h).
As you open more cards, there is another rule in Accordion that you should be aware of.
In addition to moving cards to the immediate left, you’re also allowed to move them to the third column to the left if it matches in either a suit or a rank.
The goal is to end up with as few rows as possible by the time you’ve gone through the deck.
This isn’t one of those very complicated one player card games but it can be a great way to kill some time and have a bit of fun while keeping your brain engaged.
Garbage – One Player Card Game That You Must Try
Garbage is generally a two-player game, but you can play it solo as well. While there is no other player to beat, you can still make it competitive.
You can do this by counting the number of draws it takes you to complete a round or measuring the time it takes to finish the game.
You’ll deal ten cards in front of you in two rows of five cards, face down. The goal is to replace every card with the card matching its position.
- Cards in the top row are A, 2, 3, 4, 5.
- Cards in the bottom row are 6,7, 8, 9, 10
You begin by drawing a card from the deck and replacing it for the card in a particular position. If it is a jack or a queen, you'll discard it and draw again. If it's a king, you can use it to replace any card in any position, as kings are wild in Garbage.
When you replace a card, you’ll turn it over to see if you can use it to replace a card in a different position, etc. When you have no more options, you’ll discard and draw again from the deck until you get a card that gives you a legal move.
The first round is completed when you have all ten cards turned face up.
At that point, you’ll reshuffle and start the second round, but this time with just nine positions – five in the top row and four in the bottom one.
The play will continue until you get to the final round, where you start with just one face-down card. You’ll need to draw an ace to turn that card over, at which point the game of Garbage is complete.
The game isn’t too challenging when you play on your own, but it’s a fun way to distract your thoughts and pass some time.
FreeCell – One Of The Single Player Card Games We Love
FreeCell is one of the more popular card games to play alone, mostly due to the fact it was one of the solitaire games delivered with Windows.
You will need a single deck of cards with jokers removed to get started.
After shuffling the cards, you'll create eight columns by placing eight cards face up, one next to the other on the table.
You’ll then another card on top of the first card, again face up, and do so for each column.
Repeat the process until you've dealt out the entire deck. When dealing cards, make sure to do it so that all cards in all columns are partially visible, so you have a full overview of the situation.
The goal of FreeCell is to move cards from the columns into four talons. These are usually located above and to the left of the columns. These start with an Ace and finish with a King of a particular suit.
So, when you free up an ace, you'll move it up to start a talon and will continue to build on it by adding other cards in order (2, 3, 4, etc.).
To help you move the cards around, you'll get to use four free spaces (free cells). These are located to the right of the talons. You can use each of the cells to temporarily place one card.
You can also move cards between columns. The rules are that you can only move a lower-ranking card or a group of cards to a higher ranking card (i.e., you can move a group containing 4, 3, 2 on top of a 5).
Additionally, you can only combine cards that are of different colors. For example, you can place 7s on top of 8h, but you can’t play 9c on top of 10c.
FreeCell is probably one of the easier solitaire variations, and you'll manage to complete it more often than not.
On the other hand, since card games for one aren’t very competitive by nature, this isn’t much of a problem. Your main goal is to have fun, and winning is usually fun, even if you’re just trying to beat a deck of randomly shuffled cards.
Emperor – Another Card Game For 1
Emperor is another of fun one person card games, and it is relatively easy to learn. However, for this game, you'll need two decks of cards instead of one.
The game is quite similar to other solitaire variations in many of its aspects.
You’ll start by shuffling the two decks together and then setting up ten columns by placing ten cards, face-down, next to each other on the table.
You’ll then add two more rows of face-down cards and wrap the setup up by adding the final row of face-up cards.
So, at the start, you’ll have ten rows containing four cards each, with the final card in each row turned face up.
Your goal in the Emperor card game is to move cards from the rows into foundation piles, starting with an ace and finishing with a king of a particular suit.
To help you achieve this goal, you can move cards around from one column to another. However, you can only play the next higher rank card on top of a lower-rank card of the opposite color. For example, you can move 6h on top of 5s.
Every time you free up a row so that you have access to a card facing down, you can turn it over so that you have more options to continue playing the game.
At any point, you have the option to reach for the remainder of the deck and draw a card. You can either play the card you draw by placing it somewhere in columns or foundations or place it in the waste pile and draw a new card.
You can go through the deck in this fashion, but you can’t go back to the waste pile until you’ve gone through the entire deck. It is only at this point that you can turn over the waste pile and start again.
The ultimate goal of the Emperor is to have eight foundation piles containing cards from ace to king in matching suits.
If you run out of legal moves at any point, the game is closed, and you lose. Not that it matters, though, because you can simply reshuffle the deck and start again, which is one of the best things about solo card games anyways.
Tri Towers – Solitaire Variation That Might Be Fu To Try
The Tri Towers Solitaire is quite similar to Emperor, but it's played with just one deck, and the initial setup is somewhat different.
You start by creating three “towers” by dealing cards out so that each tower contains four rows:
- One face-down card in the top row
- Two face-down cards in the second row
- Three face-down cards in the third row
- Four face-up cards in the bottom row
Your goal is to build complete columns, going from an ace to a king or a king to an ace, regardless of color or suit. When you complete a row, you will remove it from the play.
You can use the remaining deck to draw cards when you run out of moves or when you’re not happy with any of the possible moves you can make.
Monte Carlo Solitaire – One Person Game That Is Easy To Try
If you’re looking for a solo card game that’s really easy to learn and doesn’t require too much effort to play, check out Monte Carlo Solitaire.
Despite the glamorous name, it’s a very simple and straightforward card game.
You need a single deck of cards. The game starts by setting up 25 cards in a 5×5 grid. All cards are dealt face up.
The goal is to remove any pairs you can find, as long as two pairing cards are next to each other (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally).
When you're done with all the legal moves, you'll proceed to move all the cards to the left, where it is possible. The cards you had removed will create some empty spaces. You'll fill them by moving cards in the grid to the leftmost possible position.
After this, you’ll repeat the process of the pair matching, etc.
The game concludes when you either have no more legal moves left or you’ve successfully paired up all the cards.
Apart from some observation skills, there is really not much skill to Monte Carlo Solitaire. Your success will depend on how the cards break down on the deal. However, it’s still a fun game to try when you have nothing better to do.
Solo Card Games Summary
If you’re into card games for one person, you can find even more options out there. These are just some suggestions that caught my attention.
You’ve probably noticed that many of these games have very similar rules. This is because possibilities are somewhat limited when you’re playing against yourself.
On the other hand, this also means that you’re completely free to come up with your own variations of one player card games.
You could take any of these games, tweak the rules a bit, and create a completely new game.
There is really no right or wrong here as the main thing is that you have fun while playing. So, if a particular rule seems out of place to you and you have a better idea, give it a go.
After all, that’s how many of these games came to be in the first place. If you come up with something that’s entertaining and enjoyable, share it with the world. It’s impossible to have too many card games, and fresh ideas are always welcome!