Stool solitaire is a version of solitaire that can be played just about anywhere. The biggest advantage of this variant is that you don't need a table to play. I would often play this game while riding along on a road trip.

The rules are simple, but the game can often be very frustrating, as you will almost never win. I have won the game only four times in my life. So, don't play to win, just play to kill time.

To play this game, you will need:

  • A standard 52-card deck of playing cards.
  • A place to sit.
  • Your glasses, so you can see the cards (if you don't need them, good for you).

To begin, shuffle the deck. Hold the deck in your off hand, and flip four cards up. The cards should be held in your off hand as well. Fan them out in the order you dealt them, last card on top, and hold them so that you can still pull cards from the deck.

Now, the basic rule of the game comes into effect. Through the game, you will only look at the top four cards in your hand. I will refer to these as cards 1-4. Look at cards 1 and four, and determine if they are a match:

  • If their suit matches, remove cards 2 and 3 from your hand, and place those cards at the bottom of the deck, face up.
  • If their rank (number/letter) matches, remove all 4 cards from your hand.
If you have found a match, look at the new combination of top cards after you have removed cards from your hand.

Once you have run out of matches, draw a card, and repeat the above step. Continue this until you have run out of face-down cards to draw. If you have no cards in your hand at this point, you win!

One variant rule I use to make the game a bit easier to win is that once the cards run out, I will shift a card from the bottom of my hand to the top of my hand to see if it generates a match. Note that if you move four cards without a match, there are no valid matches in the hand using this method.

A few tips on how to keep from playing 52 card pickup with this game:

  • As your hand grows large, you might find it to be a good idea to collapse the fan so that only the top four cards are fanned out.
  • You can lay either the deck or the discard pile in your lap to ease strain on your hand, although I wouldn't recommend this on a bumpy road.
  • Above all, remember that the purpose of this game (just like every game of Solitaire) is primarily to kill time, so don't get frustrated!

Have fun!

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