Learn To Play Tri Peaks Solitaire

In 1989, Robert Hogue made a claim to fame with a formation of his own variation of a solitaire card game he called Tri Peaks Solitaire. As often happens with these games, it has since taken on many different transformations. Hogue’s original concept for Tri Peaks basically combined the models of two classics, Pyramid and Golf Solitaire. It is by far still the most popular form enjoyed by many today.

What Are The Rules?

Tri-Peaks is played using one standard deck of 52 cards.

Goal: The object of Tri-Peaks is to remove cards, one by one, from the tableau onto the foundation until all cards in the tableau are cleared (win) or there are no moves to be made.

Layout: The tableau consists of 28 cards dealt out to form three overlapping pyramids. All cards in the tableau are dealt face down except for the bottom row which is dealt face up. The remaining cards are used as the stock pile, which is placed face down. The top card of the stock pile is turned up to form the foundation pile which cards from the tableau will be played.

tri peaks solitaire

How To Play The Game

Build upon the foundation by removing cards from the tableau one at a time. Cards can be played to the foundation one up or one down in sequence—suits do not matter. Example: In the illustration above, the foundation card is a 4. From the tableau there are two possible moves—3 of spades or 5 of clubs. Aces are high or low, so a king or a 2 can be played to build a sequence on an ace.

Remove as many cards from the tableau as possible without having to turn over a card from the stock pile. The longer the sequence, the more points are scored.

Example: 4-3-4-5-4-3-2-A-K-Q-J-etc.

Notice how the sequence forms a possible continuous loop.

As play continues, turn over face down cards as they are exposed. A face down card may only be turned over when no other cards are overlapping it below it on either side.

When no cards can be moved onto the foundation from the tableau, turn over the top card of the stock pile and place it face up onto the foundation.

The original version by Hogue featured a king as a stopper card. All play would cease if a king was turned over from the stock pile, or when a king was the only possible move to play a card onto the foundation. That original rule is rarely used in today’s modern versions of play.

Scoring in Tri-Peaks

Tri-Peaks scoring is pretty simple. Beginning with 1, you score an additional point with each card added to a sequence. Example: 6-card sequence scores 21 points—1+2+3+4+5+6=21 Obviously the longer the sequence the higher the score. Scoring begins at 1 again once a card has to be used from the stock pile because no more moves are available to build onto the existing sequence.

A Game Of Strategy

Because of the scoring system, often it makes sense NOT to play a card onto the foundation because it can be used later to form a longer sequence with other overturned cards higher up in the tableau. For instance, a sequence of 12 scores 78 points, whereas two sequences of 6 only scores 42 points. For this reason, it is important to study all exposed cards in the tableau carefully before making the decision to play cards to the foundation.

Different Variations of the Game

The most popular variation of Tri-Peaks is the tableau, whereas all of the cards are dealt out face up to form the three peaks. This makes strategizing much easier, and players are able to form longer sequences for much higher score that when playing the traditional version.

The biggest variations are in the way Tri-Peaks is scored. With virtually hundreds of computer forms of the game, there are uncountable variations in scoring.

One particularly hard version of the game is played where suits are merged into the gameplay. Spaded can only be played on spades, diamonds on diamond, etc. This version incorporates temporary hold piles for cards turned up from the stock pile. Strategies for this version take quite a lot of forethought and attention to detail.

How To Win Tri Peaks Solitaire

Conquering the game simply, or not so simply, requires clearing the tableau of all cards onto the foundation and achieving the highest score possible in the interim.

Because of the nature of the scoring system in Tri Peaks Solitaire, no matter what variation is being played, there are often sessions that will end in a loss, but with an accumulated score higher than a winning round of play. This can be useful, especially for those participating in solitaire tournaments where total accumulative scores are tabulated to crown an overall winner.