# How likely is Solitaire to be unwinnable?

In the regular, (real cards, three at a time, etc) solitaire, it's possible to have a 'null' hand, i.e. you lay it out, turn up each third card, and cannot play one card. Statistically, is it more common to win the game, or have a null game?

• Are you saying that a "null game" is the same as losing a game, since you can't play any cards and are left with only "null hands"? – Thunderforge Sep 4 '16 at 5:06

In Klondike Solitaire there are 7 cards face up on the table, 21 face down on the table, leaving (out of the 52 card pack) 24 cards in the deck. If you're dealing 3 cards at a time, only 24/3 = 8 of these cards are available. So only 15 cards are available at the start of the game.

In order for there not to be any valid moves at the start, you would need:

• No aces

This is easily achievable with 15 cards. For example:

• 4 Kings
• 4 Jacks
• 4 Nines
• 3 Sevens

According to Wikipedia, which answers the probabilities:

• About 79% of the games are theoretically winnable
• The number of games a player can probabilistically expect to win is at least 43%
• In addition, some games are "unplayable" in which no cards can be moved to the foundations even at the start of the game; these occur in only 0.025% of hands dealt

You are therefore far more likely to win the game (even if your decisions are far from perfect) than get an unplayable/"null" hand.