According to “Wikipedia” there were 32,000 hands in the first Window’s version of FreeCell and I played about 14,000 of them, consecutively.

I found FreeCell in the late 1990s and it WAS and IS my redemption.  It is my Friend, my Solace, and my Escape.  When I am bored-I play it, when I am tired-I play it, when I am waiting-I play it, and when I really feel I can’t go on I will play it for hours; for while I am playing it and playing it FAST, I do not think of my miseries as much. 

I can say without hesitation or shame that I am addicted to this game.

When I first starting playing, I decided to see if I could solve every hand, so I started with one and proceeded up.  Evidently Microsoft used a computer program to randomly number each of the 32,000 games and I would jot down the number and line through it when I solved.  I’d play the same game over and over and over trying to win and if I finally got fed up, I’d move on to the next game and just circle the number of the game I hadn’t solved.  At times, I’d go back and retry an unsolved hand and often I would master it.  Mind, I might never be able to do it again because I never made any notes as to exactly how I solved it and I never see more than…maybe…three moves ahead, so I’m not sure how I ever solve any hand. 

A lot of them just seem to play them self. 

However in the several years I played this way…the time period where I played about 14,000 games, my percentage of unsolved hands was very low.  Just below 5 percent if I remember correctly. 

At this same time an engineer that I worked for was doing the same thing too BUT HE would sit in front of the game for as much as an hour, plotting out his moves in his head and then play.  His goal was not only to solve every hand but to do it in as few attempts as possible and with only the minimum number of moves needed to solve.  He played about one hand a night.


 Finally I became disenchanted with my  goal but not the game and changed my “game” plan.  I stopped playing the Microsoft version of the game, the one where I could call up the number of the hand, and started playing on-line at a game site. This site randomly assigns the game you will play, you have no control over which game you play or how often you play the same hand randomly, the only control you have is whether you play the same hand over & over until you win it or give up.  I believe this is the same game that Microsoft provides except that it inserts four additional “scratch” cards in the deck.  I don’t know if this makes it easier to solve but supposedly what these cards are actually for is additional points so basically it seems the same game.

 Now I’ve been playing this game on-line for over eight years and my stats as of today are:

Games played: 83,814 / Winning Games: 48,874 / Winning Percentage: 58%

 These stats are interesting to me because I never replay the same hand; my 58% winning rate is on hands I have only played once.  Of course I’m probably replaying many hands-multiple times because the computer randomly assigns the hands and I’m not sure how many games this site offers, the original 32k or one million, as I believe there are now in the Windows XP version.  But with this 58 percentage winning rate if this game was randomly offered on a machine in a casino, with the minimum bet being $1 and the maximum bet being $500;

I’d probably be able to make the mortgage by just playing this game.

 My plan is to only bet $1 for the first game and if I win, I’d only bet $1 again, taking home the dough would be a slow process.  If I lose however, I’d triple my bet and each time I lost I’d triple again.  I would have 5 times to triple before I couldn’t win overall and I kept track for a couple of months and usually I would play for several “days” or even weeks before I’d lose more than 5 times in a row.  After 5 times the plan was to walk away $363 in the hole and start again another day. 

I assumed I had $1k to lose in the beginning.

 So mostly my theory worked and I “proved” to myself that every month I could probably  “make” the mortgage and that I would be able to “make up” my occasional losing days before the month was out. 

In general I could be a

“Professional Gambler”

 But I discovered what people in Las Vegas have supposedly known for years.  The game ceases to be fun and starts to feel like work.  Therefore I had to acknowledge to myself that while theoretically I might be able to make the mortgage, I might as well just keep working and so I stopped “betting” with myself and just went back to playing.


“Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”


An interesting fact about this game according to Wikipedia again:

 Of the 32,000 original games offered by Microsoft only one game has so far proven to be unsolvable; game # 11982 and only eight of the now one million games offered have so far been unsolvable.