Casino Solitaire - Our Story

The three founders of Solitairus Inc and the game, Casino Solitaire, each has extensive gaming experience. One spent over 20 years in marketing, one operated bingo halls for many years and the last founder, was Vice President of Gaming for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for several years.

On a beautiful afternoon in 2012, two of the partners enjoyed a coffee and some stimulating discussion on the future of gaming. And one asked the other, “did you ever wonder why the most popular card game in the world, Solitaire, has never been monetized for gaming?”

That simple question led us on a complex journey of discovery.

We did our homework and discovered that while there were many versions of Solitaire online being played, none of them were approved by gaming regulators in a legal jurisdiction. We formed Solitairus Inc with the purpose of building a game that could be approved by regulators for online and play on a slot machine at bricks and mortar casinos.

Our research uncovered that “game historian David Parlett has written that the classic Solitaire likely developed in the Baltic in the 18th century, possibly as a form of fortune telling, during a wave of renewed interest in tarot and cartomancy. Hundreds of variants of Solitaire exist, each with a curious name tied to a range of references from Athena to Napoleon. Note that names for the game vary around the world, and in many parts of Europe the name of the game is Patience. The links between aloneness, duration and stillness have been there since the beginning.”

Our best guestimates indicated that there were over 2 billion games of Solitaire played daily. This mass embracing of the game really took hold in the early 1990’s.

“Microsoft Solitaire” was released in May of 1990, as one of two built-in games in Microsoft Windows (the other being “Minesweeper”). The game opens on a bright-green background, the felt-green of a professional card table that recalls a casino. In an interview in the Washington Post, Libby Duzan, Microsoft’s lead product manager for entertainment, claimed that “Solitaire” was included in Windows 3.0 to “soothe people intimidated by the operating system.” The game had the added bonus of teaching people to use a mouse instead of just a keyboard. Microsoft admitted that for years that the most-used application in Windows was “Solitaire.”

So we confirmed what we already knew anecdotally that Solitaire was played a lot by a lot of people.

We developed a strategy for the game that would ensure players were receiving value (or time on device) when they played the game and set about to crack the math so that a regulator would approve the game as all casino slot games must proof the house advantage (expected return to a player) on their game so players don’t get cheated.

It was at this point that we hit a brick wall. Some of the best casino math minds are Asian and had never heard of Solitaire and therefore were ill-equipped to solve the problem. More research delivered the bad news that Solitaire was one of the most complex card games on the planet with variables in every game of n72. We were told that it would take 104 man years of math working at the solution 24 hours a day. What we didn’t know when we started was that many of the world’s finest math minds had been trying to solve this problem for years.

Serendipitously, at the same time, we ran into one of the infamous card counter brainiacs from MIT. For the purposes of this, let’s call him Frank (as he still card counts in Las Vegas) -- whose adventures were played out on the big screen with Kevin Spacy in the movie 21.

As an 18 year veteran of the casino industry, Frank has been involved in all aspects of gaming, from advantage player/manager with the infamous M.I.T Blackjack teams, to a consultant to the “house” in the capacity of gaming mathematician and data scientist. Frank has been a visiting lecturer at DUKE, Clemson, and Michigan State Universities. He’s also a published author in the game-theory arena, with an emphasis on economic applications, and is a contributor to many casino gaming and financial sites and publications, including, Forbes, and Bloomberg.

While initially, we were again told it couldn’t be done, over the course of 15 months, Frank and his partner who also is part of the MIT card-counting society identified the perfect basic strategy for playing Solitaire and went on to build this logic into a simulator and played 25 billion games of once through the deck and 25 billion games of 3 times through the deck Solitaire. The results provided our company with the information we needed to give regulators the confidence to approve our game and we went on to receive 2 patents from the US Trademark and Patent Office granting us protection on our invention – Industrial Patent US 8,721,415,B2 and Design Patent US D713,469. The work also proves that Casino Solitaire is a skill-based game making it legal to play online.

Not all jurisdictions allow skill-based games online and we are currently filtering out the players that are not eligible to cash-out in the following areas:

US states: AZ, AK, CT, DE, FL, IL, LA, MD, MT, SC, SD, & TN.

Other countries: Cyprus, Poland, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Brunei, & Cambodia.

It’s been a great journey and we hope you enjoy our game as much as we enjoyed building it.