Sunset Poker
Designed by Christopher Menart
Players 3-9
Length About 1 Hour
Extra Material 1 Decorative Object to serve as the 'Sun'

Gather as many cards as you can while the sun is still out—because once it falls, only the strongest will survive.


The goal of the game is to score as many points as possible in each round. Sunset Poker is traditionally played to a certain number of points: for a normal-length game, we recommend “first to 100 points wins”.


To set up the game, choose how many points the game will be played to, and shuffle the appropriate cards to form a deck. If you are playing with less than eight players, only use the 36 cards of the standard Decktet. When playing with eight or nine players, shuffle in additional cards (as instructed near the end of this rulebook).

Every player starts with 50 points. Players cannot go below 0 points.

Game play

To start each round, place the Sun in the center of the table, where all players can reach it. Shuffle the Decktet and deal it out evenly to all players. When playing with 5 or 7 people, there will be one card leftover; place it aside face-down until the end of the round.

Each round has two parts: The Draft, and the Play.

The Draft

The first phase of every round is the Draft. The main goal of the Draft is to build the highest-ranking hand possible.

Each player picks up the cards they were dealt and picks 1 card to add to their hand face-down. Then they pass the remaining cards to their left. Everyone then takes the pack of cards they were just passed, picks another card to add to their hand, and passes the rest to the left.

Players repeat this process until all the cards have been picked. Everyone should now have a hand of cards that is the same size as the packs they were originally dealt.

The Play

The second part of every round is the Play. Players go clockwise around the table taking turns until everyone has either folded or played all of their cards. In the first round, the player to the left of the dealer should take the first turn; otherwise, the player who won the previous round goes first.

On your turn, you must take one of three actions:

  • You can play a card from your hand by putting it face-up in front of you
  • You can take the Sun, if it has not been taken yet
  • You can Fold

You do not have to play cards from your hand in any specific order; when you choose to play a card, you can put down whichever one you like.

If you Fold, you are out of the game for the rest of the round, and you will lose or gain points depending on when you folded:

  • If the Sun has not yet been taken, you gain a number of points equal to the number of cards you’ve played this round. If you play three cards and then fold on your fourth turn, for example, you will gain three points.
  • If the Sun has been taken, you lose a number of points equal to half the number of cards you’ve played, rounded up. For example, if you play five cards, then another player takes the Sun and you decide to fold on your sixth turn, you will lose three points.

What this means is that if you Fold before the Sun is taken, it’s in your interest to do so as late as possible, so that you gain the most points. However, once the Sun is taken, it’s in your interest to decide whether or not you want to fold quickly, so that you lose fewer points.

If you play the last card from your hand, you don’t take any more turns until the end of the round, and you gain or lose points depending on the rank of your hand:

  • Out of all the players who played their entire hand, the player with the highest-ranking hand gains a point for every card they played. They also gain all the points that other players lose this round.
  • Anyone else who played their entire hand loses one point for each card they played.

What this means is that players who ‘go all the way’ and put their whole hand on the table will either win or lose big.

Ranking Hands

To determine the rank of your hand, construct the largest Set you can with the cards in it. A Set is a collection of cards that follow a certain pattern, as shown below. It is important to note that you do NOT have to use all the cards in your hand to build a Set, nor do the Sets you can construct depend on the order you played your cards in during the round.

The highest-ranking set is the one with the most cards. If two or more sets have the same size, then they are ranked by type from highest to lowest in the order shown below. If two or more sets have the same size and type, the tie is broken by which Set has the highest-value card in it (Aces are high).

The four kinds of Sets you can construct, from highest rank to lowest, are shown below:


A set of cards that all have the same value. This is the highest-ranking type of set.



A set of cards with consecutive values, all sharing a single suit. This is the second-highest-ranking type of set.



A set of cards with consecutive values, where each card in the set shares at least one suit with the card that comes after it. This is the third-highest-ranking type of set.



A set of cards divided as evenly as possible into cards of two different values. A 4-card split is two pairs, for example, while a 5-card split is a pair and a 3-of-a-kind. A 6 card split is two 3-of-a-kinds, and a 7-card split would be made up of a 3-of-a-kind and a 4-of-a-kind. (A split can only be made between two values, not three or more.)


This is the lowest-ranking type of set.


  • What if two hands have sets of the same size, type, and high card?

This situation is called a ‘perfect tie’. If there is a perfect tie for the highest-ranking hand, the players involved in the tie do not lose or gain any points.

  • Can I form a Run or Flush that wraps around from Crowns to Aces?

Yes, as long as they share a suit.

  • What if no player takes the Sun before the end of the round?

As described in the rulebook, players who fold before the Sun is taken gain points based on the number of cards they’ve played. Players who have played their whole hand still gain or lose points based on who has the highest-ranking hand.

  • Why would I want to take the Sun? I don’t get any points for taking it, do I?

The primary reason to take the Sun is that it prevents other players from Folding without losing points. If you think that you will be the eventual winner of a round, you want to take the Sun just before other players are about to Fold, so that you get points from them when you win. You might also take the Sun to make other players think that you’re going to be the eventual winner of the round.


Special Thanks To:
Cole Mason
Arthur S.
Alex Jennison
Peter Menart
and all of the Saturday Game Knights


Google Docs version of the rules:


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License