Let’s be honest here, they’re not adding beer pong to the Olympics anytime soon. If you’re hosting a laid back party and want to be sure people are having a good time, setup a table. Bring some plastic cups and ping pong balls and watch your guests gather like moths to a flame. In the words of Ray Kinsella, “If you build it, they will come.”
If you want to add a little more structure to your party, setup a bracket for your party. Get a reusable bracket on a white board that you can use time and again. Or for bigger events, get a printed bracket with your party members names and cross them out as teams are eliminated.
- Table, around 6-8 feet long
- Ping Pong Balls, preferably 2 or more
How to Play
The following list of rules is a relaxed version of the OFFICIAL rules to beer pong, which are summed up here. Feel free to make any revisions or additions as you please. After all, it’s your party.
- Get your table oriented how you want, with room on either end for people to stand.
- Each team sets up either 6 or 10 cups, in the shape of a triangle at their end of the table, with the points facing the center of the table. Generally 6 cups is for 1v1, while 10 is for 2v2.
- Get an additional cup filled with water for each team. If you’re going to be drinking out of the cups the ping pong balls land in, try to clean them off if they hit the floor. Ya nasties.
- Teams are responsible for filling their cups with about 1 sip of their drink of choice. They are going to be the ones drinking it after all.
There are a few ways to decide which team shoots first. Some of my favorites are:
Rock, Paper, Scissors
If you need this explained, you’re way too drunk and probably shouldn’t be playing any more drinking games. Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beats Paper, Paper beats Rock. Now go get some water.
Eye to Eye
Give 1 ping pong ball to a player on each team. These players must look into the opposing players eyes, and throw the ball without breaking eye contact. If one player gets the ball in a cup and the other doesn’t, the team who hit the cup gets to shoot first, but the cup they hit remains on the table. If both players hit a cup or neither hit a cup, the other players on each team step in and do the same. This continues until a starting team is determined.
Rite of the Ruler
Often during a party, the winning team of the previous beer pong game will stay and a new pair of challengers will take the place of the losing team. This ensures the winning team keeps getting drunker until they are on an even playing field with the rest of the party. Alcohol is the great equalizer. The Ruling team gets to shoot first.
- Once the team to shoot first is determined, give both ping pong balls to that team. Players can shoot one at a time, in whichever order they want, or at the exact same time!
- As soon as the ball hits a cup or the table, you are free to knock it away. It is highly encouraged to slap that ball into next week, although then you end up with the risk of some drunk girl stepping on the ball because she’s had like, 4 White Claws.
- The shooting player’s elbow must be behind the edge of the table when shooting whether your cups are 6, 8 or even 2 feet apart (a fun game for the kids.) Penalties for repeat offenders include loss of turn, a 1 cup penalty, or death. Watch them ‘bows.
- If a player gets a ball in a cup without the ball hitting the table, the defending team must remove this cup, and drink what is inside or take one drink. Set the cup aside.
- Once both players have taken their shot and the hit cups have been removed and drank for, the other team can start their turn.
- If your table is wet, your cups can start to slide around, so it is the responsibility of each team to ensure their cups don’t fall off. If a cup does fall off the table, it is moved out of play and the team who let it fall must take a drink. Also clean it up you donkeys.
- Repeat shooting back and forth until all 10 cups are hit.
This is a very generic set of rules, but there are hundreds of house rules that can be added to spice things up. If you love a good trip to the DMV to renew your registration, stop reading here, it’s about to get too fun.
- Bounce Shots: At any point in the game, a player can try to bounce their ball off the table and into one of their opponents cup. If the ball gets in any cup, the cup that was hit as well as an additional cup (decided by the defending team) must be removed and drank for. But as we remember from before, once a ball hits the table it can be swatted away, so only try this move when your opponents are distracted or by shouting “NICE TITS!” and pointing behind them before bouncing.
- Rollbacks: If both players hit a cup on their turn, the opposing team must remove both cups, and give back the balls for the original team to shoot again. This can continue as long as both players keep hitting their cups.
- Island: When you hit all the cups around one so that there is no cup touching it, it becomes an island. At any point during your turn, if your opponents cups have an island you can shoot for it regularly, or you can call island before your shot. If they have multiple islands you must specify which cup you are shooting for. If you hit the island that you called, that cup as well as one of your choosing must be removed.
- Death Cup: This is one of my personal favorites. Let’s say one player hits a cup and the other team is slow to notice/remove the cup from the playing area. The second player can then shoot his ball and if they hit the SAME cup then they win. Start yelling because this is one of the best feelings. You can also try to decide a cup to hit and shoot at the same time but that’s some advanced analytics shit that is a bit too complicated for some people.
- Bitch Cup: In a game of 10 cup beer pong, the cup in the center of the row of 3 is considered the “Bitch Cup.” If this is the first cup that your team hits, your team must remove your pants or shirt. Or both! That’s up to the host. Might depend on who’s hairy back you don’t want to see. Gah.
- Re-racks: Re-racking is when you can change the shape of your cups after you have hit 1 or more. Generally, each team can re-rack at the beginning of their turn 1 time per game, but more generous hosts offer 2. There are a ton of different re-rack formations you can go to depending on how many cups you have left and your preferred pattern to shoot at. Check out the full list here.
We have an ever growing list of house rules so we can’t list them all here, but you can find the complete list over here!
There are a few different ways to win the game. Beer pong is like Build a Bear Workshop, you can pick and choose all the features you want. Here’s a few options:
Hitting the Last Cup
Probably the most generic way to play beer pong. Whichever team hits all 10 of their opponents cups first wins. Classic but a little bit boring for my taste. This is the vanilla ice cream of game endings. Actually this might just be straight up frozen milk.
Redemption gives the losing team another chance to get back in the game, but there are a couple different ways to play it. I’m starting to run out of subheadings here.
Let’s say you still have 3 cups to hit and your opponent hits their last one, then you’re sent to redemption mode. You and your partner both get 1 shot to hit 1 of their cups, and if you do your last cup stays in play and the cup you hit gets removed. However! If your 1st opponent hits your last cup, their teammate has a chance to end the game by hitting the cup as well. That’s a death cup. Or rollbacks. Either way you lose!
Similar situation, you have 3 cups to hit, your opponent only has 1. If only one of their teammates hit the cup, the pressure is on and you better start blasting. You and your partner can both shoot until you’ve both missed a shot. If you can miraculously hit all their cups before both missing, that sends us to…. OVERTIME!
Overtime is basically just a miniature version of pong. You setup 3 cups in a small triangle the same as before, and the first team that sank the last cup in the regular game gets to shoot first. All the same rules apply.
And that’s the rules to beer pong! Now I’m sure there are hundreds of different house rules that everyone uses where they’re from, and I’d love to hear how you play. Send us your favorite house rules on our contact page.
Now get out there and host the party of a lifetime!