How to Play Beer Pong

Beer pong, also known as “Beirut” is a drinking game of hand-eye coordination that usually requires at least four people to play. Before getting into the explanation, some clarification is needed on which version of beer pong to play.  One style involves using ping pong paddles and playing an actual game of table tennis with cups of beer on the corners of the table, while another requires players to manually lob a ping pong ball into red party drinking cups at each end of the ping pong table.  This article discusses the latter style,  in which two people will also suffice in an abbreviated game.  People can play beer pong at gatherings, where the atmosphere will get competitive and often times very noisy.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To play a pretty standard game of beer pong, you will need: 20 party-sized (16-20 oz) preferably red plastic cups, a long table (regulation calls for 8×2′, thought  aping pong table works fine); a ready supply of ping pong balls, paper napkins (or whatever else you might use to dry and/or clean the balls); and beer, obviously.

Set up 10 cups centered on either end of the table into a triangle, exactly how bowling pins are arranged at the end of an alley: four in the back down to one at the front. Make sure each cups sits flush with the table; otherwise, complaints (otherwise known as “trash-talking”) will arise about your team’s lack of setting a good rack. Evenly pour three ice-cold beers between the ten cups. Don’t worry depending on how many games you play and how fast the games go, three beers between you and your partner is plenty!

The game then begins with the toss. Each partner gets a toss for a total of two throws per side. You can choose to bounce the ball into the cup! However, this could result in general derision of the player practicing this style, unless he/she is deadly good at bouncing the ball for a score. You only get one bounce; after that the players on the other (defending side) are entitled to knock the ball away.

At this point in the game, there are many different ways to proceed. One method involves the option for a defending player to blow a ball out of play if the throw rims into a cup, spinning around like a toilet flush. The spinning motion allows for a chance at blowing the ball out of the cup and to deny the player’s attempt. However, this is adding more dirt (i.e. saliva) to an already dirty game. Some like to deal with this issue by having water and napkins on hand to wipe the ball after it has touched the ground or been inside a cup.

My favorite way to play, in fact I live for this, is the aforementioned “double-cup” whereby you and your partner make it into the same cup, thereby affording yourselves each another turn and the dismay of your opponents. Each cup made results in that cup drunk by the defending team. This can be arranged to the discretion of each team, however usually you and your partner will alternate drinking cups. In an abbreviated game of one-on-one “3-cup” you have to drink solo, obviously.  There are many variations and house rules which make the gameplay faster and therefore increases the rate of drinking.

In the standard game re-racks happen when the cups are reduced to 6 and 3: in other words, reforming the triangle. These are not mandatory, at least until the throwing team requests one. The game ends when one side makes all of their opponent’s cups, and as an additional penalty the losing team must drink the contents of their opponent’s remaining cups. Weird things might happen, like someone will accidently knock their team’s own cups down in the follow through of their shot: what happens next usually is that you lose that cup, but hose rules generally will prevail. Ask your party host.

People can get drunk quite quickly with this game, so it is good to have a designated driver around or a place for the losing (read: more inebriated) team to sleep.  All players have different styles of throwing the ball and taunting their opponents, and generally it is a fun time, unless people take the winning/losing too seriously. When we are drinking and having a fun time, that’s all you need. Though please do remember to have someone sober around to break up fights and drive everyone home.