You’ve seen it in movies.
Perhaps you’ve played it yourself.
But chances are: you’ve been playing it wrong.
Beer pong, sometimes referred to as “Beirut”, is a seriously popular and fun party game.
The game has its origins in the United States and is played widely across universities and house parties.
Playing beer pong is a great way to liven up a party and to really get the laughs and the drinks flowing.
But did you know there is an official set of rules?
Not that you need them…the game is fun no matter what. But why not play it right, like they do in the World Series of Beer Pong?
The Aim Of Beer Pong
Beer pong is usually played in teams of two but can be played individually if desired.
A set of six or ten cups are filled to around one third full with beer and arranged in a triangle formation at each end of a table.
Players on each team then take turns to throw a ping pong ball into the opponent’s cups. When a ball lands in a cup, it is known as a “make”.
When you make a shot, your opponent must then drink the contents of that cup and remove it from the playing table.
The first team to lose all of their cups loses the game. Beer pong is normally played in a winner-stays-on fashion.
Beer Pong Equipment
The official size for a beer pong table is 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. However, ping pong tables, dining tables, and foldable picnic tables may also be used in recreational games.
Some kind of center-line should be made on the table. You are not allowed to make a ball bounce on your own side of the table. The best official beer pong tables have a center-line marked on them.
The balls used for beer pong are standard table tennis or ping pong balls.
Typically 18-0z (350 ml) plastic cups are used at each end of the table. Cups that feature ridges or lines are preferred since they make it much easier to measure the liquid evenly into each cup.
Ten cups are usually used and placed in a triangle formation at both ends of the table. Six cups can be used for quicker games.
These cups are traditionally filled with beer, although a light lager or similar type of beverage is also used. It is recommended to keep the alcohol content in the range of a light beer (4%ABV) due to the large amount that is usually consumed during matches.
For hygiene reasons, some people fill the cups with water and have a separate cup of beer for drinking when a shot is made.
A further two cups are required, one at each end, to be filled with water. These water cups are used to rinse the ball after each throw in an effort to improve cleanliness if you are drinking the contents of the cups after the ball lands in them.
Beer Pong Rules
Beer pong is a popular game at gatherings and parties. Therefore, the rules may vary slightly depending on where you are playing.
The general rules remain the same but different houses, areas, and universities will each have their own individual preferences or “house rules”. It is a good idea to announce all of the house rules before the game begins.
The World Series of Beer Pong has created its own set of official beer pong rules to make the game fair and efficient to run in competition environments.
Let’s take a look at the general and most important rules of beer pong.
Starting The Game
Ten cups (six for shorter games) are set up in triangle arrangement at both ends of the table. The point of the triangle should be facing the middle of the table.
Set a separate cup off to the side of each triangle. This cup is filled with water and used to rinse the ball between throws.
To decide on who takes the first shot, rock, paper scissors can be played. However, playing a round of “eyes” is a more popular and exciting way to reach a decision.
“Eyes” is where a player from each team throws a ball at their opponents cups while holding eye contact with the opposing player. You are not permitted to look directly at your opponent’s cups.
The player who makes a shot into one of their opponent’s cups wins. If both players make a shot or both miss, the partners come in and do the same. This carries on until one player makes a shot and the opponent misses.
After “eyes”, no cups are removed from play. The ball is given to the winner and they can now begin the actual game.
One team plays at a time. Each player from the team with possession of the ball takes a shot at their opposition’s cups.
If you land a ball in a cup, the contents of that cup must be consumed by one of your opponents. Players take turns to drink from the cups when shots are made.
On the occasion that both teammates land their balls in a cup, the balls are rolled back and the team gets one extra turn.
The game continues in this manner until one team has cleared all of their opponent’s cups and is declared the winner.
Bouncing And Swatting
You are allowed to bounce the ball into a cup, as long as the first bounce takes place in your opponent’s half of the table. A shot that is made with a bouncing ball counts for two cups.
The defending team chooses the second cup that is to be taken away.
However, a bouncing ball is free to be swatted away by your opponent. So, only use them if you can catch your opponent off guard.
The two cup rule for bounces only applies when there are more than two cups remaining.
Each team gets two “re-racks” or “reforms” per game. Re-racking allows the team to rearrange their opponents’ cups into a close formation, which makes them easier to hit.
You can request a reform at the beginning of your turn when you have either 6, 4, 3 or 2 cups left on your side of the table. If the ball has been rolled back as a result of both teammates making shots, a reform cannot be taken at that point.
Re-racking and reforming are different to “fixing cups”. Fixing of the cups can be requested at any point in the game. This allows a player to reposition cups back to where they would have been if they have been knocked over or slid out of place.
Ending The Game – Rebuttals And Redemption
The game ends when one team completely clears all of their opponent’s cups from the table.
However, before victory can be declared, the defending team gets a chance to redeem themselves and send the game into overtime. This is called a rebuttal or redemption.
In a redemption, each player takes turns to shoot at the opponent’s cups until they miss in an attempt to clear the remaining cups on the table.
If both players miss, the redemption is over and the other team wins the game.
On the other hand, if the redeeming team manages to clear all of the cups, the game goes into overtime.
In the event of a successful redemption/rebuttal, a three cup overtime is to be played to decide the match winner.
For overtime, 3 cups are arranged in a triangle at each end of the table. The teams take turns and try to clear the cups, just like in regular play.
The team that would have been winners if not for redemption, throws first in overtime. No re-racks are allowed in overtime.
Overtime can be forced again with another redemption.
Balling Your Own Cups Or Interfering With Play
If a ball is accidentally dropped into one of your own cups, no penalty or action is taken.
If you come into contact with a ball during your opponent’s possession and the ball lands in one of your cups, the score is counted. This is known as back-boarding.
Interference with the ball during your opponent’s turn, if it hasn’t bounced, results in a one cup penalty. Your opponent can choose the cup to be taken.
You may not interfere with a ball as it enters a cup. Blowing on the ball is sometimes done to prevent it from landing in the beer. This is against the official rules. “Fingering”, the act of scooping a ball out with your fingers as it spins around the rim of a cup, is also not allowed.
If a player knocks over their own cups during play, these cups count as “hit” and must be removed from the table.
Cups are not counted as “hit” if they are knocked over by a non-player. You can refill and replace these cups.
Beer Pong Rules: Final Thoughts
This rule guide gives you a general idea about how to play beer pong. However, as mentioned earlier, many variations and individual rules for beer pong exist. There are even a bunch of other names for beer pong.
Whatever players decide on, it is vital that all of these rules are stated and agreed upon before starting the game.
Most importantly, be responsible, drink safely and have lots of fun!