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How to Play Beer Pong

Learning beer pong should be easy as ABC. After all, it’s the best drinking game around, and players don’t need any skills to play, right?

Well, wrong! Like any other game, beer pong is surrounded by playing and scoring mysteries that players need to learn.

Yes, they might not be tough for a beginner, but if you want to advance professionally, or become a pro in your hood, you have to master the game like the back of your hands.

In this article, we take you through all you need to know about the beer pong game.

Things you Will Need to Play Beer Pong

Apart from two teams consisting of an even number of players, two being the minimum number, you will also need the following equipment:

  •  A ping pong table.
  •   6-22 plastic cups. The most popular ones are the traditional red solo cups, which are usually 16-ounces.  But you can also go for 36oz or even 12oz cups.
  •  Beer/favorable beverage. This is meant to accommodate kids.
  • Ping-Pong balls. The least being two balls. But the more you have, the better.

Note: if a team is made up of an odd number, the “odd-person” can act as the cheerleader, referee, or bartender. The most important thing is for all to get involved and have fun.

How to Set up Beer Pong

First, it’s important to note that beer pong games have multiple variations. So the number of players, cups, and balls are adjustable according to the agreement at the beginning of the game.

You can also play the game as a doubles or singles match.

Now that’s clear. Let’s look at the setup for a beer pong game

Table: if you don’t have enough cash to buy a beer pong game table, you can use any available table as the playing area. Any available flat surface will also be fine. 

However, ensure the table is around 4feet to 8ft.  It should also have a clearly visible line at the center.  But if you agree, you can play without the line, though that isn’t recommendable.

Cups: Place 6 or 10 cups on the opposite ends of the table. The cups should be arranged to form a triangle. For instance, for six cups, arrange using the formula 3-2-1, on the table’s playing surface.  Each team is also allocated an extra cup for rinsing the ping pong ball.

Drink: As the name suggests, the popular drink for this game is beer. But players can also agree to use any favored drink of their choice or water.  So fill the cups with beer. The amount should be around 250-100 ml per cup unless you want to get too drunk.

Balls: Each player gets one Ping pong ball. When the game begins, they will take turns throwing the balls into the other team’s cups. And the game goes on. 

The cup arrangement should be like the one below:

How to Set up Beer Pong

Source: Outist.co  

Beer Pong Gameplay Rules

First, the opposing teams have to come up with beer pong rules, and then decide which team goes first.  They can choose to play eye to eye, whereby the opponents count to three or five and then throw their balls at the same time. The player that makes the shot has their team going first. But if they both miss or make their shot they try again.

Alternatively, they can flip a coin after choosing sides. The team that wins, is the first team to throw the ball. 

Game Objective

The object of the beer pong game is to sink all the opponent’s cups.

Turns

Each beer ping pong team gets two shootings per turn, with each opposing team player shooting once.

If both players get their balls sunk into the bear, they receive throwbacks. That’s another throwing turn.

Shooting

A player should toss, bounce or throw a ball into their opponent’s cup.  The rules concerning the position of the thrower’s elbow depend on the length of the table. 

But generally, it shouldn’t go past the end of the table during shooting. If the teams allow leaning, the player can only lean over the table as touching isn’t allowed.  

When the ball is shot, and it ends up at the center of the group of cups on the opponent’s side, they’re all counted as sunk.

Cup Sinking

Teams sink each other’s cups when the shot ball lands in a cup and touches the beer. Another context is when the ball lands in the middle of a group of cups as explained above.

The team, whose cup/cups are sunk must drink all the beer from the cup.  All team members must participate by drinking the content alternatively.

Beer pong rules demonstration video:

Death Cup

Although this pong beer rule is rarely used, it still exists. If you hit the opponent’s cup, but they forget to drink the beer, and your team manages to hit it the second time, it’s referred to as a “death cup”. And you simply win the game!

Alternatively, you can try getting the ping ball into the defender’s cup as they drink their beer from the previous round. 

Roll-Backs

When a player or a team shoots twice into various cups during the same shot and manages to get the balls into the cup, the opponents must drink from those two cups. Once done, they remove the cup from the triangular set up on the playing table. The playing team then gets another shooting opportunity, which is the one referred to as the “Roll Backs”. 

Either teammate can take the roll-back shot, but not more than 2 consecutively. 

Skunk/Naked Lap

Also, if a team wins over their opponents by hitting all their cups before they (their opponents) can even hit one cup, the losing team members get “skunked”. Meaning they have to run naked (or with underwear) around the house, according to the house rules.

Bouncing

When a player throws a ping pong ball, and it bounces off the cups’ lids, straight onto the table, the player can grab it and shoot again, before it hits the floor. If the player is a female, she can throw the ball with her left hand.  Male players should throw the ball from behind the back.

Also, if a player shoots a ping pong ball and it lands on the cups’ lids and then bounces up into the air, the player can grab it before it lowers into their team’s cup, or heads right back to the opponent’s side.

However, if the ball ends up hitting the cup’s rim and then falls into another cup, it can be counted as two cups or just one, depending on the agreed rules.

Also, if a player bounces the ping pong ball into the opposing team’s cup, they get two counts. But for best results, distract the team members before trying this trick.

Celebrity Shot

If you’re playing and would like a friend to shoot for you, you can use a celeb shot. However, according to beer pong rules, it’s only allowed once throughout the entire game.  

Re-Rack

It’s always advisable for players to rearrange (Re=rank) their cups into a different design during the game of beer pong. However, each opposing team can only re-rank once per game. If you agree to include it in your house rules, teams won’t benefit from redemption shots.

Although there are various ping pong ball arrangement designs, the most common ones include stacked, triangle, diamond, and pyramid.  However, you can agree on the agreeable patterns before the game.

Source: justbearapp.com

Redemption

If a team manages to sink all their opponent’s cups, the losing team must try to get the game into overtime. So they also get a chance to redeem themselves through the redemption shot. 

This is an attempt to sink all their opponent’s cups without missing a shot. Players from the “redemption” team get a chance to shoot: one shot per player.

If they successfully manage through redemption, the game moves into the overtime play. Here, each team must rearrange their ping pong cups into a three cups triangle before commencing the game.

Bermuda Triangle

This rule is applicable when teams aren’t allowed to re-rack the remaining cups. There must be 3 cups left, and none of them should be connected (not touching). Players must sink one cup to be allowed to re-rank.

Elbows/Bows

If while shooting a player lets their shooting elbow touch the end of the table (intentionally or not), the shot doesn’t count.

Finger or Blow

If a player throws a ball and it hits inside a cup but continues to spin, the defender is allowed to try moving it out with one finger. Alternatively, he/she can try blowing into the cup to get the ball out.

How to Win at Beer Pong?

Like any other game, winning beer pong isn’t purely luck, you’ve to put your best foot forward, and showcase various skills. Otherwise, you’ll get your tongue handed back to you!

Some of the essential tips you should remember in your next game include:

Choosing the Aiming Cups

Always choose the cups you want to aim at carefully. If you choose right, the chances of success are higher.

For instance, it’s advisable to first aim at the cups at the front row of your opponents, and work your way back as you progress.

The secret here is that, if the ping pong ball bounces off the cup, it’s likely to get into the ones behind it, instead of bouncing right back to you.

Type of Throws

There are three types of throws you can use in beer pong:

The Arc: a long throw with a slow descent into the opponent’s cup

The Fastball: it’s a speedy, low, yet aggressive thrust.

The Bounce: here you just bounce the ball off the table once. Most players prefer it because once the ball hits the table once, the table absorbs a lot of energy from it, making it slower and unlikely to get off the cups onto the floor.

Mind Games

Just find a way to get into the opponent’s head. This is a known workable strategy for any game. However, how to go about it depends on the opponent at hand. 

 So, get to chat with the opposing team’s players before the game or even during gameplay. They might reveal a little too much about themselves, and you can use the information to get their weak points. If you find out they’re more experienced than you, use other strategies.

Drink Up

Remember beer pong is a drinking game. So if you get more confidence when drunk, then never stop drinking as you play beer pong. If you stop, you might get tense, and spoil everything.

However, ensure to check the amount of beer you take. Getting too drunk won’t help you either.

Choosing a Teammate

Your teammate can help you win or lose. If your hand-eye coordination skills aren’t that perfect, get a teammate who is better than you. Also, if you’re short, a taller teammate will bring balance. Muscle memory is also another useful skill that you must consider when choosing a teammate.

FAQs for How to Play Beer Pong

Can you get drunk playing beer pong?

Yes, you can. That’s why you’ve to ensure the beer measurements remain minimal so that you don’t get too intoxicated to play.

If you don’t take alcohol, you can use a non-alcoholic beverage, such as water.

How many cups do you need to play beer pong?

You need 6-10 cups for each team. With two extra cups for rinsing the ping pong balls.

How to play beer pong without a table?

Not really. But you can improvise a beer pong table using available materials such as an old door, or make one using plywood.

Check out this video for some ideas:

What happens if you catch the ball in beer pong?

If you shoot a ping pong ball but miss your target, and it rolls back to you, you’re allowed to catch it and re-shoot.

What happens if you knock over a cup in beer pong?

If you knock a cup over with a ball, it’s counted as a hit. But if you knock your own cup, it’s counted as sunk, and removed from the playing table.

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John Martins
I'm a financial analyst, ping pong lover and an enthusiast father. I'm 30. I have one little boy. Whenever I'm not stuck in numbers, you'll find me in my game room chilling.

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