Beer Pong Rules and How to Play

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Beer Pong Rules | Learn How to Play Beer Pong

Beer pong is more than just a game for many of us; it’s a way of life. We eagerly anticipate those moments with friends and the wild nights that ensue.

While beer pong rules are simple, mastering the game requires skill. Official beer pong tournament rules exist, but some tournaments focus more on the sport than the enjoyment. We prefer the fun, so we’ve created our own Backyard Games Unofficial Beer Pong Rules that we follow at our house.

A study from CollegeStats on Instagram reveals that Beer Pong is the most popular college party game. However, its popularity isn’t confined to college life. In fact, 33% of drinking game posts are about beer pong, which is why we’ve included it in our list of the top 15 outdoor drinking games.

Before diving into the official rules, we want to share the code of conduct or “pong ethics” that should be adhered to and enforced strictly. These principles help maintain the integrity and enjoyment of the game.

Beer Pong Code of Conduct:

  • Fun is your number one priority, so include everyone.
  • Trash talking is not just allowed, it is encouraged.
  • Ladies are allowed lean and throw closer
  • Guests shots are permitted for struggling players.
  • Make sure to wash your balls and cups and a regular basis (with soap).
  • Make sure you play with at least a rack (we are not animals).

Beer Pong Rules & How to Play:

Beer Pong | Backyard Games List

Beer pong is one of the most popular drinking games, that is played all over the world.  It involves 2 teams facing off against each other and is played in singles or doubles.

The goal of beer pong is to throw your balls in their cups, and after each time a shot is landed they remove the cup and take a drink.

Each team has 10 cups on their side of a table that is set up in a triangle (pyramid) formation and the first team to sink a shot in all their cups wins.

It is best played on an 8-foot table which is ideal for bounces, but play with whatever you have. We created a rule sheet for you to print off and carry, with full explanations and beer pong rules below.

How to Setup Beer Pong

Beer pong is a simple game to set up and be the hit of every party. All you need is 20 red solo cups, a table to play on, a few ping pong balls, some friends, and a few dozen beers.

You can get a beer pong game for under $15. It’s important to have a beer pong rack to keep a tight cup formation, beer pong racks ensure this.

Here is how you set up for Beer Pong:

  • Set up the 10 cups on each side in a pyramid (or triangle) with the top peak facing your competitors. The cups must be centered on the back of the table and must not be titled or leaned up against any other cups.
  • Fill each cup up with beer to the red line, so it has approximately 1/5 full. You will want just enough to add weight, so they do not get tipped over. This will be 2 beers per team. (Tip: we use water and take a drink from our beer can. That way your drink isn’t contaminated by the ball)
  • Have a clean water cup handy you use to clean the balls between shots.
  • The game is best played on an 8-foot table. Here are some suggestions for awesome beer pong setups below.
Beer Pong Rules Infographic

How to Decide Who Throws First in Beer Pong

Beer pong is best played as a 2 or 4 player game but can be played with 6. Once you have chosen your teams (or partners), choose a kickass name and work on your handshake.

To decide which team throws first, you can either play rock scissors paper for it, or throw for it. We like to personally throw for it. Each team rotates 1 throw each trying to land in only the front cup. 

This rotates between players, between teams, until someone lands in it. That team throws first.

Take note of which team throws first.  The other team gets a last opportunity to throw, if they sink the ball in the cup, then the round resets. Throwing commences until the other team misses to choose the team that gets to throw first.

Beer Pong Throwing Distance Rules

Beer Pong is typically played on an 8-foot table or if space doesn’t permit, a 6-foot table. You can put tape on the floor about 10 feet from the very first cup on the competitor’s side, adding an additional 4 feet for the throwing line.

Adjust accordingly to how good you are.

Beer Pong Elbow Rule

Play either no elbows or wrists is a standard house rule. This means that the shooting line you set up cannot be crossed. With the wrist rule, this means that your wrist must stay behind the table or line when shooting.

The elbow rule means that your elbow can not cross the front of the table or line when shooting. This is a hard rule to enforce. It’s normally the only rule that is argued over and can be hard to judge.

Therefore, we typically play at a further distance, because let’s face it we all like to lean a little. You can account for this when setting up your throwing distance, and let people lean away.

2 Shots Each Per Team

There are several variations and different house rules to this game, but in all are similar that each partner gets at least 1 throw. One way to play it is that each team member gets 1 throw before their turns end. Then the opposing team gets to throw 1 each.

Backyard Games rules are the same, however, if you sink the ball, you get to continue to throw the ball until you miss. 

This means if one partner misses, the other team gets their ball, but the partner who sinks a shot gets the ball back and gets to keep throwing.

How to Shoot

This is not darts and is not about throwing at the target as hard as you can. Use more of an arc and light throwing motion to prevent bouncing. Grip the ball with your middle finger and thumb and aim for a specific cup.

Either try to throw the ball directly in, or try to bounce it. If you bounce it, your competitor can interfere and block it or swat it away. 

The goal is to throw the ball into the cup of the opposing team. You can throw the ball directly into a cup or bounce a ball from the table into a cup.

Drink where the ball lands

The goal is to throw the ball into the cup of the opposing team, when it lands in a cup then you pull the skunked cup out and drink it. Partners alternate between drinking the beer in the cup.

The other team waits to throw until you have finished your drink.

Bounce Shot Counts as Doubles

If a player bounces a shot and the ball lands in a cup, it counts as double. This means that the cup the ball lands in will be removed, and the player who bounced it can decide on a second.

However, the other team can swat or block the ball before it comes into contact with the cup. It is a good way to catch the other team not paying attention, but is more difficult than you think.

No Blocking or Interfering

If a player interferes with a ball a 1 cup penalty will be enforced. Blocking or blowing before it comes in contact with a cup is considered interference. 

The other team gets to decide which cup to remove, and that player will be responsible for drinking the cup.

If a player knocks over one or more of their cups, it is counted as sunk and must be removed from the table.

For multiple cups of 3 or more the other team may be nice, not required, but may let you refill them and add certain cups to the rack. Of course, penalty drinks will be awarded.

Blowing is allowed

This rule must be decided before the game begins, we play that blowing is allowed but no fingering.  Sometimes when the ball is thrown, it lands in the cup but starts spinning around before coming into contact with the beer.

If you are quick enough, you can blow in a fast-downward motion and will be able to create an air current where the ball will fly out of the cup.

It sounds complicated, but happens several times a game and is awesome when you do this! Be careful, if you don’t blow hard enough, it might land in another cup.  If it does, you drink both.

The fingering rule is grabbing the spinning ball on the rim before it plops in. We don’t like to suggest this rule. This is because many times people knock over the cup, or grab it once it touches the liquid.

Re-Racking

Once a few shots have landed in the cups, you will notice your cups are not in formation.

A couple cups may be missing in the middle, back, front, and makes it more difficult to hit the shots. Twice per game, you can request that the cups be arranged in a formation like the start of the game. 

You can choose to rerack when the team chooses twice per game or when 6 and 2 cups are remaining. Choose before starting your game.

How to Win Beer Pong: Redemption Rule

Once one team sinks all cups on the other teams, the game is not over. The other team gets a rebuttal shot. 

Each team member of the losing team gets to throw at the remaining cups. If both players miss and there are any cups remaining, the game is over.

If they make all the remaining shots it goes into a 3-cup overtime. No reracks are allowed in a Redemption shot, even if it is the 6 or 2 cups.

3-Cup Overtime

If the situation goes into overtime, where both teams have sunk all their shots a 3-cup overtime rule comes into effect. Replace 3 cups for each team in a 3 cup triangle.  Make sure to add the appropriate amount of beer to the cups.

The team that would have won if their opponents had not hit the redemption shot, get to start. The same rules apply as the redemption round one when a team finishes, the other team gets 1 shoot till they miss each.

If any cups are remaining, the game is over.

The House has Final Say

First and foremost, Beer Pong is about having fun! Over time, especially with alcohol and competition involved, there may be disagreements. 

For these disagreements, the house has the final say to make new rules or handle disputes. We suggest writing down the rules on a piece of paper or printing off the image below.

If you are hosting a beer pong tournament, you will need to display these rules up front and have a judge. If you know of fun, new, or innovative rules please make sure to share them below!

Beer Pong Variations

The best part about Beer Pong is doing something active, competitive, and based around alcohol with friends. We were always told to do what we love and that was actually the reason we created Backyard Games.

You do not need to wait until night or be stuck indoors when there are lots of different Beer Pong Accessories and Games to play outside.

This might even be a great camping addition. There is Giant Pong, Floating Pong, Mini Pong, and Elevated Pong.