Beer Pong Rules: The Definitive Guide How to Play Beer Pong

Beer pong is a popular drinking game that combines skill, strategy, and friendly competition. Whether you’re hosting a party or looking to have some fun with friends, understanding the rules of beer pong is essential.

In this article, I will guide you through the basic beer pong rules, setup, gameplay, and offer some tips to enhance your beer pong experience.

Beer Pong Equipment Needed

To play beer pong, you will need the following equipment:

-Cups: Typically, 16-ounce plastic cups are used, filled with beer or a non-alcoholic beverage. Plastic red cups are the most common.

-Ping Pong Balls: Use standard ping pong balls for throwing.

-Table: A sturdy and regulation-sized beer pong table.

Setting Up the Game

Setting up the game of beer pong involves arranging the cups, positioning the table, and ensuring a fair and balanced gameplay environment. Here are the steps to set up the game:

1) Find a suitable table:

Beer pong is typically played on a long, rectangular table. Ideally, a regulation beer pong table is 8 feet long, but you can also use a shorter table if needed. Make sure the table is sturdy and level to avoid any disruptions during the game.

2) Clean the cups:

Before placing the cups on the table, ensure they are clean and free from any dirt or residue. Wash the cups with warm soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Clean cups are essential for a hygienic and enjoyable game.

3) Arrange the cups:

Beer pong is usually played with 6 or 10 cups arranged in a pyramid shape at each end of the table. Place the cups in a tight triangle formation, with the base of the triangle facing the opposing team. The cups should be touching each other to prevent gaps.

4) Fill the cups:

Once the cups are arranged, it’s time to fill them with your beverage of choice. Traditionally, light beer is used, but you can also use other types of beer and non-alcoholic alternatives or water. It’s definitely not recommended playing with a high alcohol content beer. Many people also prefer beers with lower IBU, which means less bitterness. It’s important to decide on the amount of liquid to pour in each cup. Generally, 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters) of liquid is sufficient, though some people will play with much more.

5) Add water cups:

To maintain hygiene and prevent the ball from picking up debris, it’s common to have additional water cups placed on the sides of the table. These cups are used to rinse the ball before each throw. Fill the water cups with clean water to a level that allows easy dipping of the ball.

6) Establish shooting order:

Before starting the game, determine the shooting order for each team. This can be decided through a friendly agreement or by alternative methods such as flipping a coin, playing a round of rock-paper-scissors, or using a random number generator. The shooting order determines which team takes the first shot and alternates turns thereafter.

Beer Pong Rules and Gameplay

Understanding the gameplay and rules of beer pong is essential to play the game properly. These are the general beer pong rules, along with some beer pong rules that can vary.

Objective and Basic Rules

The objective of beer pong is to throw a ping pong ball into one of the opponent’s cups and eliminate them. The basic rules include:

1) Formation: Teams of two players each stand at opposite ends of the table. This can also be 1 player vs 1 player

2) Cup Formation: Each team sets up ten cups in a triangular shape at their end of the table, with the point facing the opposing team.

3) Turn Sequence: Teams take turns throwing one ball at a time, aiming to land it in the opponent’s cups.

4) Scoring: When a ball successfully lands in a cup, the opposing team must drink the contents of that cup and remove it from play.

5) Winning: The game continues until one team eliminates all of the opponent’s cups. The team with cups remaining wins.

Formation of Teams and Player Positions

Teams are typically formed with two players on each side. Players can decide their throwing order and positions at their end of the table.

Game Start and Ball Throw

The game begins with a simple decision or a shooting contest to determine which team gets the first throw. To see who goes first, this can be decided by both players shooting and whoever makes the shot first, goes first, or players can do rock, paper scissors. Players must throw the ball from behind the table and avoid crossing the “no leaning” line.

 Scoring and Winning

When a ball lands in an opponent’s cup, that cup is removed, and the contents are consumed. Scoring is determined by the number of cups made by each team. The team that eliminates all of the opponent’s cups first wins the game.

Beer Pong Rule Variations and House Rules

Beer pong is a flexible game that allows for various rule variations and house rules to add excitement and customization to each game. While there are traditional rules that most players adhere to, it’s common for individuals and groups to introduce their own rule variations. Here are some popular rule variations and house rules that you may encounter:

1) Re-racks: Re-racks, also known as rearrangement or formation, allow players to rearrange the cups during the game. This can be done at specific points, such as after a certain number of cups have been made or as a one-time or two-time opportunity. Common re-rack formations include a diamond shape, a line, or a pyramid.

2) Bounce shots: In some versions of beer pong, players are allowed to throw bounce shots. A bounce shot occurs when the ball first hits the table and then lands in a cup. If successful, the opposing team must remove the cup and if agreed, this shot counts for 2 cups. Bounce shots can add an extra level of skill and strategy to the game.

3) Balls Back: If players on the same team both make a shot during the same turn, they get the balls back and get to shoot again.

4) Island rule: The island rule can also allow a team to eliminate 2 cups at once. If there is a single, isolated cup that doesn’t have any filled cups next to it, a player can call out “island”, and if they make the island cup, it eliminates that cup, and their opponent must choose another cup to remove as well. If the player calls out “island”, and misses the island cup, but makes the ball in another cup, the shot does not count, and no cups are removed.

5) Death cup: Any cup that is made must be drank immediately. If the cup stays on the table after being made and someone makes a shot in it, or someone makes the cup while it still has beer in it no matter where the cup is, the game is immediately over. There have been circumstances where someone makes a shot, and while the opponent is drinking the cup, the other player on the shooting team hits the ball into the cup while it was being drank. This results in an automatic win for the shooting team.

6) Redemption: Redemption is a rule that allows teams to have a chance to redeem themselves if their opponent hits the last cup. If the opposing team eliminates the last remaining cup, the other team with cups remaining can attempt a redemption shot. Each player on the team with cups remaining gets to shoot until they miss. A variation to this is only allowing redemption when the remaining team only has 1 cup left to make.

7) Blowing or fingering: Some house rules prohibit blowing or fingering on the ball to deflect its trajectory. Blowing can alter the ball’s movement and make it harder to sink a shot. Fingering is when someone can move the ball away from the cup with their finger if it is rotating around the edge. This rule adds an additional challenge and ensures fair play.

There are no right and wrong rules with these variations and house rules can be agreed upon by both teams before the game starts to customize the gameplay according to your preferences.

Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Beer pong, like any other game, requires good sportsmanship and respect for your opponents. Some etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Play fair and abide by the rules.
  • Avoid excessive celebrations or taunting.
  • Respect your opponent’s turn and give them space to play.
  • Stay in control and drink responsibly.

Remember, the goal of beer pong is to have fun and create a friendly atmosphere.

Strategy Tips and Techniques

Beer pong involves strategy and skill. Here are some tips to enhance your gameplay:

  • Aim for the center of the cups to increase your chances of making shots.
  • Vary your throwing techniques, such as arcs, direct shots, or bouncing, to confuse your opponents.
  • Use strategic cup placement to create challenging shots for your opponents.
  • Communicate and strategize with your teammate to maximize your chances of winning.

Experiment with different strategies and techniques to find what works best for you.

Safety Guidelines

While beer pong is a fun game, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some safety guidelines to follow:

  • Drink responsibly and know your limits.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and pace yourself.
  • Use non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers or those who don’t drink alcohol.
  • Provide water and snacks to stay hydrated and sober.

Remember to prioritize the well-being of yourself and others while playing beer pong.

Hosting a Beer Pong Tournament

If you’re looking to take your beer pong game to the next level, consider hosting a beer pong tournament.

Plan the format, invite friends, and create a competitive yet enjoyable atmosphere. Whether just for fun, a specific occasion, beer olympics, or National Beer Day, beer pong tournaments are a lot of fun and a great way to bond with friends.


Beer pong is a thrilling and entertaining game that combines skill, strategy, and social interaction. By understanding the rules, setting up the game correctly, and embracing good sportsmanship, you can have an amazing beer pong experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also put in a game of beer ball, or beer die. So gather your friends, set up the table, and enjoy the excitement of beer pong!

Beer Pong Rules FAQs

Can I play beer pong without alcohol? Absolutely! Beer pong can be enjoyed with non-alcoholic beverages as well. Simply replace the beer with your preferred non-alcoholic drink, and you can still have a great time playing the game.

What should I do if a cup falls off the table during the game? If a cup falls off the table during the game, it is considered a missed shot. The cup should not be counted as made, and the play continues with the next team’s turn.

Can I use water instead of beer in the cups? While beer is the traditional beverage used in beer pong, you can substitute it with water or any other drink of your choice. This can be a suitable option for those who prefer not to consume alcohol or want to play a non-alcoholic version of the game.

Is it necessary to use a specific type of table for beer pong? Ideally, a beer pong table should be long, sturdy, and have a smooth surface. However, you can improvise and use any table available, as long as it provides enough space for the cups and allows for proper ball bouncing.

What happens if both teams make their last cup at the same time? If both teams make their last cup at the same time, it results in a tie. In this case, the game can be extended with an overtime round, where each team gets a chance to shoot until one team misses and the other team successfully makes a shot.

Remember, these answers provide general guidelines, and it’s important to establish specific rules and agreements with the players before starting the game. Enjoy beer pong responsibly and have fun with your friends!


beer your way

Michael Wilson

With over 15 years of experience in the beer industry, I love sharing both my own and other beer experts knowledge on everything beer related. I've always loved the fact that beer has brought cultures and people together for thousands of years and the tradition only continues to grow.

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