OBJECTIVE OF BEER PONG: Throw a ping pong ball into cups in order to get your opponents drunk.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-4 players (played with fixed partnerships)

MATERIALS: Table, 22 plastic cups, ping pong balls, beer

TYPE OF GAME: Drinking



Beer Pong, or Beirut, is undoubtedly the most iconic drinking game ever. The traditional game, which is 10 cup beer pong (although 6 cup is not an uncommon set-up on smaller tables), has murky origins. It is believed that the game was invented at Dartmouth College in the 1950s or 1960s. The original version, supposedly, used ping pong paddles and a net, and resembled ping pong more than modern beer pong.

Alternatively, students from Bucknell University claimed in their student newspaper that fraternity members of their Delta Epsilon chapter invented a game throw pong, which has more similarities to modern beer pong than the Dartmouth version. This game was passed from college to college via party until it spread across the United States.

The source of the name Beirut is also contested and even rejected by some beer pong enthusiasts. Apparently, the name references the paddle-less version of beer pong, however; the majority of players of the game refer to the paddle-less version as beer pong.

Supposedly, Beirut was invented during the Lebanese Civil War, where the capital, Beirut, was at the center of the fighting.


On a table (the standard size of a beer pong table is 2 feet wide x 8 feet long) set up ten cups on either end in the form of a pyramid. This will be as follows: a 5 cup base, 4 cups directly above that, then 3 cups, 2 cups, and the top cup. The remaining 2 cups accompany the pyramids: 1 cup per pyramid. These cups are filled with water for rinsing the balls.

It is customary to fill the cups a quarter the way with beer, however, the more sanitary version is to fill the cups with water and have a bottle or can of beer on the side for drinking.


Once the cups are set up and beer ready, it is time to start the game. It is customary for players to start by throwing “eye to eye.” That is a player from each team grab a ball and steps up to the table, they look each other eye to eye and throw the ball, trying to land it in a cup. Whichever team sinks the ball in a cup first starts the game. The cup is not removed from the layout.


The first shots are taken by the team who sunk during eye-to-eye tosses. Each player takes a turn trying to sink a ball in their opponent’s cups. The general rule of the game is: sink a ball in an opponent’s cup, a member of the opposing team must drink and the cup is removed from the layout.

  • Players may either bounce the ball in a cup (house rules typically count that as 2 cups as opposed to just one) or toss it in overhand.
  • If both teammates sink a ball in a cup, it’s balls back. They get the balls back and get another turn.
  • Players can re-rack (or re-organize) their cups into different shapes during the game. For example, players may wish to arrange the cups that remain into a triangle or a zipper-like shape to improve chances of sinking. It is common that games allow one or two re-racks during play.
  • The rebuttal or redemption occurs once one team has sunk all their opponent’s cups. The other team gets a chance to send the game to overtime. This can only happen if they only have 1 or 2 cup left to sink. Both teammates get a chance to shoot. If they sink all the cups that remain on the table the game goes into overtime. Different rules may apply depending on the house rules.
  • During overtime, each team setting up three cups. The last player to sink starts first. Overtime is played as usual, the team who wins in overtime wins the game.

Different people and places may have house rules, or variations on the rules which are traditionally observed as official rules. Always review the rules with people who you are playing with so that everyone is observes the same rules prior to starting a game.


  • If you ball into your own cup it often carries no penalty, however, some people count it in favor of the opposition. This applies to cups that are knocked over. But, not cups knocked over by non-players.
  • If you miss a throw/bounce but retrieve the ball back before your opponent’s you may take another shot. If you take a shot it must be a trick shot, such as behind the back or under the knee.
  • Interference is an accepted and fun part of the game. However, that may not apply in every house’s version.

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