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

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 4 players

MATERIALS OF BEER PONG: Table, 22 plastic cups, ping pong balls, beer

TYPE OF GAME: Drinking game




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 called throw pong, which has more similarities to modern beer pong than the Dartmouth version. This game was passed from college to college via party after party until it spread all across the United States.

The origin 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, the name was coined around the time of the Lebanese Civil War, when the capital, Beirut, was at the center of the fighting. But really, who knows?

The important thing is that beer pong has become synonymous with drinking games. If you’re not sure how to play or you’re trying to settle a dispute, we’ve got you! Today, we’ll go over the official beer pong rules!


Before we jump straight into the rules for beer pong, let’s set up the beer pong table!


You don’t need much to play a game of beer pong. You should be able to find most items at an average house party. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Table
  • 22 cups
  • 2 ping pong balls
  • And beer, of course!



On the table, set up 10 cups on either end in the shape of a pyramid. Set up the cups as follows:

  • 4 cup base
  • 3 cups directly above that
  • 2 cups
  • 1 top cup.

Set the remaining cup per team next to the pyramids and fill them with water to rinse the balls throughout the game.

As for the 10 cups that form the pyramid, fill them up a quarter of the way with beer. This is the traditional way to do it. However, if you’d like to be more sanitary, fill these cups up with water, too, and simply have a bottle or can of beer on the side to drink whenever needed during the game.


The standard regulation size of a beer pong table is 2 feet wide and around 8 feet long. But here’s the thing: beer pong is a pretty casual game generally played at house parties. So, there’s no need to get the measuring tape out to make sure the table is suited for beer pong! Just make sure it is long enough to play the game efficiently.



Once you have set up the cups and readied the beer, it’s time to start the game!


It is customary for players to start by throwing “eye to eye.” That is, a player from each team grabs 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. However, don’t get ahead of yourself! Note that you do not remove the sunk cup from the pyramid. You can only actually sink cups when you officially start the game!


The first team gets the two ping pong balls to start the game. Each player then takes a turn trying to sink a ball in their opponent’s cups. Here’s how this game works at the most basic level: sink a ball in an opponent’s cup, a member of the opposing team must drink and remove the cup from the triangle/pyramid layout.

In order to throw the balls into the opposing team’s cups, players can either bounce the ball into a cup or toss it in overhand. Bouncing the ball has slightly different rules, so skip over to the BOUNCING AND SWATTING section for more on this. But generally, most players will simply toss the balls overhand.

If both teammates manage sink a ball in a single cup, they get the balls back and get another turn!


A very popular house rule is that elbows and/or wrists must remain behind the edge of the table when throwing a ping pong ball. If you break this rule, the resulting shot does not count. Generally, there will be spectators on the long edge of the table, ready to yell, “Elbows!” or “Wrists!” at the risk of an rule infraction.


As mentioned, one way to get a ball into an opponent’s cup is to bounce the ball. That is, the ball bounces on the table before it goes into the opponent’s cup.

While a bounce shot seems like the more logical type of shot as it can be easier to properly aim into the opponent’s cups, the issue is that if the ball bounces, the opponents may swat the ball away. This makes bouncing a rather risky move! However, if your ball does make it into a cup despite the danger, you get a reward of removing an extra cup from the rack! The defending team may choose which cup gets removed.

Note that if a player makes a bounce shot when there’s only two cups left, you just get the reward of showing off! No removing both cups off the table.


Players can re-rack (or re-organize) the opposing team’s cups into different shapes during the game at the very start of their turn. While house rules differ when it comes to how many times you can re-rack in a single beer pong game, usually, this is twice (sometimes just once) per team.

You can re-rack the cups when the opposing team has 6, 4, 3, or 2 cups left. For example, you may wish to arrange the cups that remain into a triangle or a zipper-like shape to improve your chances of sinking.


If after a player takes a shot and the ball, instead of going into a cup or falling off the table, rolls back across the table to the thrower’s half of the table, the throwing team may grab the ping pong ball to throw again. This beer pong rule is a fun house rule that leads to some yelling and scruffles as the two teams reach for the ball across the table!

However, here’s the catch: If the ball rolls back and you manage to grab it, you have to do a trick shot and cannot toss or bounce the ball the normal way.


A trick shot is any kind of shot that is not a normal type of shot. Examples of trick shots include:

  • Throwing with your non-dominant hand
  • Throwing behind you without looking
  • Throwing blind
  • Throwing underneath your leg


Have you heard the term, “Guys finger and bitches blow?” This is not necessarily an official rule in beer pong, but it is a super common house rule that you should determine before you officially start the game.

At some point during the game, instead of a ball directly going into a cupmit may spin around the inside of the cup. When this happens, the defending players may finger or blow the ball out of the cup. Traditionally, women had to blow the ball out while men could finger the ball out by sticking a finger in the cup and flicking it out. However, to keep things inclusive, we recommend allowing anybody to use whichever technique they prefer.


Island, solo, lonely cup… all these refer to the same beer pong rule. Once per game, each player in beer pong can call a specific cup. However, this cup cannot be touching any other cup in the formation. Once a player calls the singled out cup, they must aim for it. If, by some miracle, they manage to sink the cup, two cups can be removed! On the flip side, if the shooter calls a specific cup but accidentally sinks another, no cups are removed.


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 cups left to sink. Both teammates get a chance to shoot – just once each. 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 sets up three cups. Overtime is played as usual.


Different people and places will have slightly different house rules or variations on beer pong rules. So, always review the rules with the people you are playing with so that everyone observes the same rules prior to starting a game. It’s good to clear any gray areas beforehand to avoid any petty arguing once the game begins!

Here are some of the most common house rules you’ll come across

  • Sinking your own cup: If you sink your own cup, there’s generally no penalty, but some house rules state that counts in favor of the opposition. This applies to cups that are accidentally knocked over. But, not cups knocked over by non-players.
  • Fingering or blowing: Instead of allowing both fingering and blowing, some house rules dictate only one method of removal is allowed.
  • No fingering or blowing: Similarly, some house rules get rid of the fingering and blowing rule altogether!
  • 6-cup beer pong: If you have a smaller table or a simple lack of cups, some only play beer pong with 6 cups instead of 10.
  • Bounce shot rules: When it comes to bounce shots, the more times a ball bounces, the more cups you can remove if successful. For example, if a ball bounces twice before it lands in a cup, that leads to 3 cups removed from the formation!
  • No redemption: Some players don’t play with the redemption or rebuttal rule.
  • No island: Some players don’t play with the island rule.
  • Death cup: According to this house rule, if you have a cup in your hand that you need to drink and the other team makes a shot into that cup again, they automatically win! So, make sure to drink and chug fast!


The team who manages to sink all of the other team’s cups wins the game!


While beer pong might be the traditional table drinking game you play amongst friends and family, there are a host of other drinking games you can play that are just as fun. Some other table games we highly recommend playing include (and don’t worry; we’ve got the rules for these games too!):


How Many Cups Do You Need for Beer Pong?

According to traditional beer pong rules, you’ll need 10 cups per team, plus an additional cup each for cleaning the ball before each throw. So, that’s a total of 22 cups. But if you have a smaller table, you can also play beer pong with just 6 cups each + a cleaning cup for a total of 14 cups.

When Was Beer Pong Invented?

There’s a lot of dispute surrounding the invention of beer pong. However, most believe that this classic drinking game was invented in the 1950s and 1960s.

How Many Reracks Do You Get in Beer Pong?

According to most house beer pong rules, each team gets two reracks per game. However, you can agree on how many reracks are allowed per game beforehand. Generally, the other popular option is to just allow one rerack.

Mia Kim

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