Beer pong: Wikis


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Beer Pong
Partie de Beer Pong.jpg
Players Typically two teams of two
Setup time 2 minutes
Playing time 10-20 minutes or less
Random chance Easy
Skills required Aiming, taunting, sometimes blocking, and alcohol tolerance

Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) is a drinking game in which players throw a ping-pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer/water on the other end. The game typically consists of two two-to-four-player teams and multiple cups set up on each side set up in triangle formation.[1] There are no official rules, so rules may vary widely, though usually there are six or ten plastic cups arranged in a triangle on each side.

The goal of the game is to eliminate the other teams' cups before one's own cups are eliminated. When a ball lands in a cup, which are generally 1/4 to 1/3 full,[2] that cup is eliminated and the defending team must consume all of the beer inside that cup and any other cups knocked over.

The losing team must consume all the beer remaining in the winning team's cups.[1] The order of play varies – both players on one team shoot followed by both players on the other team, or players on opposite teams can alternate back and forth.[3]



Today, beer pong is played at parties, North American colleges and universities[4][5] and elsewhere, such as tailgating or other sporting events.[6][7] The game is also played by high school students, despite the fact that supplying alcohol to underage persons is illegal in the U.S.[8][9]

Although the preceding guidelines are common, the rules may be subject to a wide variety of modifications and additions that often vary based on the area of the country, the state, or even the house in which a particular game of beer pong is played.

Origin and name

The game evolved from the original beer pong played with paddles[10] which is generally regarded to have had its origins within the drinking culture of the Dartmouth College fraternities in the 1950s and '60s, where it has become part of the social culture of the campus. The original version resembled an actual ping pong game with one or more cups of beer on each side of the table.[11] Eventually, a version without paddles was created, and later the names Beer Pong and Beirut were adopted in some areas of the USA sometime in the 1980s.[12][13]

The names Beirut and Beer Pong are generally synonyms for the version without paddles, but in some places Beer Pong refers to the version with paddles, and Beirut to the version without. However, according to a CollegeHumor survey, beer pong is a more common term than Beirut for the paddle-less game.[14] The origin of the name "Beirut" is disputed. A 2004 op-ed article in the Daily Princetonian, the student newspaper at Princeton University, suggested that the name was coined at Bucknell University or Lehigh University around the time of the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut being the capital of Lebanon and scene of much fighting.[15] Others attribute the origin of Beirut to Lehigh, where fraternities allegedly started playing after all beer pong paddles were broken.[16] Some students at Lafayette College, rivals of Lehigh, insist modern, paddle-less beer pong was invented at their school, but The Lafayette, the college's student newspaper, says there is no proof to back up the assertion.[17]


This diagram illustrates a standard set up for a game of Beirut, with either 6 or 10 cups being used.


Beer pong is usually played with two teams of two players each, though it can be played with two teams of one person each, or other numbers of players. Each team begins the game standing at either end of the table behind their rack of cups.[1]

Playing field

Although the game is typically played on either a ping pong table or a folding banquet table, enthusiasts may create a personalized table for use by friends and visitors. In general, this will be a plywood board cut to proper size, sometimes painted with sports, school, or fraternity symbols and given a liquid-proof coating.[18][19][20] Some companies sell tables,[21] and there are companies making portable or inflatable tables.[22] The game can be played on any flat surface, such as a door or dining table.


The most common cups used are 16 ounce disposable plastic cups (such as red Solo cups) with ridge-lines which can be used precisely to measure the amount of beer to be poured into the cup. On each side of the table, teams assemble equilateral triangles, with a convergence point focusing on the other team.[1] Games typically use either six, ten, or twelve cups.[1] Each team usually has a separate cup of water as well, used to rinse off the ball.

38 mm or 40 mm table tennis (ping pong) balls are typically used for game play.


An inexpensive pale lager or light beer of 3.2-5% ABV is sometimes preferred because of the large quantities of beer which may be consumed during the course of several games.[5] For non-drinkers, the game may be played without beer, as is done at Utah State University, where alcohol is not allowed on campus-- root beer is used instead.[23] The game may also be played with water instead of beer, or with cups full of water that players do not drink from, instead using another cup of beer or alcohol. Water pong has been banned at some freshman Dartmouth dorms due to a possibility of water intoxication.[24]

Game play

Teams have many possibilities for reracks.

There are very few universal or "official" rules. Typically, players abide by a uniform set of "house rules", which are often consistent within one university or region of the country (e.g., "Ivy League rules" or "West Coast rules"), or may vary on a "house-by-house" basis.[25] Number of cups, bouncing, amount of alcohol, the distance shots must be taken from, etcetera, may all vary.

In some house rules, players must immediately drink any cup that has been hit. Failure to do so incurs a penalty, such as drinking more beer or losing the game.[26] Some rule sets allow for "re-racking" (also known as "rearranging", "consolidation", and other names), which is a rearrangement of a team's remaining cups after some have been removed. The formations, number of cups, when to rearrange and so on depend on the rule set. For example, a team with three remaining cups may ask the other team to "re-rack" their multiple targets into a single triangle formation.[27]

Some other house rules allow swatting the ball away if it bounces and if the ball spins around the cup. Other rules state that if a team makes both shots in a round, they may shoot again, sometimes called a "repo" or "rollback."[28]

After shooting, teams may dunk the ping pong balls into cups of water in order to wash off the balls. However, research showed that the wash cups still hold bacteria, such as E. coli.[29][30]

Shot techniques

The typical path for the different kinds of shots.

There are three key ways to shoot in beer pong: the arc, the fastball (or "laser"), and the bounce shot. The most common throwing technique is the "arc" shot, where one grasps the ping pong ball with the tips of the thumb and forefinger, holds the arm at an angle with the ball upwards, then throw by using gentle elbow motion, holding the upper arm parallel with the table.[25]

Some players throw "fastball" style, which uses more of a hard chopping motion to send the ball in a more direct line to the intended target cup.[25] Also, a fastball shot may be favorable if house rules dictate a cup that is knocked over is taken off the table, in which case a fastball can eliminate multiple cups if thrown hard enough.

A "bounce" shot is performed by bouncing the ball toward the cups. Since (depending on house rules) the other team may have the opportunity to swat away a bounced ball, a bounce may be worth more than one cup.[25] In some rule sets, bouncing is not allowed.

Winning the game

If the opposing team makes the last cup, the other loses unless they can make either all remaining cups or simply one cup, depending on "house rules" - this is called a rebuttal or redemption.[31] In some rule sets, if the opposing team hits the last cup with both of their balls, no redemption is given to the losing team.[25][27]

A shutout rule is a house rule usually stated before a game or during the game in the midst of a shutout. If the shutout does occur the losing team must do whatever the two teams decided on, such as going streaking or drinking a large quantity of beer.[27]

Health effects

This game may have several health issues associated with it. Beer pong, as with any activity involving alcohol, may cause players to become intoxicated or even drunk enough to get alcohol poisoning. Also, the supposed cleaning effects of the water "dunk" cup may be offset by bacteria in the cups.[29][30]

Some writers have mentioned beer pong as contributing to "out of control" college drinking.[32][33]

In early 2009, news sources claimed a recent study by the U.S. Center of Disease Control (CDC) stated that beer pong was contributing to the spread of Herpes, Mono, and other diseases through shared cups. The CDC quickly responded as the CDC had not done such research,[34][35] however the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) does suggest avoiding the sharing of eating utensils to prevent the transmission of certain contagious viruses such as herpes.[36]

Legal restrictions

Former Steeler and 2006 candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania Lynn Swann plays beer pong with voters before a football game.[37]

Some municipalities and states have attempted to ban beer pong, either from bars or in general. In Oxford, Ohio, where Miami University is located, the city council tried to ban the game from being played outdoors,[38] and in Arlington, Virginia[1] and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois[39] bar owners were told to stop allowing the game to be played in their establishments. In the fall of 2007, Georgetown University officially banned all beer pong paraphernalia, such as custom-built tables and the possession of many ping-pong balls.[40]

Time magazine ran an article on July 31, 2008 called "The War Against Beer Pong," noting legal restrictions and bans on the game in college and elsewhere.[24]

Tournaments and leagues

Beer pong tournaments are held in the United States at the local, regional, and national levels.

The World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP), hosted by, is the largest beer pong tournament in the world. WSOBP IV, held in January 2009 at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, had a $50,000 grand prize and attracted over 800 participants from the US and Canada.[41] WSOBP V, held in January 2010, attracted over 1000 participants, and attracted teams from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Japan, each of which voiced their aspirations to further the sport in their home countries. The World Beer Pong Tour has stops in various cities and cash prizes as well.[42]

A more common organization of beer pong games are leagues which operate on a local or regional level. Ordinarily, a group of pong enthusiasts will create teams (partnerships) and play weekly against each other. Sometimes, the leagues have websites, rankings and statistics[43], while others have been started by college students with the goal of intramural competition such as at University of California, Santa Barbara with the "Isla Vista Beer Pong League",[44] and at New York University.[45]

Beer pong in the media

The Wall Street Journal, Time and other media outlets have reported on the increase in businesses selling beer pong paraphernalia, such as tables, mats, cups, or clothes.[2][21] Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong[46] is a documentary which follows some competitive players as they prepare for the WSOBP II and ultimately compete against one another for the $20,000 grand prize. This documentary, directed by Dan Lindsay, premiered at the CineVegas film festival on June 13, 2008. WSOBP V attracted further media attention, with writers from Maxim Magazine and ESPN the Magazine attending, and it was featured on The Jay Leno Show on Jan. 8th, and also on G4's Attack of the Show on Jan. 11th 2010.

The AP cited the game and other drinking games as a factor in deaths of college students.[47]

Time magazine recently had an article on the popularity of beer pong[2] and posted a video on their website.[48] In both, players claimed beer pong was a sport, rather than a game — similar to billiards and darts.

Rick Reilly wrote an entire column about The World Series of Beer Pong IV for ESPN the Magazine.[49]

The game has been featured on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with host Fallon playing against Betty White, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova, Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba..[50]

The Colbert Report featured a segment on the CDC study hoax.[51][52]

In Road Trip: Beer Pong, a sequel to 2000 comedy Road Trip, featured the game prominently. Agnes Scott College, where most of the movie was filmed, did not want to be listed in the credits after complaints from students.[53]

Episode 2 ("Hazed and Confused") of the show Greek features a game of Beer Pong between two frat houses.


On August 29 2009, Chronicle Books published The Book of Beer Pong, a 200 page fully illustrated guide to the sport.[54]

Bud pong

Bud pong was the branded version of beer pong that brewer Anheuser-Busch said involved the drinking of water, not Budweiser or any other beer. In the summer of 2005, the company began marketing "bud pong" kits to its distributors. Francine I. Katz, vice president for communications and consumer affairs, was reported in The New York Times as saying that bud pong was not intended for underage drinkers because promotions were held in bars, not on campuses. And it did not promote binge drinking, she said, because official rules call for water to be used, not beer.[55]

The New York Times quoted a bartender at a club near Clemson University as saying she had worked at several bud pong events and had "never seen anyone playing with water. It's always beer. It's just like any other beer pong."[55]

Some expressed incredulity at Anheuser-Busch's public statements. Henry Wechsler, director of the College Alcohol Study at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: "Why would alcohol companies promote games that involve drinking water? It's preposterous,"[55] while advertising news site Adjab opined that "someone playing bud pong with water is about as likely as a teenage kid using the rolling paper he bought at the convenience store to smoke tobacco."[56]

Video games

In July 2008, JV Games Inc. released a downloadable video game for the Wii console called Frat Party Games: Beer Pong. After much outrage by parent and university groups, the game was renamed Frat Party Games: Pong Toss and all references to alcohol were removed.[24][57]


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  57. ^ 'Beer Pong' Video Game Has Controversy Brewing

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