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Buffalo is a secret drinking game popular around the world. People who play the game refer to themselves as "Buffalos". A group of people playing the game often form Buffalo Clubs.



The rules are very simple, and involve which hand you may use to drink.

  1. You can hold your drink with either hand, but may only drink from it with your non-dominant hand. If any other Buffalo players spot you drinking with your dominant hand, they call Buffalo on you and you must finish your drink as quickly as possible.[1] If you hesitate to finish your drink, the other players will usually proceed to make a ruckus chanting "Buffalo!" and banging on the table until you finish.[2][3]
  2. If you call a false Buffalo on somebody (call Buffalo when they are actually drinking with the proper hand), you are obligated to finish your own drink. Special care must be made when drinking with left-handed Buffalos because of this rule.[1]
  3. Once you begin playing Buffalo, you are playing it for the rest of your life.[1]

Nobody needs to declare that the game is on. At least in principle, if rarely actually done, if you spot a complete stranger drinking with what you think to be their dominant hand, and you call Buffalo on them, they will either be confused or immediately know that they have transgressed the rules in the presence of another Buffalo player and are obligated to finish their drink or return a false Buffalo, if applicable.

There exist many variations of the rules and many Buffalo clubs exist, all over the world.


Under some codes, you begin playing if you respond to the question posed by a Buffalo player, "Are you a Buffalo?" to which the reply is "Once a Buffalo always a Buffalo" and the game is on. The Buffalo player posing the question is rarely willing to explain what this question means, but will either try to talk the person they are asking into answering in the affirmative or employ reverse psychology to attempt to trick them into answering in the affirmative.

Under other codes, to make the game more interesting and to create a sense of commitment, many require an initiation to join the club. This initiation consists of finishing a full drink and taking a shot in the presence of a Buffalo Club member. This helps weed out the weak players and those who would just disobey the rules. There are various other codes with their own methods of how to gain entry to the club.


It is said that the history of buffalo stems from the wild west, where it was essential to be able to shoot anyone at anytime. Therefore it was important never to drink your drink with the hand you would normally shoot with, which gave birth to the rule of the non-dominant hand. Because the game essentially was a matter of life or death, it could never be stopped but would run continually throughout one's life.


Buffalos are usually honourable about their game, but it is possible to cheat in the presence of people who don't know you are a Buffalo, who don't know about the game, or, of course, when drinking alone. It is a major transgression to lie to a fellow Buffalo about which hand is your dominant hand. When in doubt about another player's integrity it is acceptable to ask them to perform a task with their non-drinking hand in order to ascertain whether they are telling the truth. Penalties for those who lie or those who unjustly accuse someone of lying can be determined by the players.


  1. ^ a b c "Beer Game: Buffalo Club". Real Beer. 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2009.  
  2. ^ "The 5 Lamest Drinking Games". Coed Magazine. March 19, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009.  
  3. ^ "Buffalo". Student Drinking Games. Retrieved August 7, 2009.  

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