Beer Pong (also called Beirut or Scud) is an American drinking game that involves propelling a ping pong ball across a table with the aim of making the ball land in one of several cups of beer. The game generally involves two teams, with generally 10 cups (more or less can be used depending on the house rules), with each composed of two people. When a point is scored, the loser consumes the contents of the cup where the ball landed. When a team has scored in all of their opponents' cups, the game is won.
While having a simple premise, beer pong has a remarkable number of variations and styles (House Rules), which can depend on the area of the country, state, or even in which house the game is being played. The game has become a staple of American high school and college subculture, and along with Quarters & Flip Cup , is one of the most played drinking games in the United States.
The origins of the game are uncertain. The New York Times says "legend has it" that the game began at "a Dartmouth College fraternity party"while Princeton University's student paper the Daily Princetonian attributed it to Lehigh University or Bucknell University
The Dartmouth University paper says the game seems to have originated on the fraternity-dominated campus in the early '50s and, indeed, history professor Jere Daniell (class of 1955) stated that he played the game as a student. However, this version used paddles.
Another story asserts that the game was popularized in 1983 after a Theta Delta Chi member from Lehigh University observed a game at Bucknell. Another story explains that the game was not developed until 1986, when a brother of Sigma Nu fraternity at Lehigh University created the game ad hoc after all the ping pong paddles were broken. In order to keep the furiosity of the game, the number of cups was increased on each side to the familiar triangle setup known today.
The meaning of the terms Beer Pong and Beirut vary depending on where the game is played: Beirut is unambiguously accepted to be the version of the game where players throw the balls, while Beer Pong can mean either the same game as Beirut, or the similar game where players use paddles to hit the ball. Calling the game Beirut is believed to have originated at Lehigh University.
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Players and officials
Beer pong is usually played with two teams of two persons each, two teams of one person, or a two-on-one handicap match. Each team begins the game standing at either end of the table behind their rack of cups. Challenging teams must sign up on a designated list, or audibly call their claim to the table if no list is present. Tampering with this list is heavily frowned upon, unless the line -cutters own the house; they may play whenever they wish. If a player or team is not present for their game, they may be replaced or skipped. Ultimately, the person(s) residing in the location of the beer pong event have the final say on the players engaging in the game. There may be up to two officials observing one game. These officials should be unbiased individuals competent in the rules of the game. Officials should stand at the side of the table in order to not interfere with gameplay. The job of the official is to determine any violation(s) of the rules that follow.
The original, simplest and most common place to play beer pong is on a ping pong table. However the game can be played on any flat surface with enough space to hold the two formations of cups, although it is typically preferred to be played on a surface that is 8' or larger.
Many frequent players will create a personalized table for use by friends and visitors. In general, this will be a plywood board cut to proper size, painted with sports, school or fraternity symbols and then given a coating to liquid-proof. This link plan has an example.
Many college students who live in dorm rooms will take a closet door or conjoining room door and use this as a playing surface. The door can be used in conjunction with chairs from the dorm room to create a very usable, however unstable, table. This is useful due to the lack of space in a college dorm, also since many students are underage in the US (drinking age 21) and do not wish to be caught by a Resident Advisor.
To compensate for smaller playing fields, additional rules can be created forcing players to shoot from several paces away, establishing the minimum 6' separation distance between the point of shooting and the opponent's cup formation necessary for correct gameplay.
The most common and preferred cups used are Solo or Dixie 16 ounce cups. These cups have ridge-lines which can be used to precisely measure the amount of beer to be poured. Smaller cups greatly vary the aim necessary in order to score; often more experienced players agree to use smaller cups because they require better aim to score. Smaller cups can also be beneficial in situations where the teams playing are unevenly matched or when using a smaller/lower playing field. However, the 16-ounce cup is the most common and most universally accepted size.
On each side of the table, an equilateral triangle formation of cups is assembled, with the convergence point focusing on the other team. Different variations allow for different numbers of cups, although ten (4-3-2-1) and six-cup (3-2-1) are the most common. Some other practiced, although less common arrangements, are seven-cup (2-3-2) in a hexagonal pattern and nine-cup (1-2-3-2-1) in a nine ball pattern. When playing on a larger field or with larger teams, ten or more cups are more frequently used. The distance between one team's cups should be no greater distance than what a ball can touch both cups, if the ball cannot touch adjacent cups, the cups must be properly placed.
Also on each side is one, sometimes two, water cups or holy cups, which are cups of tepid or slightly hot water. This is used to clean the ball of dirt, grime, or beer that accumulates when it accidentally hits the floor, table, etc. It is proper etiquette for the player to wash the ball before shooting, to promote good hygiene. The act of dunking the ball in water can also serve as a pre-shot ritual for players intended for concentration purposes.
Any type of beer, or other alcohol, can be used to play beer pong. Usually a cheap pale lager of 3.2% to 5.0% abv is used as large quantities may be consumed during the course of several games. Popular beer brands for this game are Natural Ice, Natural Light, Pabst's Blue Ribbon and Keystone. Typically, approximately 4 oz. of beer is poured into each cup in the formation, which is equivalent to the first or second ridgeline up from the bottom in a 16 ounce cup. This works out to be two 12 oz. cans of beer per team in a regular six cup game, or three and one-third beers per team for a 10 cup game. However, more or less liquid can be used, and the amount will vary between schools or groups of players. Sometimes teams may decide to fill one cup of their choice to the brim. This is called the "Money Cup", "Challenge Cup", or "Battleship" and has the same rules as any other cup.
A variant of the game, called "Liquor Pong", is played by putting water into the cups and having a specified liquor cup to drink from when a cup is made.
The rules presented here are a general guide. The game is played in hundreds of different ways under hundreds of house rules, although a group called the The American Beerpong Association of America attempted to codify the rules. Below is a general version of the rules.
The two basic offensive options a player has are the shot and the bounce; however, the bounce is not universally accepted as legal. The shot is referred to as tossing or pitching the ball across the table without having it hit the table, ground or other surface first. A bounce is performed by bouncing the ball, generally at a point at least at the midpoint of the table. The ball can bounce multiple times toward the cups, but this should be minimized as the bounce shot can be swatted away or deflected by the opposing team's hands. Because of the increased difficulty of this shot, it is worth two cups; the one in which it lands is pulled, and then an additional cup chosen by the scored-upon team. In addition, some players count a ball that first contacts the ceiling before landing in a cup as worth three cups - the one it lands in and two cups to be chosen by the team that let the ball land in their cups.
In rare cases, a shot will settle in the small area at the point at which three cups converge. When a ball settles on this triangle of cups, this is called a "tripod" and counts all three as being made. An alternative rule for this event calls it a "nuke", and requires that the team whose cup got hit must finish all the beer currently on the table. This includes all beer in the game, from both teams, and any other opened beers on the table (ie: the pitchers for the next game, or beers someone just placed on the table casually). When a team is "nuked", the game ends, and the nukers win.
The edge of the table is used as common boundary, particularly when playing on a short table or the players involved are tall in stature. The shooter's hand holding the ball, when outstretched, may not pass over the edge of the table nearest to the shooter upon release. In many cases, if the rule is broken, the shooter would be forced to re-take the shot and forfeit any cup scored during the infraction.
An "Elbows" rule may present a limit to how far towards the opposing team's cups a player may release the ball. On a typical table configuration, the elbow limit is the edge of the table or midway through the initial triangle formation. This stipulation is generally relaxed in the context of a bounce shot.
In general there are no stipulations on the order in which a team's players take their turns; however rules vary on whether or not a strict alternating order must be followed. Generally a team determines their own order and may "switch it up", if their performance is not acceptable. Unlike basketball, there is no "shot clock" and players generally prefer to take the time needed to prepare the shot properly.
If the game is being played on an actual ping pong table with a net, it is common to have the "Bounce over" rule. If one player shoots, and the ball ricochets back over the net, possession is again awarded to the team that just shot. The defending team, in most variations, has the right to stop the ball in its momentum, thus retaining possession. In some variations, either player from either team can grab the ball at any time -- only if they can reach it without setting foot across the mid-line of the table... reaching across is OK however. This is sometimes done, for instance, when a player is not paying attention, and the ball is sitting on or near the table within easy reach from the other side of the midline.
The team who won the previous game is automatically given possession first, enabling the team to set a scoring precedent. If the two teams are new to the table, or it is the first game played on the table during that session, or is during a tournament, the teams must determine who shoots first. The typical way of achieving this is by shooting "eye to eye". That is, one player on each team holds eye contact with each other, and shoots the ball simultaneously, this is sometimes known as a faceoff or civil war. Not being able to see the cups while shooting presents a greater difficulty. The player who shoots the ball into a cup closest to the front of the formation wins possession for his team. If the shots have equal distance or both players miss, the "eye to eye" repeats with the other players.
There are many other ways of determining initial possession, including shooting normally, alternating possession, making shots from a long distance, and playing rock, paper, scissors. Often the team with the first shot will only get to shoot one ball that turn instead of two.
Players who are highly skilled or who may wish to gain a psychological advantage over their opponents, usually choose to offer the opposing team the initial throw, forgoing the traditional ways of determining possession. Often this is accomplished by rolling the balls toward your opponent while saying the phrase, "Losers go first". Teams who follow this method of determining possession, will do so whether they have currently won the previous game or if they are the challengers.
The most common throwing technique is to grasp the ping pong ball with the tips of the thumb and forefinger of the player's dominant hand, and hold the arm at an angle with the ball upwards, then throw by using gentle elbow motion, holding the upper arm parallel with the table. Wrist movement may also occur in an effort to create a greater arc. A good player may also push off with the knees as they throw to create an upward arcing motion.
The arc motion allows one to put enough force on the ball to get it to the other side of the table, while conserving velocity and slowing it down so that it is not as likely to bounce off the rim of the cup but gently roll into the cup.
Some players prefer or occasionally use a "laser", "fastball" style throw (named for its speed, it is not thrown like a baseball) which uses more of a hard chopping motion to send the ball in a more direct line to the intended target cup. This can be done with the hand in the usual "pistol grip" orientation or in an overhand "slam-dunk" orientation. The fastball is especially favored by taller players, as it is easier to throw from a higher position.
Due to the straighter path the ball will follow, the player may feel more confident in hitting using the fastball. However, caution must be used if a "no elbows over the table" rule is in use, as it is much easier to violate that guideline with a less controlled throw. Fastballs are also much more likely to knock down a cup, which may have positive or negative consequences depending on house rules. As noted above, the higher velocity of the ball will also cause less-precise shots to bounce off the rim rather than gently bounce into a cup.
This technique is best when there is still many cups left on the table because it is hard to control the left to right movement, but is very good for achieving the desired distance. Best used early in the game. The only problem with attempting this shot is that it is decidedly feminine, and will result in a great deal of derision if thrown by a male.
Other players prefer to grasp the ball with the thumb, index and middle-finger and release the ball in a somewhat "finger-roll" fashion. Throwing in this manner is very accurate once mastered but it is difficult to use on relatively large table. It also takes time to perfect so it is not recommended for beginners. Therefore, this form is most often employed by veteran players.
While the first two shots are accomplished with an overhanded grip and toss, the dove involves an underhanded grip coupled with the motion of an overhand toss. (in some ways resembling the finger roll). The ball is held primarily by the thumb, index, and middle fingers, and is released with the palm facing upwards and/or slightly to the side. The ball is released as the arm is extended (much like an overhand toss), but since the palm is facing upward, the fingers must all open apart to accomplish a clean release, resembling the wings of a dove. A difficult shot for beginners, the dove allows for higher initial velocity than the standard arc shot, but provides more arc than the fastball shot, allowing an accomplished player to blend the two qualities into a very effective shot.
Bounce shots are much harder to accurately throw, due to the addition of factors outside the thrower's control. The ball may follow an unpredictable path after bouncing based on the table surface, ball wetness, and ball spin. Since the bounce shot counts for two cups, the other team is allowed to swat the ball out of the court. The best time to attempt a bounce is when the opposing team is not paying attention to the game, when there is less risk of deflection. The current rack must be taken into consideration as well — there is obviously a much higher chance of sinking a bounce on an unspoiled ten cup rack than on an inconsistent rack which is all over the table. Serious defenders should also always keep one player on alert for bounce shots to their cups.
If the ball is bounced and hits anything on the table including but not limited to empty cups, empty bottles, empty cans, players hands and/or bodies, the table itself numerous times, or any other object on the table and lands in a cup, it will count for two cups. In addition to the table, the opposing players themselves are often considered fair targets for bounce shots. A ball bouncing off a defending players face, hands, or body may be regarded as two cups. This shot style can be more effectively used if the ball is bounced simultaneously while the player's partner is performing a traditional shot. This creates an element of surprise and is also harder to defend against, as the player does not want to commit goaltending on the pitched shot.
However, in many practices of the game, especially in the genteel South, the bounce shot is considered to be dishonorable and is often prohibited.
Low - Bounce Shot
A team member may throw a bounce that is just low enough so that a defender may knock over a few cups in the process of blocking it. The perfect level for a low-bounce shot is just above the rim of the cups and is usually thrown with a lot of momentum so the other team does not see it coming. And in a scramble to block the attempt, carelessly knocks over their own cups. It is a dirty trick but necessary in crucial situations.
A less known but equally effective technique is the 'spin-shot'. A spinner can have a similar release point and initial trajectory to the standard arc-shot or fastball, however top-spin is added to the ball to create downward motion as the ball approaches the cups. This can allow a player proficient with the spin shot to throw the ball with greater velocity than a standard arc shot, while still achieving a similar downward trajectory as the ball reaches the cups. The spin shot can be achieved by holding the table-tennis ball so that the index and middle finger rest on top of the ball and the thumb rests on the bottom of the ball. Upon release, the player would quickly mimic the motion of snapping fingers to create forward spin (that is, spin on the ball, top to bottom, in the direction of the opposition's cups). The result is a shot which resembles a sinker in baseball: the shot starts out straight, and drops down as the ball approaches the cups. This shot can be very effective, since the increased velocity and downward motion increases the chances of both knocking over cups, and making direct shots on cups.
A rarely used technique, the Slap-shot involves tossing the ball into the air and slapping it toward the opposing team's cups, much like a serve in tennis or volleyball. Depending on house rules, the shot may be illegal or may count for more than one cup.
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Reracking or consolidation refers to the rearrangement of cups into different formations, after a designated amount of cups has been scored. Beer pong can be played with or without this rule. It is normally used in order to keep the game progressing at a steady pace and thus giving other hopeful players an opportunity to grab a game.
"Reracking" or "consolidation" is often reserved for those teams that lack the skill to accuratley sink cups and as a result, finish a game in a timely fashion.
During the 6 cup game, reracking occurs at (in quantities of cups remaining):
- 5 - a formation similar to the full pyramid, but with one cup from the back corner taken away, leaving an untouched front of the pyramid
- 4 - rhombus or diamond (teams choose either "length" or "girth" for a long diamond or a wide rhombus What does the rhombus resemble?)
- 3 - forward-facing triangle
- 2 - straight line perpendicular to the edge of the table "I-Form"
- 1 - a courtesy pull back near the edge of the table.
In a ten cup game, consolidation occurs at (in quantities of cups remaining):
- 6 - A (3-2-1) triangle
- 4 - A (1-2-1) diamond (rhombus)
- 3 - A (2-1) triangle*
- 2 - Either the "Runway" formation, with the two cups lined up vertically, or a "Highway" formation, with the cups lined up horizontally. This formation can be changed at the beginning of each turn (but like all other rules, this is determined by the house).
- 1 - Often rules will permit the opposing team to request the last cup to be moved back or centered, and the regular reracking rules apply to this request.
However, there are also "house rules" that take precedence over general rule, including reracking only at 6 and 3 cups or allowing 2 reracks or allowing the team to choose when they want to rerack. It is not uncommon to find a limit of one, two, or three reracks per game, and in some cases no reracking is allowed.
Another common rule is the elimination of "mid-turn" reracks. If a team hits both of their shots in a turn and gets "roll backs" or "send 'em backs", reracking the cups (even if house rules allow reracking at that particular number of cups remaining) is prohibited. Again, the use of this rule varies greatly, and is found most commonly in the Northeast.
Another variation played in some circles involves leaving all empty cups in their positions on the table. If a player of the opposing team accidentally sinks a ball into an empty cup on your side, they have to drink the corresponding cup on their own side. If that cup is empty, another in the same row is used, if none are available, then move back a row and continue until a cup is found; if there is only a single cup remaining on their side, then that cup is drank and the game is over. At any time, players from either team can request to know which cups are empty/full on the other side of the table. Playing with these rules involves different strategies: hitting the center cup as early as possible, for example, so you're not shooting into the middle of a mine field at the end of the game. Depending on who's playing, these matches can go either faster or slower than reracked games. Hitting a lot of empties will tend to lose you a game quite quickly.
Rollbacks/Bringing it back/Fast-Break
When each member of one team each makes his shot during a single team turn, they are said to have accomplished "Rollbacks", "send 'em back" "brought it back", "bring 'em back", "balls back", "Dubs", "Snake eyes", "Fast Break", or "Ralbacks", which is a common term used on Long Island. This means that the team on offense regains possession of the balls and has two additional chances to score. A team can repeatedly gain Rollbacks until the conclusion of the game. There are common stipulations regarding re-racking after a team gets Rollbacks. Some local rules stipulate that there is no re-rack after a rollback, while others allow the opposite. These variations of the rules are permitted on a game-by-game basis as long as they are properly disclosed and agreed upon prior to commencement of the first volley.
The Double-Cup A rollback may also occur when both players shoot the ball in to the same cup, commonly called a "double-cup". Rules tend to differ on this, but the common rule is that if a team double-cups, then every cup touching the made cup is pulled and drank. Some say that a double-cup also means the game is over and the team that shot has won. Usually, teams will decide before the game if they are playing "pulls", meaning that once a cup is made, the defensive team can pull that cup to avoid a double-cup.
This rule must be stated as in effect before the first shot of the game. In homage to NBA Jam, if a player has made two shots in a row they say "He's heating up!" If that same player makes a third shot in a row then "He's on fire!" and the player continues to shoot until they miss.
Beer distribution and formations
Players have some strategy regarding the amount of beverage poured in their cups. If the player(s) are getting to the point of inebriation or are running out of beer they may desire to lessen the amount of beer in the cup. Less beer increases the risk of the cup being knocked over by a shot, especially the fastball type. This can even detrimentally affect the traditional arc shot, as the cup has less stability than it would normally have. If a team is found to be in violation, a foul is called or the other team is allowed to repeat their attempt once the problem has been remedied.
It is to the defensive players' benefit to subtly mess up the formations, usually by having the edges of some cups be over or under the other edges. This can highly affect arc shots, causing the ball to bounce out. It is the responsibility of the team on offense to recognize an improper formation and then instruct the defending players to remedy this. In some areas these minor adjustments are referred to as "kissing" the cups. Once instructed, the opposing team must remedy this situation or risk a penalty or disqualification.
If bouncing the ball is allowed, then players may swat away a ball that has hit the table, a cup, or anything else not in play. They must, however, be careful not to knock over any cups and commit a foul. If the player hits the ball away before the ball hits anything, unless it is on a path that is very obviously not towards scoring a cup, a goaltending violation occurs. Depending on rules, goaltending either results in a re-try, or a pulled cup. If the player blocking the bounced ball accidentally assists the ball into the cup, then that cup will count as a successful bounce shot.
After a shot bounces, the defense may slap the ball toward the offensive team's cups. If the ball goes in, it counts as one cup but the cup must be refilled and consumed again. This rule is not universal.
If the ball is spinning inside a cup, players may blow into the cup in an attempt to make it fly out; this generally has to be done rapidly, as the ball quickly spirals down inside the cup. In tournament play, this is generally not allowed at all. A variation of this rule is that a player may use one finger, usually the index finger to pop the ball out of the cup while it is still spinning. Once the ball stops spinning, it is considered 'dead' and no further defensive actions will count. The act of 'fingering' introduces the danger of knocking over one's own cups, causing a foul, and thus the removal of the knocked over cup.
The phrases "guys finger" and "bitches blow" refer to who is allowed to use which defensive maneuver. To clarify, males in these situations are allowed to use a finger to pull out the ball while females may blow into the cup in a similar situation. This rule is implemented in "New Jersey Pong", among other variations and is also used in Delaware.
The act of blowing, while technically legal, is heavily frowned upon in many circles. Many styles, such as "Virginia Pong" specifically deny men the ability to blow into the cup
A major element of defense is "shit talking", or psyching out the other team. The defending players will hurl insults; a common sarcastic jab at an underperforming team is "I'm getting real thirsty here". Not uncommon are statements of reverse psychology ("you got this shot", "this should be no problem"), distracting visual cues (such as pointing to some spot on the table or the water cup). Generally any form of this is accepted, as long its not gratuitously distracting and/or annoying. Women often use provocative poses and actions. Some variations also allow players to wave their hand over their cups, to distract the shooting team. However, if the ball hits the hand of the player while performing this distraction, the distractor is given a two-cup penalty, or loses a turn, depending on the house rules.
Fouls and misconduct
If a player or players knocks over one or more of their own cups, each cup that has been knocked over is removed from the game, and for most purposes counts as a score against the team who performed the foul. If a player's elbow or hand is deemed to be too far over the table, it can be ruled as a "leaning" foul. In this situation, there are two possible remedies: a re-do of the shot, or a loss of shot. Due to the likelihood of physical and/or verbal disagreements following an after-the-fact "lean" accusation, it is highly encouraged to recognize and remedy this foul before the guilty player commits to the shot. It is common courtesy, however, to disallow celebrity shots when there is one cup left as it will be a deciding factor.
Redemption/Rebuttal honors/ "Shoot till you miss"
Some variants utilize the set of redemption rules, which allow a potentially losing team to allow them to come back and tie the game for an overtime round. The game transitions into redemption rules as soon as the final cup of one team is scored upon.
In one rebuttal method, known as shoot till you miss, each member of the redeeming team can shoot as many times as possible, as long as they make each cup consecutively. As soon as one team member misses a shot, the next member must continue to attempt to score the remaining cups. If all the remaining opposing cups are scored upon, the game is considered tied and proceeds to overtime. Often, the game is played so that if either team hits the last cup more than one time on the same turn, the opposing team must hit it an equal number of times to "tie" the game.
Another rebuttal method, often used, is to consider the game tied up again if the opposing team makes just one cup when they are on rebuttal. This method is in essence a chance for a team to prove themselves worthy in a clutch situation. However, if the team makes both shots in the cup, the game is over; with no chance for a rebuttal. Most of the time this is preferred by experienced players because it allows for true skill under pressure to shine through. This is the most commonly used method.
A third rebuttal method is as follows: once one team makes last cup, they must perform shoot till you miss on the last cup. The other team must then make the same number of last cups while not missing with at least one ball. If the tie occurs, an overtime with half the original number of cups ensues.
Rules vary from location, but usually the normal re-racking rules apply to redemption scenarios.
The overshot rule comes into effect, when the shooter on the opposing team "air balls" a shot by hitting neither the table or cups. In this scenario the shooting team must take one of the cups of their choosing and drink its contents. Note this is only in effect until there remains only one cup, in which case the overshot rule is negated.
Overtime is played with a subset of the original number of cups, usually three. All normal rules, including redemption and reracking, apply in overtime. Although, a popular overtime rule is to disallow reracking whatsoever, or to randomly place cups on the table and disallowing reracking. A game can continue on to as many overtime rounds as necessary in order to conclude the games. Another variation is Sudden Death where the same rules apply except redemption, so which ever teams sinks all their cups first is winner
Once one team wins and the other team fails in their chance at redemption, the losing team is usually required to drink the remaining cups that they failed to make. Alternatively, under conservation rules (usually when the beer supply is limited or players are becoming unable to drink all of the beer) the remaining cups are saved and used in the next game. This must be decided upon ahead of time.
- All participants involved in the first game of the session should help in setting up the table; splitting duties for cup arrangement, water cup filling, and beverage pouring. Correspondingly, the group playing the last game of the session should clean up the table, throw away cups, etc.
- Empty cups should always be placed individually on the outskirts of the table, away from the formations, or on another table entirely. They should never be stacked upon each other, as dirt and dust from the bottom of the cups can contaminate the cups for the next game. Newbies to beer pong are notorious for committing this act.
- If the ball falls on the floor, or merely bounces, it should always be dipped into the watercup again.
- The watercup should be refilled if it is noticeably occlusive or dirty.
- The team that is about to play next on a certain table should fetch the beer needed for the upcoming game; this may involve the re-filling of a pitcher from a nearby keg.
- Cigarettes should only be smoked if it is agreed upon by the participants or is allowed by the local rules.
- In some circles it is considered bad sportsmanship for one team to constantly badger another team in order to draw their attention from the game, however, in others it is encouraged and seen as a fun aspect of the game. Breaking the plane of the the table (i.e. "covering the cups") is discouraged and even illegal at many venues.
Despite the illegal nature of teen drinking in the United States, Beer Pong is played nationwide by high school students. There is quite a difference in the American cultural attitude concerning alcohol use by high school-aged teenagers versus use by college students (despite the fact that there is significant overlap between the actual ages of the two sets). Parents and school administrators tend to view high-school student drinking as severely dangerous and often treat it with a Zero tolerance mindset, whereas drinking is often seen as an important part of the "college experience" and viewed with nostalgia by older adults. While alcohol policy discipline is more often than not a "slap on the wrist" in college, many times high schools will engage in much more disciplinary action against violators. High schools have been known to exert disciplinary action even when drinking or drinking games occurred well outside the nominal jurisdiction of the school itself. This is perhaps an example of the school working in loco parentis to encourage habits that are more socially accepted as healthy.
Teenagers at a high school in Illinois were caught having an annual "Beirut" tournament of some 250 students.
A number of arguments exist as to why drinking games such as Beer Pong are especially dangerous for younger teens:
- Most (American) teenagers have not built a high level of drinking tolerance.
- Peer pressure can lead teenagers to consume more than they safely may handle.
- Participants in drinking games may not be fully cognizant of the rate at which they are consuming alcohol.
- The competitive nature of the game causes the participants to take risks.
- Many teens may wish to emulate older, college-age people, by engaging in drinking culture without the same degree of collective experience and support that make it more socially acceptable among older students.
With this in mind, players new to Beer Pong or any drinking game should be extremely careful to avoid overconsumption and alcohol poisoning. When moderation is practiced in the presence of a trustworthy social support network, drinking games can be safe and highly enjoyable.
Tournaments and leagues
National Beer Pong tournaments are held in the United States. Since the drinking age in the United States is currently 21 in all states, entry into most tournaments is restricted to players who meet this age requirement. Some, however, have held tournaments with other liquids legal to minors, such as milk or water.
BPONG.COM began promoting and organizing The World Series of Beer Pong™ in mid-2005 and held the event in Mesquite, Nevada from January 2 - 6, 2006. The entry fee of $530 per team covered the event's entry fee, a four-night stay, three all-you-can-eat BBQ-style meals, and beer for the competition. Jason Coben and Nick Velissaris of Ann Arbor, Michigan won the event's $10,000 grand prize.
The American Beerpong Association of America has organized the first national tour of beerpong. Starting in September 2006 the founders travel the country in an RV hosting school championships. 60 schools will participate in the events held at popular bars. The events include 12 tables of play, music, prizes and a $100 donation to the philanthropy organization of the winner's choice. 1st place medals and t-shirts that say "I am better than you at beerpong. But seriously, I am the school champion." in addition to a full line of ABAA merchandise is given to the winning team. The competitions have been well attended and gained much media attention in the form of school newspapers, US News and World Report and Sports Illustrated.
Additionally, there has been another World Beer Pong Tournamentin existence and has been for quite a while before the Mesquite tourney. Starting in 1976, a few friends in California started an informal tournament of their own. This event grew over the years to extended friends and acquaintances through an invite-only process. Currently, there are over 115 teams participating that compete in this doubles World Beer Pong Tournament, which has been in Las Vegas for the past 8 or 9 years. This summer the 30th annual tournament will be held. What distinguishes this tournament from the one mentioned above is this game evolved directly from Ping Pong and thus paddles are required and competitors must sink the balls over 36" nets.
A more common and decentralized organization of Beer Pong games is small leagues. Ordinarily, a group of college students or other Pong enthusiasts will create teams (partnerships) and play weekly against each other. After a regular season and playoffs, one team will win a championship and usually some prize, purchased using member dues. Sometimes player statistics are recorded much like in a professional sports setting, and there have even been software products developed specifically for leagues to keep detailed statistics easily.
- A variation in rules states that when both players shoot at the same cup, and both balls score in the same cup (sometimes called "gangbang"), the game is over or the opposing team drinks 4 cups. This can cause players to remove cups from the table as soon as they are hit.
- Some people play if the ball goes in the water cup then the opposing team must drink the water cup no matter what is in it.
- In the event that a team loses and has hit none of their opponents' cups, they may be required to do something such as funnel a beer, do a Keg stand, or do some embarrassing act.
- Different variations have one or more cups filled with more beer or with hard alcohol.
- There are variations which use different numbers or positions of cups.
- Some variations use bottlecaps instead of ping pong balls
Bud Pong is branded version of Beer Pong that promoters 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.
The 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."
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," 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.".
On October 19, 2005 the company professed surprise that some players were using beer instead of water, and withdrew the game in response to criticism. Francine I. Katz stated that "Despite our explicit guidelines, there may have been instances where this promotion was not carried out in the manner it was intended." However, on many campuses this water rule has been adopted to promote cleanliness. Players then keep a beer in a can or cup and must finish it by the end of the game.
Beer Pong with paddles
This variation is quite popular amongst colleges and universities and is also the source of some contention regarding the associated game with the term Beer Pong.
Slam Pong is a form of beer pong with a paddle that has been popular at colleges and universities in the northeastern United States. Unlike many other variants of beer pong, slam pong is a fast-moving game that retains some of the rules of ping pong but borrows many of its rules and game play from volleyball. The name "slam pong" refers to the action of slamming a ping pong ball into a plastic cup with a paddle, the fundamental way of scoring points in this game.
Death Cup (also known as Bitch Cup, Armageddon Cup and others)
If a player makes his ball in the cup your opponent is drinking out of, you automatically win the game. Usually there is no rebuttal when this shot is made. This is a reason to drink as quickly as you can after being scored on. Having your drinking cup exposed is dangerous.
Full Contact(also known as Live Ball)
A variation of beer pong where the ball is live as soon as it is thrown and either team may recover or rebound the ball as soon as it touches table, cup or ground. The ball cannot be taken from the hands of another, nor can it be blocked mid-throw. Often if the shooting team recovers a ball that it just shot, they may shoot again, but from behind the back.