What Is Beer Pong? How To Play

11th October 2021

If you’ve watched a film that features a student house party, you’ve probably seen beer pong being played. Those red plastic cups are a staple of student parties. It’s a game that takes skill and a bit of luck. It’s guaranteed to get everybody cheering and into the party mood. If you want to ensure your next lads night in is one to remember, beer pong is the way to go. 

The History

It’s believed that we can thank Dartmouth College students for the invention of beer pong; It’s thought that the game was first played at the college back in the 1950s. Although we can’t be sure of the origins,  students left cups of beer on a ping pong table, and players started to aim for the cups. The game’s popularity then soared and spread all over the world. Beer pong used to be played with paddles, and although sometimes it still is, this is pretty rare now as it’s usually just played by hand. 

beer pong

The Equipment

What do you need to set up a beer pong game? First up, you need at least four players for the game to work correctly, so pick at least three friends. You’ll need a rectangular table around 8 feet long, you can buy tables made for beer pong, but any table big enough will do the job. Next up, you need to get 20 plastic cups. Make sure they’re big enough to fit a good amount of beer in! You need at least two ping pong balls; it’s a good idea to get extra if one gets lost. 

And the last ingredient? Beer! Maybe not your finest ale, something that you don’t mind getting drunk and possibly spilt. If you want to push the boat out and impress, consider a beer tap. This will make refilling cups for the next round super easy. 

beer pong

The Rules

Did you know there is a professional beer pong tournament? There are many rules in professional pong, but you don’t need to follow these strictly when playing with your mates. If you are unsure about how much beer you need to keep the game running, use an online beer pong calculator to ensure you never run short.

To put it briefly, you fill cups with beer, arrange them on the table, then take turns throwing the ping pong balls into the other team’s cups. If you get it in a cup, the opponent drinks the beer. Simple, right? Let’s go into a bit more detail.

The First Shot

A fun way to decide which team goes first is for one player from each team to throw the ball whilst keeping eye contact. Repeat this until just one player lands the ball in a cup, they win, and their team can go first.

Elbows Back

Your elbows must remain behind the edge of the table at all times. No reaching as far as you can to try to get the ball into a cup. Keep watching out, and if somebody breaks this rule, their shot doesn’t count.


Each team is allowed to request the cups be rearranged twice throughout the game. This can only be requested when you have 6, 4, 3, or 2 cups left and must be requested at the beginning of a shot. When you’re down to the last cup, you can move this as you please. 

Bounce Shots

If a ball bounces on the table and then lands in a cup, two cups are removed; one the ball landed in, and one of the players chooses. If only two cups are left, then a bounce shot only takes one cup, so it’s pretty useless to attempt a bounce shot on the last go.


If a bounce shot is attempted, the opposing team can try and swat the ball away before it lands in a cup. This is only allowed on bounce shots. If a player tries to swat on a non-bounce shot, you get the ball back and throw again.

Death Cup

When a cup is removed from the table, it’s called the ‘death cup’ until all contents have been drunk. If a player is still drinking the death cup, then you can aim for it. If you get a ball in the cup, your team instantly wins, and the other team must drink all of the beer left on the table. You can only attempt this when the player is holding the cup, not being put down.

Roll Backs

If the ball rolls back to you after shooting and doesn’t fall on the floor, you get another shot. You can also try to grab it mid-air. The only problem is you must take this shot behind your back, so good luck. 


When the last cup is hit, each player from the losing team gets to play redemption. This is a chance to carry on playing the game. Each player gets one shot to try to get the ball in a cup. If everyone misses, then the game is over. If a cup gets hit, you can bring a cup back onto the table, and the game can carry on. Only one redemption round is allowed per team.

Mix It Up

Traditionally, the game is played with beer, as you can tell from the name. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of beer, you can, of course, use whatever drink you please. Here are some variations of beer pong you can play to make things a bit more interesting.

Russian Roulette

Fill all your cups as usual with your drink of choice, then the teams swap sides and secretly add a shot of vodka to one cup. Then, switch back and start the game. Whoever shoots the ball into the cup with the hidden vodka gives their opponent an extra punch when they down that drink.


If somebody goes the whole game without getting the ball into a cup, they get deemed the ‘underachiever’. This person has to sit underneath the table for the next round, and to no surprise, this isn’t the best seat in the house. Expect sticky flooring and possibly beer spilt on your head.


This rule will really up the stakes. Whilst filling the cups, fill one of them with a dark stout, like Guinness, so that this drink is noticeably darker in colour than the rest. This cup is now the ‘wormhole’. Every time a player gets a ball in this cup, the teams switch sides. This isn’t great when your team have been smashing it, and now you’re suddenly the losing team!

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