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The Official Rules of Beer Pong

(a.k.a Beirut)

Beer Pong is a drinking game which is especially popular among college students, but can be enjoyed by any group looking for anything from a good buzz to a drunken stupor. It is generally played in pairs of two, with the teams standing at opposing ends of a flat, rectangular surface (preferably a ping pong table, but anything accepted by both teams can be used). Six or ten cups are formed in a pyramid at either end of the table, with the base of the pyramid centered at the edge of the table. The players attempt to toss or bounce ping pong balls into the cups, each of which is filled with 1/3 of a beer (or other intoxicating spirit). When a player makes a shot into a cup of the opposing team, a player from the opposing team drinks the contents of the cup and removes it from the table. The game continues in this way, with both players from one team taking a shot, followed by both players from the other team. The team that is able to clear all of the opposing team’s cups first is the winner, with the losing team splitting the contents of the winning team’s remaining cups. To begin, a player from each team takes a shot simultaneously without looking at the cups. This is repeated until one team makes, and one team misses. This decides who gets the first possestion. After the first game, the winning team gets the first shot. The elbow rule is also applied for EVERY shot. A players elbow may not cross the plane of the playing table or it does not count.It sounds simple, but the game is more complex than it first appears, as you will soon see…

Bouncing vs Tossing:
Any player taking a shot has the option of attempting to toss the ball directly into the opposing team’s cups or bouncing the ball one or more times into the cups. If a player successfully makes a bounced shot, the opposing team has to drink two cups: the one in which the shot was made and another from the pyramid. As we already know, a regular (non-bounced) toss is only worth a single cup. However, there is a catch. The defending (non-throwing) team can defend cups against bounced a shot by blocking or swatting the ball once it hits the table. The defending team can only defend a shot once the ball has hit the table, so the throwing team doesn’t take a risk by tossing instead of bouncing, as tossed shots are indefensible. Defending a toss as if it were a bounce is a sign of either drunkenness or dishonor; either way, it is punished at the very least by letting the player shoot again, if not by drinking a cup. This can be decided in a civil fashion by both sides using their best judgment, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the infraction.

Although the cups begin in a pyramid, they don’t necessarily stay that way. As there are more holes in the pyramid from removing cups, it gets more difficult to make shots. To account for this, a team must “re-rack” at certain numbers of remaining cups in order to keep a compact shape at which their opponents can shoot. Each team gets 2 re-racks per game at any time. Use them wisely. A standard rule of thumb is to take one with 6 cups remaining, and with 2 or 3 cups remaining.

-Take note that as at the beginning, the bottom cup must be flush with the end of the table after re-racks as well.
One more detail about re-racks: they don’t take place until the end of a turn. If, for example, the first shooter on opposing team hits a shot, dropping their opponents’ cups from 7 to 6, the cups aren’t re-racked for the second shooter on that turn. This happens on that team’s next turn.

The rebuttal rule only applies at the end of the game. When one team has all of their cups eliminated, they haven’t lost yet. Each player on the team which has had their cups eliminated gets to shoot until they miss. If and when they both miss and there are still cups remaining on their opponents’ side, they lose and proceed to drink what’s left of their opponents’ alcohol. But, this does give them a chance to come back and force overtime (which will be explained later). There is an exception to the rebuttal rule: when it comes into conflict with the Make It-Take it rule, Make It-Take it is observed. This occurs when, for example, there are two cups remaining on a side and the shooters from the opposing team each make their shot, clearing the table. Under usual circumstances, they would get the balls back and shoot again, which in this case gives them the victory because it’s their turn and they cleared the table. Rebuttal doesn’t take place when the team that clears the table earns Make it-Take it. The game just ends. This isn’t just an arbitrary choice of one rule over another; there is some logic behind it. Rebuttal is simply the last turn for the losing team. Make it-Take it means you lose your turn when the other team makes both cups on the same turn…so if you think about it, you’re losing your turn if this happens to you; it just happens to be your last turn. In short: Make it-Take it is observed before rebuttal when they come into conflict.

Pulling the Cups:
This rule makes the game a little more exciting. Once your opponent makes a shot into one of your cups, it is in your best interest to pull that cup immediately, because if the other member of that team makes a shot into the same cup, the game is over and you end up drinking a lot of booze (which may or may not be a good thing). There is no penalty if you incidentally interfere with the second shot from the opposing team because you are trying to pull the cup out of the way; just be honorable about it. Once again: if two shots are made in the same cup on the same turn, game over. Another way that is widely accepted is to leave the cup if the first ball is made. If the second shot is made in the same cup, it results in 3 cups instead of game over. House rules apply.

Rim Shots:
Occasionally, the ball will quickly circle around the rim or inside of the glass before it hits the bottom instead of just going right in. When a ball is doing this, the shot isn’t made yet. The defenders have an opportunity to knock the ball out of the glass before it hits the liquid. Here, house rules apply. Some play by the popular saying, “Bitches blow, dicks flick,” which refers to the sex of the players and how they are allowed to defend these shots based on their sex. This means that women are only allowed to blow the ball out of the cup, while men can only flick the ball out with their fingers. Others play by allowing any player to flick the ball out with their fingers. This point should be decided before the game starts to avoid drunken disagreements.

As with any drinking game, spills are inevitable. If you spill one of your cups, there is no penalty. You’re just dumb, because you lost that cup and just gave your opponents a freebee. You may even have booze all over your pants. Shitty, huh?

Once a shot is taken, it is considered a live ball. We already know that the defending team can’t interfere with a non-bounced shot. Once the ball comes in contact with anything but the bottom of the cup, it is live, meaning it can be defended or it can still be made in the cup. For example, if a shot is taken and it bounces of a defender’s chest and goes in a cup; that counts. If a shot is taken and it hits the wall and goes in a cup, same deal. Keep your head on a swivel, or some crazy shit can happen.

If, on rebuttal, a team is able to eliminate all of their opponents’ cups, regulation ends in a tie. But there won’t be any ties in beer pong, as drunken shit talking must be facilitated. Each team fills up three more cups, and racks them as three should be racked, according to the diagram in the “re-rack” section. Then, resume play under the same rules. If, by some improbable twist of fate, overtime ends in a tie, continue playing overtimes until a winner is decided or you can no longer maintain balance (or, God forbid, you run out of beer).

As this author is out of ideas about what to put in these rules, just decide any other point of disagreement by asking the host of your party, or, if this person is for some reason incapacitated, someone else that knows what the hell they are doing. One more thing: for those guys that get all belligerent about beer pong disputes because of their competitive nature or drunkenness, it’s just a game at a party, so relax and have fun.

Game on.

LAST UPDATED: April 20, 2008.

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Disclaimer: To all the people who want to rip apart these rules and leave bullshit messages about how they play, these are the offical rules we play by, and our house rules. They don't have to be your offical rules. Use them if you want a reference, but don't tell us how much better your game is cause you do something different than written here.

Beer pong in Alaska!