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Beer Pong

Updated on January 7, 2008


Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) is the greatest game in the world and anybody who says otherwise is a damn liar. The setup is simple: you have two opposing teams on opposite ends of a table about the size of a ping pong table. Infront of each team is about 10-15 plastic cups of beer each filled about 1/3 of the way. There are two ping pong balls and each team takes turns trying to throw them into the other teams cups. If you make a shot the other team has to drink the beer. The goal is to get hammered, I mean to get the other team to finish their cups before your cups are finished.

The Official Beer Pong Music Video

Origin and name

According Beer Pong lore (and wikipedia) the game got its origins over at Dartmouth where one day a group of industrious students had a serious problem; They wanted to play ping pong and drink beer at the same time. Putting their ivy league educations to good use they realized that they could place cups of beer on the table and try to hit ping pong balls into them as a competitive sport.

That worked perfectly well for Dartmouth kids, but how many regular people want to go through the effort of buying ping pong paddles and actually swinging them? Exactly. So a few years later some lazy students at the University of Wisconsin decided to ditch the paddles and just through the ping pong balls. After this one change the game spread like wild fire across the country.

Sometimes newbies want to know why the game is also called beirut. I usually just tell them to shut up and drink. Some people also complain that "It's beirut, not beer pong!" Look at the map pal.

Typical Solo Cups


The rules of the game vary from place to place, but here is the jist.

You have a table that is about the size of a ping pong table and at each end you have a two person team and about 10-15 cups. You could actully use a ping pong table, but most people go to a hardware store and buy a sheet of plywood and then paint and varnish it. You can play one on one or two on one if you want; but for the most part it is a 2 vs. 2 game. I have seen larger games of 3-4 people per side, but then you have 21 or 28 cups when doing that. The setup of the cups also varies but usually you have one big triangle of 10 or 15 cups or two six cup triangles. One each side there should be one cup filled with water in front of the beer cups. This is used to wash off the balls before each shot.

The cups of often big 16 ounce solo cups or generic plastic cups. It really depends more on house tradition and what the local convenience store carries. The cups are setup in triangle formation near the edge of the table and you usually fill 4 cups with one beer. This makes the cups heavy enough to not get knocked over by incoming ping pong balls, and it is empty enough to allow you to consume dozens of cups in an hour.

The balls used are regular old ping pong balls, but some retailers on college campuses sell balls with university or other logos. You usually want to buy a light beer for the game because you will be drinking a lot. I've also played with screwdrivers and other mixed drinks, and I have seen people play with coffee or put a single vodka filled cup in the mix but normally you just use light beer if you want to play all night.

Rules and culture


There are no universal rule in this game but here are some common ones:

1. Initial possesion: The team who won the last game gets to shoot first. If this is the first game of the night the two teams will have one person shoot one ball at the same time. First team to make the shot wins initial possesion. If both shooters make it you continue shooting until only one team has made a shot. If you are in a frat usually the team with the most senior member gets to shoot first.

2. Bounce shots: Normally if you make a shot the opposing team only needs to drink that one cup, but if you bounce the ball off the table and into a cup the opposing team needs to drink that and another one. However; as soon as the ball hits the table the opposing team is allowed to swat your shot away.

3. Reracking: Eventually the formation of cups becomes spotty after a few cups have been made, and that is why god invented reracks. Often when playing with one 10 cup triangle each team gets two reracks per game and you can use them whenever you want. If you are playing with two 6 cup triangles on each side you usually have predetermined reracks (rerack to a triange when down to 3 cups, rerack to a single triangle when down to 6 total cups, and "line 'em up" when you only have two cups).

4. Roll Back (AKA Beirut): when both players on a team make their shots they get to shoot again.

5. Rebuttals: If a team makes all of the opposing teams balls the losing team gets a "rubttal." They get to shoot at the winning teams cups until they miss.

6. Overtime: If a team makes all of the winning teams cups on its rebuttal the game will be moved to an overtime period with each team starting with 3-6 cups and playing by the normal rules. There are unlimited overtimes, but you must play until there is a winner.

7. Drinking speed: Normally you are supposed to drink your beers before you take a shot. This rule works well if you are at a party and a bunch of people want to play, but if its just you and a few friends drinking speed is not really enforced.


For the most part beer pong is just a game played by college kids at parties but there have been organized tournaments. The most notable of the tournaments is the World Series of Beer Pong. This year the world series was held over five days in Las Vegas Nevada. Over 500 people from 38 states competed and the winning team walked away with a $50,000 grand prize. The people who run the tournament acutally have a pretty cool site that promotes the tournament and the game. Check it out at

Trick Shots

There are a bunch of videos on the internet of people making rediculous shots. You often find people bouncing the ball off multiple objects and/or taking shots from long distances. Here is one of the better videos:

Bud Pong Controversy

Back in the summer of 2005 Anheiser Busch began to promote a game it called bud pong. It went to bars all over the country with to set up games that its spokesman says "were played with water." It seems the promotion was working great with 20 somethings who though budweiser was being pretty cool for sponsoring the games, but they caught a lot of flack from people about promoting binge drinking. A bunch of University officials and other tightwads got all upset about it and pressured budwieser to stop the promotions, and budweiser caved. Personally I think the adults who crusade against binge drinking are just grown up dorks who never got to have any fun when they were in college, so now they want to ruin everybody elses good time, but I guess that is just the way it goes. Here is a the New York times article that more fully explains the controversy.


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    • profile image

      Beer Pong Table 7 years ago

      Awesome article! Great line here too: "Sometimes newbies want to know why the game is also called beirut. I usually just tell them to shut up and drink."

    • Jesusjohn78 profile image

      Jesusjohn78 8 years ago from Ohio

      Outstanding article! In the few years I have been playing beer pong professionally I had never heard about the bud pong Controversy

    • nadia12345 profile image

      nadia12345 8 years ago from New York City USA


    • nadia12345 profile image

      nadia12345 8 years ago from New York City USA


    • profile image

      Beer Pong Rules 8 years ago

      Best beginning to a Hub Pages article ever, "Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) is the greatest game in the world and anybody who says otherwise is a damn liar."

      I also echo your sentiments exactly about those Dartmouth kids being pretty industrious students.

    • profile image

      Angela 8 years ago

      Good Article. You can see another cool beer pong video at

    • Bug Mee profile image

      Bug Mee 10 years ago from Great Midwest

      Good information - thanks!