How do you Play Beer Pong? (Adults ONLY)

Written By: Chris Waters

Last Updated: 2021-02-13

General Game Play (How to Play Beer Pong)

If you've never played beer pong, this article is going to be a great introduction. How do you play beer pong? It's pretty straight forward on the surface, but like all games, the more 'competitive' you get, the more difficult and intense the rule set. You can play with two or more people. The game is best played with a max of four people (two on each team); any more or less than that is kinda awkward, but if you are playing to drink, then rules aren't really important! From here, each team takes turns throwing table tennis balls into cups at the opposite end of the table - when a ball lands in a cup the opposing team must drink the contents of that cup - often beer (but can just as easily be soda or water). When a cup is emptied it's removed from the table. Teams alternate throwing the balls into the cups until all the cups are removed from at least one team - the team with any remaining cups is considered the loser (if you are playing with beer, it's probably the team that is also the drunkest). For the purposes of this article, let's say there is Team A and Team B competing against each other.

>> Buy this Poster on beer pong rules.

>> Here are the balls you can use for Beer Pong (or better yet, balls that light up).

How to Setup Beer Pong?

Setup, as true in all games, is boring but very important. The typical setup (the one I am used to) is when you arrange the cups like you would arrange pins in bowling. Fill the cups approximately half full (this might surprise you, but in beer pong you fill it up with... beer).

What are the Basic Rules of Beer Pong?

Elbow / Wrists Rule

This is usually an unspoken rule at house parties (or at least until someone breaks it). When shooting, players must keep their elbows behind the edge of the table. If a wrists rule is in effect, players must keep their wrists behind the edge of the table. Breaking this rule results in the shot not counting. If the shot is made, the infracting player may step back and re-shoot the ball. This tends to be the most argued-over rule in Beer Pong, due to the fact that it is sometimes difficult to determine if the elbow / wrist does indeed cross the plane of the table Yes, Females have to abide by this rule as well.


Twice per game, each team can request the cups to be rearranged at the start of their turn. This is known as re-racking, racking, or reforming. Racking may take place when you have remaining cups in the amount of 6, 4, 3, or 2. If you get balls back after making 2 in a row, it is still considered your turn and you may not get a rack. If requested, Last cup may always be pulled back and centered.

Bouncing / Swatting

If a ball hits the table and then goes into a cup (even by accident), the cup that the ball goes into is removed, as well as another cup of the defending player’s choice. If there are only 2 cups remaining, the bounce only counts as one cup, so it’s fairly useless to bounce on the last 2 cups….unless you’re simply trying to be a tough guy. We’ve heard some of the manlier men out there claim “Bouncing is for bitches” but we like this rule as it helps keep focus to the game, therefore speeding things up.

Fingering / Blowing

You may have heard the expression Guys Finger, Bitches Blow during a rule summary at the beginning of a game. Fingering is when the ball is spinning inside of a cup and the defending team pulls it out with his/her finger. Blowing is when the ball is spinning inside of a cup and it is blown out by the defending team. If not specifically called at the beginning of the game, neither fingering nor blowing count. This is due to the cheapness of the rule and the easiness of a player to blow out the ball, even after it has come into contact with the beer. If you don’t believe it just try putting a ball in one of the cups and blowing it out, it’s not very difficult (especially for those experienced sorority gals).

Fixing Cups

At any time in the game, a player may ask for the cups to be fixed. This is not to get confused with racking. This is simply putting the cups back to where they would have been had they not slid or been knocked out of position. Getting a beer pong rack helps keep things in good order.

Bitch Cup / Death Cup

Once a cup is made and is pulled up from the rack and before the contents have been consumed (unless you’re playing with water), the cup in a player’s hand (or even if they put the drink down) can be referred to as a bitch cup or death cup. If this cup is made by the opposing team, the game is automatically over and the team to sink the bitch cup is victorious. If the cup is still on the table and not in a hand and both balls land inside, it is 3 worth cups (2 additional chose by defending team). This is most common if players shoot at the same time or if the defending team is not paying attention.

On Table Rollbacks

After shooting if the ball rolls back to the shooter without hitting the floor (you may also grab it mid-air), they can shoot it again behind the back. The shot counts as one cup if made.

NBA Jams On Fire Rule

After a player hits two cups in a row, he can call “heating up.” If he makes his third shot he can announce that he’s on fire and he shoots until he misses. If the player fails to announce that he’s heating up he cannot call on fire.

Island / Solo / Iso / Lonely Cup

This rule has many different aliases, but the concept is the same. Each player once per game can call a specific cup if it is not touching any other cup (singled out due to surrounding cups being hit, not from the cup sliding away from the other cups on a wet table). If the called cup is hit, the defending team pulls the hit cup along with an additional cup of their choosing. If the shooter calls a specific cup and hits another, the ball is pulled out and the unintentionally hit cup remains on the table.


After the last cup is hit each player from the losing team has a chance to hit the remaining cups. Each player shoots until they miss, the order in which this is done does not matter. If there are racks left over they may be used now. Once both players miss and there are remaining cups, the game is over. If the players manage to hit all remaining cups the game goes into a 3 cup overtime.


Three cups are placed back into a triangle shape and the would-have-been winners shoot first. There are no racks permitted on overtime, however the last cup may be pulled back / centered.

Closing Thoughts on Beer Pong

It's a game. Chill out, have fun, and make sure to drink responsibly. Here are some rules to live by:

  1. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after. Drinking large amounts of beer in a short period is a dangerous mix!
  2. Make sure to designate a sober driver, especially if you are thinking you may leave the beer pong site.
  3. Consider using low alcohol beer (like 1-4%); don't worry, if you are playing to get drunk, you can get drunk on low alcoholic beer (this is a great plan trying to get drunk BUT NOT sick).
  4. If you notice anyone is too drunk, just stop. It may be fun at first, but when you have to nurse a fellow player back from getting sick-drunk, that's not fun at all. In addition, alcohol is basically a poison to the human body, so if someone has had too much, help them out before it gets really bad (AKA people end up in the hospital if they drink too much).
  5. When you mix "rules" with drinks and friends it can often lead to unnecessary arguments about who is right and wrong - not worth it. Just laugh, drink the beer and have fun!
  6. Beer Pong is for ADULTS that are 21+. Under no circumstances is it OK to play with anyone younger. If they want to play, try soda or water!

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