Beer Pong Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

Beer pong is one of the most commonly played drinking games at parties, all around the world. Given its popularity as a drinking game, there are variations to beer pong rules of the game and how people play it in different parts of the world.

Here, we take a closer look at all you need to know about beer pong.

What is Beer Pong?

By definition, beer pong or cup pong is a popular drinking game in which plastic cups are placed on either side of the table, filled with beer. You score by tossing the ball from one corner of the table to the opponent’s cup filled with beer, and if you score, your opponent is supposed to drink that cup.

This drinking game is mostly played at colleges, bars, universities and house parties just like flip cup.

Beer Pong Distance

How to Play Beer Pong: Step-by-Step

Like mentioned before, beer pong can be played with a different set of rules and regulations. A lot of things are similar, like the equipment required to play as well as most of the rules are also the same.

Beer Pong Setup: Assembling your Cups

The setup of the cup pong game is quite easy. You arrange around 10-12 cups in a pyramid-like formation on each side of the ping pong table. The beer pong distance is measured by the stretch of the table which is around 8 feet, typically, and you can use the standard ping pong table or one of the beer pong tables.

Once arranged, you fill the cups with around 18oz or 16oz of beer. For children, you can change the format of the game by filling the cups with water; water pong is also quite common! You can, of course, change the amount of liquid as per your liking, it is not fixed.

In addition to cups and a table, you will also require a ping pong ball.

Beer Pong Bounce: What does it mean & How Does it Work?

There are conflicting beliefs over the inclusion of bounce. Some people prefer pinging the ball directly into the cup, others believe that it should technically bounce before landing in the cup.

Cup Pong

Official Beer Pong Rules

Owing to its popularity, there are a set of official rules. We include the significant ones and you can search up all of the remaining ones, here.

1) Measurements

  • The table needs to be 8 ft long and 2 ft wide. It should be 27.5 inches high.
  • The balls need to be 40mm 3-star ping pong balls and there should be at least two of these balls.
  • The cups need to be 16 oz with a top width of 3-5/8”, a height of 4-5/8”, and a base width of 2-1 / 4”.

2) Cup Formation

  • There are 10 cups per team.
  • The starting formation should be a tight triangle formation with rims touching, pointing towards the opposing team. You can use the official bpong racks to sort the formation.
  • The back of the triangle should be in line with the edge of the table and the pointy end of the triangle should be towards the mid of the table.
  • Cups cannot be tilted or leaned on towards the remaining cups.

3) Cup Content

  • The official beer pong content of the cup is always water.
  • The cups should be filled either up to half or 1/3 of the cup.
  • As per the official rules, you are not obliged to drink the water.

4) Playing Beer Pong Game

The winning team with first possession will get one (1) shot. Each team will get two (2) shots for each turn thereafter, one shot per team member, subject to any other rules within.

To determine who chooses shot vs. tableside, if not otherwise dictated by tournament-specific house rules, players may use any agreed-upon method, such as flipping a coin or playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to make that determination. If the players are unable to agree upon a method, then they shall use one game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”

5) Bounce Shots

Players are allowed to make a shot via bounce. If the bounce shot is made, two cups are eliminated, and the defending team chooses which cup can be eliminated.

However, if a person declares that they will be taking each shot as a bounce shot, then the elimination rule can be taken out of the game.

Moreover, if the ball hits any object other than the cup, it will be considered dead.

6) Distractions

Distractions are permitted, as per the official ruling of beer pong. However, players cannot cross the plane of play with any part of their body, clothing, or objects.

You are also not allowed to interfere with the vision of the opposing team. For reading the remaining standard rules, you can refer to the official beer pong website.

College Rules Beer Pong

The house rules for college beer pong are a bit different from official cup pong rules. The main differences are in the fact that for college beer pong, you use actual alcohol instead of water. Secondly, you are bound to drink all the beer or alcohol, once the ping pong ball lands in one of the opposing team’s cups. The whole point of this game is to keep your focus despite being tipsy. However, it is important to drink responsibly.

Some of the major college drinking game rules are as following:

1) Deciding Who Goes First

You can do this either with a simple rock, paper, scissors. Or, choosing the most commonly used method: eyes. This is when both the players are to make the first shot by maintaining eye contact.

If you make the shot and your opponent does not, you decide whether to go first. If both players miss, they keep on going as long as one hit and the other one misses. Also, no team’s cups are removed during this phase of the game.

2) Elbow/Wrists Rule

The elbows and the wrists should be kept behind the line of the table. You can decide which one is in effect before starting the game. It is considered to be an unspoken rule, and yes it applies to females, as well.

3) Re-Racking

You can request the opposite team for re-racking of your cups twice per game. Re racks has to be done at the start of your turn and it may only happen when the remaining cups are left in the amount of 6, 4, 3, 2. The last cup, if requested, can always be pulled back and re-centered.

Re racks are allowed once per game. Triangular re rack, diamond and line re rack are most common re rack formations.

4) Fingering/Blowing

This is another rule that should be established before the game begins. If it has not been established, then it is not in play. This refers to the opposing team blowing the ball out of the cup before it has settled, or using their fingers to push it out of the cup before it settles.

5) Death Cup

This is one of the cooler rules of beer pong. It is also considered to be an unspoken rule given the sneakiness of it.

A dead cup is when the ball lands in the other team’s cups and the defending team pick it up to drink. As long as the entire contents of the cup are not finished with the first ball inside, it is considered a dead cup. If the opponent drinks the cup after shooting and making it while you are lifting the cup, you automatically lose the game.

Also, if one team shoots two balls in the same cup, it becomes the dead cup, and the opposition automatically loses the game.

6) Heat & Fire

If you from a shooting team make two cups in a row, you are on heat. This way shooting team receives another shot. However, if you make another one, meaning you have made three cups in three consecutive shots, you are considered to be on fire. You get to keep shooting other team cups until you miss.

If the ball hits the live cup and bounces into another cup, it will be considered a hit cup. Moreover, if you hit the ball, miss it, and the ball rolls back toward you, you get a bonus shot and are allowed to re-shoot it. Make sure you use this chance to make it your best trick shot.

7) Beer Pong Overtime

Once one team has made all their cups and immediately on the next turn, the opposition also completes their cups, then the game goes into overtime.

In overtime, each team sets up or re-rack 3 cups in the same triangle shape format using the same beverage to fill them up. The other team who hit the last cup first shoots first in overtime, and the same rules apply.

Water Pong

Beer Pong Formations & Variations

There are many different ways to play beer pong and we have listed some of the really fun ones:

1) Beer Pong Redemption

Once the team eliminates the last of the opposing team’s cups, they have not won, yet. The defending team gets a shot at the redemption round, where they have the opportunity to eliminate the remaining cups with each player getting a turn. If they make it, the game is forced into overtime. If not, then the losing team is forced to drink the contents of the rest of the cups, as well.

If the cup sinks during the redemption, the last cup tends to come back into play, and the game continues until one team wins.

2) Island Beer Pong

The Island Beer Pong rule is when you have one cup alone while all other cups are touching each other. If you call the cup and make the shot, all your standing cups are removed. However, if you miss it, your partner loses the next shot.

3) Ring of Fire

If you hit four cups, including the triangle pointers and the one in the middle, without hitting any other, you automatically win the beer pong drinking game. This is because if you eliminate these four cups, it forms a ring of fire or a circle and that is considered curtains for your opponent!

4) Beer Pong Cornhole

Beer Pong Cornhole is when you use a cornhole table to place the beer pong cups inside the cornhole. The rest of the game remains the same and you can have much more fun playing it this way.

5) Beer Pong With Paddles

Beer pong with paddles or most commonly known as Dartmouth Pong is a game in which you hit a ping pong ball inside the oppositions’ cup using a ping pong paddle. The remaining rules of the game are the same as normal beer pong. This is considered to be a slightly tougher version of beer pong.

Beer Pong Tips & Techniques

How do you get good at beer pong? Are you looking to improve your beer pong game and shock your friends the next time you play beer pong? Are you afraid of losing so many games on the trot because you get drunk a little too quickly? Not to worry, we’ll help you out with a few tips!

1) Choose Your Playing Partner Wisely

The most important tip of all is choosing your partner wisely. Make sure you team up with someone who has a good throw and does not get tipsy easily.

2) Practice Makes Perfect

The best tip I can give you is practice, practice, and practice. Keep throwing and improving your aim. Do not ever say no to a game and do not let defeats or trash talk get to you!

3) Consistent Aim

It helps to be sure about what you want. Do not change your aim mid-way; make sure the opponent’s cups you are targeting are the only ones your ball is hitting. If you fail to hit the target, the shot counts as a miss, and the cup remains on the table.

Frequently Asked Questions

We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about beer pong.

How long is a beer pong table? What are the dimensions of a beer pong table?

The length of a beer pong table is 8 ft. As we mentioned above in beer pong rules, the dimensions of a beer pong table are 8′ x 2′ x 27.5”.

How many cups do you need for beer pong?

Each team has to make ten cups and at one time two teams are playing. So, for a single game, you need 20 beer or water cups.

What is Death Cup beer pong?

As explained above, a death cup is when the ball falls into the opponent’s cups, and the opposition picks it up to drink. As long as the entire contents of the cup are not finished with the first ball inside, it is considered a dead cup.

If the opponent’s team makes the two balls in the same cup or a person makes the cup while you lift and drink from it, you automatically lose the game.

How many balls are needed for beer pong?

What a sexist question, girls can, indeed, play the game! Just kidding, you need around four ping pong balls to play beer pong. Two per team.

What is a celebrity shot in beer pong?

A celebrity shot is another cool rule in beer pong. If you are playing with your friends and there is another person, not part of the game, volunteering to take a shot for you, it is considered to be a celebrity shot in beer pong. You can only use one celebrity shot in one game.

Photo of author


Matt is founder of Pong Place and has been a table tennis addict from an early age. He had regular ping pong matches with his dad in their basement and learned how to counteract his defensive maneuvers over the years. Though he still plays, his main passion is educating others about the joys of ping pong, learning about new products and making the sport more accessible to people like you.