We already know why you’re here. Whether it’s your first time playing beer pong or you have a discrepancy during a current game, we’re here to help. Let’s just make one thing clear first: You probably should’ve had house beer pong rules put in place before you started playing. Maybe you’ll remember that next time you play the ultimate drinking game.

Anyway, here are the official beer pong rules as determined by the competitive beer pong elites:

Getting the Beer Pong Game Started

Cup Formation

  • Use 10 solo cups per side to form a triangle
  • Add one extra cup outside of the triangle to wet the ping pong ball
  • Cups have to touch rims without being tilted or leaning against another
  • In initial formation, cups should be centered with the back row in line with the back edge of the table
  • Fill each cup with 1/3-1/2 water or beer
    • It is NOT a requirement that anyone has to drink anything out of the cups

Not sure how to have the best formation? Use the Perfect Rack beer pong table for a little assistance!

Choosing Teams and Sides

  • Teams will be made up of two players
  • Game can also be played one-on-one
  • Players can pick a side of the table or, if it cannot be agreed upon, choose sides by playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” or flipping a coin


Gameplay

How to Play Beer Pong

  • Once teams are settled, teams will either agree on who shoots first or will settle for another coin flip or play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” again
  • Each team gets two shots, one per player per round

Bounce Shots

  • Bounce shots (i.e., choosing to have the ball hit the table before entering an opponent’s cup) are valid gameplay
  • If a bounce shot is made, two solo cups will be removed from the table instead of one
  • If a bounce shot is not made but falls into a cup after hitting another object, it will only count as one cup

Re-Racks

  • Cups that move out of position may be repositioned, but only at the request of the shooter
  • During every re-rack, the back row of cups must be flush with the back edge of the table and all cups touching rims
  • Cups must be removed as soon as the ball goes in, even when a rerack is not requested
  • The shooting team is fully responsible for waiting until a cup is cleared before shooting another ball

Rollbacks

  • If each teammate makes a cup during their collective turn, they get one rollback shot. Either partner may take the rollback shot
  • No partner can take two rollback shots consecutively. If partner A took the last rollback shot, then partner B must take the next

Winning

  • When the last cup is sunk, the losing team gets two rollbacks—one per player. If only one shooter makes a cup, the game is over and the other team wins. If both players score in the rollback, a new game is played with only three cups in a triangle centered in the table during sudden death. Standard beer pong rules apply.

Non-Permitted Gameplay & Exceptions

Grabbing, Swatting, Fingering, and Blowing

  • Grabbing or swatting the ball before it hits a cup is not permitted. If it was a bounce shot, grabbing and swatting are permitted once the ball hits the table one time
  • If opponent interferes with the ball before it hits a cup, the team who interfered takes a one-cup penalty. The shooter of the interfered ball chooses which cup will be removed
  • If a cup is knocked over during a swat, grab, etc., it will also count as made and be removed
  • If a ball is already inside a cup, even if still in movement, it cannot be removed by any means

Shots & Interference

  • If a player announces that only bounce shots will be made throughout the entire duration of the game, no swatting or grabbing is permitted. Bounce shots will also only count as one cup
  • If a ball sticks a landing on top of the cups, it counts as a missed shot unless it was announced before shooting that it was intentionally attempted to land there
  • If a player who has possession of the ball accidentally drops the ball into their own cup, there is no penalty
  • If a player who does not have possession of the ball accidentally comes in contact with the ball which goes into their own cup, that shot does count (i.e., backboard, accidental swatting, etc.)
  • If a non-player interferes with a shot, the shot is replayed
  • Objects on the beer pong table are considered in play. If a ball is shot and bounces off another object, like a water cup or a cup that has already been hit, and still goes into a cup that’s in play, the shot counts

Clearing Cups

  • If the shooting team does not wait for a made cup to be cleared before shooting another and it is either interfered by the opposing team’s hand or makes it into the same cup, it will not count and that shot is lost

Leaning & Using Body Parts

  • Shooting with any part of the player’s body on the table is not permitted, but body parts against the table are acceptable. No hands, feet, etc. may be used for leverage
  • No one’s hands may touch the table after a shot
  • If the shooter touches the ball after releasing the shot or touches the table in order to change the movement of their shot, that shot is forfeited even if it lands in a cup
  • Do not have any body part or objects over the table or cups while opposing team is shooting. Just relax and take a few steps back

Moving Cups

  • It is not permitted to move cups out of the way for better leverage during a shot. If cups accidentally move, they must be moved back to their original position before the next shot
  • Any cup that was accidentally knocked over during a shot will count as a hit
  • If a team knocks over one of their own cups, but no one from the other team notices, that cup remains in play

Celebrity Shots

  • If a player is missing during their turn, substitutions are not allowed and that team only gets one shot during their collective turn for as long as the player is missing

Distractions

  • Distractions are permitted as long as they don’t interfere with ball play or players’ eyes. So basically, don’t blow air and don’t shine a light in your opposing team’s eyes
  • No one, whether they’re playing the game or not, may visually block cups from the shooter’s eyes or yell in the shooter’s ears
  • Players may not walk away from their designated ends of the table except to pick up the ball

Disagreements

  • Disagreements and disputes in the game are not valid unless witnessed by two or more individuals, preferably two not involved in gameplay

House Rules

Of course, house rules are only valid if made clear before the game begins. Here are some of our favorite and the best house rules for beer pong:

Cup Formation

  • Cups don’t always have to be formed in a triangle after the first round or re-racked only upon request from opposing team
  • Our favorite beer pong formations:
    • Diamond
    • Reverse
    • Ring of Fire
    • Zig Zag
    • Stop Light
    • Thin Red Line
    • Square
  • If there’s an outlier cup with no other cups touching it, shooter can call “island.” If they make it, it counts as two cups instead of one. If they make an “island” cup and don’t call it beforehand, it only counts as one
  • Each individual player can only call “island” once per game
  • Only one re-rack per game

Gameplay

  • Fire: If a player makes a cup two turns in a row, they say “heating up.” Once they get the ball back on their next turn, that player can say “for fire,” and if they make a cup for the third time, they will continue getting the ball back until they miss
  • If a player on the opposing team is drinking from a cup, the shooter can aim for their cup only if they’re holding it. If made, the shooter’s team automatically wins
  • Elbows must stay behind the table lines. If they are over during a shot, it doesn’t count
  • Electricity Rule: If a ball is thrown and hits the rim of one cup but goes into another, both cups count
  • Celebrity Shots: If a player from a team is missing during their turn, the other teammate may recruit a new person for a one-time “celebrity shot” in their absence

Rollbacks

  • If both players make cups, they get one rollback each, but their next shots must be trick shots

Moving Cups

  • Spill an in-play cup on your own side, you lose the game

Losing the Game

  • If no one on a team makes a cup and ultimately loses the game, the losing team must run a naked lap around the house

Trick Shots (Some house rules count trick shots as two cups instead of one—you decide.)

  • Bounce off any surface
  • Throw the ball behind your back
  • Throw between your legs
  • Blind shot: Turn around with your back facing the table and throw over your shoulder
  • Blow out of your mouth

Now that you know the official rules, it’s time to play beer pong. Still think you have better house rules than us? Send an email to spencersblog@spencergifts.com and give us what you’ve got. Make sure to check out our site for all your beer pong needs (beer pong cups, beer pong tables, ping pong balls, etc.). Looking for other fun drinking games to play? Shop Spencer’s epic drinking games and get the party started! Lastly, always remember to drink responsibly.