Beer Pong 101: What Actually Are The Official Rules?

We’ve all been there, the night’s going great, you and your partner are about to sink the last shots to clinch the win, and all seven people surrounding the table are getting ready to go wild on your behalf. Then, out of nowhere, your opponents from across the folding table make a last-ditch effort to save themselves the humiliation of losing at Beer Pong and call some total BS, unheard of, probably made-up rule that delays your inevitable victory a little longer so that they can recover. “Elbows,” “Shot clock,” “Distraction,” “Mulligan,” does anyone actually know what the rules are? Are those even actual calls? Probably not. And, let’s face it, most self-appointed Beer Pong Refs have a rudimentary knowledge of the game at best and are too drunk to have baseline comprehension of anything around them at worst. As the authority on all things college, here are the official rules for Beer Pong 2018:

The Setup (American League Rules):

  1. The standard playing field is 8ft long and 2 feet wide
  2. Arrange 10 SOLO cups in a pyramid pattern on either end of the table, so both points are facing each other, starting with 4 (then 3, then 2, then 1) as the base of the pyramids. Position the cups tightly as possible, 6 feet apart.
  3. Fill the cups with the desired amount of alcohol (or water and soda if you’re soft/don’t want to get the floors sticky)
  4. Purchase some Ping-Pong balls, you’re going to need those.

Gameplay & Objective

  1. Two teams of two people will face off to try to throw the aforementioned Ping Pong Balls into the other team’s cups.
  2. The team who will shoot first is decided when each team chooses a representative to go “eye to eye” with one another (unless you are a challenger, in which case the winner of the previous game shoots first). This means looking each other directly in the eye and repeating the chant “eye to eye” aloud and releasing the ball at the same time (once the second “eye” is said aloud). You may repeat this chant at whatever rhythm you choose. This is repeated until one, and only one, a member of either team makes it in the cups. The cup is not removed and no alcohol should be consumed once someone makes a shot in this preliminary bout. Teammates can take turns or choose not to do so.
  3. Whichever team’s representative makes the shot will have the first shot during the actual game.
  4. After the starting team is identified, the game begins.
  5. Each team gets two tries to throw the Ping-Pong ball – one try for each team member (two tries per team).
  6. If you throw the ball into any of your opponents cups, or they throw a ball into any of yours, that cup is removed from the playing field and the liquid inside the cup is consumed by one of the team members associated with that pyramid of cups (alternating every time a cup is “sank”).
  7. If you and your partner both “sink” your shots, “Balls Back” is called, and your opponents must give you back both of your balls (they, of course, both have to drink the alcohol in the cups).  This call is the first in the series of “calls.”



  1. When shooting, players MUST keep their elbows behind the edge of the table.
  2. However, this rule is typically only recognized if someone calls it. Respect the call.
  3. The infraction of this rule, if it is called, and the shot is missed, will result in a loss of your turn.
  4. If the shot is made, but your elbow was over the edge and that infraction was called, you will shoot again but from two steps back from where you originally shot.
  5. All of the aforementioned stipulations apply to wrists if the players decide they would like to play on hard mode. As far as elbows, they have no say in the matter.

Reorganization: Commonly known as re-racking, reforming, or just racking

  1. Each team has the authority to request that the cups that they are trying to sink their shots in be reorganized according to their liking. Teams only have this authority twice per game. 
  2. You MUST do this at the start of your turn, as opposed to in-between turns.
  3. Common requests include Diamond, 3,2,1 pyramid, and Gentlemen’s (cups arranged in a vertical line), but other orientations are permitted as well.
  4. “Fixing” is not the same as racking. Fixing just means putting the cups back in the position they would have been in if it weren’t for sliding and any other nuisance causing the cups to move.

Special Rules:


  1. You are allowed to attempt to bounce the ball into your opponent’s cup. If you successfully do this, the cup in which the ball lands is removed as well as a cup of the defending player’s choice. If a ball bounces into any cup at any time, yours or your opponents, even if by accident, that cup is drunk by a team member associated with that cup. This rule does not apply if there are only two cups left.
  2. “Guys Finger, Bitches Blow,” is a common expression that outlines an arcane, often ignored rule. The expression alludes to a scenario in which the ball is spinning in a cup, and men have to “finger” the ball out of the cup, while girls have to “blow” it out of the cup. This rule must be “called” at the beginning of any game for it to be recognized.
  3. “Bitch Cup.” The bitch cup is a name given to any cup that has just been made and has not been pulled from the rack (pyramid of cups). If the cup is in the process of being removed, it is still fair game for this rule. The rule is that if after that cup is made, another ball is thrown into it by your partner, the game is over, and the offensive team wins.
  4. “Behind the back.” This rule alludes to shooting the ball behind the back. You MUST shoot the ball behind your back if the ball rolls back after your initial shot (or bounces back) and you grab it before your opponent can.
  5. “Heating up/On fire.” If a player makes two cups in a row they can announce that they are “heating up.” If they make the third shot, they may announce that they are “On Fire, ” and will shoot until they miss. If a player fails to announce either claim, they cannot reap the benefits of the rule.
  6. “Island.” “Island” is called by the offending team when there is one cup that is separated from the others on every side – completely untouched. If a player calls “Island” and makes it into the targeted cup, that cup and a cup of the offending team’s choice is removed. If the ball lands in a cup other than the “Island” cup, that cup remains on the table.
  7. “Comeback.” Also known as “Rebuttal.” Once one team sinks the last cup of their opponent, the team whose last cup was just sunk has a chance to come back. If the team is able to sink all of the cups from their opponent’s side, the game will go into overtime. If they are unsuccessful in doing this, they lose the game.
  8. “Overtime.” Overtime proceeds if both teams sank each other’s cups. A mini, three rack pyramid will be constructed and both teams will shoot until they deplete their opponent’s cups. Repeat Rule 7 accordingly.

COED’s Quick Fix: Everything You Need To Know Today-7/2
COED’s Quick Fix: Everything You Need To Know Today-7/2
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