|Players||Two teams of two players each|
|Setup time||1 minute|
|Playing time||5-15 minutes|
|Skill(s) required||accuracy, hand–eye coordination|
|Material(s) required||table, plastic cups, ping pong balls|
Beer pong, also known as Beirut, is a drinking game in which players throw a ping pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer on the other end. The game typically consists of two teams of two players each with 10 cups set up in a triangle formation on each side. Each team then takes turns attempting to shoot ping pong balls into the opponent's cups. If a ball lands in a cup (known as a 'make'), the contents of that cup are consumed by the other team and the cup is removed from the table. The first team to eliminate all of the opponent's cups is the winner.
- 1 Venues
- 2 Origin and name
- 3 Setup
- 4 Game play
- 5 Health effects
- 6 Legal restrictions
- 7 Tournaments and leagues
- 8 Media
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Origin and name
The game evolved from the original beer pong played with paddles which is generally regarded to have had its origins within the fraternities of Dartmouth College in the 1950s and 1960s, where it has since become part of the social culture of the campus. The original version resembled an actual ping pong game with a net and one or more cups of beer on each side of the table. Eventually, a version without paddles was created and the names Beer Pong and Beirut were adopted in some areas of the United States sometime in the 1980s.
Bucknell University's student-run newspaper, The Bucknellian, claims Delta Upsilon fraternity members at Bucknell created "Throw Pong", a game very similar to beer pong, during the 1970s. "Throw Pong" was then brought to Lehigh University by fraternity brothers who visited Bucknell and this led to the creation of the version of beer pong that is played today.
In some places, Beer Pong refers to the version of the game with paddles, and Beirut to the version without. However, according to a CollegeHumor survey, beer pong is the more common term than Beirut for the paddle-less game.
The origin of the name "Beirut" is disputed. A 2004 op-ed article in the Daily Princetonian, the student newspaper at Princeton University, suggested that the name was possibly coined at Bucknell or Lehigh University around the time of the Lebanese Civil War. Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was the scene of much fighting during the war.
Beer pong is usually played with two teams of two to four players each. Each team begins the game by standing at either end of the table behind their rack of cups.
Although the game is typically played on either a ping pong table or a folding banquet table, enthusiasts may create a personalized table for use by friends and visitors. In general, this will be a plywood board cut to proper size, sometimes painted with sports, school, or fraternity symbols and given a liquid-proof coating. Some companies sell tables, including portable and inflatable tables. However, the game can be played on any flat surface.
The most common cups used are 18-US-fluid-ounce (530 ml) disposable plastic cups (such as Solo cups) with ridge-lines which can be used precisely to measure the amount of beer to be poured into the cup. On each side of the table, teams assemble equilateral triangles with a convergence point focusing on the other team. Games typically use ten cups. Each team usually also has a separate cup of water used to rinse off the ball. Modern day beer pong has evolved past the ping pong table and on to regulation sized Beer Pong Tables. A regulation size table is 8'x2'x27.5" and is recognized by The World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP) as being the standard in beer pong table game play.
An inexpensive pale lager or light beer of 3.2–5% ABV is sometimes preferred because of the large quantities consumed during the course of several games. Sometimes under house rules, there might be cups of other liquors used during the game. For non-drinkers, the game may be played without beer, as is done at Utah State University, where alcohol is not allowed on campus; root beer is used instead. For sanitary reasons, the game may also be played with cups of water that players do not drink from, instead drinking from a separate cup of beer or alcohol.
Traditionally, the game of beer pong has been played by countless variations of rule sets. In recent years, organizations such as The World Series of Beer Pong have put forth "official" rules. Typically, players abide by a uniform set of "house rules" which are often consistent within one university or region of the country (e.g., "Ivy League rules" or "West Coast rules") or may vary on a "house-by-house" basis. Number of cups, bouncing, re-racking, amount of alcohol, distance shots must be taken from, etc. may all vary. All house rules should be posted or verbally stated and understood by both teams before the game starts.
The order of play varies - both players on one team can shoot, followed by both players on the other team, or players on opposite teams can alternate back and forth. Cups that are made must immediately have its contents drank and be removed from play. Some rule sets allow for "re-racking" (also known as "reforming", "rearranging", "consolidation", and other names), which is a rearrangement of a team's remaining cups after some have been removed. The formations, number of cups, when to rearrange and so on, depend on the rule set. For example, a team with three remaining cups may ask the other team to "re-rack" the cups into a single triangle formation.
Common house rules allow players to 'finger' or blow the ball out of the cup if the ball spins around the inner rim. Another common house rule states that if a team makes both shots during their turn, a 'rollback' occurs allowing each player to shoot again. In the World Series of Beer Pong rules, only a single-ball 'rollback' occurs resulting in a three cup maximum that can be made per turn.
Before shooting, teams may dunk the ping pong balls into cups of water in order to wash off the balls. However, research has shown that the wash cups can still hold bacteria such as E. coli. To avoid any illness, many players put water in the cups instead of beer, keeping a separate beer on the side to drink from. In doing so, it removes the possibility of getting sick or drinking any dirt that may transfer from the ball into the cup.
There are three common ways to shoot in beer pong: the arc, the fastball (or "laser, snipe"), and the bounce shot. The most common throwing technique is the arc shot, where one grasps the ping pong ball with the tips of the thumb and forefinger, holds the arm at an angle with the ball upwards, then throws using a gentle elbow motion holding the upper arm parallel with the table.
Some players throw "fastball" style which uses more of a hard chopping motion to send the ball in a more direct line toward the intended target cup. A fastball shot may be favorable if house rules dictate that a cup knocked over is removed from the table, in which case a fastball can eliminate multiple cups if thrown hard enough.
A bounce shot is performed by bouncing the ball towards the cups. Depending on house rules, if the other team has the opportunity to swat away a bounced ball, a bounce shot may be worth more than one cup.
Winning the game
If a team makes their last cup, the other team loses unless they can make all of their remaining cups; this is called a rebuttal or redemption. If the losing team can hit their redemption shots, then the game is forced into overtime where three cups are used instead of the normal ten cups.
Another 'house rule' can be stated before or during the game in the midst of a shutout. A shutout in beer pong occurs if one team makes all ten of their cups and the opposite team makes none of their cups. If the shutout does occur, the losing team must do whatever the two teams decided on, such as going streaking (naked lap) or drinking a large quantity of beer.
Also depending on 'house rules', there are other ways to end the game. Cups that were accidentally left in the rack after being made are known as death/kill cups. These cups will immediately end the game if made again.
Alternate versions and variations
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
Battleship/Battleshots is a related game developed by combining beer pong with the Battleship board game. In this variation, a grid of 25 cups with 1" of water serves as the "ocean" for a team's boats. The 25 cups, arranged in a 5x5 grid, are the "targets". Teams place their ships by using 2, 3, and 4 pennies in the bottom of each cup in orthogonal lines. This type of placement is meant to mimic the orthogonal peg-board game surface of Battleship.
Teams alternate turns and there can be more than one player on a team. For each turn, each player shoots once and tries to land a ball in a target. If the target contains a penny, all the teams on the "hit" side drink. If the ball lands in a target and there is no penny inside, the shooter drinks. In both cases, the cup is emptied and turned over to reflect targets already hit. Once a complete row or series of pennies has been hit (the row of 2, 3, or 4 pennies), that ship has been sunk. When a team has a 'hit' that causes a ship to be sunk, both players get to shoot again.
Because there are not as many targets nor as many ships as the original board game of Battleship, the Destroyer, Submarine, Carrier, Battleship, and Cruiser are typically not used, or used interchangeably. Other pop-culture references are more typical, such as Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria (Christopher Columbus' three ships who voyaged to the New World,) or Time Bandit, Cornelia Marie, and Wizard (Ships in the crab fleet of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch.)
Tetris is another related game created at the University of Maryland on May 3, 2008, prior to Art Attack XXV, a concert headlined by Wyclef Jean. The founding occurred at 4702 College Ave. in College Park, MD, then, a Sigma Nu, Delta Phi Chapter satellite house. This variation combines elements of beer pong with the video game Tetris developed by Alexey Pajitnov. The inspiration for the game was a house under construction on College Ave., which provided the wood to create the 'wall,' one of the game's distinguishing elements.
Tetris is played by two teams of four players, each paired with a member of the opposing team. The game requires 136 standard red cups, four balls, a full size beer pong table, and 18-24 inch high 'wall' placed in the middle of the table. Each side places 68 cups in 9 alternating rows of 8 and 7 cups, and fills the cups with the appropriate amount of liquid. Also, each team may choose any four 'party' cups to fill completely. The object of the game is to hit each of the other teams cups, and the game is played rapid fire, with pairs keeping track of their own balls. A player may not shoot until he or she has removed, and finished the cup that was previously hit. The same rule applies to party cups which must be similarly finished before shooting.
Instead of 'racking' the cups in a traditional rack, in Tetris, once an entire row has been eliminated by the opposing team, all of the cups in front of that row are re-set in alternating rows of 8 and 7 beginning at the row which was eliminated. Re-setting the cups, and thus moving the last row further from the center of the table, allows players to more easily shoot at the rows of cups originally protected by the 'wall' in the middle of the table.
Once a team has hit the last cup, 4 cups are placed on the back row to determine who will rebuttal. Each team member shoots at the cup across the table, and if he or she hits the cup, the opposing team member loses his or her right to a rebuttal. Those who have a chance at rebuttal shoot until they miss. If a game is sent to overtime, 8 cups are placed along the back row, with the same rebuttal rules.
Firing Squad was founded by Sigma Nu of Lamda Omicron and describes a specific configuration of cups that lead to the firing squad. During a beer pong game, when the last back four cups are remaining, a team can call "Firing Squad." When firing squad is initiated, each cup must be made in consecutive order from right to left, or left to right. Once each cup is eliminated by the team initiating the Firing Squad, the Firing Squad is declared the winners, and the opposing team must each take 3 shots, thus completing the elimination by Firing Squad.
Death Cup is a combination of Beirut and Flip cup developed at Salem State University. A group of people stand around a round table with a cup in front of each player and one cup in the middle, each cup is a disposable plastic cup filled with a set amount of beer. Players take turns, rotating around the table, bouncing a ping pong ball trying to get it into either the cup in the middle or another player's cup. If the ball lands in the center cup, all the players drink the entirety of their cups and then the cup is placed open side up at the edge of the table, and the player who drank it attempts to flip the cup, by flicking or lifting the bottom until it flips and lands face down on the table, sitting on its mouth. The last player to successfully flip their cup is eliminated. If the ball lands in a player's cup, that player and the thrower drink and flip, with the last player to successfully flip their cup eliminated.
The game may have several associated health risks. As with any activity involving alcohol, beer pong may cause players to become drunken or even intoxicated enough to suffer alcohol poisoning. Also, the supposed cleaning effects of the water "dunk" cup may be offset by bacteria in the cups.
Some municipalities and states have attempted to ban beer pong, either from bars or in general, due to the belief that it encourages binge drinking (see Health Effects above). In Oxford, Ohio, where Miami University is located, the city council tried to ban the game from being played outdoors. In Arlington, Virginia and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, bar owners were told to stop allowing the game to be played in their establishments. In the fall of 2007, Georgetown University officially banned all beer pong paraphernalia such as custom-built tables and the possession of many ping-pong balls.
In many states, players have taken to placing water in cups in order to hold organized beer pong tournaments legally in bars. Some examples of this can be found in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Tournaments and leagues
Beer pong tournaments are held in the United States at the local, regional, and national levels.
The World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP), hosted by bpong.com, is the largest beer pong tournament in the world. WSOBP IV, held in January 2009 at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, had a $50,000 grand prize and attracted over 800 participants from the US and Canada. WSOBP V, held in January 2010, attracted over 1,000 participants, and attracted teams from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Japan, each of which voiced their aspirations to further the sport in their home countries. The World Beer Pong Tour has stops in various cities and cash prizes as well.
A more common organization of beer pong games are leagues which operate on a local or regional level. Ordinarily, a group of pong enthusiasts will create teams (partnerships) and play weekly against each other. Sometimes, the leagues have websites, rankings and statistics, while others have been started by college students with the goal of intramural competition such as at University of California, Santa Barbara with the "Isla Vista Beer Pong League", and at New York University.
In 2012 the first UK Beer Pong League was formed, originating from Suffolk, England. This consisted of an 8-month season in which a league and 2 knock out trophies were contested. Teams played once a week, with 3 points awarded for a win, the most points after 20 games played took the league title with trophies also available for top scorer & most game winning shots.
The Wall Street Journal, Time and other media outlets have reported on the increase in businesses selling beer pong paraphernalia, such as tables, mats, cups, or clothes. Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong is a documentary which follows some competitive players as they prepare for the WSOBP II and ultimately compete against one another for the $20,000 grand prize. This documentary, directed by Dan Lindsay, premiered at the CineVegas film festival on June 13, 2008. WSOBP V attracted further media attention, with writers from Maxim magazine and ESPN The Magazine attending, and it was featured on The Jay Leno Show on January 8, 2010, and also on G4's Attack of the Show! on January 11, 2010. Rick Reilly wrote an entire column about The World Series of Beer Pong IV for ESPN The Magazine.
Time magazine recently had an article on the popularity of beer pong and posted a video on their website. In both, players claimed beer pong was a sport, rather than a game—similar to billiards and darts.
The game has been a recurring segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with host Fallon playing against female celebrity guests such as Betty White, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova, Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba.
Road Trip: Beer Pong, a sequel to the 2000 comedy Road Trip, featured the game prominently. Agnes Scott College, where most of the movie was filmed, did not want to be listed in the credits after complaints from students.
Beer pong is also referred to in the song "I Like It Like That" by Hot Chelle Rae in the bridge of the song.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas has a scene where Harold is seen playing Beer Pong as a challenge at a party.
A scene in the 2012 comedy Project X has an adult play beer pong with the high schooler partygoers.
Bud pong was the branded version of beer pong that brewer Anheuser-Busch said involved the drinking of water, not Budweiser or any other beer. In the summer of 2005, the company began marketing "bud pong" kits to its distributors. Francine I. Katz, vice president for communications and consumer affairs, was reported in The New York Times as saying that bud pong was not intended for underage drinkers because promotions were held in bars, not on campuses. And it did not promote binge drinking, she said, because official rules call for water to be used, not beer.
The New York Times quoted a bartender at a club near Clemson University as saying she had worked at several bud pong events and had "never seen anyone playing with water. It's always beer. It's just like any other beer pong."
Some expressed incredulity at Anheuser-Busch's public statements. Henry Wechsler, director of the College Alcohol Study at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: "Why would alcohol companies promote games that involve drinking water? It's preposterous," while advertising news site Adjab opined that "someone playing bud pong with water is about as likely as a teenage kid using the rolling paper he bought at the convenience store to smoke tobacco."
However, the practice of playing with water has become increasingly common on college campuses, due to the cost saving effects. Instead of drinking the beer from a glass each time a player sinks a shot, the player simply takes a shot of liquor or a sip from their own drink each time the opposing team scores. This is usually done when there isn't enough beer to accommodate a large number of games during the party.
In July 2008, JV Games Inc. released a downloadable video game for the Wii console called Frat Party Games: Beer Pong. After much outrage by parent and university groups, the game was renamed Frat Party Games: Pong Toss and all references to alcohol were removed.
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