Buffalo or Buffalo Club is a drinking game where participants must chug their drink if they drink with the wrong hand, usually the player's dominant hand. In some versions, merely holding a drink in the dominant hand is an infraction (Strict Buffalo). Buffalo is unusual in that the game does not end; it continues for the players' entire lives. People who play the game refer to themselves as "Buffalos", and groups of players may refer to themselves as a "Buffalo club", though the game itself is also sometimes called "Buffalo Club".
The history and origin of the Buffalo Club are obscure and many versions are in existence. A folk origin of the game states that Buffalo Club stems from the gunslinging days of the Wild West where the use of one's right hand (the shooting hand) was at times a matter of life or death. Thus, recreational activities such as playing cards or drinking were done with the left hand only to avoid severe consequences. The game is now popular around the world.
The rules are fairly simple, though widely varying, and involve which hand a player may use to drink. One version of how to play the game is as follows:
- A player can only drink with their non-dominant hand. If any other Buffalo players spot them drinking with their dominant hand, they call Buffalo on the player and that player must finish their drink as quickly as possible. If the player hesitates to finish their drink, the other players will usually proceed to make a ruckus chanting "Buffalo!" and banging on the table until the player finishes.
- If the player calls Buffalo on somebody when they are actually drinking with the proper hand (or have an empty drink or are not drinking an alcoholic drink), they may return with a call of "False Buffalo" and the player is obligated to finish their own drink. If the buffalo-er does not currently possess a drink, the False caller must drink the nearest alcoholic drink available. The granularity for buffalo is per sip. You can be buffaloed whilst taking your penalty buffalo but cannot be buffaloed multiple times during that sip.
- Once a player begins playing Buffalo, they are playing it for the rest of their life.
Nobody needs to declare that the game is on. At least in principle, if rarely actually done, if the player spots a complete stranger drinking with what the player thinks to be their dominant hand, and the player calls Buffalo on them, they will either be confused or immediately know that they have transgressed the rules in the presence of another Buffalo player and are obligated to finish their drink or return a false Buffalo, if applicable.
It should be noted that the mere act of alcohol touching lips is enough to be considered a violation of the buffalo drinking rules.
Optional (tougher) punishments to breaking the Buffalo rules may apply.
- The Game – another game in which the players are perpetually playing.
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