Although Beer Pong’s basic version has core rules, it is very important that each “house” establish its own rules or variations in order to make the game their own.

The General Rules of Beer Pong

Usually, Beer Pong is played by teams with two players, where each team takes its turn tossing a table tennis ball inside of the other team’s cups. They stand at opposite ends of traditional ping pong tables, or official Beer Pong tables with markings and guides.

If a ball lands inside of a cup, that cup gets taken away and the contents are drunk by the opponent. If cups are hit by both teammates, the balls get rolled back and then they are allowed to shoot again. When a team hits all of its opponent’s cups successfully they win the game. Given that the game has a wide range of variation, it is a good idea to go over things quickly like bouncing/swatting and racks before the game starts. Typically the game’s winner will stay at the table and wait for the next challenger. Usually, a list is formed in order to keep track of which team is scheduled to play next.

How to Setup a Game of Beer Pong

Get ten (usually 16-ounce or 18-ounce) cups set up in a pyramid-like shape as shown on the diagram on either side of the beer pong table (the standard is 8 feet long). There are mini-game setups available and perfect for two players. Fill each cup up with beer to the desired amount (or water or other alcohol according to your preference). Traditionally, two 12-ounce beers are used for filling up all ten cups. However, the amount will vary depending on the amount you want to drink. Have you tried the Hex Cups yet? They certainly make the game more interesting…

Innovation: Hex Cups and Mini Beer Pong

How To Decide Who Goes First in Beer Pong?

If it’s the first game to be played that night, the “Eyes” is what decides the first shot. That is when a player from each of the teams shoot the ball while keeping eye contact throughout the shot with their opponent. If both players make the shot or both players miss, their teammates then shoot. That keeps going until one player makes the shot and their opponent misses. The cup that is hit is not removed; instead, the ball gets taken out and then rolled over to the team that made the shot. If it isn’t the first game, then the previous game’s winner shoots first. “Eyes” is done once again to find out who goes first if the winning team quits or new teams join.

An Extended List of Beer Pong Rules

Wrists / Elbow Rule

Usually, at house parties, it is an unspoken rule (or until somebody breaks it at least). When they are shooting, the players have to keep their elbows behind the table’s edge. If there is a wrist rule in place, players are required to keep their wrists behind the table’s edge. The shot doesn’t count if the rule is broken. If the infracting player makes the shot, they can step back and take another shot. This rule tends to be the one that is argued about the most in Beer Pong since it can be hard to determine if the wrist or elbow does cross the table’s plane. Females also have to follow this rule.


Two times per game, each of the teams may ask that the cups be rearranged at the beginning of their turn. This is called reforming, racking, or re-racking. Racking may occur whenever you have 2, 3, 4, or 6 remaining cups.

If you get back the balls after you make two in a row, then it is considered to be your turn still and you might not get a rack. The final cup can always be centered and pull back if requested.

Swatting / Bouncing

If a ball first hits the table and then goes inside of the cup (even accidentally), that cup is removed, along with another cup chosen by the defending player. If there are just 2 cups let, the bounces count only as one cup, so it is pretty useless bouncing on the final 2 cups unless you just are trying to act tough. We have heard about some manlier men claiming “Bouncing is for bitches.” However, we like the rule since it helps to keep the focus on the actual game and help speed up things.

Fixing Cups

At any point during the game, a player can ask that the cups be fixed. It is not the same thing as racking. It is just placing the cup back into the positions they would have been if they hadn’t been knocked out or slid out of position. To keep things in order it helps to have a beer pong rack.

On Table Rollbacks

After the ball is shot, if it rolls back over to the shooter without touching the floor (you can also grab the ball mid-air), then they can shoot the ball again behind the back. If the shot is made it counts as one cup.


Once the final cup has been hit, each of the players from the losing team is given a chance to hit the cups that remain. Each player continues to shoot until they miss. It doesn’t matter what order this is done in. If any racks are left over, they can be used now. After both players have missed, if there are any cups remaining, the game is finished. If all remaining cups are hit by the players, then there is a 3 cup overtime to decide the game.


Three cups get put into the shape of a triangle and the would-have-been winners get the first shot. During overtime, no racks are allowed. However, the final cup can be centered or pulled back.

See more fun drinking games we have reviewed in the past.

Beer Pong Rules