Friday, August 7, 2009

Beer Pong: The Evolving Rules

You all know and love the game. Beer Pong. A game that has become so popular that it has it's own annual Championship Cup that takes place each January in Las Vegas (though, because of the law, they cannot require every participant to actually drink beer. Participants are allowed to substitute water for beer. What self-respecting Beer Pong player would do that?) A game that has become so popular that it was once called Beirut, but over took the less popular, yet original version of Beer Pong that was more akin to real Ping Pong.

While the basic version of Beer Pong involves teams of two, ten cups on each side of a [ping pong] table placed in the shape of a triangle, two ping pong balls, and a cup of water to "wash" the balls off in between each turn (doubtful that the water cleans anything), there are many more rules that have come into play. Rules differ depending on which house you play at, or even what region of the country you happen to be located. I shouldn't need to explain the basics of the game, because you've stopped reading by now if you're unfamiliar. However, I am going to list a few rules that I have come across in different places that I mostly enjoy. I may place one or two in there that I don't enjoy, but they get points for either helping the game, or just plain being creative.

The Elbow Rule - This is fairly common no matter where you happen to be. The rule states that your elbow cannot cross the edge of the table toward your opponents cups. This helps neutralize tall people, such as myself, from leaning all the way over the table and virtually dropping it in the cup. As much as I love 360 dunking ping pong balls into red plastic Silo cups, this rule keeps the game fair and far more interesting. I highly recommend instituting it if you have not already.

The Loose Ball Rule - I need to be in the mood or at least halfway drunk to fully enjoy this rule. Essentially, if a team misses a shot the ball is live until one team gains possession of the ball. If one team is super aggressive they can end up taking many more shots than they would otherwise deserve. It also provides a stronger possibility for injury and destruction of property. I recommend moving sharp and/or valuable objects far away from the game table. Also, the more spillage there is during the game, the filthier people will get as they dive on the ground to gain possession of the valuable Beer Pong ball. One variation says if the team throwing the ball recovers the loose ball, they have to throw it behind their back instead of getting another regular shot. I like this variation because it doesn't massively swing the advantage towards a team that has no problem rolling around in filth equivalent to Oscar the Grouch's trash can to win a drinking game.

Fingering/Blowing The Ball Out Of The Cup - I'm not a fan of this, but it has become quite commonplace in the Beer Pong arena. If the ball is rolling around the cup, or within the second it goes in the cup, people would be allowed to either stick their finger in the cup and pull the ball out (fingering) or blow the ball out of the cup with your mouth (blowing.) Many times, men are allowed only to finger, while women are allowed only to blow. If you're questioning "why is that?" then I'm sending you back to 6th grade Health class and giving you detention. The cons to these tactics are many. First, you are liable to cause a huge spill of all the cups, especially when fingering. Who wants to stand around and clean up the mess/refill the beers? Second, why on Earth would you want fingers and spit ending up in the beer you will most likely be drinking (ok, so this turns into a pro if you win the game and your opponents have to drink the remaining beer from your side.) Third, it's going to cause arguments. People will inevitably say they got the ball out before it came to it's state of rest, while the other team will disagree. It may cause more harm than good to the structure and speed of the game.

Two In The Same Cup, Game Over - It is a team's responsibility to grab the cup off the table as soon as their opponent makes a shot. If they fail to do this, and the second player sinks it in the same cup, the game is over and the shooting team wins. Seeing this happen on the first round of the game is hilarious! Another variation is sometimes called "a bomb" where instead of the game being over, all the cups touching the cup with two balls are also out of play to be drunk, and the shooting team gets another round of shooting. In fact, I've glossed over the rule where if both players on a team make their shots, then they get to shoot again. I've never seen a game that didn't incorporate that rule, so I suppose I just take it for granted. Either way, I like some sort of rule to keep the other team on their toes. If it's not a complete forfeit, there should be an extra penalty against the defense for two balls landing in one cup.

The Bounce - If you can bounce the ball into one of your opponents cups, they'll have to drink two cups instead of one. The catch is that as soon as you attempt the bounce, the defending team is allowed to do their best Dikembe Mutombo impression and slap the shot away (the finger wag is definitely encouraged as well!) The bounce is more easily accomplished as the other team becomes more drunk and distractable. Not all table surfaces will allow for the bounce to be possible.

Dodgeball - I'm not sure I've ever seen this for real, but it's legend has spread like William Wallace's did over the Scottish country-side in the 1300's. If a team misses a shot and the ball bounces up in the air, the defense can slap it back toward the other team. If the ball hits a player on the other team, that player must chug a beer outside of the game. If a player on the other team catches said shot, then the player that attempted the slapshot has to chug a beer outside of the game. This could be the rule that vaults Beer Pong from the garage to ESPN 8 - The Ocho.

NBA Jam Rules - This is by far my favorite addition to the Beer Pong (potential) rule book. If a player on one team makes shots on two consecutive turns, their teammate can then say, "He's heating up," which set the teammate up for the following shot. If at that point he makes his next shot, he is considered "On Fire" and gets to shoot until he misses. The key thing is that this rule only comes into effect when the teammate remembers to say "He's heating up" after the second consecutive make. Without clearly stating the heat up, the next make will only count as a regular successful shot. This can cause fights among the two teams as to whether the heat up was declared, so make sure you say it loud! I took advantage of this rule a few weeks ago, and sank five in a row to start a game. Needless to say, my team dominated that game!

I always love to hear about strange rules that I've never come across, so feel free to mention your favorite rule in the comments. After all, knowledge is power!


Rae said...

YOU FORGET, sir, THE C STREET RULES. Remember that you weren't allowed to touch the cups until both balls were shot? Mmm hmm.

And this is a pic I took of a bar in NYC that had beer pong rules on the wall. Feel free to compare:

Tony B. said...

Excellent picture of all the basic rules, and some that are probably indigenous to the NYC- nice work!

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