The History of Beer Pong, Part Two: The Rules

“This is my tenth game of pong, and I’m still balling the sinks…uh….”

~The Average Beer Pong Tournament Winner

As we saw in yesterday’s fun fact, the origin of Beer Pong is a rich and totally true tale.  The tale continues below.

The secrets of Beer Pong were long lost until a group of American college students on an Archeology field trip stumbled across the ancient runes describing the rules of beer pong in the 1950’s.  When they opened the container holding these writings, a great glow consumed everyone in the area, sort of like the scene in Indiana Jones where the Nazis open the ark of covenant and it melts the shit off of their faces.  Only, these students did not perish, they just got suddenly and inexplicably drunk.  Like, just out-of-their-mind wasted.  This was the first time that anyone ever woke up from a drunken stupor to find that his asshole drunk friends had drawn a bunch of penises on his face.

Really, photoshop department?  Nothing?

The Runes described what are now known as the golden rules of Beer Pong.  Two teams, with two people on each side, line up on either side of a table.  Between 2 and 3 beers should be poured into 10 cups, shaped like a triangle.  Each player on each team gets a chance to shoot, followed by the next team’s turn.  If a ball is sunk into a cup, that cup is removed from play and consumed.  If a ball is bounced, it can be slapped away or “defended” but if the bounced ball sinks into a cup, it is worth two cups, as it was when the transcendent Amar-Sin did the very same feat.  There are two re-racks.  If both players of the team make their shot, they get the ball back, and are able to take another turn each, as they hope to emulate the mighty Ekur.  Once the last cup is sunk of one team, the other team gets a chance at redemption, known as the “rebuttal.”

Cheap, low quality beer is generally used, and the original clay glasses and stone rocks have been replaced by 16-ounce (preferably red) Silo cups and ping pong balls.  It is the ultimate test of skill, though after enough games it morphs from a test of skill to an illustration of alcohol tolerance.  Alcohol assists the abilities of the Beer Pong player much like steroids assists the abilities of an Athlete.  Without alcohol, you are on a level playing field.  With an appropriate amount of alcohol your are more relaxed, honed, and effective.  Too much alcohol and you just start to look like a fucking mess.

After the runes were translated, the sport of Beer Pong began to shape all across this fair country.  With each new region came a new variation on the rules, eventually resulting in one essential law.  House Rules.  If house rules say that you lose a cup if you miss the table, you suck it up and take it like a man.  If house rules say that knocked over beer cups count as sunk beer cups, then get your drunk asshole teammate with the billowy coat AWAY FROM THE FRONTLINE.  Since the transcribing of ancient runes is more of an interpretation than an actual translation, many rules have varied.  Below are a list of the rules, and their origin.

–          NBA Jam Rules

o   Some houses play NBA Jam Rules, based off the classic Arcade Basketball game, NBA Jam, in which a player who has made three shots in a row becomes “On Fire” and far more accurate and unstoppable.  There was an amended section of Sumerian Runes that highlight this rule, after they claim that a man dressed in strange garments appeared in a giant beast made of an impenetrable, cold grey material.  As the side of the beast cracked and rose into the air, the strange man stepped out, saying, “You can just call me Mike Fox, if you want.”  He then handed them a Game Gear, with a cartridge of NBA Jam inside, and like, just a shit-ton of batteries, because Game Gears go through double A’s like JFK went through condoms.  As the Sumerians learned how to play that shit, developing an affinity for Scott Skiles, they decided to add the NBA Jam Rule to Beer Pong.  In Beer pong, if a player makes three of his shots in a row, they are “on fire” and are given the ball to keep shooting until they miss.  Certain regions do not recognize this rule as canonical, since these rules were not technically part of the original scroll, and some believe it was established several hundred years after the invention of Beer Pong.

–          “Gentlemen mete out pleasure through the use of their phalanges, whilst fair maidens prefer to enhance sensation through fellatio”

Aww, come on, photoshop guy

o   This rule, sometimes crudely translated as, “Dudes finger, bitches blow,” was described in the runes as an optional rule for defensive purposes.  On occasional shots, the ping pong ball will roll around the lip of the cup.  For those who choose to decline the option of this defensive rule, this ball invariably will sink into the beer after its centrifugal force is diminished.  However, two defensive measures are allowed, based on gender, if this rule is valid.  Women can blow into the cup- the resulting air would reach the beer and be reflected upwards, generally lifting the ball out of the cup.  This is largely considered the most effective way to defend this type of shot.  However, the Sumerians were a masculine dominated society, so as a result men were forced to attempt defense with a more difficult and less successful method, known as “fingering.”  The player dips his finger into the cup, ensuring he does not touch the beer, and must attempt to flick the ball out before it reaches the beer of the cup.  Skilled players are able to master this method.  This is the method that males playing the game currently employ, but because we live in a land of gender equality, women are allowed to finger, just so long as they are willing to suffer through half-formed entendres from their drunken male teammate.

–          Variations on Racking Rules (heh, rack)


o   It is widely established that you are allowed to twice re-arrange your cups over the course of a beer pong match of 10 cups, that section being mysteriously written in both Sumerian and English in the ancient scrolls.  If you are at a party and the host insists that only one re-rack, or even no re-racks, are allowed over the course of the game, you should leave that house immediately because they are likely Russian spies, and the KGB’s translation of the texts in the 1980’s was notoriously faulty.  We live in America, and Beer Pong happens to be our national sport (sorry Baseball).  That means that, as Amrrricans, we have freedom.  And that freedom includes the freedom to use our re-racks whenever the shit we want to.  This is considered the American variation of the racking rule.  Sumer was a brutal civilization, and in that, they had brutal laws, harshly regulating when re-racks could be used.  These rules say that you must only re-rack when 6 cups and 3 cups remain, respectively.  Purists follow this rule (some only partially, by declaring re-racks are only allowed when 6 cups or less are remaining), but we at the America Fun Fact of the Day offices respectfully disagree.  If we want to rack nine cups into looking like that symbol that Prince changed his name to, we should get that, and it better be a pretty faithful representation, dammit.  Don’t tread on me!

–          Two Balls, One Cup


o   Yeah, we know, “what, is that like, the gay porn version of Two Girls, One Cup?”  You got that out of your system?  Okay, good then.  In a particular section that was damaged by time, the phenomenon of two teammates sinking their balls into the same cup in a turn, before the opposing team has a chance to remove the cup, is described.  Some of our greatest minds have spent the last 15 years attempting to decipher what the rules dictate would happen.  They could have been curing cancer, but this is sort of an important rule.  It is widely regarded to be an “end game” shot, winning the game for the shooting team.  Others feel it is merely a penalty, involving three cups to be removed, while the shooting team earns a bring-back.  For this reason, this rule remains largely subjective, though it is the leading cause of both Beer Pong naked runs (where a team fails to sink four cups before being defeated, and are thus forced to run, in the nude, for shame, and for America) and drunken Beer-Pong-related fights.

–          The Side Cup


o   The Side Cup is a more recent phenomenon, since beer has become more alcoholic since the invention of the game (in Sumer, the first beer was closer to 2% alcohol per volume, while most beers used in beer pong range from 3.5-5.5%).  Additionally, in Sumer, only the finest athletes were chosen to participate in Beer Pong, and they would chug their full stone mugs of beer after each sunk shot.  As hosts have become more lenient, the notion of a Side Cup has appeared, where a player can pour the beer he or she (layyyyydies) must drink into a separate cup, and drink it throughout the course of the competition.  Some strict societies ban the Side Cup, but most casual players allow it.  As a result, new rules have had to be made for it, including an amendment to the Two Balls, One Cup rule, which states that if a player sinks a ball in the opponent’s Side Cup, the game is over.  This is a high degree difficulty shot, but it’s also a deterrent for those of you who want to nurse our beers gingerly like some fucking Frenchmen or something.

–           Overtime


o   Because Beer Pong is meant to be entertaining and suspenseful as well as an efficient way to get people smashed, there are various methods used for “overtime” in the instance that a team, after seeing their last cup sunk, manages to force overtime by sinking the remainder of their cups in a do-or-die scenario.  Overtime rules were never in the original forms of Beer Pong.  Sumerians ended the game once the last cup of a team was sunk, with the losing team getting one “rebuttal” shot.  If the players made the shot, their lives would be spared.  America, having gotten most of its “organized killing of people just for shits and giggles” pretty much out of their system by the 19th century, altered these rules to make an overtime period instead.  Each player gets a single ball, and gets to shoot until they miss.  Some rules dictate that if the final cup was sunk by the first shot for the team, that team can either forgo their second shot, leaving only one rebuttal shot, or may attempt to shoot the second one- if both shots are sunk the final cup, then the game is over, and if the second shot misses, the opposing team gets two rebuttal shots.  Overtime itself can range from one cup filled with beer to three cups in a triangle with one beer split between these cups.

America has embraced Beer Pong, and made it our own.  There are professional tournaments of Beer Pong, with the winning team getting $20,000 as a prize (AFFotD suspects that these tournaments were originated in Canada, since water is used instead of beer, which defeats the purpose of playing Beer Pong, which is meant as a test of skill and tolerance- if you go deep in a real Beer Pong tournament, you had better have incredible aim while drunk, or be able to drink a shitload of beer without getting too wasted).

Of course, there’s always the age old question of what you should drink in beer pong games.  But that’s something you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

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One response to “The History of Beer Pong, Part Two: The Rules

  1. Pingback: America Fun Fact of the Day 3/10- Beer Pong, Part Three: The Drinks | affotd

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