Beer Pong Rules

We know there are many variations to this game.  The following rules describe the particular way we will be playing at the Denver Beer Olympics…Each team will have two participants; one girl and one guy.

The DBO Beer Pong Event will be a single elimination tournament.  Teams of two (one guy and one girl) from each team will play in the tournament. Points for this event will be determined by the total cups your team makes during the tournament, as well as place in the tournament.  The final two teams that remain at the end of the tournament will play for First and Second place. Third place will be decided by a Bronze medal game (the two losers of the semi-final round of the tournament).  Regular game play will be played with six (6) 16-oz plastic cups with 4 oz of beer in each. The medal rounds will be played with ten (10) cups.

To determine who throws first (begins as “throwing team”), we will use ‘eye-to-eye’, where the first team to make a cup, while maintaining eye contact with the opponent, gets first shot.  Teams may agree upon another way to determine who throws first (i.e. coin flip, rock-paper-scissors, etc.).  But, this must be agreed upon by the two teams and both verified and approved by the judge.

General Play:

Two balls are thrown by the throwing team across the length of the table in an attempt to make them into the cups of the opposing team (the “drinking team” or “defending team”).  If the throwing team bounces the ball, then the defending team can catch or swat the ball away, once it has bounced. Each team gets one turn; a turn consists of a minimum of two throws; one by each player.  A turn continues until one player misses.  At the end of a team’s round of throws (one by each member), each cup containing a ball, as well as ‘extra score’ cups (see Scoring, below) is drank by the opposing team.  The balls and cups are not to be removed until the throwing team members both throw; a single round of their turn. When a team wins a double or triple drink score (see Scoring below), the drinking team must select another cup (or cups) from the group of game cups, in addition to the cup(s) the ball(s) landed in.  A throwing team’s turn is complete when either thrower misses.  If they both make their throws, their turn continues (aka “Balls Back”).  After a team’s turn is completed, the opposite team’s turn begins (and they become the “throwing team”) – they throw at the opposing team’s cups (now the “defending team”), and the process repeats.

Each team is allowed one “re-rack” per game (two re-racks in medal games), in which the defending team is required to rearrange their cups in a pattern such as a diamond or a smaller triangle, making it easier for the throwing team to make cups.  The shape of a re-rack is designated by the throwing team.  A re-rack cannot be requested ‘mid-turn’; it must be made before the turn begins.

No touching the ball before a bounce. If a player touches the ball before it goes into a cup, hits the table, or contacts a foreign object, the thrower either gets to repeat the shot or the shot will count as one cup (known as a “Penalty Cup”).  This will depend on the DISCRETION OF THE JUDGE.  What goes into a Judge’s decision will be previous warnings and fairness of play.  If a Penalty Cup is awarded, the defending team must remove and drink the cup designated by the Judge.  Also, if the Judge awards a Penalty Cup on a throw where a cup was already made by the throwing team or there was a possibility that the ball would have gone in the same cup as a previous throw, the Judge has discretion whether to award “balls back” and/or “same cup”.  This judgment will be based on fairness of play and the likelihood of the illegally blocked ball going in the same cup.  This is the ONLY judgment call that may be appealed beyond the table judge.

Play continues until one team has no cups remaining and a rebuttal attempt has fallen short (see “Rebuttal”). The object of the game is to make a ball in each of your opponent’s cups.  When making a cup, the defending team must drink the cup(s) before they shoot.


  • A thrown ball that lands in a cup is worth one cup.
  • A bounced ball that lands in a cup is worth two cups.
  • If a thrown ball lands in the same cup as another thrown ball, that throw is worth 2 cups. This is in addition to the previously thrown ball.  This will result in 3 cups total for the two throws.
  • If a bounced ball lands in the same cup as a thrown ball, that bounced ball is worth 3 cups.  This is in addition to the previously thrown ball.  This will result in 4 cups total for the two throws.
  • If a thrown ball lands in the same cup as a bounced ball, that thrown ball is worth 2 cups.  This is in addition to the previously bounced ball.  This will result in 4 cups total for the two throws.
  • If a bounced ball lands in the same cup as a previously bounced ball, then that bounced ball is worth 3 cups.  This is in addition to the previously bounced ball.  This will result in 5 cups total for the two throws (2 cups for the first bounced ball and 3 cups for the second bounced ball in the same cup).
  •  Penalty Cups may be awarded if a defending team is deemed to have illegally blocked a thrown ball.  The penalty/warning will be determined solely by the table Judge.  *Only decisions awarding Penalty Cups which also result in “balls back” or “same cup” points will be allowed to be appealed (see Appeals).  *** No more than FIVE (5) cups may be earned and awarded by penalty in a single round of a given turn.
  • Knocked down cups: A cup that is knocked down by defending team will count as one cup.  A cup that is knocked down by a thrown ball will also count as one cup.  A cup that is knocked down by a bounced ball will count as two cups.  In any case, the knocked down cup is removed and not available for “same cup” tries, if applicable.

The same team continues throwing 2 balls per round until there is a miss and their turn is over.  (Each round in a turn will give the two players one shot each, if they both make it, they get the ‘balls back’ until they have a round in which either player misses)

Scoring Breakdown: A ball-in-cup is worth one cup.  A bounced ball earns an additional (or bonus) cup.  A “same-cup” ball (only available to the second thrower) is also worth an additional cup.  The max cups a first thrower can earn is two cups (a bounced ball).  The max cups a second thrower can earn is three cups (a bounced ball INTO a same cup).  Therefore, the max cups available to earn, for a single “round” in a turn is five.


Immediately following the turn which leaves one team with no cups (what would otherwise be the end of the game), the defending team has an opportunity turn known as a ‘rebuttal’.  Exception: No rebuttals in ‘time limit’ games.  Each player of the rebuttal team gets a shot and may continue shooting until he or she misses, as an individual.  Shots for the rebuttal should alternate between the players on the rebuttal team just as they have in regulation play, unless a player has missed; then the remaining player shoots each round (one shot) alone until he or she also misses.  In the event that a rebuttal try successfully clears the remaining cups before the second player throws, the second player must still attempt a throw to determine which team throws first in overtime.  If rebuttal shots are made in all remaining cups, then a 3-cup shoot-out is played to determine the winner.  This is known as “Overtime” or the “Rebuttal Game”.  The Rebuttal Game is played with the same rules as above, with the exceptions noted below.

Overtime or “Rebuttal Game”

The game judge will notify the head judge if/when an overtime period is to be played.  Each team begins with three (3) cups.  Overtime does NOT begin with “rock-paper-scissors”; rather the turns continue from regulation – the first team to have made their cups in regulation play would normally begin overtime, since it would now be their turn.  If the rebuttal team both made cups in the successful rebuttal try, without missing, they would begin overtime, as it would be considered “balls back” and still their turn.  In the first and second overtime, a rebuttal attempt is ONLY allowed if there is one cup remaining for the would-be rebuttal team.  If there are two or more cups remaining when the other team makes their last shot, the game is over.    In the THIRD overtime period, there is NO REBUTTAL attempt allowed.  The first team to make all the cups wins. Exception: If the Gold Medal game goes to overtime, both teams must be allowed a rebuttal turn, regardless of cups left or number of overtime instance.

If cup differential is calculated, the number of cups won/lost by in Overtime is “1”, no matter how many are left in OT.

Time Limit

In the very rare case where a game lasts 30 minutes (most are done under 10 min), a time limit must be enforced.  At the 28-minute mark, the judge will issue a 2 minute warning.  After 30 minutes has passed AND both teams have had an equal number of turns (must end with the team that went second at the beginning), the winner will be the team with the fewest number of cups left.  If there are an equal number of cups left, the game continues until one team has less than the other.  Both teams still must have an equal number of turns, even if the game is tied after 30 minutes.  There are no rebuttals in games that have reached the time limit.  For the Bronze Medal game, there will be a 45-minute time limit.  The Gold Medal game will have no time limit.


Appeals can ONLY be made for one of two reasons: Rules Interpretation and Penalty Cups awarded over one cup.

If a rule is in question or the interpretation is in question, a team has the right to appeal beyond the table judge and ask that they get an opinion as to what the rule means.  A ‘judgment’ call CANNOT be appealed, with the lone exception of a “Penalty Award, greater than one cup”.

Penalty Awards Greater Than One Cup – If a Judge awards more than a single cup for an illegally blocked ball, that award may be subject to appeal.  A team may ask that an official, other than the table judge, be asked about the fairness and/or severity of the award for a given penalty.  The award of the original penalty cup may not be overturned – only the award(s) beyond a single cup are subject to appeal.

The appeal only guarantees that at least one other official be included in deciding on a ruling.  The officials will come to a decision based on whatever information they agree upon and may or may not ask for player input.


Thrown Ball – A ball that is lobbed through the air that does not touch the table.  It is considered a thrown ball even if the ball hits a foreign object (other than the table).

Bounced Ball – A ball that is a ball tossed by the throwing team and at any point hits the table before the intended cup.  It is NOT deemed to be a ‘bounced ball’ if the ball does not hit the table – i.e. Bouncing off of a foreign object ALONE does not make it a bounced ball.  A bounced ball is worth 2 cups.  The cup it lands in is taken out and drank; the second cup is selected by the drinking team, also to be removed and drank.

Same Cup – A ball that is tossed by the throwing team, which lands in the same cup as a partner’s previously thrown ball.  A same-cup throw is worth 2 cups.  The cup it lands in is taken out and drank (as per the scoring for the first thrown ball); a second AND third cup are then selected by the defending/drinking team to be removed and drank (two additional cups, as per the scoring for the same cup thrown ball).

Blocked Ball (legal) – A defending team may legally block a bounced ball or any ball that comes in contact with the table AND/OR a foreign object, before it enters a cup.  Foreign objects include, but are not limited to: Cups, pitchers, items on the table, the inadvertent contact outside the throwing path made by a defending player.

Illegally Blocked Ball (illegal) – A defending team will be determined to have illegally blocked a THROWN ball that comes into contact with a player of the defending team and the ball has NOT previously come in contact with a foreign object AND is in the normal thrown path of the thrower.  This does not have to be intentional – an illegally blocked ball may be inadvertent.  The penalty/warning will be determined solely by the table Judge.  *Only decisions awarding Penalty Cups which also result in “balls back” or “same cup” points will be allowed to be appealed.   This definition shall include any intended impediment of a thrown ball that does not previously come in contact with the table or foreign object and is in the vicinity of the defending team’s cups.

Penalty Award / Penalty Cups – If a team is deemed to have illegally blocked a thrown ball, the Judge may award a ‘cup’ or ‘cups’ to the throwing team based on his or her judgment.  This can be an award of ANY of the scoring scenarios listed in the “Scoring” section of the rules, based on the cup at issue and the previous (or subsequent) throw.  Penalty Cups awarded which give balls back (continue the throwing team’s turn) or give additional cups (i.e. “same cup”) will be allowed to be appealed beyond the table judge.

Throwing Team – The team that is throwing the balls to the other end of the table, where their thrown or bounced ball may cause the defending team to drink cups.

Defending Team (or “Drinking Team”) – The team on the other end of the table, which must ‘drink’ cups that are designated based on Scoring (stated above).  They may also ‘defend’ any bounced ball that is attempted.

Rebuttal Team – When a throwing team makes all the cups of a defending team, the defending team now becomes the “rebuttal team” and has a chance to bring the game into overtime.

Regulation or “Regular Game Play” – Standard game, as described above; before overtime (or “rebuttal game”).  Will be played with six (6) 16-oz plastic cups with 4 oz of beer in each (10 cups in medal games).

Overtime or “Rebuttal Game” – In the event that a rebuttal team makes all the remaining cups, the game will go into overtime (or a “rebuttal game” is played).

Medal Rounds – the games played to determine 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place.  Games in the single-elimination tournament, where there are only 4 teams left.  They will be played with ten (10) cups.

Table – The main playing surface of the game; an elevated, 8ft long, flat board or table that can be used for Beer Pong.  Includes, but is not limited to: The table surface, items or hardware permanently affixed to the table, such as hinges, latches, or other hardware.  “Table” does not include loose items, which are not affixed to the table structure.  Also, the term “Table” does not include the table number, if not permanently affixed to the table.

Foreign Object – As it relates to a ball allowed or not allowed to be blocked: Foreign objects include, but are not limited to: Cups, pitchers, the table, the inadvertent contact made by a defending player outside the throwing path.  If a ball comes into contact with a defending player outside the throwing path, that contact is deemed to be contact made with a foreign object (e.g. If a thrown ball misses and hits a defending player in the chest, the defending team may then block (or “swat”) that ball to avoid it going into a cup).

‘Eye-to-eye’ – To determine who goes first, we will use ‘eye-to-eye’, where the first team to make a cup while maintaining eye contact with the opponent gets first shot.

Turn – a turn is the throwing opportunity for both players on the ‘throwing team’.  Each players gets a throw to begin their “turn”.  If they both make a cup in that round of their “turn”, their “turn” continues until one player misses (see “Balls Back”).

Round – a round consists of two throws, one by each player of the throwing team.  If the throwing team is awarded “balls back” / their turn continues, they throw again in a second ’round’ of their turn.  Cups may be removed (and must be drank) after each round of a team’s turn.

Balls Back – If both players make a cup during their turn, they get to throw again, extending their turn, until one of them misses.

Rebuttal – After one team makes the final cup, left for the other team to drink, that team gets a chance to continue the game in overtime.  Each player of the rebuttal team (defending team of the previously made “final cup”), gets to shoot a rebuttal shot.  Each player of the rebuttal team shoots until he or she misses.  If rebuttal shots leave the other team with no cups as well, then a 3-cup shoot-out is played (“Overtime or a “Rebuttal Game”) to determine the winner.



Disallowed in DBO Beer Pong

No “fingering” or “blowing” (where a spinning or ‘not set’ ball is wavering in the cup, but not settled and a defending player either uses his or her ‘finger’ or ‘blows’ it to get it out before it settles)

No “heatin’ up” or “three-in-a-row” rule (if on three consecutive tries, an individual player makes a cup and on his/her second consecutive cup, he or she mention words similar to “I’m heatin’ up!”, after the third shot, he or she would be allowed to continue shooting until they miss)

No “gentlemen’s throw” or “around-the-back” on a bounce-back (on a thrown/bounced ball that happens to come back to the thrown side of the table without reaching the ground; the throwing team member that retrieves such a ball would be given a chance to throw again, but this time it would be thrown ‘behind their back’)