You'd be hard pressed to find a flat that hasn't been witness to a fight over the rules of beer pong. Can you block a bounce shot? What happens when you hit the bitch cup? And what the fuck is a frozen chicken? Critic Te Ārohi asked (almost 50 questions), and 282 of you delivered. That’s 40 more than our July census. Here is a definitive handbook of Dunedin’s beer pong rules.
What we can agree on
Most of us could agree on a decent chunk of the rules.
Let’s start with basic game structure and etiquette. 89.3% of us agree that snake eyes decides who begins the first game on the table. For the following games, that can be split into 70% who think that they should continue to begin with snake eyes, while the other 19.3% think the previous winner should start in some kind of meritocracy, I guess. Someone from “Castle fukyo street” boldly asserted that the last team to complete a buttchug starts, increasing my fear of ever attending a host there again.
There seemed to be no point in even asking about whether you play elbows. If the bellows of “ELBOWS” that can be heard walking through any student street at night weren’t enough of a hint, 95.7% confirmed its position in Dunedin’s handbook of rules. Where it gets interesting is what the penalty is for this offence. The majority (58.6%) said that it simply doesn’t count if a cup is sunk whilst someone is in violation of elbows, with the next biggest chunk of people (18.7%) simply calling for “shame”. The more radical among us responded with “screaming ensues” and “killing yourself” - this coming from the same person who lobbied for the game to begin by “crushing my cock with a rock” and who lives on “Bagina” Street, mind you.
A resounding 85.1% think that it’s chill to fill cups with water, but 66.2% said only with the caveat that they’re taking sips of their own drinks when cups are sunk. It is a drinking game, after all, and as one respondent pointed out, “Anyone who drinks out of the cups are fucking disgusting, I’ve seen cups mouldier than a 3rd years shower wall. Drink out of vessels, water in cups. EW”. Preach.
Regardless of the vessel - pong cup or otherwise - 77.9% said that it is compulsory to drink after a cup is sunk. In the comments, one person introduced a ‘fingers up’ rule where gameplay pauses if a player’s finger is up so that they can finish their drink. Kind of just like a formal way of stopping and staring at your mate to make sure they finish their drink.
Something else we could largely agree on was the etiquette around spilled cups during the game. Beer pong isn’t the most structurally sound game: it’s played by drunk people, spectated by even drunker people, with light and flimsy plastic cups (especially if they’re filled by stingy players), on wobbly tables. Cups inevitably get spilled. When a player knocks over one of their own cups, it counts for the other team (68.6%), and it’s just refilled and put back into the game if it’s knocked over by outside interference (93.2%). There were a lot of calls for table suck for any instance of a spilled drink, which goes without saying.
It came as no surprise that most of us play island (82.1%). 67.3% of you think that “island” can be called once per player during a game, outweighing the 15.1% who think that it should only be called once per team. Based on this, it makes sense that around the same proportion (69.1%) agree that if one player on a team calls “island”, their partner during the same turn isn’t obliged to also shoot for the island. Over half (57.6%) say that when “island” is called, the lone cup must be named after a specific island such as Long Island or Waiheke. I’m guessing that the rest of y’all are the kinds of people who’ve had the same Subway order since their first sandwich.
Rearrange was perhaps the most straightforward section of the survey. 92.1% of you informed me that changing the order of cups is called a “rearrange”, not a “re-rack” as I’d picked up from combing endless (probably American) blogs for every possible rule under the sun. A rearrange can be called once per team during a game (94.3%), but at any point during the game you can ask the other team to fix the alignment of the cups (90.7%). We briefly considered including questions about the names of different formations cups can be rearranged into (like ‘Olympic rings’) but with the 30 or more possible formations, that was a whole other can of worms. Some dude already told us the survey was “long as fuck” anyway.
85.6% of us play bounce shots, and 78.9% voted that they’re able to be blocked. No question there. But we were fairly evenly split on where the ball can be bounced off, with those arguing for the ball to be able to be bounced off any surface at all winning by 15.2%. I’m a little bitter about this one after someone tried to bounce a shot off my forehead at a party last weekend, but democracy has spoken. Just over half voted that a bounce shot counts as two cups, but 43.2% said that it shouldn’t count as two if there are only two cups left.
Unsurprisingly, almost all of us play celebrity shots (88.8%) allowing a spectator to sub in for a player. I’m honestly shocked that number wasn’t higher. Celeb shots are a prime opportunity to shut up that mate on the sidelines who thinks they have a massive cock (the beer pong version of a backseat driver) or for you to “go to the bathroom” and never come back if the game’s dragging on. With the obvious perks that come with the rule, 55.3% of you voted that it can be called anytime during the game.
Trick shots are similar to rearranges when it comes to the amount of questions we were willing to subject you to. There was talk of defining any and every trick shot possible, but part of the beauty of trick shots is the creativity it brings out in us (just please don’t bounce it off my forehead). By a very slim margin, 52% voted that anyone can retrieve the ball for a trick shot after a ball is thrown and misses a cup - so either of the players on the team who threw, or a nice spectator who gets it for them. This can be retrieved from anywhere (78.2%). Even though most of us play that you can bounce shots, 57.7% of you voted that you can’t block a trick shot even if it bounces off a surface first.
There was no contest over whether people play redemption (97.1%). Nor was there any over when you can call redemption, being any time you’ve just lost to the other team (95.1%), if a team is allowed to call for rearrange during redemption (no: 81.7%), or what happens if the team that’s called redemption hits a cup: no cups are taken out, and the game resumes as it was (79.4%). Clean sweep.
Here’s where it gets more interesting.
We asked you what happens when a ball is spinning inside a cup; on its way to being sunk, but there’s still time before it hits the liquid. There are two possible things you can do to interfere, which 91.8% of you said was okay: blow it out, or pluck it out with a finger. The ruling 58.1% say that this should be by blowing. The second largest proportion (16.5%) said “guys finger, girls blow” (one respondent to this said “don’t be sexist you idiots”), with a similar amount of respondents (15.8%) voting that anyone can either finger or blow. It’s 2023, Critic reckons you can do whatever you like so long as the cup is cool with it.
In an incredible statistical phenomenon, the second variation of the graveyard rule received an exact 50:50 split across the 268 votes. This version of the graveyard rule was that any sunk cup goes to the side of the table in what is called the “graveyard”, and any shot that lands in one of those cups means that spectators drink. I learned in primary school to round up from 0.5, so we’ve made the executive decision to include this in our rules.
53.7% of us play with the bitch cup, a cup that has some kind of punishment if it's the first hit by a team. Asked exactly which cup is the bitch cup, one person said, “Go fuck yourself”. Maybe they were tired after answering around 40 painstaking questions about a drinking game. The more cooperative among you voted that the middle cup is the bitch cup (51.5%), but this depends on the amount of cups you’re playing with which we’d honestly completely forgotten to even factor in until someone pointed it out. If you’re only playing with six cups, there will be no middle cup meaning that the front cup by default is the bitch cup. If you’re playing with ten cups, then the middle cup is the bitch cup.
One postgrad plays the “bitch cup sisters” for a ten-cup game that we’d never heard of but it sounds fun. With this rule, tops come off if the front cup is hit first, and bottoms off for the middle cup, with the exception that people can choose to just shoot from their knees if they’re uncomfortable with stripping until they sink a non-bitch cup. With the bitch cup sisters, they can stack, meaning if a team hits one after the other they can end up just standing there in their underwear until a non-bitch cup is hit.
Out of those of you who play bitch cup, 69.3% voted that the penalty is playing with your pants down until you sink another cup, regardless of whether you’re a girl or a boy. In all the games I’ve seen, though, no one will force a girl to take her pants off if she’s uncomfortable with it. A lot of commenters agreed with this, with the different options including some variation of clothing being removed, but no one is forcing you to (“Pants down if comfortable with it but it’s not enforced”). “Eternal shame” was also suggested, which I don’t disagree with.
On whether it counts if the bitch cup is hit because of the opposition’s blocking (so this would only happen if it was a bounce shot), there was a 0.3% margin between “yes” and “no” votes out of bitch cup players. Yes won and made it to the handbook, but it was close.
End of game rules
Traditionally, end of game rules incur the harshest punishment in beer pong. The largest proportion of you (36%) play that any player at the end of the game who hasn’t sunk a ball the entire game, regardless of whether they are on the winning team, gets punished. Not an insignificant proportion (34.7%) voted that they should only apply for the losing team.
Around two thirds of those who play end of game penalties voted for naked run (one of the voters for naked run said “but sometimes we get zesty and make them do other shit”). So, technically that is the definitive penalty, but at that point in the game everyone’s pissed, the rule book goes out the window, and no one is forcing anyone to get naked if they’re absolutely uncomfortable with it.
Among your other options are the troll or frozen chicken (13.6%). 8.4% voted for troll (sit under the table for the duration of the next game). The Dunedin version of troll that popped up enough times in the “other” comments to take note of was the frozen chicken, which is basically the same thing but the person is naked, which made up 5.2% of the vote - more than undie run votes. 4.8% voted for undie run, the naked run’s younger cousin. A lacklustre 4.4% voted for some form of drink punishment: funnel 0.8%, finish vessel 2.4%, or finish the drinks on the table 1.2%.
The survey had a nice spread (almost as nice as your mum’s, ha) of representation across different year levels of students. The most votes came from the year groups who probably play the most beer pong: 28.9% were second-years, and 26.8% were third-years. The next biggest were postgrad students (20%) and fourth-years (17.1%), the veterans of the lot.
Going through the results, I regretted not including set options for the streets respondents live on. With 28.9% being second-years, the largest proportion compared to other year groups, it seemed worthwhile to manually comb through the 269 responses to see which streets were best represented. Out of the most reoccurring street names, Leith Street took up the greatest proportion with 12.1% of respondents. Then came Queen Street with 7.8%, followed by Dundas at 7.1%. Castle lagged a little in terms of representation, with the mere 14 voters making up 5% of the pool, adding to the piling evidence that Leith might be on the takeover as Dunedin’s prime party street.
Rules we missed
Despite there being two variations of the graveyard rule in the survey, it seems we missed one! The third, lesser-known version is that if a shot lands in a graveyard cup, the shooters must then buttchug. Tempting, but I’ll be leaving this graveyard rule in the graveyard of rules. You and the only other person who suggested a buttchug rule should hang out sometime.
“When playing snake eyes, if the balls touch in mid air then the two players who threw the balls have a little smooch (cheek acceptable)”. Nice.
This one is fun: “Trivia: cause we a bunch of nerds if a spectator picks up the ball before the players (usually when they’re scramming for a trick shot ) the spectator can either give the ball to which ever team they please or they can ask a question and the 1st team to answer correctly gets the ball.”
Critic Te Ārohi Beerpong Handbook:
1.1 Cups: Either 12 or 20 cups (preferably plastic), depending on whether you are playing a 6-cup or 10-cup formation.
1.2 Table: Any table will do. Stickier the better to keep the cups in place.
1.3 Balls: 2 ping pong balls (preferably undented). If you can’t find any, try looking under your fridge or between couch cushions.
2. Players & Teams
2.1 A team consists of two players.
2.2 A player can only play for one team. No swinging.
3.1 A team can choose what liquid to put in their cups, with the caveat that should it not be alcoholic they must be taking sips of an alcoholic beverage when a cup is sunk by the other team (66.4%).
4. Starting Game & Etiquette
4.1 To decide which team starts, one player from each team must maintain eye contact with the other and shoot for a cup on the opposition's side of the table, known as “snake eyes”. If neither sinks a cup, their partners repeat. This continues until someone sinks a cup. The cup remains in the game, and the team of the player who sank it receives both balls to begin the game.
4.1.1 Snake eyes determine the starting team for every game, regardless of whether there was a game previously played on the table (70%).
4.2 The elbow of a player must not extend over the table on their side whilst shooting (95.7%).
4.2.1 Any player or spectator may call “elbows” if a player is in violation of rule 4.2. If a cup is sunk by a player in violation of “elbows”, it does not count and the cup remains in the game (58.5%).
4.3 The contents of any sunk cup, or equivalent from a personal vessel, must immediately be drunk by a player on the opposing team (77.9%).
4.4 If a team knocks over one of their own cups at any point during the game, that cup is taken out of the game, counting for the other team (68.8%).
4.5 If at any point during the game a cup is knocked over by outside interference, it is refilled and put back in the game (93.1%).
4.6 If at any point during the game a ball is spinning within a cup, a player on the team whose side it is on may attempt to blow it out (58.3%).
4.6.1 Fingering a spinning ball is not allowed.
5. Cup Formations
5.1 Each team may call for a “rearrange” once during the game (94.3%), where the cups on the opposition’s side are rearranged into a formation of their choosing.
5.1.1 A rearrange may be called even if there are just two cups left.
5.1.2 A “gentleman’s I” may not be called in addition to a rearrange (71.7%).
5.2 At any point during the game, a team may request for the opposition to “fix” the alignment of their cups (90.6%) to the correct formation.
6. End of game penalties (63.7%)
6.1 Penalties apply if any player at the end of the game has not sunk any balls, regardless of whether they were on the winning team or not (36%).
6.1.1 Sinking a redemption shot counts as a shot, meaning if a player only sunk a redemption shot the entire game, end of game penalties do not apply (77.4%).
6.2 The official end of game rule is a naked run (63.1%), whereby a player must strip naked and run a distance acceptable to the players and spectators of the game.
7. Types of shots
7.1 If both players on a team each sinks a cup, they get their balls back for another turn (90.3%).
7.2 Rim bounce: If a ball hits the rim of other cups before landing in a cup, those cups are all removed in addition to the sunk cup (69.1%).
7.3 Grenade/Explosion: If two players hit the same cup, all the cups touching it are also removed from the game (79.4%).
7.4 Graveyard: Any cup that is sunk during the game is put to the side into what is called the “graveyard”. If a shot lands in a graveyard cup, spectators drink (50%).
7.5 Island (82.1%): Each player may call “island” once (67.5%) during the game. They must select a cup that is isolated from the rest of the cups, and if they sink that cup one other cup is also removed from the game.
7.5.1 To call “island”, the player must name an island (e.g., Easter Island) (57.6%). No repeats.
7.6 Bounce shots (85.6%)
7.6.1 A shot may be bounced off any surface (57.5%) and will count as two cups if sunk (54.3%).
7.6.2 A bounce shot only counts as one cup if there are only two cups left on that side (43.4%).
7.6.3 If a bounce shot is taken, the opposing team may attempt to block the shot (79.2%).
7.7 Celeb shots (88.8%)
7.7.1 At any point during the game (55.2%) a team may call for a “celebrity shot” where a spectator takes the turn of a player.
7.8 Trick shot
7.8.1 If a shot misses, the ball can be retrieved from anywhere (78.1%) by either the shooter’s team or a spectator (51.9%) for a trick shot.
7.8.2 What counts as a trick shot is determined by the players and spectators of the game.
7.8.3 A trick shot may not be blocked by the opposing team, unless it is a table-based bounce shot per rule 7.6.3 (57.6%).
7.9 Bitch cup (53.7%)
7.9.1 The bitch cup is either the middle cup if playing with a ten-cup formation or the front cup if playing with a six-cup formation.
7.9.2 If the first cup a player sinks is the bitch cup, they must play with their pants down until they sink another cup (regardless of gender) (69.3%). Worth noting that a big proportion of comments for this rule emphasised that it only applied if players were comfortable with it. Consent is key, kings and queens.
7.9.3 Bitch cup counts if the cup is sunk due to swatting from the opposition (50.3%) (swatting is only allowed for a bounce shot per rule 7.6.3).
8. Redemption (97.1%)
8.1 After a team sinks their final cup, the opposing team is able to call for “redemption” (95.1%) where both players attempt to sink a cup. If the opposing team sinks a cup, both cups sunk on each side remain in the game (79.4%).
8.2 You are not allowed to call for a rearrange during redemption (81.7%).
These were fairly straightforward. Inside the booklet, we’ve included those that received majority “yes” votes. Here are the ones you voted against (% are yes votes):
Death Cup: Two players on a team hit the same cup and immediately win the game (5.4%)
On Fire: After a player two cups in a row, they can call “heating up”. If they make a third shot they can announce they’re "on fire" and shoot until they miss (8.3%)
Graveyard (var 1): Sunk cups go to the side in the “graveyard”. Any shot that lands in a graveyard cup go back into the game (5.1%)
Ring of Fire: If the three corner cups and the centre cup are knocked out forming a circle of connected cups, the team immediately wins (1.8%)
Air Ball: Remove a cup from your own side if you completely miss the table (3.3%)
Triangle: If there are only three cups remaining and they are not touching each other, they must stay that way without an island or re-rack call allowed (7.2%)
Sniper: Catch an opponent shot as it bounces off the rim of a cup and in the same motion throw it at your opponent’s head. The opponent may catch it and counter throw it at your head. The person whose head is hit must drink an extra cup (5.8%)
Catch on the Full: Catch an opponent's shot that didn't hit a cup or the table below the table to remove one of their cups (26.1%).