Last night Roy Halladay looked like a man in need of a beer. Right after they pumped about six IV bags into him, I would have prescribed a Bud Light. In honor of that, I thought it would be a good time to discuss drinking games. I don’t really drink enough to play drinking games anymore, but in my head I would still be awesome at all of them. Bouncing a quarter into glassware is like riding a bike. Maybe I’ll rank at the end, but first, let’s just discuss.
I’d break all drinking games into the following categories: Cards/Quarters/Balls&Cups/Chugging.
Chugging is the laziest, but perhaps the most honest of all categories. All drinking games to some degree are designed to get people drunk, but these games don’t make any apologies. There’s very little fanfare here. Very little equipment or accessories needed. I’m talking about Boat Race, or Power Hour, Case Race…things of that nature. I did a few power hours in my day. The most memorable was played with Beast Ice. I arrived 10 minutes late, chugged a 16 oz can to “catch up,” and then finished the game. After the hour, I announced I was “fine,” got up from the table, wobbled, and then had to sit in the corner to “gather myself,” for about an hour. Good times.
There are probably hundreds of drinking games played with cards. The card scene I feel like is constantly changing. I bet the young kids out there are doing things I’ve never hear of. For me, you really only need to know how to play 3 drinking games with cards. They serve every occasion. You want to get drunk in a hurry? Play Gauntlet. Six cards on the table and the other person has to play high/low and run the board. Drink if you miss and start over. Brutal simplicity. Then, there’s Circle of Death (Kings). It’s kind of complicated, but very participatory. I think it’s the best game for mixed company or a large crowd. And, of course, the grandfather of all card games is A-hole. As you might remember I spent my pathetic formative years playing A-hole without even knowing it. I prefer A-hole among close friends and played at a leisurely pace. If you want to be militant and wasted, play something else. Also, it’s the rare drinking card game that you can actually argue takes some skill rather than just blind luck of the draw and a willingness to make a donkey out of yourself.
I think there’s a point in everyone’s life where they walk into a kitchen, look at the counter, and think to themselves, “that’d be perfect for quarters.” Finding the right surface for quarters is key. Like with the cards, you’ve got hundreds of variations on the same games. The best thing about all quarters games is that they are purely games of skill. There is no luck in bouncing a quarter. Let’s be clear about that. Classic quarters games include, Anchor Man, Baseball, and Speed Quarters. I think Speed Quarters is probably my favorite, because you can gang up on one person at the table. There’s something incredibly satisfying about stacking someone in speed quarters. The worst thing about quarters is, if you are really good…you hardly ever drink. Bring a social.
Balls & Cups:
This category is essentially made up of Beirut, Beer Pong and Flip Cup. Beirut you throw ping-pong balls into a pyramid cup formation (rules from there vary greatly). My stock Beirut rules are: 2 balls, hit them both get them back, rearrange the cups, no blowing, no picking, elbow rule, bouncing is embarrassing but allowed, and there’s always a retaliation shot. In terms of actual Beer Pong, played with paddles–not my style. Maybe I like playing straight-up ping-pong too much. It’d be like playing drunk knockout or something, some games should be left alone. Flip Cup is the other granddaddy. From my experience you usually either went to a Flip Cup college or a Beirut college. Flip Cup is much easier to set up, not quite as disgusting, faster, and still requires some skill. I didn’t go to a Flip Cup college, so I usually dismiss it, but I understand the appeal of Flip Cup. It’s kind of like understanding why Europeans like soccer. It’s just not necessarily for me.
- Beirut. Despite its many limitations and massive equipment/space demands there is still nothing as satisfying for me in terms of level of competition and intoxication as a nice, well run, Beirut Tournament.
- Speed Quarters
- Flip Cup
- The Gauntlet
I know this was a very cursory explanation, so I’d love to hear about games I’ve missed, rules I’ve butchered, or just a few classic drinking game stories. One last note on drinking games: Every single person thinks they are the best at one game and “knows someone” who is the best at another. The first one is simple enough. I think I am the best at Beirut. You might be a Flip Cup person, whatever. But, no one walks around thinking they are awful at all drinking games. And, for the other category, it’s more of a one-upping. If someone brags about a game that you can’t dominate, you’ll go to the “friend story.” Say you’re getting hammered at quarters. The natural response is to say something like, “I went to college with a kid who could hit a Snapple bottle from across the room.” What you’re really saying there is, while you might be losing this particular game, your circle of friends would still win the drinking game Olympics and that’s really the basis for any college kid’s self-esteem.