Beer pong is a popular drinking game played in a variety of locations, but is common at universities and tailgating celebrations. The game is believed to have originated at Dartmouth University in the 1980's, though other universities claim claim ownership of its creation. There are no official rules to beer pong, so local rules are usually agreed upon before the game begins.
The game is played on a long narrow table that is generally 8 by 2 feet (2.44 by .61 meters) and stands approximately 27.5 inches (69.8 centimeters) tall, according to the World Series of beer pong regulations. Beer pong is typically played with two teams, each consisting of two team members. Each team has either 6 or 10 16 ounce (about 471 milliliter) plastic cups, depending on local rules. Each cup is filled with about 4 to 6 ounces (118 to 177 milliliters) of beer. The cups are arranged in a pyramid pattern, with the point of the pyramid facing the opposing team on the opposite end of the table.
The goal of beer pong is to toss a table tennis, or ping pong, ball into the opposing teams cups. When a ball lands inside the cup of the opposing team, a member of the receiving team must drink the beer in that cup. The game ends when one team eliminates all the cups of the opposing team. At the end of a beer pong game, the losing team has consumed all of the beer in their cups, and must also drink the remaining beer in the winning teams cups as well.
The range of localized rules varies greatly between beer pong players, though there are some common rules. It is commonly accepted that a ball bounced in a cup rather than tossed directly in results in a loss of two cups, but the opposing team has the ability to swat, catch, or otherwise deflect a ball that is bounced. In the case of a ball that spins round the rim of a cup, some beer pong games allow players to remove the ball with their fingers before it hits the beer; other rules only allow players to blow the ball out of the cup.
A common trait in many games played around the world is the shut out rule. If a team wins the game without losing any of their cups, the game is considered a shut out and the opposing team has to perform some act, usually humiliating or unpleasant in nature. Common activities include streaking, or sitting underneath the table for the duration of the next game.
As is the case with varying rules, there are often various localized restrictions during a game of beer pong. Requiring the elbow or wrist of the person tossing the ball to be behind the edge of the table is common. This prevents players from leaning across the table so that there is less distance between the cup and the ball at the time it is thrown. Also, players are often prohibited from throwing the ball with extreme force at the opponents cups with the intention of knocking the cup off of the table. In many areas, if a cup is knocked off the table or otherwise spilled, it is removed from play.
When drinking alcohol, the exercise of moderation is important. Due to the fast paced nature of the game, it is possibly to become extremely inebriated. Have fun, play safe, and drink in moderation when playing any drinking game.