Drinking game

Drinking games are games which involve the drinking of beer or other alcoholic beverages. These games commonly take place at house parties, public bars or pubs. Often the objectives are to either simply drink competitively for speed or to win via others becoming too drunk to continue playing. Participants are primarily college students, young adults and high school students. The games are often designed in a way that being inebriated significantly increases their fun factor.


Ancient Greece

According to Dr. Rupert Thompson of the University of Cambridge, the earliest reference to drinking games in Western literature is from Plato's Symposium The Drinking Party. The game was simple: fill a bowl with wine, drink it, slap it, and pass it on to the next person. Kottabos is one of the earliest known drinking games from ancient Greece, dated to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Players would use dregs to hit targets across the room with their wine. Often, there were special prizes and penalties for one's performance in the game.

Ancient China

Drinking games were enjoyed in ancient China, usually incorporating the use of dice or verbal exchange of riddles. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Chinese used a silver canister where written lots could be drawn that designated which player had to drink and specifically how much; for example, from 1, 5, 7, or 10 measures of drink that the youngest player, or the last player to join the game, or the most talkative player, or the host, or the player with the greatest alcohol tolerance, etc. had to drink There were even drinking game referee officials, including a 'registrar of the rules' who knew all the rules to the game, a 'registrar of the horn' who tossed a silver flag down on calling out second offenses, and a 'governor' who decided one's third call of offense. These referees were used mainly for maintaining order (as drinking games back then often became rowdy) and for reviewing faults that could be punished with a player drinking a penalty cup. If a guest was considered a 'coward' for dropping out of the game, he could be branded as a 'deserter' and not invited back to further drinking bouts. There was another game where little puppets and dolls dressed as western foreigners with blue eyes (Iranian peoples) were set up and when one fell over, the person it pointed to had to empty his cup of wine.

Types of games

Endurance games

The simplest drinking games are endurance games in which players compete to out-drink each other. Players take turns taking shots, and the last person standing is the winner. Some games have rules involving the "cascade", "fountain" or "waterfall", which encourages each player to drink constantly from their cup so long as the player before him does not stop drinking. Such games can also favor speed over quantity, in which case players race to drink a beer the fastest.

"Loser buys" games

These are games played where whoever loses must buy the next round of drinks for all other players, such as spoof.

Speed games

Many pub or bar games involve competitive drinking for speed and not necessarily quantity consumed. The object of these games may not be inebriation, but may involve simply "bragging rights" or wagers of cash which benefit the fastest drinker. Examples of drinking games involving speed are boat and case races, Edward Fortyhands, beer bonging, shotgunning and yard.

World records for speed beer drinking

The Guinness Book of Records began to list world records for speed drinking in this category in the early 1960s. These early drinking records involved drinking beer from challenging vessels such as the yard of ale glass, which, if not correctly mastered, resulted in the user receiving a blast of beer in his or her face. The 1969 edition of the Guinness Book lists Lawrence Hill (age 22) of Bolton as having consumed a 2.5 pint yard of ale in 6.5 seconds on December 17, 1964. The 1974 edition lists Jack Boyle, age 52, of Barrow-in-Furness as having consumed a 3 pint yard of ale in 10.15 seconds on May 14, 1971. In the mid 1970s, Guinness began to list speed records achieved using any drinking vessel. The 1977 edition dropped the earlier records established by Hill and Boyle, and listed a 2.5 pint yard record by the RAF at Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire in 5.0 seconds and a three pint yard record established at Corby Town F.C. on January 23, 1976 in 5.5 seconds". The 1977 edition listed the new world record established at the Gingerbreadman Pub by Steven Petrosino, (age 25) of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania on June 22 1977. Petrosino drank 1 liter of beer in 1.3 seconds. Video: ¼ liter in 0.18 seconds Petrosino approached the challenge scientifically, and used two specially designed half-liter drinking vessels to establish this world beer record. The 1977 edition also lists Peter G. Dowdeswell of Earls Barton for drinking two pints of beer from a single vessel in 2.3 seconds on June 11, 1975 and two liters in 6.0 seconds on 7 February, 1975. These records were all dropped from the Guinness book in 1991 due to concerns about litigation.,

Thinking games

Thinking games rely on the players' powers of observation, recollection, logic and articulation. Such games are not difficult at the onset, but become much more challenging as the game continues as players become inebriated and their coordination and memory deteriorate.

Numerous types of thinking games exist. In memory games, each player must repeat a series of events, add to it, and when a player forgets, he or she must take a drink. Thinking games include 21, beer checkers, bizz buzz, buffalo, bullshit, caps, Captain Paf, matchboxes, one fat hen, roman numerals, fuzzy duck, and zoom schwartz profigliano.

Observation games

Observation games require drinking when some trigger occurs, often based on the group of drinkers, a major sporting or news event, or popular movies, television shows, books. For instance, participants caught uttering a habitual figure of speech must drink (Dirty D's prohibits the use of the word "drink" or any form of the word, and has been adopted as a sub-rule within other drinking games); or all players watching a show must drink when a character speaks a catch phrase or a commonly repeated action or plot twist occurs. Games can be adopted for almost any TV show, program, or movie. A popular drinking game with many rules circulated from 2005 through 2007 to be played while watching President Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address. See also "Movie Games" below.

Drug Dealer is a playing card based drinking game of the observation type. Players start by selecting from a pile of cards matching in quantity the current number of players. Players then proceed to "hang out" facing each other in a circle (usually at a table), going about their business as usual. The player who selected the predetermined "dealer" card must then try to successfully complete a "deal" by winking at a fellow player. If the "dealer" happens to wink at the player who drew the predetermined "cop" card or if that person sees the wink, they are busted immediately by the "cop" revealing his/herself. Whenever the "dealer" is busted, he/she must consume beer equal to the remaining players. Once winked at, the "solicited" player may at any time toss his/her card into the middle and declare "the deal has been made". They are then out for the round. If the exclamation was false, the "dealer" may declare immunity by stating he/she did not yet make the deal. This causes the "solicited" player to bear the burden of the owed drinks (based on remaining number of players). If the call was legit, the "cop" must then reveal him/herself (come out from being undercover) and drink for the missed "deal". He/she must then attempt to guess at the "dealer's" identity. If correct, play is then reset and the "dealer" must drink for each remaining player. If not, the dealer must continue to try and eliminate players by completing additional winking transactions. This is all much easier once the "cop's" identity has been revealed. Each time a player is eliminated this way, the "cop" must drink once for the missed "deal" and once more if unable to pick the "dealer" from the remaining "perps". If he fails to figure it out by the time there are only two perps left, he has failed and must drink equal to number of all players. If he/she is successful (the cop fails), the "dealer" may then assign owed drinks of a quantity equal to the number of players who participated. These may be metered out to any one person or any combination of people who are participating but they, along with the "cop's" drinking burden, must be consumed immediately. Play then continues with a new round and new draw. Honesty is required at all times to play this game and anyone found to be cheating or otherwise hampering the play must be ejected. Since this game requires less hands-on interaction than other games, it may be played while playing other simple drinking or card games (often euchre or pitch) at the same time. This drastically complicates and compounds the tension of both games.

Coordination games

Drinking games involving players performing certain skills become more difficult as the level of intoxication increases, such as Bloody Stepchild, beer die, beer pong, flip cup (tippy cup), jackball and Beer Blow, but also include those that use quarters or other coins, such as bouncing coins, chandeliers, land mine, moose, caps, pennying and quarters. Some chessboards are manufactured with each piece represented by a shot glass with characteristic markings.

Card games

Several popular drinking games involving cards are asshole, connections, fuck the dealer, horserace, Circle of Death, kings, liar's poker, pyramid, ride the bus and Up the River(Down the River).

Dice games

Dice games include 7-11-doubles, beer die, dudo, kinito, kranen, liar's dice, mexico, mia, pounce!, ship, captain, and crew, tablero da Gucci and three man.

Tolerance games

Tolerance games are about seeing which player can last the longest. It can be as simple as going shot for shot until one person passes out. Power Hour and its variant, Century Club, fall under this category.

Movie games

Movie drinking games are played while watching a movie (sometimes a TV show or a sporting event) and have a set of rules for who drinks when and how much based on on-screen events and dialogue. The rules may be the same for all players, or alternatively players may each be assigned rules related to particular characters. The rules are designed so that rarer events require larger drinks. Rule sets for such games are usually arbitrary and local, although they are sometimes published by fan clubs. There are popular drinking games associated with the film Withnail and I and the song Roxanne (song) by the Police. Another popular game is associated with the movie Top Gun, where players drink whenever a call sign (Maverick, Goose, Iceman, etc.) is said.

Miscellaneous games

There are many other drinking games that cannot be categorized any certain way, such as never have I ever and the Vegetable Game. Another game involving external interaction uses a busy roadway and a lawn sign labeled "Honk = Drink" or something similar. Whenever a passing driver honks their horn the participants drink.

Debate drinking games

Some political pundits have noted the ability of alcohol to increase the fun of this most important function of the democratic political process. Americans everywhere who wish to enjoy a greater feeling of participation in the debate will want to try this fun drinking game.

Take a drink when John Sidney McCain does one of the following:

  • Refers to himself as a 'maverick' or 'reformer'
  • Says 'my friends'
  • Attempts humor
  • Uses a non-sequitur (i.e. "We're not rifle shots here, we're Americans!")

Take a drink when Barack Obama does one of the following:

  • Says "Now look..." or "Now listen..."
  • Links Bush and McCain
  • Says "folks"
  • Refers to John McCain's statement that "the fundamentals of the economy are sound."

Take a drink when either candidate does one of the following:

  • Refers to "change"
  • Refers to "Main Street"


Researchers have noted that the prevalence of heavy drinking has increased among adolescents and young adults, particularly at colleges. For many college students, heavy alcohol use occurs during drinking games. A review of the drinking games literature indicated that between 47% and 62% of college students participate in these games. Also important is the relevance of alcohol consumption while playing drinking games and its link to alcohol-related problems. It is often assumed that all drinking games pose similar health risks such as heavy alcohol use. Results of current research indicate that variations emerged regarding popularity, type of alcoholic beverage consumed, and participants’ intoxication level among different drinking games. Beer Pong, Kings, Never Have I Ever and Flip Cup were popular drinking games. Most participants who played Beer Pong and Flip Cup consumed soft liquor and many respondents who played kings/queens and never have I ever used both soft/hard liquor.

Participants who played funneling, chugging and power hour reported higher perceived intoxication levels compared to those who played jenga. Hazardous alcohol use was associated with the use of both soft/hard liquor during drinking games, increased drinking games participation, greater alcohol consumption while playing, and higher intoxication levels. Consumption of soft/hard liquor was related to higher alcohol consumption and intoxication levels; increased drinking games participation and elevated alcohol consumption during drinking games were associated with higher intoxication levels.




  • Benn, Charles (2002). China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517665-0.
  • Schafer, Edward H. (1963). The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A study of T’ang Exotics. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1st paperback edition: 1985. ISBN 0-520-05462-8.

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