How many balls and cups do you need for beer pong?

Beer pong is a popular drinking game that is often played at parties and gatherings. The game consists of throwing a ping pong ball across a table and trying to land the ball in one of your opponent’s cups filled with beer. But how many balls and cups do you actually need to play beer pong?

The Basic Beer Pong Set Up

The standard beer pong set up involves using 16 plastic solo cups and about 5-10 ping pong balls. The cups are arranged in triangles facing each other on opposite sides of a standard 8 foot folding table. Each team then takes turns tossing the ping pong balls across the table and trying to land them in the opponent’s cups.

So in summary, here is what you need for a basic beer pong set up:

  • 16 plastic solo cups
  • 1 ping pong table or equivalent (about 8 feet long)
  • 5-10 ping pong balls

The 16 solo cups are filled with beer, typically 2-4 ounces per cup depending on how strong you want the beer. Each team gets 8 cups which are arranged in a triangle formation on their side of the table.

The triangle formation is easy – just start with a row of 4 cups, then a row of 3 cups behind that, and 1 cup in the back. The cups should be touching each other so the triangle formation stays intact throughout the game.

More Cups for Longer Games

If you want to extend the beer pong game time and play a more competitive game, consider adding additional cups. Most competitive beer pong games use at least 20 cups, arranged in a tight diamond formation with a row of 6 cups in the back.

With 20 cups instead of 16, it takes longer for all the cups to be eliminated. This makes the game last longer and can be more exciting for competitive players who want more of a challenge.

Some players even use up to 30 cups total if they want a marathon beer pong match! Just note that the more cups in play, the more you’ll be drinking throughout the game. Make sure to pace yourself.

More Balls for Less Refilling

When it comes to the number of ping pong balls, 5-10 is typically adequate for a standard game. However, serious beer pong players often recommend having at least 15-20 balls in play.

The benefit of more balls is that you don’t have to constantly retrieve balls after each throw. With 15-20 balls available, you can toss a few at a time before having to retrieve them from the floor or other side of the table.

More balls means less downtime between throws and a better game flow. Just make sure to establish which balls belong to each side to avoid confusion. Having a unique color for each team’s set of balls is helpful.

Using Regulation Size Cups

While 16-ounce plastic solo cups are the standard for beer pong, some players prefer using actual regulation-size beer pong cups. These cups are specifically designed for beer pong and make the game more authentic.

Regulation beer pong cups hold about 12 ounces of beer and have thick rims and bottoms that help the cups stand up and resist damage. The official dimensions are 3.5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide in diameter.

You can purchase packs of regulation beer pong cups rather than relying on solo cups. They often come in packs of at least 20-30 cups for the proper number needed for a full game.

Custom Beer Pong Tables

For enthusiasts who really want to step up their beer pong game, investing in a custom regulation beer pong table is recommended. These tables are 8 feet long by 2 feet wide and come with pre-drilled holes for securely setting up the cup formations.

The holes ensure that the cups stay in perfect position and don’t shift around or collapse. Some custom tables also have ball catchers and gutters to help collect stray balls and keep the table surface clutter-free.

So while a basic ping pong table works fine, players looking for a professional-level playing experience will appreciate the benefits of a specialized beer pong table.

Best Practices for Set Up

To summarize some best practices for setting up beer pong:

  • Use 16-20 cups per side for a standard game
  • Go with 30+ cups for a marathon beer pong match
  • Have at least 15-20 ping pong balls in play
  • Use regulation beer pong cups for an authentic experience
  • Invest in a custom beer pong table for the best setup

With the right amount of cups, balls, and a regulation table, you’ll be ready for a top-tier beer pong experience with your friends!

House Rules and Variations

Keep in mind that people often play by house rules, so you can customize things however you want. Some variations include:

  • Playing with water or juice instead of beer
  • Allowing redemption shots if you sink a ball on your next turn after getting one sunk on you
  • Playing elimination style where once your cups are gone you’re out
  • Requiring trick shots like behind the back or bouncing
  • Adding extra cups as obstacles on the sides or middle of the table

Feel free to get creative with different rules to keep beer pong exciting and competitive for your group!

Picking Teams for Beer Pong

When playing beer pong with 4 or more people, determining the teams can impact the dynamic of the game. Here are some popular options for choosing teams in beer pong:

Guys vs Girls

A classic option – guys take one side of the table and girls take the other side. This pits the sexes against one another in a battle of the genders.


Each person chooses a partner – significant others, best friends, or siblings tend to pair up against each other.


Let the strongest players or “beer pong champions” pair up against the rest of the group to give everyone else a chance to dethrone the champs.

Random Draw

Pull names out of hat or use a random method to determine teams for a mix of abilities and personalities.

Tournament Style

Have everyone draw a partner, then winning teams advance to play each other while losers are eliminated in a bracket tournament format.

However you choose teams, make sure it’s fair and keeps the skill level evenly matched for the most fun and competitive game!

Beer Pong Strategy

To dominate at beer pong, you need the right strategy and techniques. Here are some tips for upping your beer pong game:

Practice Accuracy

Aim small, miss small. Take time to practice bouncing the balls into cups from different distances and angles. Dial in your accuracy.

Go on Offense

Focus on sinking your shots quickly to eliminate cups and put pressure on your opponent. The best defense is a good offense.

Target Corner Cups

Aim for the cups on the edges first since they are harder to make and knock out. Always look for weak spots.

Fake Out Your Opponent

Use pump fakes, look-aways, and behind the back shots to deceive your opponent and catch them off guard.

Throw Fast and Hard

Put speed and velocity on your shots so they have a better chance of sinking in – but don’t sacrifice accuracy.

Bank Shots off the Side

Ricochet sidewall shots can be extremely effective if aimed and bounced properly. Just beware of backsplash.

By mastering these tips and more, you’ll be able to dominate the beer pong tables and lead your team to victory!

Beer Pong Alternatives

If straight up beer pong isn’t your style, check out these fun alternative game ideas:

Beer Ball

Uses a volleyball net and rules – spike the ball into cups on the opponent’s side. Set up formations of cups like volleyball positions.

Base Pong

Set up several different tables with cups or targets – score points by sinking shots at each station.

Shotgun Pong

Partner shoots and you have to catch the ball in a cup – then shotgun the beer if successful.

Flip Cup

Teams race to flip cups at the edge of the table after sinking ping pong balls in them.

Rage Cage

Everyone shoots at the same cups in the center – race to eliminate them all to win.

With a little creativity, you can invent tons of beer pong variations to change up the standard rules.


At the end of the day, beer pong is about having fun with friends. But knowing the right equipment and setup helps maximize the experience. Use about 16-20 cups per side, 15-20 ping pong balls, and regulation beer pong gear when possible.

Establish fair teams, implement house rules, and use skillful strategy to dominate the game. With the right group and the proper beers pong know-how, you’re sure to have a blast!

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