How many cups do you set up for beer pong?

Beer pong is a popular drinking game that is often played at parties and gatherings. The game involves tossing a ping pong ball across a table and trying to land the ball in one of several plastic cups filled with beer on the other side. A common question for new beer pong players is: how many cups should you set up for a game of beer pong?

The Standard Beer Pong Set Up

The standard set up for a game of beer pong is 10 plastic party cups arranged in a triangle formation on each side of a table. So a total of 20 cups are used in a standard game.

The triangle formation typically consists of a base row of 6 cups, a middle row of 3 cups, and a top row of 1 cup. The cups are filled about 1/3 full with beer or any other beverage of choice. So the standard number of cups per team is 10.

This 10 cup per team configuration is considered the official set up for tournament style or competitive beer pong. The 10 cups provide enough of a challenge for accurate shooting, while also allowing for a good number of drinks per game. Tournaments typically use this standard format.

Why Use 10 Cups?

While the standard is 10 cups per team, some may wonder why 10 cups is the ideal number for beer pong competition. Here are some reasons why 10 cups is standard:

  • 10 cups provide enough drinks per game to maintain a good level of fun and inebriation.
  • Less than 10 cups would result in games ending too quickly.
  • Any more than 10 cups would drag games out too long.
  • The triangle shape allows for strategic shooting at different groupings of cups.
  • The triangle configuration is an optimal use of space on a typically rectangular beer pong table.
  • Having an even number of cups (10) allows for ties to be broken with redemption shots or overtime.

In summary, 10 cups per team maximizes the enjoyment and strategy for competitive style beer pong games.

Cup Amount Variations

While 10 cups per team is the go-to for hardcore beer pong tournaments, there are some variations in cup amounts that are common for more casual games:

6 Cups

Using just 6 cups per side arranged in a triangle formation (3-2-1) is good for faster, shorter games. 6 cups is a great amount for younger players, or when time is limited.

8 Cups

8 cups per team arranged in a 4-3-1 triangle provides an intermediate option between 6 and 10 cups. 8 cups works well for casual games with newer beer pong players.

12+ Cups

Some advanced beer pong players use more than 10 cups, like 12, 15 or even 20 cups per team! This Marathon style format is reserved for serious challengers who want a drawn out, tactical shooting battle.

Single File Cups

Instead of a triangle, some players arrange all the cups in a straight line. This formation requires very accurate shooting down the row.

So in summary, while 10 cups is standard, the number of cups per team can range anywhere from 6 to 20+ depending on the style of play.

Cup Amount Considerations

Here are some factors to consider when deciding how many beer pong cups to fill for a particular game:

  • Player skill level – Newer or casual players may prefer 6-8 cups. Experienced players can handle 10+ cups.
  • Time available – If time is limited, fewer cups speeds up gameplay.
  • Desired intoxication level – More cups means more drinks consumed.
  • Quantity of beer available – You may need to limit cups based on the amount of beer at the party.
  • Cup availability – Make sure you have enough clean cups on hand for the number you want to set up.

Also consider odd versus even cup counts. Even cups (10 cups per team) allow for clean ties. Odd cup counts mean one team will win each game.

Cup Formation Styles

In addition to the number of cups, there are many possible formations the cups can be arranged in. Here are some popular beer pong cup formations:

Triangle Formation

The triangle formation is the standard set up. The cups are arranged in rows, with each row having one less cup than the row below it:

Row 1: 1 cup
Row 2: 2 cups
Row 3: 3 cups

The triangle uses space efficiently and provides grouped cups to shoot at in rows.

Diamond Formation

A diamond or pyramid shaped formation has rows with progressively more cups than the row above it. The diamond widens out towards the middle:

Row 1: 1 cup
Row 2: 3 cups
Row 3: 5 cups

The diamond formation starts out narrow and gets wider, making for challenging shots.

Straight Line Formations

Cups can also be arranged in straight lines rather than shapes. Some examples are:

  • Single File – One row of all cups
  • Two Lines – Two parallel rows of cups
  • Bumpers – Rows along the left and right edges

Line formations require very accurate shots down the row. Shooting angles are more challenging.

Scatter Formation

For a real challenge, cups can be randomly scattered rather than arranged in organized formations. A scatter formation requires adjusting shots to differing distances and angles.

In summary, the triangle shape is the standard, but get creative with diamond, line, scattered, or unique formations to spice up your beer pong games.

Beer Pong Table Size Considerations

The size of your beer pong table is an important factor when deciding on the number of cups to use. The standard beer pong table size is 8 feet long by 2 feet wide. Here are some cup amount guidelines based on table size:

  • For regulation 8 foot tables, 10 cups per team is ideal.
  • For shorter tables around 6 feet long, use 6-8 cups per team.
  • For very long tables like 10+ feet, you can add more cups like 12-15 per side.
  • Make sure cups can fit on the table without crowding or overflowing.
  • Leave a couple inches between cups for bouncing shots.

You may need to experiment with cup amount to find the right fit for a non-standard sized table. In general, use fewer cups for smaller tables, and more cups for bigger tables.

Factors That Speed Up Gameplay

If you are limited on time, there are some beer pong rules and factors that can help speed up gameplay:

  • Use fewer cups per team – 6 cups speeds up the game.
  • Implement a time limit per turn – Speeds up slow shooters.
  • Have teams shoot at the same time – Eliminates down time.
  • Enforce a rebuttal rule – Allows both teams to shoot if a shot is made.
  • Allow reracks – Lets teams consolidate cups as they get emptied.
  • Play without redemption rules or last cup requirements.

Using these speed up tactics, a full game can be completed in 15-30 minutes depending on player skill levels.

Factors That Lengthen Gameplay

If time is not a concern and you want to extend gameplay, here are some factors that can prolong beer pong games:

  • Use more cups per team – Up to 20 cups extends games.
  • Take turns shooting one team at a time.
  • Enforce redemption and last cup rules.
  • Disallow reracks – Makes teams eliminate all cups.
  • Play with house rules that add extra shots.
  • Allow loose rules for bounces, blowbacks, fingers, etc.

Using these delay tactics, games can sometimes last well over an hour. Make sure players have the endurance for marathon beer pong sessions!


The standard number of beer pong cups is 10 per team, arranged in a triangle formation. This provides the right balance of challenge and drinking for competitive games. However, any number of cups from 6 to 20+ can be used depending on player skill, time constraints, table size, and desired game duration. The number of cups directly impacts factors like game length, intoxication level, and shooting strategy. Try experimenting with different cup amounts and formations to find the best fit for your games!

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