How many cups needed beer pong?

Beer pong is a popular drinking game that involves throwing a ping pong ball across a table and trying to land the ball in cups filled with beer on the other side. A common question for new beer pong players is how many cups are needed to play? The number of cups needed depends on the beer pong house rules, but the standard setup is 10 cups per side arranged in a triangle formation.

Standard 10 Cup Beer Pong Setup

The most common beer pong setup includes 10 cups per side arranged in a triangle formation with a slight gap in the middle. Here is the typical arrangement:

1 2 3 4
5 6 7
8 9 10

So in summary, standard beer pong rules call for 10 cups per side, resulting in 20 total cups needed for a two-person game. This 10 cup per side configuration is considered the official setup according to the World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP) tournament rules. The triangular shape with a gap in the middle allows for an appropriate level of difficulty.

Why Use 10 Cups?

So why do beer pong rules dictate 10 cups per side versus 8 or 12? There are a few reasons:

  • 10 cups provides the right balance of difficulty. With less than 10 cups, it would be too easy to sink all the cups. More than 10 cups makes the game drag on too long.
  • The triangle shape allows for strategic cup placement to create interesting shots.
  • 10 cups means each player can potentially drink up to 10 beers in a single game, which is a good amount for a drinking competition.
  • The gaps in the triangle setup require bank shots off the sides of cups, increasing difficulty.
  • 10 cups per side is considered standard worldwide for official beer pong tournament play.

So 10 cups per side provides just the right level of challenge and drinking for an exciting game. It has become the de facto standard for beer pong across the world.

Beer Pong Cup Arrangement Variations

While 10 cups is standard, some beer pong house rules do alter the cup formations. Some popular variations include:

  • Single File – 10 cups per side arranged in a single horizontal line. Easier setup but eliminates bank shots.
  • Tight Triangle – A triangular setup but with cups touching to eliminate gaps.
  • Diamond – A diamond shape with 1 front cup, 2 behind, 3 in the middle row, 2 behind those, and 1 rear cup.
  • Snake – Cups arranged in a winding snake pattern for creative bank shots.
  • Tempest – Cups tightly packed into 2 rows with gaps on the sides only.

In tournament play however, these alternative cup formations are usually not permitted. The standard 10 cup triangle shape is considered the official formation in competitive beer pong leagues and tournaments worldwide.

How Much Beer per Cup?

Now that we’ve covered the number and arrangement of cups, the next question is how much beer should go in each cup? This again comes down to house rules or local preferences, but the standard is to fill each cup with 2-4 ounces of beer. Here are some common fill levels:

  • 2 ounces (60ml) – Standard fill for more serious tournament-style play.
  • 3 ounces (90ml) – Allows for a good sized drink but avoid over-intoxication.
  • 4 ounces (120ml) – For more casual play with higher drinking goals.
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) – Easy standard fill measurement.
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) – Ideal for games with fewer total cups.

So while 2-4 ounces is standard in the United States, this comes down to personal preference. Some alternate options players use include filling cups half full with beer or even using water cups with separate beer cans to better control intake.

Minimum Cups for Short Games

The 10 cup standard is designed for a full game. But some players like to play fast short games with fewer cups. What is the minimum number of cups that can be used while still preserving the basic beer pong game dynamics? Here are some common options for shortened games:

  • 6 cups – The absolute minimum while still allowing a triangle shape per side.
  • 8 cups – Still retains a decent triangle shape and allows some strategy.
  • 2-4-2 formation – An isosceles triangle with 2 front cups and 2 back cups per side, a fast paced game.
  • 5 cups – Allows for a mini-triangle formation per side.

So while 10 cup triangle formations are the gold standard, 6-8 cups per side can allow for quicker games while keeping the essence of beer pong intact.

Cup Specifications and Size

While typical household plastic party cups are the usual cup choice for beer pong, some players may wonder if specific sized cups are better than others. Here are some common cup sizes and specifications:

Cup Size Fluid Ounces
Standard 16oz Party Cup 16oz (470ml)
12oz Party Cup 12oz (355ml)
9oz Party Cup 9oz (266ml)
8oz Small Cup 8oz (237ml)
2-4oz Shot Glass 2-4oz (60-120ml)

The 16oz party cup is the classic choice because it provides a large target area and can hold an entire canned beer. But for standard 2-4 ounce fill levels, most cup sizes work fine. The key is uniformity – all cups in a game should be the same type and size for fairness.

Minimum Table Size

In order to fit 10 cups per side plus room to bounce and land ping pong balls, a beer pong table needs to be a certain minimum size. Here are some common beer pong table sizes:

  • 2 feet x 4 feet – Very small, only allows for 6 cups per side maximum.
  • 2 feet x 6 feet – Accommodates 10 cups per side but very narrow.
  • 2 feet x 8 feet – The standard minimum table size for regular 10 cup per side gameplay.
  • 2.5 feet x 8 feet – Provides extra room for trick shots and rebounds.
  • 3 feet x 9 feet – An official regulation beer pong table size per WSOBP rules.

So at minimum, allow for 8 linear feet of table space in order to comfortably play a standard 10 cup per side beer pong game. Extra width beyond 2 feet helps provide room for skill shot maneuvers.

regulation Beer Pong Table Dimensions

Official tournaments sponsored by the World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP) have defined specifications for table size and dimensions. These include:

  • Length – 9 feet (108 inches)
  • Width – 2.5 feet (30 inches)
  • Height – 27-30 inches standard.
  • Table surface should be smooth and level.
  • Drink holders mounted on each side for unused cups.

So for the most regulation-style gameplay, a 9 foot by 2.5 foot smooth table surface at counter height with drink holders is ideal. But any stable smooth table surface at least 2 feet wide by 8 feet long can accommodate standard beer pong play.

Ideal Distance Between Cups

Proper placement of the pyramid or triangle cup formation is important in beer pong. Cups should be reasonably close together but not touching. Here are some common spacing guidelines:

  • Front row cups 2-3 inches apart side-to-side.
  • Back row cups 3-4 inches apart side-to-side.
  • Rows 2 inches apart front-to-back.
  • 1-2 inch triangle point gap in middle.
  • 2 inches minimum between cups edge-to-edge.
  • 4 inches between cups center-to-center.

This spacing allows for cups to be moved if hit without excessive disruption to other cups. The small gaps allow bank shots from the front or sides. Consistent even spacing ensures proper beer pong setup and fair play.

House Rule Variations

While standard beer pong rules call for 10 cup triangle formations, house rules can alter many aspects of the game. Some common house rule variations include:

  • More or fewer than 10 cups.
  • Double cupping – using 2 cups touching as 1 double target.
  • Island cup – a single ‘island cup’ in the middle.
  • Re-racks – allowing cup formation adjustments between rounds.
  • Bounce shots – requiring balls to bounce before entering cups.
  • Death cup – an extra cup for instant win.
  • Celebrity shots – famous player names on bottom of cups for extra rules.

Feel free to experiment with house rules if players agree. But for tournament and regulation play, official WSOBP rules apply for consistent standards.


Beer pong is meant to be a fun social game, so adapt the cups and rules to your liking. But the standard configuration remains 10 cups arranged in a tight triangle formation per side. This allows for the right balance of challenge, pacing, and drinking for an exciting game. Use regulation size 9 foot by 2.5 foot tables where possible, but any smooth surface over 8 feet long and 2 feet wide can work. The key is keeping distances fair for bounce shots and staying consistent across house rules. With the right cups, spacing, and format, beer pong can be an enjoyable game for all player skill levels!

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