Is Beer Pong Becoming Too Easy?

Is beer pong becoming too easy?

I know it’s a silly question, coming from someone as terrible as me. But as the sport continues to evolve, at some point do we need to go back to the drawing board and re-examine things?

I’m not going to make this into an elbow rule debate. That topic alone is enough for its own blog post and then some. We can look at that at a later time.

For anyone who has played in a major tournament like the World Series of Beer Pong over the course of several years, it’s pretty clear how much the average player has improved, and how much the better even the elite players have become. We’ve reached the point where you go into a game against a Kessler or a Ross Hampton expecting them to shoot 100%. And I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

I’ve been playing using WSOBP rules for the greater part of the last decade. In Maryland, before adapting to the current WSOBP rules, we used to play unlimited bring-backs and each player shoot-until-you-miss rebuttal shots. Even then, a few of the better players were already taking the “next step.” It wasn’t uncommon starting a game down 6 cups before you even shot against a great team.

If we want to take beer pong seriously, as a sport, then it is only fair to compare beer pong to other sports. And you’d be hard-pressed to find another sport that demands near-perfection to win games.

In baseball, you are considered an above-average to great hitter if you hit above .300. In 1941, Ted Williams posted a .406 batting average, considered by most to be the greatest statistical batting season of all time. Yet in that magical season, Williams got out nearly 60% of the time.

In football, the career leader in quarterback completion percentage is Chad Pennington with a 66% over the course of 10 seasons. Ignoring the fact that Pennington is a terrible QB (sorry Jets fans) even his record-breaking noodle arm threw incompletions almost 35% of the time.

Finally, in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title this year averaging 28.7 points per game, notching a .449 field goal percentage. The league leader in field goal percentage, center DeAndre Jordan, had a .643%.

Enough with the Moneyball stats, you say. What’s the point? The point is that in any given major tournament, if you shoot about 60% you’re not guaranteed to win, not even close to it. I’d say the top players average out closer to an 80%, give or take. That may be generous, but I think we can all agree that maybe beer pong has become a little too easy at its current state.

So what’s the answer? Elbow rule? Longer tables? No bring-backs? No rebuttals? Or are things fine the way they are? Every major sport has gone through numerous rule changes to balance things out.

How about beer pong?

by jeffbarnes

30 thoughts on “Is Beer Pong Becoming Too Easy?

  1. Mike says:

    put little laser pointers attached to the bottom of the table, (2 per table one at each end) that puts a line on the floor and you cant cross that line with either foot until after ball has left the hand, put it at such a distance where its just around where an elbows line would be(edge of able) Thats my suggestion -Mike P.

    • gary says:

      so you think that you should be able to lean as far as you can and shoot it in? if you did that at any house part, or bar tournament you’d get smacked.

  2. Benoît says:

    We all know the elbow rule is too difficult to judge. So longer tables could be the best solution… But it always have the problem of more or less high people.

    • gary says:

      if the elbows rule is too hard to judge how is it that any sport can have any rule here are some legitimate examples, 1. baseball strike zone? why doesn’t baseball assume every pitch is a strike, or every ball thrown to a base as a runner gets there a tie?

  3. TopSecret says:

    We need to separate the ‘pro’s’ from the ‘amateurs’. Pros would play on 10ft tables and Amateurs should play on 8ft. One of the most common reasons for the not so good players, or just even outsiders that just want to play is that “those guys are just way to good”. They become uninterested. We need to separate the classification of players between the 2 groups. We need to have legitimate rankings for this to happen, which is easier than you think. That alone I feel will solve a lot of problems. Especially newbies for bigger events.

  4. Chris says:

    Well, I agree the WSOBP games are too easy, and something needs to be changed. Talking to some players at sat tourneys and such, here is kind of what I’ve gathered over the years:

    I think you need to really make the game more in line with the way the general public plays (i.e. at colleges or when people get together to play casually). At a bare minimum the leaning rule has to go (or an elbow rule in place). Aside from the WSOBP games, I’ve never played a game anywhere where you can lean over the table, and fall into and/or touch the table after the shot, like you can at a tourney. I understand a taller guy will always have an advantage to a shorter player; however with the lean rule in place they really do get an unfair advantage. I’m 6’1 and when I lean I feel like I’m cheating even though it’s in the rules. I also miss a ton less when I get the lean/no elbow rule/touch the table advantage. I feel like it really takes the skill of the shot out of the game. Also, I’ve played a few tournaments with guys taller than me, and when they lean in they are essentially almost just dropping the ball into the cups, and never miss. If you want to take it a step further, maybe entertain a rule where a player can’t shoot the ball from the tips of their toes, or both feet have to be on the ground when the ball is shot. When you stand on the front of your feet, you essentially gain another 2-3 inches of height, which again gives us taller players a bigger advantage.

    Another big thing I feel that needs to be changed is the reformation rule. Don’t have automatic reformations. Each team gets one reformation and that’s it, and then whoever makes the rules can figure out the details of what formations are legal and such. The automatic reformations really give you an advantage because the cups usually end up in a perfect triangle (well, almost), happen 3 times, and all the cups end up centered on the table. Having only one reformation really adds a strategic edge to the game. We’ve all played games outside of the tourneys where you’ve done your reformation too soon, too late, or have sunk your opponent’s cups in some weird order where you have multiple cups just floating around by themselves and it makes it harder to win. We’ve also played games where a reformation has given you a fresh start, and helps you get back into a game.

    With those two major changes I feel that the game would really become more competitive and skilled based. I don’t think it would be a good idea to eliminate rebuttals or bring backs, because that would feel like you are eliminating a tradition of the game. As for the longer table idea, I’d implement the other major changes first, then if the game is still very lopsided, maybe flirt with the idea of a longer table.

  5. Yupp says:

    You want a way to stiffen the competition without taking away the current rules? CALL CUP. Have people call the cup they are shooting for before they shoot.

  6. Mike says:

    I think because I’ve never played in a “legitimate” tournament before people may take this with a grain of salt (or not at all), but my number one gripe with other players IS leaning. I know that in the WSOBP and other official tournaments it’s practically impossible to impose any kind of real restriction, but I know that when I tell people the rules either at my house or at my local bar it never ceases to amaze me when people still lean way over the table. Anyone can win a game of pong on any given day, but it infuriates me to lose to someone who I know I’m better than (don’t get me wrong I don’t think I’m perfect) just because they insist “Bro, I’m not leaning! I’m practically standing against the wall!” There has to be a way to enforce some kind of rule, I just think the elite players, organizers, and pure fans need to start talking out ideas. Kinda like we are now. One small step for pong, one giant leap for pongkind.

    • gary says:

      if you had 2 small poles like tiny wooden dowels on the corners of the table all you would need is 2 judges to watch at the edge so table would be like this |____| from a side view from a judges perspective it would look like this -|-___| the space missing at the beginning being the elbow of coarse, it would then become the players responsibility to make sure their elbow is no where near close enough to that edge to become penalized.

  7. Jesse says:

    Dont change a damn thing! If people cant make cups leaning over the table, Idk what to say. lol Well maybe a pro and amateur bracket?

  8. captaingeech says:

    no need for longer tables, just make them taller. then people can’t lean over them as much and can’t drop the ball in. Raise the table 18 inches and it is fair for all.

  9. TJ Sorrow says:

    I know this wasn’t supposed to be an elbow rule debate but it has already came up so…Should there be a maximum height in the NBA or other sports?Randy Johnson was almost 7 feet so he is much closer to the plate than the rest. Should pitchers have an elbow rule? Basically, tall people have an advantage in this world. My dad was 6’6″ and I ended up 5’10″ (hate it). It is simply athleticism and talent that makes someone a better athlete, Beer Pong included.

  10. Brett says:

    Elbow Rule, for sure. That levels the playing field, to an extent. You’re still going to have people that are awesome, and rarely miss, but it will be a big step in the right direction. Being taller still gives you a better view of the cups, and a better angle to throw at, but how many 5-6″ guys do you see in the NBA? It is what it is.

    Now, on to the procedure of using the Elbow Rule. There would be an arm band that you’d wear on your shooting arm, at the bottom of your bicep / top of your elbow. Hanging from that band would be a flag of sorts. Boom. An enforceable Elbow Rule. We could make it conductive or something, so that it touches the table a light would trigger, or buzzer would go off. Maybe strap a taser to your nipples, and get shocked if you set it off (jk, but man would that be funny!) Think of it like the line in bowling. Same thing. Even if just a visual thing, it’d make it very easy to see if someone was in violation.

    This would allow for some personalization in the arm band, too. Color, design, flare, whatever. It’d be a badge of honor, as well.


  11. Egolf says:

    If I were at any number of college parties and some long-armed ape decided to lean 6 feet across the table for a gimme lay-up, there would have been an uproar from all. It was all about respect. No definitive rules, some even leaned a little, but just don’t blatantly take advantage of it. Make the tables longer, at least 9-10 ft., and make a line on the table the ball has to be released by. A judge can eyeball for organized competition. I there is a risk of losing a shot, people will steer clear of that line.

  12. JessOssenkopp says:

    I’m a bit late to this debate, but I’ll share my feelings nonetheless. I think two things need to be addressed:

    1) The PERCEPTION of the current WSOBP format.


    2) The actual mechanics of the format.

    Let me be clear, in its current format, Bpong or any other organizer can NOT run a large scale tournament with an elbow rule put in place. This would require a judge per table and we all know that isn’t going to happen; its simply NOT practical. And even if they some how implemented judges for each game, how the hell can a person accurately discern if a whole elbow breaches an invisible plane; and what if it is half an elbow— at what exact point does an arm end and an elbow begin?

    Other sports utilize LINES to determine what is legal and what is out of bounds. With the exception of the MLB strike zone and the NFL endzone, the parameters of legal play are defined clearly by these LINES. Either they are breached by a player’s body (seen like a foot visably being over a line) or they are not.

    I believe that something similar is needed for the game of pong.

    I know what you are probably thinking: “But organizerss have tried the line, its not perfect. People still bitched about other people stepping over it.”

    Its true, a line poses similar problems to that of an elbow rule and is not an absolute perfect solution. However I strongly feel that its vast step in the right direction. Seeing if a player’s foot breaches a line is MUCH easier than trying to determine if a player’s elbow, or part of an elbow, or part of an elbow hair, breaches an invisible plane. As it stands now, players may NOT use the table to support their weight during a shot. People abide by this rule and do not break it because they know they will get called out on it; the same would be true for shooting behind a line.

    A shooting line does not eliminate the natural advantage that taller players have over shorter players. Just as in every other sport, a person’s natural physical dimensions are part of their attributes and cannot fairly be countered to make competition “more fair” for their opponents.

    But at the very least, a shooting line should placed at a distance that is far enough that it eliminates the PERCEPTION of a tall player leaning across the table. In addition to addressing the PERCEPTION of “dropping the balls into cups”, forcing players to shoot from a further distance than what the current norm is, will make the game slightly more difficult.

  13. Chad says:

    Me and my friends have played beer pong for years, and as far as we knew we were playing pretty standard rules considering who and where we ever played. A hand full of us became pretty talented at it. One of us finally bought the wsobp table and once we tried out the lean rule, we were getting smoked by 6’4 rookies because they were shooting from our end of the table… We did our traditional hand behind the table and we didn’t stand a chance. Bring the talent back into beer pong. Since analogies seem to be the way to go: let’s shoot free throws, not have a dunking competition. Line on the floor would be the easiest way to allow people to lean so we dont need a judge, yet make a challenging distance to the cups. Put a line 2 ft back from either end of the table. Toe can’t touch the line. Cheers to evolution.

  14. SM says:

    i have a lot of respect for some of the players in the WSOBP. They are really good. While I only play local tournaments where I live, I prefer the elbow rule. It just makes it more challenging. At huge tournaments it makes sense to not have it since its impossible to enforce. I have played no elbow rule before and I do admit it was different and took a bit to get used to. Clearly I am know where near the professionals. I think because of the no elbow rule they should make the tables longer. I also agree with another post above. NO AUTOMATIC reracks. Only one rerack per game. Ive always believed more strategy should be put into the game. If we want to call BP a sport then more strategy needs to be involved.

  15. Yolo Rodriguez says:

    I agree that the elbow rule isn’t going to go away and I’ve accepted and adapted that shooting style. My one complaint is the table bump, maybe it’s just me but i can’t stand it when a player leans over takes their shot and then “moves the table”.

  16. Yolo Rodriguez says:

    What about a shock collar that players would wear on their elbows, you cant stop it but at least you could make it more difficult.

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