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October 27, 2019 - Brandon Marx

Beer Pong Rule Changes

Rules changes you say?  Yes and no!  What this article is going to address are the major differences between the standardized rules currently used by the community and our new Pongstars Rules that will be used for all of our events going forward.  The current rules we’re referencing were created by bpong.com and their rules can be found here.  While we’re still putting together the final touches to our own Pro Rules we wanted to share with the community the direction we’re heading so everyone has enough notice prior to the Arizona Beer Pong State Championships in January 2020.

You’ll see as you read below that we are simply comparing the differences between what BPong uses and what we’re going to use instead.  In no way do our rules have anything to do with BPong’s.  Their rules are not what’s changing.  The only thing changing is that the community will now have an additional set of standardized rules to choose from for their tournament use.


Rules we’re changing

1. Playing a game > Shooting First

  • BPong Rule:
    • The team that shoots first is only given one ball to shoot
  • Pongstars Rule:
    • The team that shoots first is given two balls, one for each player but they are not rewarded a rollback if both make it

What’s changing and why: Team 1 will now get an extra ball to start the game.  With so many of the rules currently, teams that have great players are being heavily rewarded by their consistency in an almost unfair and uncompetitive way.  This ruling will now entice teams to go first more often because in a situation of a perfect game to perfect game there’s less pressure on Team 1 to not miss one since they’re shooting on a two rack versus a three rack.

2. Playing a game > Shooting > Leaning

  • BPong Rules: 
    • Far too much to list but if you’re interested in having a read you’ll find them here
  • Pongstars Rules:
    • The table cannot slide out of place from touching the table during your shot
    • No edging allowed; your feet must remain within the width of the table legs at all times
    • Players cannot follow through onto the table with force or excessive momentum; Also known as “The Big Mark”

What’s changing and why:  You can now balance on one leg once again(“The Eric Lewis”) and touching the top of the table on your follow through is allowed.  With the recent BPong changes in the leaning rule there’s been nothing but confusion and far too much pressure put on organizers to make a ruling.

There’s a significant difference from grazing the top of a table from a natural follow through and using the table to catch the entire weight of your body as you follow through.  Players should not be punished just for being shorter or having long arms.

3. Playing the game > Rollbacks 

  • BPong Rule:
    • Once two consecutive rollback shots have been taken by one player the next rollback shot must be taken by the other player
  • Pongstars Rule:
    • Players must alternate rollback attempts; no player can take two rollbacks in a row

What’s changing and why:  Another recent BPong rule change that’s caused mass confusion since its inception.  The confusion doesn’t come from understanding it, that’s simple, it’s being able to keep track of it.  It’s hard enough to pay attention to something like this rule for your own team let alone having to monitor your opponents as well.

It becomes even more difficult to track as the games become more important the further into the tournament you go.  Our rule change significantly simplifies this process as well as requiring players to share the load evenly with their partners making it more of a team game.

4. Playing a game > Reracks

  • BPong Rule:
    • Automatic reracks at six, three and one cup(s) as soon as it becomes applicable, even in the middle of a turn
  • Pongstars Rule:
    • Teams are permitted two reracks during regulation at any time of their choosing including the middle of a turn or rollback
    • These reracks must fit naturally within the confines of the rack if one is being used for the tournament.  If one isn’t then any rack from our approved list can be used.
      • This approved list will be created with the help of community votes
    • There are no reracks in overtime; all cups stay as they are including last cup

What’s changing and why:  Beer pong in its most true form has reracks being such an important aspect of the game.  Part of the motivation for us to deliver these changes is so that we can somewhat return the game as close to its roots as possible while still maintaining the integrity of a professional tournament.

6. Playing a game > Rebuttal

  • BPong Rules:
    • Again, it’s far too much to list here but you’re more than welcome to check them out here under Rule 4.15 Ending the game
  • Pongstars Rule:
    • If a team has 1-5 cups remaining they must make all cups while alternating each shot without a miss
    • “Hail Mary”: If a team has 6 or more cups remaining then each player has the opportunity to shoot until they miss but they still need to alternate between shots
    • 1 cup to 1 cup: If the first shot was made and second missed the rebuttalling team must make the first shot as well before given a second(See Double Bag below)

What’s changing and why:  This is another aspect of the game that we felt was much needed of a makeover.  Rebuttalling has become very stale and nothing more than going through the motions.  Incorporating the “Hail Mary” will provide much needed excitement as well as some forced strategy while on defense in certain scenarios.

7. Playing a game > Interference > Cups

  • BPong Rules:
    • There are a lot of cup interference rules but there aren’t any clarifying what happens when a cups position is changed in a rack from interference, accidental or not.  It just states that if a rack is knocked off the table all cups are counted as hit.
  • Pongstars Rules:
    • If a player interferes with a cup in a manner that removes it from its natural position in the rack(tilted, leaning, relocated) that will result in either a “made cup” ruling or penalty cup ruling and be removed.
      • A made cup ruling counts the missed shot as a made cup because the interference is what caused the ball to miss
      • A penalty cup ruling just rewards the shooting team a cup because the interference didn’t cause the miss but a cup was still knocked over
      • The difference between the two is that a made cup ruling counts towards a rollback if their partner made their shot also

What’s changing and why: Ever since the racks were brought into competitive play there’s been added confusion when a cup is hit from defending.  In the years prior if you hit a cup it was nearly a guarantee that it would be knocked over causing a penalty.  Nowadays you can make contact with a cup causing it to be tilted or leaning because of the support from the rack.

This is where the confusion comes into play because there are some people out there that think some or all of the water needs to be gone for it to count.  Others think that as long as it’s still somewhat upright it doesn’t count as a penalty.  Truth is neither of them are right because there is no clarification under the current rules.

With our new rule all you have to do is ask yourself one question.  “Would the cup still be in this position if the rack wasn’t there?”  If the answer is no then it’s a penalty.

8. Playing a game > Overtime

  • BPong Rules:
    • It’s just an extended version of regulation starting each overtime with a three cup tight triangle
  • Pongstars Rules: 
    • Overtime #1: Four cup diamond
    • Overtime #2: Three cup triangle
    • Overtime #3: Two cup “Tits”
    • Overtime #4+: One cup Sudden Death
      • Both teams get an opportunity to shoot each round of Sudden Death
      • The game ends when one team outperforms the other in the same round; there is no rebuttalling(extra turns) in Sudden Death
      • If both teams match one another in the same round then we continue with one cup until they don’t
      • Rollbacks still exist if both players make last cup
      • Players must alternate shots at all times even from round to round; no player will ever shoot back to back even from round to round

What’s changing and why:  These rules will seem like a drastic change from what we’re all used to.  It may even seem unnecessary to some of you but our belief is that overtime was the part of the game that needed to be saved the most.  Going from overtime to overtime with the same boring three rack gets old.  It’s also a terrible feeling when you have a great rebuttal, say six cups and then are immediately on the ropes again because your opponents just ran three in overtime.

This is why we went with a 4 cup diamond to start things out.  This will also allow a game to end more often on last cup when teams are shooting really well.  That provides a more exciting scenario for stealing overtime.  We chose to reduce a cup each time until Sudden Death for two reason.  One being an easy way to keep track of what number overtime you’re in and two, it’s never the same so that provides added excitement and different strategy from overtime to overtime.

The biggest difference between our sport and others like it is that our games only end on a miss.  We don’t have those shots that are as rewarding as they were exciting.  We never get to experience that feeling of a game winning shot because there’s always a rebuttal.  It’s time that changed and you’ll see how in the examples below.  We have now worked into the rules of overtime where games can end on a make but only if it’s reached as far as the fourth overtime and beyond.

Example #1

  • Team 1: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Misses
  • Team 2: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes
  • Game over Team 2 Wins – GAME ENDS ON A MAKE

Example #2

  • Team 1: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Misses
  • Team 2: Player 1 Misses/Player 2 Makes
  • Continue to next round with Player 1 on Team 1 Shooting – MUST MAINTAIN ALTERNATE SHOOTING FROM ROUND TO ROUND

Example #3

  • Team 1: Player 1 Misses/Player 2 Misses
  • Team 2: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 does not need to shoot
  • Game over Team 2 Wins – GAME ENDS ON A MAKE

Example #4

  • Team 1: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes/Player 1 Misses
  • Team 2: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes/Player 1 Makes
  • Game over Team 2 Wins – GAME ENDS ON A MAKE

Example #5

  • Team 1: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes/Player 1 Makes
  • Team 2: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Misses
  • Game over Team 1 Wins – GAME ENDS ON MISS

Example #6

  • Team 1: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes/Player 1 Misses
  • Team 2: Player 1 Makes/Player 2 Makes/Player 1 Misses
  • Continue to next round with Team 1 Shooting BUT Player 2 must start off this round for both teams – MUST MAINTAIN ALTERNATE SHOOTING FROM ROUND TO ROUND

Rules we’re adding

1. Starting a game > Table

  • The table must be cleared of all items not directly related to the game; One drink per person is allowed on the table at a time.
  • Each table set up at a Pongstars tournament will be accompanied by two fanny packs affixed to the table; one for each team to place/protect their belongings.

Why:  It’s been expressed by a majority of the community that a problem exists from placing too many items on the table that don’t necessarily belong.  These items clutter up the already small playing surface causing issues related to many personal items getting in the way.  This also causes streaming a game to look incredibly chaotic for anyone watching for the first time.

2.  Playing a game > Double Bagging(last cup)

  • This can only occur when there are three cups or less remaining
  • Once a players makes last cup their partner has the opportunity to double bag in order to guarantee they receive the balls in overtime if rebutted
    • The only exception here is if a team is on last cup to start their turn. If player 1 misses and player 2 makes it, player one does not get an opportunity to double bag leaving it wide open for the rebutalling team to steal overtime
      • Stealing overtime results in the rebuttalling team to go first next
  • The rebutalling team must double bag if their opponents did in order to go to overtime regardless of how many cups they had to had left
  • If the rebutalling team’s opponent missed the double bag; the rebutalling team now has a chance to steal overtime by successfully double bagging last cup
  • The ball is always removed from the cup automatically when double bagging
  • Double bagging from the two rack does not count towards a roll back since each member is forced to participate in the double bag scenario

Why: One of the biggest issues that separates beer pong from other sports like it is the lack of exciting shots.  This rule is meant to make these shots much more important while creating additional excitement and making it more of a team game requiring both players to participate in the the double bag.

3. Playing a game > Interference > Racks

  • Cups cannot be added back into the rack for any reason once they are removed from natural game play
    • Ex. As a shooter you are not permitted to put a cup back into the rack as a dip cup for yourself
  • Rack adjustments are not permitted while your opponent has addressed the table prior to shooting.  The shooting player must request that the rack be fixed if they deem it necessary
    • Addressing the table refers to a player standing at the table in a position that reflects their actions of shooting a ball
  • Because rack adjustments are not permitted unless asked; a shooter cannot intentionally move their rack in any direction during their shot
    • If a rack gets moved from a player leaning from shooting the rack must stay in place until requested by the other team to be straightened

Why: It’s becoming too much of a problem where teams are interfering with a players shot by “fixing the rack”.  Teams are using this “common courtesy” rule to their advantage in a negative way by keeping a team from being able to shoot when they have every right to do so.  With it also being too difficult to declare when a player’s shot starts, changing the ruling to addressing the table helps organizers more accurately and confidently make a ruling.

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