Kings Cup Drinking Game

The informant is a 19 year old Filipino female. She lives with her mother in Toledo, Ohio and has one older sister. She was raised Roman Catholic. She is currently a student at a university in Southern California. The informant is the co-president of the club volleyball team at her university.

The informant first learned this game when she started going to parties in sophomore year of high school. She played it for the first time her senior year of high school. Kings Cup is a drinking game played with a deck of cards. The informant would play it at parties, usually towards the middle or end of the night. In her experience, the rules vary from place to place. The rules she learned in Ohio are generally the same everywhere she has played, but certain specifics change. In the game, each card type in the deck has a certain significance, indicating a certain action to be done by the players. The cards are laid out in a circle. Each player draws a card and reveals it to the group and then performs the action indicated by that card. The card is then placed under the tab of a beer can. Eventually the pressure from the cumulating cards causes the beer can to pop open. The person whose card does this has to drink all of the beer. Additionally, if anyone breaks the circle created by the cards, they have to perform a forfeit, designated at the beginning of the game. This is usually something embarrassing, such as streaking. The specific card designations are as follows.


Ace: Never have I ever. All players put up three fingers. Each player goes around the circle, saying something they have never done. If one of the other players has done that action they have to put down a finger. This continues until only one person has fingers still up.

2: Red to the head: If the two is red the player who drew the card has to drink two drinks. If the card is black, the player can give out two drinks to any other players to drink, either two to one person or one to two people.

3: The rules are the same as two but with three drinks.

4: Whores: All of the girls playing have to take a drink.

5: To the skies: The last person to put both of their hands in the air has to take a drink.

6: Dicks: All of the guys playing have to take a drink.

7: Social: Every person playing has to take a drink.

8: Abc: The players go around in a circle, each naming something that begins with their letter of the alphabet. The player who drew the card starts with A, the next with B, and one around the circle. The first to mess up has to drink.

9: Rhyme: The person who drew the card says a word or phrase. Each subsequent person in the circle has to say a word that rhymes. The first to mess up has to take a drink.

10: Categories: The person who drew the card picks a category and names something within that category. Each person has to name something in that category, going around the circle. The first to mess up has to take a drink.

Jack: Rule: The person who drew the card makes up a rule, which is in effect for the rest of the game. If anyone breaks this rule they have to take a drink. Examples of rules include no swearing or using names.

Queen: Questions: The person who draws the card looks at someone in the circle and asks them a question. This person should then turn to someone else and ask them a question. It goes around, until someone either answers a question or does not ask a question themselves. That person has to take a drink.

King: Waterfall: Everyone starts drinking at the same time. The person who draws the card chooses when to stop drinking. When they do, the person sitting next to them stops, then the person next to that person, and so on around the circle. In order to determine which direction the waterfall goes, the card drawer asks the two people sitting next to them a generic question. The first one to answer gets to be the second person in the waterfall instead of the last.

Analysis: This game is an excellent example the defining characteristics of folklore: repetition and variation. In the informant’s own experience, she has seen variation in the details of game depending on where and with whom she plays it. Almost every person who plays this game has come into contact with different rules. Perhaps the proximity to alcohol increases the possibility for variation. It is also interesting that this game is an imposition of rules upon an ostensibly disorderly and unruly activity. Perhaps it is the inherent unpredictability of drinking that stimulates the development of a set of rules for action, in the form of a game. While some drink to step outside the bounds of society, the fear that alcohol can push people too far may contribute to the popularity of a game that adds structure to the activity.

Annotation: iPhone Application: King’s Cup. By Bobby Cronkhite Software. 2/25/2011.