Tag Archives: beer pong

Beer Pong Blowing

“I watched my upperclassmen doing this at my first college parties.  After they dip their ping pong balls into the water before their turn, they would blow on it, and have nearby spectators blow on it too… apparently it’s supposed to coat your ball with good luck.  More like germs, but I don’t know… It’s pretty much counterintuitive to the part where you dip it in the water in the first place.”

Background: The informant is a college student who has witnessed others performing the gesture of blowing on one’s ping pong ball prior to taking a shot in the game.

Context: This superstition was shared with me over FaceTime.

These rituals are reminiscent of the arbitrary “strategies” that schoolchildren come up with that they swear will help secure victory in a meaningless game.  The informant goes to school in a different region of California, yet this strategy is still consistent with what I’ve seen people do at USC; I don’t know how such a custom of blowing on a ping pong ball was spread across college communities.  There also isn’t any kind of online information that confirms this as a phenomenon in the general college community, so it is also unclear whether this strategy even exists outside of a certain geographical radius.

Beer Pong and House Rules

K is the interviewed party.
J is the interviewer.

K: “Beer pong house rules kind of differ depending on which house, what house you’re in, like people always come up with different things, but the main rules kind of center around getting… I find the most interesting rules are what happens if you get b*tch cup. So, b*tch cup in beer pong is the center cup in a 4-3-2-1 pyramid, and some of the ways that I’ve seen it played is if you make b*tch cup you have to take off your shirt, and sometimes it’s different. sometimes for guys its shirts and for girls, it’s pants, sometimes for guys its shirts and for guys pants. I’ve also seen it where both genders just take off their pants. I’ve also seen it where if you b*tch cup you have to … there’s one where you have to drink a beer, drink a full beer, that was dumb, ‘cause if you got b*tch cup you have to drink a full beer. There’s also one where if you get b*tch cup as your first cup it doesn’t count as a cup, yeah… There’s also variations for if you get to pull your pants up after you make another cup or put your shirt on after you make a cup, or if it stays off the entire rest of the game. Or sometimes if [it continues on if] you play more games at the same table. There’s also a lot of things around trolling. One particular tradition, which is when you don’t make any of the cups in a game, you have to spend the next game sitting under the table, like as if you’re a troll under a bridge.”

J: “Are these [rules] largely regional or do they vary in local areas?”

K: “I’ve seen the ‘cup doesn’t count’ a lot more on the east coast, but I think the whole pants shirt, which one you remove thing is more up to the house. I find people do shirts more often in communities where there’s more girls around, whereas with guys it’s normally… I think guys normally just play pants.”
J: “Where did you hear about the style that you play?”
K: “I heard about it at my fraternity house, where we don’t really do anything.”


I have played or heard some variation of most of the rules discussed earlier. While the reasoning behind changes is hard to nail down, in this case, I would say that many of them come down to the comfort level and competitiveness of the main group of players for each area that has its own ruleset. For people who all know each other, taking off clothes is much less intimidating than if the room is full of strangers. It also helps that the drinking nature of the game means that most players are a little loosened up and more open to doing things of that nature. That being said, some people may have no interest in any of these rules and choose not to follow them. The interesting note that I have personally found about these house rulesets is how strictly people adhere to rules once they are made up and chosen. Groups are very unlikely to alter house rules and will defend their own tooth and nail when presented with an outside alternative. The only way to settle this argument can be found in the name. The reason they are often called house rules is that when you’re in that house, those are the rules you play. Playing house rules is usually done out of respect, but sometimes it is a way to lord power over those who aren’t a member of the in-group of the house; this is especially evident with many fraternity house rulesets. A fraternity house is the domain of no one but the members, where they are used to ruling with absolute authority. House rules are usually much more of a suggestion when the people playing are on a more equal level.


The interviewed party is a 21-year-old, male southern-California native. He lived his whole life in Irvine, California until he moved to Los Angeles to study at the University of Southern California. In the fall of his freshman year, he pledged one of USC’s fraternities and has been an active member since. This interview was conducted in person at the interviewer’s house. The audio of the conversation was recorded in order to ensure accuracy when writing the spoken words.