How to Play Flip Cup

How to Play Flip Cup

Flip Cup is one of the most ridiculously fun drinking games we’ve ever encountered. Unlike some drinking games requiring you to remember a bunch of rules, this one can be enjoyed even when you’ve already got a good buzz going. You don’t need any fancy equipment—just basic items that can be found at just about any festive gathering.

As much as we love drinking games, we want to stress the importance of drinking responsibly. That means knowing when to stop the game, keeping an eye on any players who look like they’ve overindulged, and no operating heavy machinery during or after play. Designated drivers have no place at the Flip Cup table—they’ll just have to wait until next time.

Now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, let the fun begin!

Alternate Names

Before you get going, we should let you know that this game has several aliases. We’ve heard it referred to as:

  • Tippy Cup
  • Tappy Cup
  • Flippy Cup
  • Canoe
  • Taps

This list is by no means comprehensive—there might be still more names out there that we just haven’t encountered. Whatever you call it, Flip Cup is destined to become a staple in your repertoire of backyard games.

How To Play Flip Cup

What You’ll Need

  • Solo cups (at least one per player)
  • A table (any flat surface will do)
  • Your alcoholic beverage of choice
We prefer to drink beer when playing Flip Cup, but to be honest, beer is our preference for most drinking games. If you’re not a beer drinker, you can substitute whatever you prefer, as long as you’ll be able to keep up the pace! Be forewarned that game play requires you to drink as fast as you can, so straight liquor isn’t recommended.


Divide players into teams preferably with the same number of players on each side. If you wind up with an odd man out, a player on the team with fewer people should be designated as the “double drinker” (more on that in a second).

Next, everyone should pour an equal amount of beer into his or her cup. The game’s success depends on everyone’s cups holding the same amount, so make the pours as close as possible.

Players should then line up with the two teams facing one another across the table. Place your cup directly in front of you, so every cup on the team forms a straight line. The opposing team’s cups should be in a second line across the table and parallel to yours.

Decide which player on each team will drink first and which will be the “anchor” at the end of the line. Both teams should begin on the same end of the table to keep things from getting too confusing.

Playing the Game

The game begins when the first players in line on each team chug their beer as fast as they can, so they can set their empty cup back down on the table right side up. Then they have to attempt to flip the cup so that it lands upside down using their fingers.
Once they’ve managed to do this, the next player in line will repeat the entire procedure. These actions move on and on down the line until everyone on the team has empty cups sitting upside down in front of them. The first team to achieve this is the winner.

If one team has fewer players, this team will obviously have a better chance of finishing first. To maintain fair play, set two cups in front of the last person in line and have them repeat the chugging and flipping process before declaring the team finished.

The losing team isn’t required to down their remaining cups, which is good news if you’re intending to play more than one round. Any full cups can be recycled for the rematch. The losing side will be more sober, giving them a better chance at redemption.

Important Flip Cup Rules

  • No drinking from your cup before the start of play.
  • Once play begins, no player is permitted to touch their cup until the person next to them has downed and flipped their own cup.
  • Players must flip their cup using only one hand—no blowing on it or otherwise guiding its trajectory.
  • The cup must be completely upside down on the table before the next player can begin their turn.
  • If the cup gets knocked over in the line of cups while the next player is taking their turn, the player with the upset cup must re-flip it.


Since you’re not dealing with the dunking and splashing that comes with other drinking games like Beer Pong, cleaning up after a game of Flip Cup is fairly simple.
Just dispose of any used cups (remember to recycle whenever possible), and wipe down the table with all-purpose cleaner.

If you were playing indoors, you might also want to give the surrounding floor a swab or two with a Swiffer. Playing in your backyard requires less cleanup and is highly recommended!


One on One

While the game is more fun when played in large groups (what drinking game isn’t?), it’s possible to set up a round with only two players. Just set up a line of cups (we like to use 5-6 per person) on either side of the table and put one player on each side. Each player will then make their way down the line, chugging and flipping each cup themselves until one player has flipped all of their cups.

We highly recommend using beer for this version, since it calls for a higher rate of consumption per person. Drinking that much hard stuff in a short period of time isn’t just inadvisable, it can be dangerous.

You Spin Me Right ‘Round

This is just like the original version, but with flair. After each player chugs their cup, they’re required to spin in a circle before attempting to do the cup flip. This can make the game far more challenging depending on how inebriated everyone is.

Human Pyramid

This is a nifty way to extend the round and give the lagging team a chance to catch up. After each team finishes chugging and flipping their cups, they must gather together to build a human pyramid before being declared the winner. Due to its team-building aspect, this one is especially appealing at company parties.

Hands Off

In this turbo-charged variation, use of hands is not permitted. Players must come up with alternate ways to lift and flip their cups.

If you’d like, you can restrict the hands-free rule to the drinking part and still allow players to use their fingers for flipping. Either way, you’d be better off taking this version of the game outside.

Tips for Successful Play

When it comes to the act of flipping an empty plastic cup so that it lands directly on its rim, you can never get too much practice. Here are some tips to help you get your team across the finish line that much faster!

Tap the cup lightly.

Hitting the cup too hard may cause it to flip over too many times, which lessens its chances of landing on the rim. Tap the bottom just hard enough so that the cup “tips” over upside down, rather than somersaulting through the air.

Keep the table as dry as possible.

A wet or sticky table can impede the movement of the cups. Keep a damp towel or rag handy to clean up any spills in between rounds.

Flip before you swallow.

There’s no rule that says the beer has to be down your throat before you flip—it just has to make it into your mouth. So, get the beer in there and focus on the flip. You can worry about swallowing when it’s the next guy’s turn.

Use both hands.

We know, we know—we said you weren’t allowed to use both hands for flipping. But, you can pick up the cup, down the contents, and set it down with one hand while using the other to do the flip. As long as only one hand is touching the cup at a time, you haven’t broken any rules—and may have gained a few precious seconds on your competitors.

Last Call

We’re big fans of fast-paced drinking games like this one, especially when they’re played outdoors on long summer days. Although basic hand-eye coordination is required, flipping the cups is actually easier than it sounds.

The main thing to keep in mind during play is to always keep your cool. Freaking out over your inability to land the cup isn’t going to make it any easier. Remember what you’ve learned about technique, take a deep breath, and start over. Even if you miss, the world’s not about to end—all you’ve done is made sure the other team is getting slightly drunker than yours. Isn’t that why everyone’s playing in the first place?

May your beer go down smoothly and your cups stick the landing! Cheers!

Here’s links to some of our other favorite drinking games:

Beer Pong

King’s Cup