How to Play King’s Cup

How to Play King’s Cup

We’re always on the lookout for fun drinking games that can be played with basic household items. That’s one of the best things about King’s Cup—all you need is a table, a cup, some booze, a deck of cards, and a group of enthusiastic drinkers ready for a good time.

If it’s backyard games you’re after, King’s Cup fits the bill there, too. That is, as long as the weather isn’t too windy. Players who take the game outside should keep a cooler handy, so they don’t have to keep running inside for more hooch. Make sure the ground is fairly level before setting up the table to prevent the cup from tipping over during play.

Since we like to play this game on a regular basis, we invested in a special “King’s Cup” that’s broken out only during play, however, the game can be played using whatever cup you have on hand.

How To Play King’s Cup

What You’ll Need

  • A table large enough to hold all the players
  • A deck of standard playing cards
  • A good supply of whatever alcoholic beverage you’re drinking (doesn’t have to be the same for every player)
  • An extra cup

We’ve found that King’s Cup is more entertaining when played in large groups, but you can play with as few as four people. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get buzzed quickly if there are fewer people in the round, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to recruit as many players as possible!

King’s Cup Rules

To play, gather everyone around the table and place the King’s Cup in the center. Make sure every player has at least one drink in front of them. We prefer to play with beer to keep things simple, but the game gets really intriguing if everyone is drinking something different (you’ll understand why once you’ve read the rules!).

Fan out the deck of cards facedown around the cup, making sure all the cards are touching one another.

Take turns choosing cards out of the pile moving clockwise around the circle. Perform one of the following actions, depending on which card you’ve chosen:


Waterfall— If an ace is drawn, every player must start drinking at the same time beginning with the player who drew the card. This player may stop drinking at any time, but the rest of the players have to keep drinking as long as the card-drawing player does. When he stops, the person to their right can stop whenever they choose and so on around the circle.

If this sounds confusing, think of it this way. If the person to your left is still drinking, you can’t stop until they do. That means the person last in line at the table will end up drinking for the longest amount of time.


You—The player who chooses the twocard must direct another player to take two drinks.


Me—The player who chooses the threecard must take two drinks.


Whores—All female players must drink when a four is drawn. You can substitute a more politically correct term if you prefer, but we’re not that uptight. We know “whore” was probably chosen for the simple fact that it rhymes with “four.”


Bust a Jive—When a five is drawn, the drawer must invent a dance move or pick an existing one if not feeling creative. Every player must imitate the move, and if anyone messes it up, he or she takes a drink.


Dicks—All male players must drink when a six is pulled. See what we mean about the rhyme scheme?


Heaven—Upon drawing seven, every player reaches for the sky. The last one to put their hands up takes a drink. Alternatively, players can point to the floor rather than reaching upward—a variation known as “Hell.”


Mate—The player who chooses the eightcard picks another player as a “drinking buddy.” Both of them take a drink.


Bust a Rhyme—The player who chooses the nine card says any word. Every other player must come up with a rhyming word moving clockwise around the circle. If they can’t, or if they repeat a word that’s already been used by another player, they must take a drink.

Tip: If you’re observing the “Nine-Bust a Rhyme” rule, try to come up with a word that’s somewhat difficult to rhyme. It’s no fun if you just choose an easy one like “pan,” “cat,” or “rain.” The more challenging the word, the more hilarious the round will be.


Categories—Whoever draws ten must choose a category like “breakfast food,” “terms of endearment,” or “things you’d find in a dorm room.” Any player who can’t name something in that category (without repeating) must take a drink.


Rule—The player who chooses the jackcard invents a rule such as “no touching cards with your left hand” or “can’t say the word beer.” Any player who breaks the rule during play will take a drink. This part is especially fun once the game gets rolling and more than one jack has been drawn—it can be challenging to keep up with all the different rules!


Questions—Players who draw a queen must initiate a series of questions. Every player who’s asked a question will then respond with another question and so on until a player fails to answer in the form of a question. Here’s an example of a “queen” exchange:
Player 1: What day is it?
Player 2: What time of day is it?
Player 3: Is it after midnight?

If a player gives an answer in the form of a statement or can’t think of another question, he or she has to take a drink.


King’s Cup—This is the only card that changes its rule from the start of play to the finish. The players who choose the first three kings all pour a small amount of their drink into the “King’s Cup” in the center of the table. When the fourth king is drawn, that unlucky player has to chug whatever mixture has ended up in the cup. That’s why we prefer to play with beer—drinking games are more fun when you don’t have to clean up vomit afterward—but some people think the prospect of downing a “Frankencocktail” makes the game more scintillating.

Aside from the above, the game has one other important rule. Any player who breaks the chain of cards—that is, makes it so the remaining cards aren’t all touching one another—has to drain the King’s Cup.

The game is over when all the cards have been drawn.


Four—Give 2, Take 2

In this take on the game, female players don’t drink when a four is drawn. Instead, the player to draw the card takes two drinks and directs two other players to do the same.

Six—Thumbs Down

Similarly, instead of the men taking a drink, all players must put one thumb on the table when a six is drawn. The last person to do so is the one to drink.

Five—Never Have I Ever

When a player draws a five, all the other players must hold up five fingers. The player who drew the card then says “never have I ever . . .” followed by something they haven’t done. For example, a player might say “never have I ever been to Mexico.” Every player who has been to Mexico would put one finger down. This continues until one player has put down all five fingers, at which point they have to take a drink.

Nine—Truth Or Dare

In this version, the player who draws a nine challenges one of the other players to a game of “Truth or Dare.” If the player who was challenged says no, then they have to take a drink.


When it comes to maintenance and cleanup, this game has a definite edge over other drinking games like beer pong. As long as no one’s gotten too sloppy with their drinks (or, heaven forbid, thrown up without making it to the bathroom), all you have to do is wash the cup and wipe down the table. That makes it an excellent choice for late-night gatherings.

As with all drinking games, it’s important to observe basic safety guidelines. We know the main reason you’re playing is to put a good buzz on, and we respect that. Still, there’s no need to let things get out of hand. Don’t play if you’re intending to drive later on, and make sure none of the other players are planning on driving, either. The “waterfall” challenge can especially get you feeling good in a hurry, and it can be easy for your judgment to fall away after that.

We’ve found this game to be far more enjoyable when played with people who have lively imaginations. It also helps if everyone has some basic knowledge of the rules beforehand—otherwise, the poor sap who can’t remember to point their fingers at the sky or answer every question with a question will end up loaded before the game has really gotten underway. Our advice is to try a few “flash card” rounds with any new players before bringing alcohol into the mix.

Whichever variation you choose, we hope King’s Cup is a big hit at your next gathering! Cheers!

P.S. – Check out a few of our other favorites:

Beer Pong


Never Have I Ever