How to Play Quarters

How to Play Quarters

We love drinking games that involve very little skill and coordination, and that’s why we’ve been obsessed with Quarters since the first time we played. The rules are simple enough for a child (or someone who’s been playing buzzed drinking games) to understand, and it can be played using items that are common to most households.

Although the name of the game is “Quarters” and not “Quarter,” you actually need just one quarter in order to play. That was good news for us, because we learned to play while broke college students who didn’t have too many coins to rub together. That’s the standard environment for Quarters, but the truth is it can be enjoyed by any adult of legal drinking age. We certainly didn’t stop playing after we graduated, so there’s no reason for you to do so, either!

How Do You Play Quarters?

Even if you’ve never played the Quarters game, known in South Africa as Coinage and in Spanish-speaking environs as Monedita (little coin), you should be able to pick it up easily. The rules aren’t complicated, even by the standards of fun drinking games. The only thing you might have trouble with is stopping the game—it’s that addictive.

Although the game usually ends when all but one player has had enough to drink, you can adjust the rules and continue play using non-alcoholic beverages if you prefer. One of the best things about Quarters is that you can practice your technique at any time of the day or night without drinking anything at all.

What You’ll Need

*We like to use red Solo cups when playing Quarters, especially for backyard games. Since they’re practically unbreakable, they’ll hold up in case the play gets rowdy. They also lend a festive air to the party.

Safety Measures

You can get pretty inebriated during a game of quarters, so make sure to appoint a designated driver if walking home isn’t an option. If you’re hosting the party, consider offering your guests a place to crash for the night.

Also, keep an eye on any player who seems to be consuming more than their share of alcohol. Nothing stops a party in its tracks like a case of alcohol poisoning, so take care not to let the fun get out of hand.

Playing the Game

1. Gather the players around the table. They can either sit in chairs or stand depending on the table’s dimensions.

2. Set the glass in the center of the table making sure it’s at least 10 inches away from each player.

3. Make sure everyone has a cup filled with beer or drink of his or her choice.

4. Determine how much each player will be required to drink when shots are landed. It doesn’t have to be an exact measurement—we usually just say “take a sip” or something similar.

5. Decide who will shoot first. You can do this by flipping the quarter, holding a rock-paper-scissors tournament, or drawing straws. Alternatively, you can award the privilege to the guest of honor or the host of the party.

6. The first shooter will attempt to deposit the quarter in the center glass by bouncing it off the table first. If the quarter does land in the glass, the shooter directs the player of his or her choice to take a drink.

If the shooter misses, he or she must relinquish the quarter to the player to their right, so play moves counterclockwise around the table. The shooter’s turn ends only when he or she has missed a shot.

7. The shooter may opt to extend his or her turn by calling “Chance!” after they miss. If they make the shot, play continues as usual. If they miss, they still have to pass along the quarter—and take a penalty drink.

8. If a shooter manages to get the quarter into the glass three times in a row, he or she is permitted to make up an additional rule for the game. These rules are designed to add fun to the game, so try not to make them too complicated. Here are a few ideas:
  • Players are not permitted to use certain words such as “drink,” “quarter,” “you,” or “bounce.”
  • Quarters may not bounce off the table twice during a shot.
  • The quarter must pass directly from person to person without touching the table in between turns.
  • The quarter must pass directly from person to person without touching the table in between turns.
  • Players are not permitted to call one another by their proper names.
If any of the rules are violated, the offending player must take a drink. Note that as the game progresses, it can be difficult to remember all these rules, even for the people who implemented them in the first place. Don’t worry—the idea is to make the game livelier.

9. When the shooter manages to hit the rim of the glass with the quarter but misses the shot, the other players have the option of challenging him or her. This means that the shooter gets another chance to make the shot. If it’s another miss, the shooter has to take one drink for every player who challenged him or her. Conversely, if they make the shot, it’s the challengers who have to take a drink.

As an alternative, the shooter doesn’t have to accept the challenge at all. He or she can simply decline and pass the quarter to the next player as usual.

10. Players can drop out when they decide they either can’t or don’t want to drink any more. Whoever remains in the game the longest is declared the winner.

Speed Quarters

To liven things up even more, try this variation. Speed Quarters is an especially appealing option if everyone in the group has played the regular version before and is ready to try something new.

For this version, you’ll need at least four players, two shot glasses, and a larger supply of quarters—five or six per person. It’s also easiest to play at a square or rectangular table.

Make sure every player is armed with a supply of quarters and their drink of choice. Place empty shot glasses in front of two players who are sitting opposite each other.

To begin play, the participants who have glasses in front of them will each pick up a quarter and attempt to land it in their shot glass by bouncing it off the table. If they miss, they’ll continue shooting until they make it. If they land the shot, they quickly dump out the quarter and pass the glass to the player on their left, who then takes over as shooter.

When a player ends up with both shot glasses in front of them, the round halts while this shooter overturns one glass and places the other on top. He or she will then have two chances to land a quarter in the top glass, making sure to bounce it off the table first. If they land the shot on their first try, they pass the glasses to the player of their choice, who will then attempt to land the shot as well.

If the first shooter should miss the first shot but make the second, they separate the glasses, giving one to the player on their left and the other to the one sitting opposite them. This signifies the end of the round, and the players with shot glasses will resume play from the beginning.

If, however, the shooter fails to land either of their two shots, the player to their right spins a quarter on the table and the shooter is forced to drink until the coin stops spinning. Any player besides the “loser” may encourage the quarter to keep spinning by blowing on it or teasing it with their fingers (as long as it’s still in motion when they do so).

Play should then resume from the beginning. A game of Speed Quarters is over when everyone agrees that they’re drunk enough to move on.

Last Call

As is the case with most fun drinking games, the best rounds of Quarters have been the ones that we can barely remember. What we do remember is the fast-paced, uproarious nature of the game—enough to keep us coming back to the table for nights on end.

One suggestion: If you’re playing with an experienced bunch who are capable of landing a ton of shots in a row, keep a pad of paper and a marker on hand to help you keep track of the rules. You can use a regular pen, but we’ve found that a marker makes the words easier to read as we continue down the merry path of intoxication.

We hope this Quarters game brings as much fun to your festive gatherings as it has to ours. Cheers!