10 drinking games you love, and why they all SUCK

Fact: Everyone is partial to one drinking game over the rest. Double fact: Everyone else at every party ever thinks that your preferred game actually sucks major butt, and that their preferred contest is better. So who’s right? Triple fact: No one! Everyone’s beloved booze-gamification method -- from beer pong to Land Mines -- is an atrocity against innovation, conversation, and common drinking decency. Here’s why each of these 10 popular suds-sports is actually a banal, contrived obstacle that stands in the way of the one true drinking game: drinking. Agree? Disagree? Hate me? Love me? Want to play drinking games with me? Come dance in the comments, you hyper-competitive louse.

Flickr/ryan harvey

Flip cup

WHAT: Basically, team mancala played with Solo cups. Everyone at this table has already hooked up, or will soon hook up. Throwback headbands & Always Sunny quotes: brace for ‘em.
WHO: Spike, who tells people he bartended his way through college even though he mostly just unbuttoned his poly-blend shirt and opened twist-offs. His dating profile lists him as “party starter, hell raiser, deep thinker ;)”.

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Flickr/J R

WHY IT SUCKS: Remember The NeverEnding Story? This is like that, except there's constant small-motor obligations & screaming in place of prepubescent West German acid-trippery. Your team will win, and you’ll feel elated; or it’ll lose, and you’ll hate everyone on it. But either way, there’s another round. And another one after that.

Inevitably, you’ll get bored and try to ditch, at which point Spike will get in your face with a d-bag grin and pressure you into “one more round”. You feel more responsibility in the anchor spot than you do at your job, which reveals some harsh realities about your career as an institutional investing consultant.

Flickr/Tal Atlas

**ck the Dealer/Up the River, Down the River

WHAT: A deck of cards, a dirty word, and lots of counting & guesswork.
WHO: Kim, a recently laid-off “social media guru” from the suburbs who insists on telling every dude she meets that she can outdrink them. She has one of those star tattoos on her foot, because #YOLO.

Flickr/Callie Reed

WHY IT SUCKS: These two sometimes-awful, always-bad games are balls-deep in a nomological gangbang: [CURSE!] the Dealer may go by President/El Presidente/Asshole, while UtRDtR’s known aliases include Around the World, Hi-Low, and… [CURSE!] the Dealer. Dammit.

Kim claims she already explained the rules (she didn’t), and spends each round berating everyone’s turns. Maybe you’ll be president; maybe you’ll guess your card on the first try, forcing her to drink three times its value. Maybe you’ll just wander away from this game and take a cab back to your apartment to play “[CURSE!] yourself”.

Wikipedia/Michael Morales


WHAT: A circuitous card game governed by arcane regulations about “chicks”, “floors”, and “never-have-I-evers” (an awful endeavor on its own). Warning: everyone will jump ship within four rounds.
WHO: Kristine, the self-avowed “cray-cray” girl from work. She told you this was a beer pregame, but upon arrival you notice her apartment is littered with empty magnums of cheap red wine, empty bottles of vanilla vodka, and Tri-Delt composites. Which is a little weird.
@raphiellej I don't think I've ever played a dice game in terms of drinking...card games get boring quickly (Kings is the worst) — Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) May 21, 2010 WHY IT SUCKS: 4: Whores. 9: Bust-a-Rhyme. Wait, 4 is 'floors', too? Oh no. Does anyone actually know how to play this? Of course not. Sitting on the floor in this den of post-frat iniquity as Kristine wine-haggles with her sisters about Tri-Delt’s original rules, your attention lands on the TV, which is mutely foisting VH1 reruns into your brain. So this is Love & Hip Hop, huh? Also, six is d*cks, so guzzle your now-warm beer and pick a card, d*ck. Or just go back to Love & Hip Hop. Kristine won’t even notice.

Flickr/Tal Atlas

Beer pong/Beirut

WHAT: Throwing (not the same as paddling; CHILL OUT, Dartmouth) ping-pong balls into cups full of beer.
WHO: Mike, a backwards-visored, overweight, fifth-year senior with a gruesome burn mark left over from initiation into a secret drinking society and a girlfriend who’s outrageously better-looking than he is.


WHY IT SUCKS: As the most intuitive game in the American drinking lexicon, beer pong is like DJ Khaled: suffering from success. And also, bloated -- as in, most players aren’t actually skilled at it, so mind-numbing missed-cuppery makes games drag along interminably. “Please don’t get Mike going on the differences between pong and Beirut," whispers his smokin’ significant other as he staggers around demanding "next" and trying to fight people over house rules. “Not like last time.”



WHAT: Vicious dice rolling punctuated with intrigue, deceit, and physical discomfort.
WHO: Hogan, this NESCAC laxer turned LinkedIn networker/brolic you know from a Summer internship at UBS. His dad “does a lot of consulting” with them. Or something.
Going to a couple of networking events tonight. Also known as: Getting [sauced] with people that aren't my friends yet. — Ali Spagnola (@alispagnola) April 1, 2014 WHY IT SUCKS: Isn’t it weird that it gets harder to add the dice after chugging eleventy ‘Gansetts? Isn’t it weird that people keep choosing you to drink? It’s not like you’re the weakest in the herd or something. DON’T TOUCH THE CUP! Alright, now touch the cup. Too late -- you should have touched the cup. Isn’t it weird Hogan has rolled doubles for the past eleventy turns? Dad?


WHY IT SUCKS: Imagine Gary Busey is chasing you while stridently clinking like an all-Coinstar twerk team. Despite chainsmoking cigarettes (indoors???) and babbling about Ellie Goulding’s “bangability”, Chaz is somehow excellent at bouncing his quarter into everyone’s Solo cups. You’re uncomfortably boozed up, extremely stressed, and sort of just want to let Coinstar Pappas catch you as penance for the havoc you’ve wrought on this countertop. Adios, security deposit.

Bravo TV

Anything having to do with a movie, show, or televised event

WHAT: Situational, boozy bingo tied to a #relevant broadcast moment for #branding, like the Real Housewives finale, or the State of the Union. (Yep, it’s a bummer that those two things are in the same sentence. Also, this doesn't count for our old Oscars bingo game, which was THE BEST.)
WHO: Sarah, a sassy account manager who slams vodka-tonnies (“DIET, please and thank you”) and has put out at least two Newports on your floor.
WHY IT SUCKS: Either the show is so deeply boring that boozing is the only thing that makes it better, or it’s so gravely upsetting that boozing is the only thing that makes it better. Healthcare? Drink! NeNe's weave? Drrrrrink! Either way, Sara will spend most of the time talking about “ROI” and "cross-platform adjacencies", stopping only to put out yet another Newport on your floor.



WHAT: A professional baseball game played in a stadium where beers are more expensive than hot dogs, which are more expensive than pretzels, which are more expensive than Cracker Jacks, all of which are less expensive than your terrible seats.
WHO: Kevin, your intramural league chair. 90% of his wardrobe was purchased inside those weird concourse stores at an egregious markup. He’s been asking you to take over chairman duties because “things are busy at work”, but you secretly hate him and want him to suffer.

Flickr/Adam Sonnett

WHY IT SUCKS: Kevin will never admit it, but baseball games are boring. Like, “Newt Gingrich narrating the dictionary on a moving sidewalk while Boz Scaggs’ Greatest Hits plays in the background” levels of boring.

You’ll drink to make it better, then your card will get declined because you bought a down-payment's worth of quasi-craft "Summer ale", and your credit card company thinks it’s fraudulent. THE REAL FRAUDS ARE THE ONES CHARGING 13 BUCKS FOR A FAKE WITBIER, MASTERCARD!  When he’s not looking, you’ll push Kevin into a urinal. It makes you feel better, but not by much.

Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist's national food and drink team, and sucks at playing all of these sucky games. Lampoon him on the Twitter machine: @dinfontay.