Otherwise known as Circle of Death or Ring of Fire, Kings Cup is one of the most popular party games because of it’s ice-breaking ability.

The premise of Kings Cup is very simple – all you need is a deck of cards, a pint glass and a group of willing participants with drinks in their hands.

Everyone gathers at a table as the deck of cards is arranged around the pint glass. Each participant then draws a card from the circle. Ever card represents a specific action that must be conducted by the cardholder or group based on a predetermined set of rules.

The commonly known Kings Cup rules:

2 – You (Cardholder picks someone to drink.)

3 – Me (Cardholder drinks.)

4 – Whores (Ladies drink.)

5 – Rhymes (Cardholder starts out a phrase. Each person, in turn, must come up with a new sentence that rhymes off the original. Whoever messes it up, drinks. Ex. Person 1: Yesterday I bought a cat. Person 2: And I took it home to my new flat …)

6 – Dicks (Guys drink.)

7- Thumb master (Until another 7 is drawn, the cardholder is the “Thumb master” whom the rest of the participants must watch like a hawk. Should the Thumb master place his/her thumb on the table, everyone else must follow suit as inconspicuously as possible. Last person to put his/her thumb on the table drinks.)

8 – Pick a Mate (Choose one person to take a drink with you.)

9 – Categories (Cardholder picks a category – cartoons, for example. Everyone must then name something from that category. First person to repeat an answer, or not answer within 3 seconds drinks.)

10 – Draw Again (Self explanatory.)

Jack – Make a Rule (Cardholder makes a rule that everyone must follow for the duration of the game. For example: No cussing. Anytime a person cusses, he/she drinks.)

Queen – Questions (Cardholder starts off with a question to any person he/she chooses. That person DOES NOT answer the question, but rather asks someone else a question. The pattern continues until a person breaks the chain, and then drinks. Note: You cannot ask a question to the person who asked you one – no “ask backs.”)

King – Pour some of your drink into the pint glass. (The person who draws the last King has to drink whatever is in the glass.)

Ace – Waterfall (The cardholder starts off drinking and every one else must start too. Only when the cardholder stops, can the person next in line to them stop. One by one, each player in order chooses when to drop drinking, controlling how much the participants after them drink.)


New Kings Cup Rules

One of the best parts about Kings Cup are all the rules people make up. They add a level of difficultly to an increasingly drunker group of participants.

A recent Reddit thread had a ton of new rules most of us have never heard of. Here are some of the best:


Choo Choo Train: Every time you are laughing, you must pump your arms back and forth. This inevitably gets other people to laugh how ridiculous it looks and soon everyone is moving their arms which causes more laughing and soon everyone is dead.Bananajon1


If you touch your phone during the game, then the rule maker is allowed to send any text message to any contact in your phone. you better pay attention to the company you have in front of you. slough0967


Forehead Master: This is a similar rule to the thumb master but you use your forehead instead of your thumb. The last person to touch the table with their forehead has to drink. After a few drinks, people start slamming their heads and concussions start happening. becomeworldly


Whenever you say something, you have to include “I’ll tell you what” or you cannot make eye contact with anyone. –TeTrodoToxin4


If you laugh, you can’t show your teeth! It looks hilarious to everyone else and before you know it every is laughing while tucking their lips over their teeth. –BUCKWHEATsauce


My go-to rule has always been if you say someones name, you have to take off an article of clothing. The more you drink, the harder it gets. The harder it gets, the more naked everyone gets. – tmelee


I’m personally a fan of the Viking rule. Every time the rule maker motions like their hands are horns on a viking helmet, everyone else has to paddle. Last person to do so drinks. –ziptie1


Water Buffalo aka Buffalo Club is when you hold your drink with your non-dominant hand. If anyone participating in the game catches you at any time holding your drink with your dominant hand, then you chug your drink on the spot. It doesn’t matter if you have beer, wine, or Everclear; you finish that drink on the spot. –liddok3vin


T-Rex arms. Whenever you go to drink, you have to lock your elbows in at your sides so that you have T-Rex arms. If you forget, you drink again. –Ozwaldo


The Ke$ha rule rule. You have to repeat the last word you say say. –lumberzach316


Any time someone cursed they have to write the word on them in Sharpie… worked great especially if you’re heading out after. –irishleeds


Since the universally-hated Little Green Man (explained in other posts) often gets brought out among my friends, I came up with an addendum: if you catch another person breaking that rule—drinking without removing their green man—you can grab your own green man and add him to the offender’s cup. This frees you from the green man rule for the rest of the game, and the person who messed up now has to remove two green men every time. –Maximillien


Every time you tell someone to drink you must compliment them (it ends up being funny more than half the time) – omegawoot


Dictator – lick a card, stick it to your forehead. as long as it remains stuck, you can make or ignore any and all rules.-Buck_13


Three word sentences. It gets very Neanderthalic with lots of pointing and grunts. Usually when someone slips up, we say “Drink face off.” –Jartresto


Every time you target someone (like in a two/you situation) you must touch the person’s chin, look dreamily into their eyes, and ask politely for them to drink. –kelpbites


One of my favorites is calling people by the names of people they have hooked up with. Makes for some fun/awkward surprises and lots of laughing. –ann_egg_veal


Minister of Foreign Affairs. Only the designated Minister of Foreign affairs can talk to people who aren’t playing the game. Anyone who is playing the game have to get him to pass the message along. Failure to comply results in a penalty. –flashmedallion



Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2014 but spruced up in 2022