Looking for a list of the best bar games? You’ve come to the right place.
For a website that’s all about bar games, it’s about time we put together a single resource that includes most of our favorites.
This resource includes 40 of the best bar games.
From pool to pun slams, we include new games, old games, traditional games, and a few of the more obscure bar games.
But it’s still only scratching the surface.
There are too many games out there to list them all. Or even come close.
Hopefully, you can use this list as a starting point.
This is an obvious one, and one of our favorite topics on this site. The game of Billiards is a staple among the bar games featured on this list.
Billiards began as a game among the leisure class back in the late 15th century.
It later became known as “pool” (as in a type of bet) in the late 18th century.
This was because billiards tables were commonly set up in betting parlors to kill time between horse races.
Many bars have pool tables. Some much nicer than others.
And many bars also have their own set of house rules that apply to common games.
The most popular game of billiards (by far) is eight-ball.
If you’re a beginner and looking for a little help to get started, check out some of these basic but important billiards practice tips.
The great bar game of table shuffleboard was first played in the pubs of 15th century England.
Table shuffleboard eventually made its way to the U.S. and gained popularity during the early 20th century, reaching its peak in the 1940’s.
More recently, the game of table shuffleboard has made a comeback in dive bars, brew pubs and game rooms across the country.
There’s a lot to say about this game.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fantastic bar game of shuffleboard, we recommend starting with our complete guide to table shuffleboard.
You can also check out our list of shuffleboard rules for a simple game of knock-0ff.
Another classic table game for the bar, foosball can be played with 2 or 4 players.
It definitely takes some skill to get really good at foosball.
And, honestly, it’s not that much fun to play against a really good player. They pretty much score at will. But if the skill level is fairly even and you’re looking for a fun, competitive, sweat- inducing game, be sure to give it a try.
Want to get better at foosball? Check out these 21 tips.
4. Air Hockey
Invented by a group of engineers from of Brunswick Billiards from 1969 to 1972, air hockey gained mass market appeal in the 70’s and shot to popularity in late 70s and 80s.
The official length of a standard air hockey table is 8 feet. This is perfect for hours of 1-v-1 competition.
Have you found a bar with an air hockey table? One where the air still actually flows through the tiny holes on the surface of the table?
If so, consider yourself lucky. And please let us know where it is.
5. Bubble Hockey
Bubble hockey, also known as dome hockey, is typically found in arcades and amusement halls.
But it has the potential to be a great bar game, either as a stand-alone featured game or a complement to some of the classic options like darts and foosball.
Unlike air hickey, with bubble hockey you control players who slide and pivot to hit the puck on a mini version of a hockey rink.
It’s actually more similar to foosball, except that the playing field is covered by a big plastic dome.
Bubble hockey was big in the 80’s, with original classic match-ups like USA vs. the Soviet Union and USA vs. Canada.
The game of bubble hockey is still made and sold by the original manufacturer, Super Chexx.
Learn more about its history here.
Throwing, Aiming and Bowling Bar Games
The game of Darts gets a lot of coverage on this website. That’s mainly because it is one of the best – if not the best – bar or pub game.
You can play a few games quietly in the corner with your buddies, join a league, or just throw some darts by yourself while enjoying a pint.
The game of Darts has a lot of history and requires tons of practice to get really good.
There are many ways to play and practice darts, including traditional games, game variations, and multi-player formats.
I personally favor the 01 games. But anyone can play darts, especially games like cricket or around the world.
If you want to learn more about darts, we have a bunch of resources on our site:
- Check out this post for an overview of the best dart games
- Here are some tips on how to improve your stance and score 01 games
- Into electronic dartboards? Check out this post on how to find the best electronic dartboard
- If you prefer playing on a bristle dartboard (like me), check out this post about how to find the best set of steel tip darts
- If you want to create the ultimate home darts set-up, here is our guide to dartboard measurements and mounting
- If you need an overview of the rules, here is a guide to darts scoring plus 13 rules that apply to pretty much any game of darts
The classic bar game of Skee-Ball was invented in 1908 by Joseph Fourestier Simpson.
It was a very popular game in arcades and amusement halls during the 70’s and 80’s, and now it’s making a comeback as a trendy bar game for the millennial crowd.
Skee-Ball is still made and sold by the original manufacturer, Bay Tek games in Greenbay, Wisconsin.
As mentioned, you can find Skee-Ball in more and more bars these days.
It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to offer something different than the usual pool and darts mix.
Here are a couple bars to try your hand at skee-ball:
Looking for a skee-ball league? Check out Brewskee-Ball, which holds skee-ball leagues in Austin, Brooklyn, Gainesville, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Wilmington, NC.
8. Ring Toss
Hook and ring games have been played in bars and pubs since the 12th century (see Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem).
Ring toss is a straightforward game that is easy to set up and ready for anyone to try their hand at.
You simply take a hook that’s attached to a string (or rope) and try to swing it so it lands on a ring that’s attached to a post or wall.
But, depending on the distance, size of the ring and placement of the hook, it can be really hard to actually score points in this game.
That’s what makes it so fun; it is surprisingly hard.
It’s a low-cost game that’s easy to install and fun for all patrons, so why don’t more bars offer it?
Check with your local watering hole to find out.
Looking or an outdoor bar game with some old school Italian roots?
Bocce has been enjoyed at outdoor gatherings and traditional social clubs since the days of ancient Rome, and it’s still the perfect low key bar game.
Many bars now offer bocce courts indoors too.
For example, check out these bocce bar options in the D.C. area.
Remember that game your father played with the other old men at your family barbecues? Yep, it’s the same old horseshoes. And it’s still one of the best outdoor bar games around.
The concept is simple: place two stakes about 40 feet apart.
Take turns throwing a weighted U-shaped object (traditionally, an actual horseshoe) at one of the stakes, which typically sits in a horseshoe pit.
Only the horseshoes that land closest to the stake can score points, and usually only one player scores per round. And a ringer is worth 3 points. What’s not to love?
The game of horseshoes even has its own governing body, the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, with a wealth of information on their website about how to set up a court and play by the rules.
If you’re looking for a new twist on the game of horseshoes, and also happen to enjoy throwing frisbee, check out the game of Polish Horseshoes (aka Beersbee).
Card Games for the Bar
This one might seem a little obscure, but Cribbage is one those bar games that has been played in bars and taverns for centuries.
In fact, the game of Cribbage was a popular pastime among soldiers, sailors and fishermen dating back to the 17th century.
And, in its original form, Cribbage is a simple, fast and entertaining bar game for the 21st century.
Cribbage is a card game that uses a special board.
A Cribbage board typically has either 61 or 121 holes used to keep track of points. These boards can be elaborately designed and made from various materials.
The game moves quickly, with hands that can tally up to 15 points or score for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes. It can be played with 2 or more players.
12. Trivial Pursuit
Trivia games, in general, are great bar games.
Whether it’s your weekly trivia night or a game of beat the bartender, you can’t go wrong with incorporating some type of trivia or quiz game to engage your patrons and bring in some new customers.
For me, the best trivia game for a bar is the classic Trivial Pursuit.
What better way to demonstrate your superior knowledge of obscure and useless facts?
You can play with a small group, or even just grab a deck of cards and test yourself.
Perhaps the original bar game, poker has a long and complicated history. In general, “Poker” is one of the most popular games in the world. That’s why it needs to be included on this list.
In particular, Texas Hold ‘Em is played by millions of aspiring poker players, whether in casinos, poker nights at your buddy’s house, or online.
And yes, this game is also still played in bars.
Technically, playing real poker would be a form of gambling. Although some states explicitly allow this, it is illegal in most states.
For other places where traditional betting poker would be considered illegal, there is a version called “Tavern Poker”.
This is a loose and fun version of poker that gives you the chance to learn how to play without risking a small fortune.
With all the various loopholes, it’s hard to get a clear picture of when and where you can play real poker in a bar. Although this article provides a good explanation of how states are allowing various forms of “moneyless” poker in bars.
There is also an official bar poker league where you can play tavern poker to your heart’s content.
The league holds free Texas Hold ‘Em style poker nights at over 400 neighborhood bars across the country.
14. Cards Against Humanity
From the game’s creator: “Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.”
That pretty much sums it up. It’s a funny game that’s perfect for the bar or a dinner party.
Uno is a fun and simple card game to play while you’re at the bar.
The objective of this game is to be the first player to score 500 points. This is done by discarding all of your cards and earning points corresponding to the value of the remaining cards held by your opponents.
There are also “action cards”, such as skip, draw two and reverse, to make the game more interesting.
And when you only have one card left, you get to yell “UNO!”. That’s how you know it would be fun to play this game in a drinking establishment.
We just mentioned a game called Cards Against Humanity.
Well, this is the family versions of that game, suitable for most ages.
If you’re in a restaurant or family friendly bar, Apples-to-Apples is a good choice for a fun family-oriented game.
You can play this one with 4 to 10 players.
Like Cards Against Humanity, there is a judge who plays a card. You then select a card from your hand that you think matches the judge’s description.
There are some interesting comparisons to be made Apples-to-Apples, which keeps the game entertaining and engaging for a small group at the bar.
Board, Strategy & Tile Games
17. Connect 4
Also featured in our article about the best retro board games to play in bars, Connect Four is a great way to kill some time in a bar while revisiting some happy moments from your childhood.
It is a two-player “connection game” where each player takes turns dropping colored discs into the top of a vertical grid.
The goal of the game is to form a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of four of your discs before your opponent does.
To put it simply, playing Connect Four at a comfortable bar with a friend will put a smile on your face.
It’s the perfect addition to the increasingly popular selection of classic board and strategy games offered at neighborhood bars.
A set of Dominoes is like a deck of cards. They are generic game pieces that can be used in countless ways. That’s why every bar should include a set.
You can create simple or incredibly complex games with a set of dominoes. They can also be used to stack and build little mini structures, or just be fiddled with.
Dating back to 12th century China, Dominoes are said to have evolved from dice.
For example, a standard double-six domino set (where there are 0-6 dots on either end of the face side of a tile) includes all the rolls of two six-sided dice.
A simple bar game format for Dominoes is to play with two players. After laying all the tiles face down on a flat surface and shuffling the pieces, each player gets 7 tiles.
The first player lays a tile down on the table. Usually, this would be a double tile (i.e. the double 6).
The next player must lay a tile on either side of the first tile with a number of dots that matches that side (in this case 6). Then you proceed from there, trying to match dots on the open side with every turn.
Whoever lays all 7 dominoes first wins the round. The winner gets points equal to the total of all the dots on the opponent’s remaining tiles.
Ahh, the “classic block-stacking, stack-crashing” game of Jenga. This game has become a crowd favorite at bars.
It’s great for your home too, and can be played by all ages. But it was destined to become a pub game.
Jenga requires strategy, precision, calm nerves and a steady-hand. As such, it’s the perfect way to gauge the level of insobriety among your friends at the bar.
A lighthearted game of Jenga can also be the perfect ice breaker or comic relief when needed.
And if you’re looking for an even bigger laugh, some bars also offer Giant Jenga (just check out Pioneers in NYC).
Monopoly is one of the best board games to play at a bar.
Why? For starters, you can buy real estate, trade up, develop properties, collect rent, and fail miserably, ending up in Bankruptcy. Even wind up in jail. All from the comfort of your bar stool.
We love Monopoly for so many reasons.
If you’re on the look-out for a game of Monopoly at the bar, you should have several options in most cities. Some bars even have their own house rules and different versions of the game.
Of course, I’m partial to the original version of Monopoly.
Want to see the lesser known competitive side of some of your friends?
Try playing Taboo over a couple drinks.
The point of this game is to have your teammates guess the word on your card by trying to act out and/or describe the word.
The catch is that you can’t say the word (obviously) or any of the other five words listed on your card.
Some of the verbal cues people come up with in Taboo are hilarious.
Plus, the volume quickly rises when the pressure is on and your teammates desperately yell out ridiculous answers before – sometimes – calling out the correct word listed on your card.
When that happens, it’s mayhem.
Taboo is definitely a fun one if your bar encourages this type of behavior.
Don’t need to go into too much detail here. Checkers doesn’t usually come to mind when we think of bar games. Yet neither do a lot of games on this list.
But checkers is a simple, quiet and relaxing game. And sometimes that’s perfect for the bar.
Think of checkers as a game to enjoy on an afternoon at your favorite cozy pub.
Chess is a challenging, complex and highly regarded game of strategy.
It’s also one of the oldest bar games in the world.
Chess has been played in pubs, parlors and barrooms for centuries.
Many chess players have a passion for the game. And it’s often best enjoyed in a social setting, amongst other chess enthusiasts.
However, if you do enjoy chess, you may not want to join the community chess club quite yet. You also might not be ready to play with some of the aficionados who frequent your local park.
Luckily, plenty of bars offer chess as a bar game.
Sometimes these are nice drinking establishments or fine pubs with ornate décor. Or maybe it’s just the dive bar down the street.
It doesn’t really matter where you’re at, because once you settle into a game of chess, you get lost in the nuances and intellectual gymnastics of the game.
Having a drink by your side will make it even more enjoyable.
Banagrams is a word game that requires speed and involves shouting the word “Peel”!
I’m not as familiar with this one, but people LOVE this game. Yes, it is a game that can be played by all ages.
But it’s actually perfect for bars, too.
You can see how this would fit into a drinking atmosphere.
The goal of Banagrams is to build quick crossword grids with letter tiles.
When you use all your letters, you shout the aforementioned “Peel”, and everyone starts building new grids with an additional tile.
The tiles come in a little yellow banana shaped sacked. This is a good game for 3-4 people hanging at the pub in the afternoon.
There’s a reason Banagrams is one of the biggest sellers for family games on Amazon. Check it out here.
If you like word games at the bar, alternatively, there’s always Scrabble.
The ultimate ‘who dunnit’ board game for the bar crowd.
Created in 1944 in Bournemouth England, Clue is a classic board game that is still fun to play.
You’ve likely seen the movie and probably played the game as a kid, so you know the cast of characters and basics of the game.
But, just in case, let’s review.
We have 6 suspects – Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlett, and Colonel Mustard – one of whom killed Mr. Boddy.
But who did it? And where in the mansion did it occur?
Get a drink and settle in with a few other players to revisit this classic board game.
College Inspired Bar Games
The game of cornhole burst onto the scene at parties, concerts and outdoor gatherings sometime during the early 2000s.
It’s a simple game that everyone can play.
And it’s addictive.
In fact, some people play so much cornhole that they become really good at it. Good enough, even, to compete on the world stage in competitions broadcast on ESPN.
Also known as bags, bean bag toss, baggo and more, Cornhole is played by throwing bean bags and trying to land them on a slightly angled board with a hole in it.
If you get on the board, it’s worth one point. In the hole is worth three points.
Cornhole is great for bars, as it can be played inside or outside. Although, in my humble opinion, outdoors is definitely preferable
If you do fall in love with this bar game and want to take it to the next level, check out the American Cornhole League, which holds games at bars and other venue across the country.
27. Beer Pong
Rumored to have originated in the frat houses of Dartmouth College in the 50s and 60s, beer pong is a staple at college parties, and now it can be found in many bars across the country.
The game of Beer Pong is quite simple, but like all bar games, it takes a good amount of skill to stay at the table.
Yes, this game typically involves a substantial amount of alcohol. But you can moderate the amount you pour in each cup, and of course, you can play without using beer at all.
But that kind of defeats the purpose, as the real skill is to get good enough to sink consecutive shots, make your opponents drink, and remain stoic and sober at your rightful end of the beer pong table.
Beer pong now even has its own league and World Series, with an established set of house rules.
Looking for bars that participate in the beer ping league? Check out this resource.
Quarters is one of the oldest and simplest of drinking games. And some bars actually let you play this game in their establishment.
Basically, you sit around the table and try to bounce quarters off the table into a cup placed about 10 inches away.
When you sink a quarter, you can make another player drink. Or, you can have the player that missed the cup chug the contents of the cup and retrieve the quarters.
It’s definitely not the most sanitary game, and it can involve a lot of drinking, but it’s great for some laughs.
29. Flip Cup
Like quarters, flip cup is a traditional college drinking game that sometimes makes its way into the confines of a regulated drinking establishment.
Also, like quarters, flip cup typically involves a lot of drinking. That being said, it does take some skill.
Plus, a game of flip cup can be seriously fun, loud and exciting.
There are flip cup leagues and tournaments in different cities.
And certain bars even encourage these shenanigans, offering designated flip cup tables and other drinking game options like beer pong.
Traditional Pub Games
There are some really cool traditional pub games out there. I’m still trying to find a bar that features a nice selection of these games. They’re also perfect for a home playing environment.
30. Shove ha’penny
A traditional pub game from the UK, shove ha’penny is one of the predecessors to modern day table shuffleboard.
This game is played on a board, approximately twenty inches by fourteen inches.
Each player has 5 pennies to ‘shove’ into lined scoring positions at the opposite end of the board. This is a game of elegant simplicity. And you can still find it in some English pubs.
Boards can be made of teak, mahogany, slate or even marble.
Learn more here.
31. Table Skittles
A miniaturized version of the tradition game of Skittles or Nine Pins, the game of Table
Skittles was first played in bars and pubs during the 18th century. It has a few aliases – including bar skittles, pub skittles, and even “the Devil amongst the tailors”.
There are 9 pins positioned on a small square platform. And a pole in the corner with a ball hanging from a rope.
The ball is swung from the pole, so on its return it hits the 9 pins on the platform.
You get three efforts per turn, with a maximum score of 27 points.
Arcade Games for Bars
32. Golden Tee
If you’ve played Golden Tee before, you know how addictive this game can be. Playing this game at a bar by yourself can suck up a lot of time that could spent doing other things, such as socializing.
Yet it’s hard to resist the pull of playing a quick 18 at Safari Dunes or the 1980s style suburbia of Mayfield Golf Club.
Golden Tee is what you would call a large scale ‘golf simulator’. Produced and sold by Live Wire Technologies, this arcade game first made its appearance in amusement centers back in in 1989.
At first, it was a novelty and only a few bars featured Golden Tee. But once owners realized how popular this game was becoming, more and more bars jumped on the band wagon and added Golden Tee to their bar game line-up.
Golden Tee is still one of the best bar arcade games around. There are now tons of new features, better displays and interactive options so you can test your skills against people from around the world.
The basketball shooting game of Pop-A-Shot may be one of the best 1-v-1 bar games ever invented. It can be found in bars, arcades and amusement centers.
The home version of Pop-A-Shot is great for a full-fledged game room, too.
With the commercial versions, you often have dual hoops with steel frames and fiberglass backboards.
Pop-A-Shot was invented by Ken Cochran, a long time college basketball coach, in 1981. And the game is still made by the original Pop-A-Shot company in Salina, Kansas.
In Pop-A-Shot, you have 40 seconds to score as many baskets as possible. If you outscore your opponent, you win.
The pressure builds as your time dwindles. The game announcer and sounds effects add to the suspense. If you want a fun, physical, and intense game to play at the bar, this would be one of my absolute favorites.
Pop-A-Shot is also great game to play while watching sports, especially college basketball.
And there are plenty of sports bars that feature this game, like this one in LA.
34. Buck Hunter
Buck Hunter was introduced to the bar scene in 2000. It quickly gained popularity among the bar going crowd, and it’s easy to see why.
First, it’s a great way to impress your date by showing off your aim. Or, if that date didn’t work out, or if something else has got you down, you can also rely on Buck Hunter as a way to get some harmless aggression out.
There are several different versions of this game. And some players take it pretty seriously. In fact, Buck Hunter has become so popular in bars that there’s now a Big Buck Hunter World Championship.
Thousands of bars offer this game for their patrons. The modern bar version is Big Buck HD, and it’s awesome. If you are looking for a bar that has this version of Buck Hunter, check out this resource.
35. Pin Ball
One of the truly great arcade and bar games, pinball was invented by Sam Stern in the early 1930’s.
The game gained popularity quickly.
But from the early 1940’s to the mid 1970’s it was illegal to play pinball in establishments in many major U.S. cities, including New York City and Los Angeles. It was banned as a form of gambling, as it was considered a game of chance rather than skill.
The problem of ‘pinball gambling’ became so pronounced that NYC police conducted prohibition style raids on suspected underground pinball houses. If found, the games were confiscated and dumped into the river.
By 1976, most major cities lifted the pinball ban. The game was quickly reintroduced to the arcade scene and became widely popular among rebellious youths of the late 70’s and 80’s.
Pinball is still very popular. Many bars feature vintage games or newer, high-tech versions of some of the classics. A few of the most popular pinball games include Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Game of Thrones. But the most popular version of pinball is still The Adams Family, created in 1991.
Pinball machines are still made by the same company founded by Sam Stern in the 1930s: The Stern Pinball company, located outside of Chicago.
If you’re looking for a bar that has a real pinball machine, check out this list.
Or you can check out the “Pinball Map” to find a machine near you.
Pacman was first released by Namco in Japan in May 1980. The game became an instant hit in the States. The original version was an arcade staple through the 80’s and 90’s.
Of course, Pac Man is still loved by many and played today in various formats and app versions.
But there’s nothing like playing the original vertical arcade version of Pac Man at a bar. Both for nostalgia’s sake, and just because it’s a fun game to play.
Certain bars specialize in offering their patrons a selection of old school arcade games, including Pac Man and Centipede. For an example, check out the One Up in LA.
37. Pundamonium Pun Slam
This is one of the most fun and creative new bar games for an audience. A pun slam works like this:
Ten lucky contestants are given 2 minutes to make puns based on prompts received beforehand. Five members of the audience judge each pun on a scale of 1-10. In the next round, the contestants receive prompts on stage and have 30 seconds to think and 2 minutes to make puns. The top 4 compete in a pun off.
Pundamonium has taken hold in the mid-west. Check out some upcoming events here.
38. Mechanical Bull Riding
This one isn’t on y our typical list of bar games. But it should be. A little dangerous and very entertaining to watch, mechanical bull riding was originally designed as a training device for competitive rodeo riders. It became a common attraction at amusement centers and bars down in rodeo country, popularized my movies like Urban Cowboy, and now is featured in a variety of venues.
Mechanical bulls might look intimidating at first, and it definitely takes some skill and full-body dexterity to stay on. Especially as the bull operator cranks it up and the bull bucks harder and faster.
But the bull is usually surrounded by a big inflatable mat or foam pit for safety, so don’t worry too much about getting thrown off.
If you’re interested in trying this one out , there’s probably a bar not too far with a mechanical bull. Like this one near Boston.
39. Spelling Bees
Holding spelling bees at bars became pretty popular about 10 years ago.
Some bars hold spelling bees on certain nights of the week (just like trivia).
Those who sign up get assigned a number and spell out words, often straight from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The words start out easy and then get harder as the game progresses and you consumer more beer.
The winner is usually rewarded with free beer or even a trophy.
40. Trivia Night
Pub quizzes and live trivia events have been a weeknight draw for bars and pubs in the UK and Ireland since the 70’s.
These trivia nights are popular bar games in most US cities now too, with quizzes and competitions held on a weekly basis at many neighborhood establishments.
Bars often hold trivia night using different formats. In general, there is a quizmaster who announces questions, plays audio bites, or hands out written questions. You form a team and answer the questions, competing with other teams for weekly league or tournament style prizes.
There are often different themes for each night. For example, Geeks Who Drink organizes pub quizzes using several themes and formats, including celebrities, wordplay, bad television, and more.
They organize pub quizzes at several bars around the country. Check them out here to find a pub quiz or trivia night near you.
That’s it for our current list of some of the best bar games for a fun night (or afternoon) at your favorite watering hole. We will be updating this list with more games, so check back if you;re looking for something new!