No matter where you go, chances are good that there there might be a game of Quarters going on in one of the local watering holes.
Quarters is one of the most popular drinking games in the world, and for good reason: it’s simple to learn, difficult to master, and can be played just about anywhere.
At it’s essence, Quarters is a game about bouncing a coin into a glass.
If you have some pocket change, some glasses, and plenty of drinks, you’re ready to play Quarters.
That simple versatility has made it the perfect game to play in a bar, and a mainstay among backpackers and bar flies everywhere.
How to Play Quarters: The Basic Rules
To begin, clear your play area of any spilled beverages, stray cell phones, or other obstructions that might get in the way.
You don’t want anything interfering with your shots when the quarters start flying.
Have your players spread out evenly around the play area.
Here are the rules for a standard game of quarters:
- Put one full cup of beer or shot of liquor at the center of the table. This is the “penalty drink”.
- Take two quarters and two goal cups, and place them in front of two players sitting opposite each other. The goal cups can be anything you have handy, but bear in mind that as the goals get smaller, the shots get harder.
- When a neutral party tells the players to start, you will begin trying to bounce quarters into your goal cups. As soon as a player lands their shot, they pass the cup clockwise to the next player in the circle.
- Coins must be bounced on their faces, not their edges, and all shots must bounce at least once in order to count.
The goal of quarters is to avoid ever having both cups at the same time.
The player who passes another player a second cup should stack their cup inside the other, or tap it with their own. This is called “screwing” them. If you get screwed, you must take one final attempt to land the coin inside the stacked goal cups.
If you can’t make the shot, you must drink the contents of the penalty drink. If you do make the shot, you may pass one of the cups to anyone who doesn’t already have one in hand.
Once the penalty drink has been refilled, a new round begins.
Play carries on until players have had enough to drink, or just get tired of playing.
There is no way to “win” Quarters, so remember to have fun and always make sure there are no stray quarters in anything you drink!
Optional Quarters Rules & Variations
Quarters is a game with as many regional variants as there are coins in a bank.
If you’ve ever played it before, you’ve probably encountered at least one twist on the standard rules.
Mixing and matching different “house rules” is one of the best things about Quarters, so we’ve assembled a list of some of the best and most popular twists on this classic.
Feel free to use as many or as few of them as you like.
The Challenge Rule:
Any “near miss” shots that either bounce out of the glass or off the rim, can be challenged by other players. The challenged player can choose to pass on the challenge, and play on as normal, or to accept the challenge by retaking the shot.
Sinking the challenge shot means that all challenging players must drink.
Failing it, on the other hand, means you must take one sip, or chug for one second, for each challenging player.
Three in a Row Rule:
The three in a row rule is one of the more well known Quarters variants.
If a player makes three shots in a row without missing, they are allowed to make one rule.
Every time someone breaks a rule, they must take a penalty drink. Each new rule replaces the old one.
Rules should be creative and funny, rather than demeaning or embarrassing.
Typical examples are prohibiting pointing, use of the word “drink”, or saying people’s names.
One Cup Rule:
A simpler variant on Quarters, the one cup rule is good for small groups or a slower-paced, less competitive crowd. For this version, there is only one goal cup and one quarter in play at a time.
Players take turns, passing to their left once they successfully land a shot.
The shooter’s turn does not end until they make a shot, at which point another player of their choosing must take a drink.
As the name implies, this is a faster-paced version of Quarters.
The main difference comes when someone gets the second cup.
In Speed Quarters, rather than stacking the cups, one is overturned and the second is placed on top. The defending player then has two chances to make the shot.
If they make it on their first try, they can pass the stacked cups to any open player, who then also has two chances to make the shot.
If they make it on their second shot, they pass the top cup to their left, and the bottom cup to the player across from them.
If they miss completely, the player who screwed them spins a quarter.
The defending player must chug until the quarter stops spinning or leaves the designated play area.
Other players are encouraged to do whatever they can to keep the quarter spinning as long as possible. Once the spinning quarter drops, reset for the next round.
Super Quarters (AKA Chandelier):
In this heavy-duty variation of Quarters, a large penalty drink is placed in the center of the play area. This is called the “Big Chug” or the “chandelier”.
Place one shot glass around the base of the big chug for every player at the table.
As play progresses, players take turns trying to bounce the quarter into the cups at the center of the table.
If a quarter lands in your cup, whether you are the one who bounced it or not, you must drink.
If a player misses entirely, they must drink. Each player takes only one shot per turn, with play continuing to the left.
If someone gets their quarter in the big chug, everyone must immediately drain their entire cup. The slowest player then has to drink the entire big chug.
The Screw Shot Rule:
Some variations of the game say that if the defending player makes their penalty shot after being screwed, the person who screwed them is now in the hot seat.
Play goes back and forth between those two players until one of them misses, at which point they have to drink.
This is a rule that’s well suited for players who are looking more to show off their skills than they are to drink a lot.
Next time you’re looking to get the party started, but don’t have the supplies for more complex drinking games, don’t forget Quarters.
It’s a classic for a reason!