King’s Cup Rules: How to Play the Drinking Game

King’s cup has been a classic drinking game for years and for a good reason.

It’s a great icebreaker for a group that doesn’t know each other well but it’s also just as fun for tight-knit friends too.

It gets those who participate in it a nice level of drunk and helps the group learn a little about each other’s wild sides.

Over the years many of the rules and methods of playing king’s cup have shifted, but we’ll go through the classic way of playing.

These are the king’s cup rules that most people will know and recognize, even if they’ve played a slightly different version previously.

Plus, you can’t go wrong playing the traditional version – it always guarantees a fun time.

Ready to get tipsy? Here’s how to set up and play king’s cup.

Kings Cup Cards

How to Set Up King’s Cup:

Setting up king’s cup is pretty easy.

When it comes to equipment, all you need is:

  • A deck of cards
  • A cup
  • Alcohol

To set up the game, evenly spread a deck of cards face down around the cup.

All cards much touch the cards on either side, creating a ‘chain’ of cards.

Then, any number of players can gather around the cup, ready to play.

How to Play King’s Cup

Playing King's Cup

To play king’s cup, players must take turns picking cards, going around the circle clockwise.

Each card follows a specific action, which we’ll go through in the next section.

If you break the chain of cards, you must chug whatever drink is in the king’s cup in the center – we’ll get to that a bit later.

As the concoction of alcohol in the king’s cup may be a very unpleasant mixture, one of the main aims of the game is to avoid breaking the chain!

But even if you do break the chain, this doesn’t end the game.

King’s cup only finishes once all the cards are used up.

Now let’s get onto the fun part – the king’s cup rules of the cards.


In the traditional version of king’s cup, if you pick up an ace it equals ‘waterfall’.

This starts with everyone chugging whatever drink they have – whether that’s beer, wine, or a spirit and mixer.

The person who picked the card has full control of the round and can stop drinking whenever he or she chooses.

Once they’ve stopped drinking, the next person clockwise to them can choose when to stop, and so on.

As you can imagine, the last person to stop drinking can end up getting pretty plastered! This rule also gives great opportunity to poke fun at those who can’t handle chugging their alcohol.


Two is fairly simple and is the classic ‘you’.

This means that whoever picks up a two can choose anybody they want in the game to down two fingers of drink


Another easy one.

Three is ‘me’, which means you must chug two fingers of your drink.


The four card involves the ladies by telling them they are ‘whores’ and they must drink.


Here’s a fun one. Five is ‘bust a jive’, meaning the person that picks up the card must break a dance move. The next person must then copy the dance move and add an extra spin to it. This carries on until someone messes up the dance and had to drink.

Drunken uncoordinated dancers, what’s not to love?


Six is ‘dicks’, so all the guys in the game must drink.


Seven equals ‘heaven’.

When the person who picked the card is ready, they must reach for the sky, with the rest of the players following suit.

The last person to reach must drink.

This is a great card to catch people out who aren’t paying attention, especially if the picker doesn’t use the card immediately.


Eight is ‘mate’.

That means the player can choose anyone in the game to partner up with them, meaning when one of them drinks, they both must.

It’s the perfect way to show your crush that you’re interested in them or to try to pick on someone to get them drunk.


Nine is ‘bust a rhyme’ and depending on how creative the group is, this card can be a lot of fun.

The idea is that the player who picked the card must say a word, and everybody goes around the circle saying a word that rhymes with it.

For example, a super-simple word would be ‘tall’ and other players could say ‘mall’, ‘wall’, or ‘call’.

This goes on until somebody can’t think of a new word, or until someone repeats a word. Then, as you guessed, they must drink!


Here’s another creative card. Ten is ‘categories’ meaning the player who chose the card must pick a category. Then each player must choose something that fits into that category.

For example, the player who picked up the card may choose ‘types of fruit’ and the rest of the players will have to pick fruit, such as a lemon or strawberry.

Whoever can’t think of anything or makes a repeat must down two fingers of drink.


Jack is arguably one of the most exciting cards to pick as it allows you to learn some of the sordid secrets of the players.

Jack represents the game ‘never have I ever’ and after picking up the card the group must play one round.

If you’re not aware of ‘never have I ever’, the game starts with everyone putting up five fingers.

Then the person who picked the card announces something they haven’t done. If you have done it, you must put a finger down.

Then the next person will state something they haven’t done, and so on. The first person to have five fingers down must chug two fingers of their drink.

The ‘never have I ever’ statements can be as racy or as tame as you like, but, of course, it’s more fun to choose something juicy.

It’s a great way to get to know people better, call out friends on their ridiculous tales, and dig deeper into people’s secrets.


Queen is ‘question master’ and whoever picks up the card takes on that role. That means that if any of the other players answer a question asked by the question master, they must drink.

It’s a great way to get creative and try to trick people out without them realizing. For example, the question master can direct a question to a player and ask, ‘is it your go yet?’.

The question master will remain question master until someone else picks up a queen, then they will take the crown.


Finally, we get to the king! The player who picks a king has the power to make a rule for the game.

This can be anything relating to the game and if it’s broken, that player must drink.

If you’re stuck, one popular rule is ‘no first names’.

That means anyone who uses anyone’s first name must drink.

As you can imagine, this is an easy one to forget, especially when everyone’s a bit tipsy.

Another part of this rule is that whoever picks up a king must pour some of their drink into the king’s cup in the center.

The last person to pick up a king is the unlucky one who must chug whatever mixture of alcohol is left in the center cup!

Usually, it will be a blend of three different types of alcohol and isn’t pleasant to drink, making it all the more fun to watch.

Ready to Play King’s Cup?

While king’s cup is a fairly complex game to pick up – especially when the players are intoxicated – it’s definitely one that isn’t boring and gets everyone involved.

After a round or two, it’s easy to start remembering the rules.

Once you get more used to the game, feel free to tailor and shift the rules to suit your group. Have fun!

Top Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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