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A Quick Guide to Live Trivia and Pub Quizzes

Did you know that it’s illegal to only own one guinea pig in Switzerland?

How about that “Pteronophobia” is a fear of being tickled with feathers?

The facts might seem a little random, but the truth is that we all have bits of bizarre trivia that we gather throughout our lives.

What we don’t have, most of the time, is a place to earn accolades for knowing these facts.

Enter the rise of live trivia in bars.

Trivia games or “pub quizzes” have been a staple of bar entertainment and competition for decades.

And there are probably many venues hosting their own weekly trivia night in your area.


If you’re bored with the same old bar games and need a good reason to get your friends together for a night out, or even a way to meet new people, give trivia night a try.

Here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about live trivia in bars.

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The History of Pub Trivia: Where Did the Quiz Come From?

It’s difficult to find an official source of the first bar quiz, but it’s fair to say that the trend really took off in the 70s when shows like Jeopardy were premiering in the States.

Pub quiz nights began to develop organically, starting as a way to get people into a bar on a slow night, and eventually becoming a beloved weekly tradition.

Some experts suggest that the original format for live trivia in bars started in Britain, where people would get together in local pubs to relax.

When few homes had a television during the 1950s, many bars and pubs would host trivia nights with live quiz events that involved patrons calling out the answers to questions on the TV.

In the United States, live trivia is still a fun and engaging part of visiting a local pub or restaurant.

Not only does the average quiz give people a fantastic way to show off their knowledge, but they’re also a great way to socialize and meet new people.

Types of Live Trivia in Bars: The Quiz Format

The basic idea behind a pub quiz is that someone prepares a number of questions in a range of categories, and customers in groups of usually no more than 6 people work together to answer them.

Many live trivia events in bars include grand prizes, raffles, and other incentives to excite people throughout the course of the game.

For example, the Sporcle bar live trivia league awards almost $30,000 to the league champions.

While the simplest version of a pub quiz would generally involve printing out a sheet with dozens of questions in different categories, today’s bars usually give more flare to the whole experience.

Best Apps for Bar Trivia Night:

  • The Bar Trivia App: Find a bar that hosts love trivia, join a team and answer questions on your phone.
  • Crowdpurr: An app that lets you create a customizable crowd based trivia experience for your venue.
  • Sporcle Live: Let others know about trivia night, see who’s going, learn about prizes and more.

It’s common to find quizzes that are conducted by professional quiz master, displayed on large screens or done with phones and tablets via a live trivia app.

What’s more, many bars add specific categories with themes to their trivia days, such as:

  • Music rounds where people have to guess the singer of a piece of music
  • Movie rounds with clips from popular films
  • Quick-fire rounds with tie-breaker questions to choose a winner at the end of a game

Ultimately, the more variety a live trivia game has, the more interesting and engaging it becomes.

Types of Pub Quiz Questions

While it’s easy to assume that there’s only one way to ask questions and request answers from your patrons, the truth is that many bars have discovered new ways to enhance their trivia experience.

For instance, some of the most common kinds of questions you’ll see (or hear) in a quiz include:

  • Multiple choice questions: Where patrons are given a range of potential answers to choose from for a single question.
  • General knowledge: The traditional format of asking a question about a general-knowledge fact.
  • Picture questions: These questions often involve images, for instance, the idea could be to “name that celebrity” or identify an item from a zoomed-in shot.
  • Recent events or news questions: These queries take advantage of the latest trending topics in the media.
  • Music questions: Ask your patrons to guess the title and artist of a piece of music from a small, often obscure sound-bite.
  • Lateral thinking question: What’s the connection between a Stereophonics album and Wayne Rooney?
  • Testing Your History Knowledge: Some quizzes begin with questions based on this format: “On this day in history ….”.

As quizmasters continue to experiment with new ways to delight their customers, new question formats appear all the time.

Depending on the tech available in a local pub, specific questions can also involve video and digital presentations.

What Every Great Trivia Night Needs

One of the most compelling things about a live trivia night is that there are no set rules for how a bar or pub owner has to run the event.

Ultimately, it’s up to them to choose a theme, decide how long they want the quiz to be and more.

Many of the bar trivia nights are created, hosted and managed by 3rd party quiz companies.

This is often a packaged solution for bar owners that streamlines the process of incorporating trivial night and attracting new and loyal customers.

For example, a bar quiz service like Brainstormer offers trivia content, quiz packs, prizes, promotion and more for bar owners.

However, while there are plenty of ways to transform your trivia night according to your individual needs, it’s safe to say that most events include at least some of the following things:

  • Teams of dedicated quizzers: You can’t run an excellent trivia night without people who are excited about finding the right answers to your questions. Most pub quizzes request that teams are usually between 1 and 6 people in size. This helps to avoid large, overly-competitive groups people piling into a pub.
  • Diversity: Few people enjoy the standard “question and answer” format of the traditional pub quiz anymore. Today’s quizmasters need to spruce their questions up a bit with pictures, music, and other unique and interactive experiences to keep their patrons entertained.
  • Rules: Although it’s important to have fun with a pub quiz, the rules are key. While every quiz master has the freedom to create their preferred guidelines, it’s important to make sure that no-one cheats by using their smartphone to find an answer. Other rules can involve making sure that you have your question sheets in at the right time and ensuring that no-one shouts out an answer during a quiz.
  • Consistency: The best trivia nights often happen on the same day at the same time each week. This helps pubs to create a crack-team of regulars who generally visit their establishment each week to keep their title of the ultimate trivia group.
  • Prizes: Although plenty of people will attend a live trivia game just for fun, it always helps to have an award at the end of the questions. People like to feel as though they’ve accomplished something by memorizing the facts required to excel at a pub quiz. Some bars will offer money as a prize, while others stick to free drinks and food.

Why Do People Love Live Trivia?

Ultimately, the main reason why people are so drawn to live trivia in bars is simple. Human beings are competitive. We all like a chance to show off our skills and knowledge – even if the information that we know isn’t applicable anywhere else.

Live trivia in bars is a fantastic way to draw people from around the community together for a night of fun and excitement.

On one level, it’s a chance for people to prove that they’re smarter than someone else.

Yet the truth is that most of the time, succeeding in trivia isn’t just about being smart – it’s just about knowing a little bit of almost everything.

It’s easy for many of today’s consumers to walk around feeling like they never have a real opportunity to shine.

While we’re all rewarded for our well-rounded knowledge in school, the chances are that you’ll never have a true chance to put your skills into the real world through your career, or in your personal life.

Trivia is one of the best ways for people to reward themselves for paying attention to the world around them.

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