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Robert Baratheon More Wine meme from Game of Thrones

How to Play King’s Cup – The Official Rules

When it comes to iconic party games, King’s Cup reigns supreme. Its reputation as the greatest drinking game of all time (G.O.A.T.) isn’t just because of the spirited debates over its rules, but also its unmatched prowess in uniting groups for an unforgettable evening. As festive moments beckon, our team at Man of Many has delved deep, conducting thorough ahem “research” to bring you the definitive rules for King’s Cup. Dive in, and elevate your next gathering to legendary status.

For most of the King’s Cup cards, there was very little dispute on what the rules are but, for some, we’ve offered a couple of alternatives in case your party is a little more sausage and a little less bun or vice versa. So, without further ado, here’s how to play King’s Cup.

Playing cards
What You Need To Play Kings Cup | Image: Bauhaus Movement

What You Need To Play Kings Cup

  • A vessel: The first and arguably most important element of King’s Cup is a vessel. Whether it’s a jug, a chalice, your mum’s priceless china vase, the kettle or the dog bowl, it really doesn’t matter. All it’s got to do is be watertight and be able to hold a lot of liquid. In fact, the funnier the vessel the more hilarious it will be when the loser has to down its contents. So give the house a good squiz, it’ll be worth it.
  • A pack of cards: There are a lot of apps and random websites that’ll help you draw a card if you’re really desperate, but there is nothing better than a good old analogue pack of cards. Take out the jokers, shuffle and spread the cards out on a table in a circle around the aforementioned vessel. Make sure each card is slightly touching its neighbour so the cards form a complete circle (we’ll explain why later). Oh and double check you have all four kings, otherwise, the game is going to end in a huge anti-climax.
  • Some friends: King’s cup works best when played with 4-10 people but, really it doesn’t matter. Whether there’s two of you or 52, you’re all gonna get pissed.
  • Lots of drinks: Well… We’re not here to f*ck spiders.

How to Play Kings Cup

The objective of the game is simple: Get everybody really drunk, really quickly. Now, it should go without saying, but if you don’t want to get drunk don’t play. There’s nothing worse than someone flat out refusing to drink the Cup at the end of the game. Its a high risk, high reward sort of game so play at your own will.

  1. The host plays first. Pity him. The poor bloke is going to have to clean up after you losers vomit everywhere.
  2. From there, each player pulls a card from the chain going clockwise around the group. Each card, from Ace to King, represents a specific action – we’ll clarify each action in the next section.
  3. After the action is performed, you move on until the no cards is left or, more often, when the last King is pulled from the chain of cards, whichever comes first. Simples.
  4. Now, when a player pulls a card from the spread and breaks the circle, then he or she must finish off their drink.
  5. This serves to spice things up a little in the early stages of the round. Another thing that should be standard is announcing your card when you pull it. It keeps everyone focused and holds you accountable for whatever card you draw.
Old man in a blue suit drinking a glass of alcohol
King’s Cup Rules | Image: Mark Evans

King’s Cup Rules

As we said, the basic rules each card in King’s Cup are disputed often. We are big supporters of anyone who wants to customise the game to their liking and therefore are only offering the following rules as a sort of guideline to the layman on how to play King’s Cup. So, without further ado, here’s our list of the official King’s Cup rules:

Ace – Waterfall

This one is universal. When a player draws the ace, he or she must announce to the group at large ‘Waterfall’ and begin drinking. Following their lead, the whole group must drink and can only stop when the player to their left is finished drinking or if your drink is finished.

The person who picked the card has full control of the round and can stop drinking whenever he or she chooses. This, in turn, allows the player to their left to then decide to stop and so on and so forth until everyone in the circle has stopped drinking.

Two – You

Whoever pulls the card can choose one person to take two swigs of their drink. A bit of a boring one, we often switch two out for an alternative rule.

Alternative Rule: The Question Game – Whoever pulls the card and turns to any other player while asking them a question (usually a subtle slight or blatant attack of their character). For example, “Larry, how does it feel to not get laid for over a year?” Then, Larry must not respond in any way and immediately turn to another player and ask them a question. If Larry laughs, cries, takes too long to pass on a question or just can’t keep a straight face he then loses the game and must drink two swigs. This one’s great for friends who know each other pretty well and can quickly hit the nerves of their opponents.

Three – Me

Whoever pulls the three card must then take three swigs of their drink. Lucky you. Another boring one so we’ve got an alternative.

Alternative Rule: Two Lies, One Truth – The player who pulls the card tells two lies and one truth and the group decides which is the lie. If they get it right he drinks, if not he’s safe.

Four – Whores

In probably the least tastefully named rule, the four card calls on all the ladies present to take a swig from their drink. In the case there are no lovely ladies present or you just don’t want to call all the girls in the room a whore, we’ve got an alternative rule for you to use.

Alternative Rule: Never Have I Ever – An old favourite, everyone puts four fingers in the air and, in a clockwise direction from whoever pulled the card, says something they’ve never done. If anyone in the group has they must put a finger down. First person to put all fingers down takes four swigs. Mmmmm, very spicy.

Five – Who’s Most Likely

One of the more disputed rules, five is often ‘Bust a Jive’ (lame) or ‘Never Have I Ever’. For the official list however, we’re locking in the game ‘Who’s Most Likely’. It goes like this: The player who pulls the card says something like “who’s most likely to go to jail” or “who’s most likely to get divorced more than twice”. After a quick countdown, each player votes to who is most likely by pointing their fingers at this person. Once the vote is cast the loser must take five swigs.

Six – Dicks

Another subpar choice of wording in pursuit of a half-arsed rhyme, any six card results in all the males playing taking a swig from their drinks. Yeh, it’s shit, so here’s an alternative.

Alternative Rule: Make a Rule – A favourite in other drinking games, ‘Make a Rule’ sees the player who pulls any six card inventing a rule that everyone must abide by or drink. For example, “from now one everyone must drink with their left hand” or “you may only address other players by their mother’s name”. Once another six is pulled the preceding rule is abolished and replaced by a new one.

Seven – Heaven

Whoever draws the seven, must immediately point upwards without saying anything. The last one to catch on and join him or her in pointing towards heaven must drink. A reliable rule that’s good for keeping people focused to the game at hand.

Eight – Mate

This one’s a cracker. Whoever draws the eight card gets to choose anyone playing to be their ‘mate’. From then on these two drink together whenever either needs to or wants to. Oh, and build ups is a thing. The more the merrier.

Nine – Rhyme

Depending on how creative the group is, this card can actually be a lot of fun.

Whoever draws the card announces that they’ve got the 9 and then says a word. From here it goes to his or her left around the circle and each player must rhyme with the original word. If a word doesn’t rhyme, a player takes to long (a countdown from five is always a good way of hurrying them up) or if the word has been said before then the poor sucker has a big swig from their drink. How good.

Alternate Rule: Truth or Dare – If your friends aren’t particularly resourceful or you just want something different then throw Truth or Dare into the mix on this card.

Ten – Categories

A stalwart amongst King’s Cup players, Ten represents the game of Categories. Whoever draws the card picks a category – i.e. types of beer, movie genres, sex positions, etc, etc – and you go around the circle to your left as each player says something that fits into the category. If you can’t think of anything or say a repeat well, you guessed it, drink up.

Jack – Beer Bitch

This is a personal favourite of ours. Whoever pulls the Jack is henceforth known as the Beer Bitch. He or she must attend to the drinking needs of every other player whilst they address him as Beer Bitch. If another player says the Beer Bitch’s real name or if another Jack is pulled then the responsibility is transferred to the offending player.

Queen – Question Master

Another olden goldie, the Queen card represents Question Master. Whoever pulls it becomes the Question Master from then on until someone pulls another Queen or if another player addresses him or her by their name.

The Question Master has the power to make other players drink if they answer any of the Question Master’s questions. For example, the Question Master may ask “What does this card do?”, if another player answers the question “Queen means Question Master” then the offending must drink. Have fun with this one.

Alternative Rule: Queasy Creation – If you pull a queen, you get to combine any three drinks from the table into a shot; then pick someone to drink it.

King – King’s Cup

The reason we’re all here. When a king is drawn the player who drew it must pour all of their drink into the King’s Cup vessel that’s in the middle of the table. Slowly, as each King is pulled, the vessel is filled with a menacing concoction that drastically raises the stakes of the game.

When the fourth and final King is pulled from the remaining cards, whoever pulls it ‘Wins’ the mighty King’s Cup. From here, they must pick up their vessel/chalice from the centre of the table and scull its contents. How very regal.

With the final King pulled and the winner crowned, the game is now officially over.

Alternative Rule: Double King’s – There’s a slight rule variation that sees players double down on the King’s Cup excitement. When the second King is pulled from the circle of cards, he or she must add their drink to the vessel and scull the King’s Cup. It is then refilled on the third King card and is ready for the fourth and final King to scull from it again. This is a good way of ensuring that a single person doesn’t get Robert Downey Jr drunk and gives you two opportunities to cheer on your regal leaders as they scull for you.

Enjoy kids and remember to drink responsibly!

General FAQs

Can you play King's Cup with 2 people?

While the basic stipulatins of the game only require playing cards, a cup, 2 players and alcohol, playing in a pair is difficult. With many of the rules involving group actions, it's worth having at least 5 players in a game of King's Cup.

What does King mean in Kings Cup?

Drawing a king card in King's Cup requires you to pour the remnants of your drink into the King's Cup. When the last king is drawn, that player has to drink the King's Cup and the game is over.

What does 9 mean in King's Cup?

Drawing the 9 card in King's Cup means you're in for a game of rhyme. Whoever picks the nine says a word. The person to the right has to say a word that rhymes with it; this goes on until someone cannot think of a rhyme. That person has to take a drink.