Kings Cup, also known as Kings, is a drinking game with very simple rules.
This makes it an easy game (well, relatively easy) to play while getting smashed.
And, be forewarned, you will get smashed.
What is Kings Cup?
Kings Cup is a playing card game in which each card determines who takes a drink.
Each number or face card in the deck represents a different action. Players must perform this action when the card is drawn.
For instance, the Ace in Kings Cup commonly represents the waterfall, an action during which all players drink and cannot stop until the person to their left stops.
Kings Cup Card Meanings
When it comes to Kings Cup card meanings, anything goes really. It’s your party; you make the house rules.
But a few popular Kings Cup card meanings have been adopted for the game.
Here is one of the simplest, most popular distributions of Kings Cup card meanings in a handy-dandy graphic –
(For more explanation of the actions, please see the detailed card meanings below.)
Print a high-quality version of the basic rules here – Kings Cup Card Basic Rules.
Kings Cup Card Meanings – Detail
For the purposes of Kings Cup rules, a “drink” is one swallow from a player’s cup.
When a player draws a card, the player should announce the card to the other players, with the exception of the “7,” which should be played without announcement. (See below.)
Ace in Kings Cup – Waterfall
All players start drinking.
No player can stop drinking until the player to their left stops, starting with the player who drew the card. (The exception to this is if a player’s drink runs out.)
The player who drew the card may stop drinking whenever they choose.
The player to their right may stop drinking immediately after the player who drew the card stops drinking or they may continue to drink as long as they want.
The player to their right cannot stop drinking until they stop drinking and so on.
This continues around the circle until the last player stops drinking.
Kings Cup 2 – Two for You
The player who draws this card doles out two drinks.
The player can select one person to take both drinks or two different people to take a single drink each.
It’s a simple rule, but an easy one to remember when you’re drunk off your ass.
Kings Cup 3 – Three for Me
The player who draws this card has to take three drinks.
Kings Cup 4 – Touch the Floor
All players have to touch the floor with a hand. The last player back upright drinks.
This one’s a bit sadistic, and provides lots of opportunity for players to bang their heads against the table or nosedive into the floor.
Play it by ear. If the rule feels dangerous, swap it out.
Kings Cup 5 – Five for Guys
All men drink.
Kings Cup 6 – Six for Chicks
All women drink.
Kings Cup 7 – Reach for Heaven
The player who draws this card points upward without warning.
All other players must point upward.
The last player to point upward drinks.
Kings Cup 8 – You’re My Mate
The player who draws this card chooses another player to be their drinking mate.
Both players take a drink.
For the rest of the game, the mate must drink when the player has to drink and vice versa.
Players who draw 8s can choose any player for their mates, even if that person is already someone else’s mate.
Conceivably, one player could end up being four other players’ mates and end up downing booze like a drain.
Kings Cup 9 – Nine is Rhyme
The player who draws this card chooses and says a word.
Moving clockwise, every player must say a word that rhymes with the player’s word.
The first player to miss or repeat a word drinks.
It’s good to set a time limit of 5 or 10 seconds to make it harder and keep things moving.
Tip: Ban the word “orange” from the get-go, or you’ll always have that asshole.
Kings Cup 10 – 10 is Categories
The 10 in Kings Cup is a lot like the 9 and results in a listing game.
The player who draws this card chooses a category, like Denzel Washington movies or religions, and players must name something in the category.
The first player to miss or repeat an answer drinks.
Again, it’s good to set a time limit.
Jack in Kings Cup – Jack is Social
Queen in Kings Cup – Queen is for Questions
The player who draws this card may ask any other player a question.
The player who is asked must ask any other player a question. Then, that player must ask another player a question and so on.
The first player to fail to come up with a question or to respond to a question drinks.
Laughing, gasping, or showing any reaction at all counts as response. The goal is to ask a question that will make the person react.
It’s kind of like this game from Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Queen is for Question can also be extended with the player who draws the card becoming the Question Master.
The Question Master can ask any player a question any time they want. If the player answers the Question Master’s question, they must drink.
The player remains the Question Master until another player draws a queen, at which point that player becomes the Question Master.
King in Kings Cup – King’s Cup
The draw the game is named for, a player who draws one of the first three kings in King’s Cup pours their drink into the King’s Cup at the center of the table.
Whoever draws the fourth king receives the King’s Cup and must drink the entirety of its contents.
If players are drinking different things, the King’s Cup can hold a hell of a cocktail by the time the fourth king is drawn.
Once that final king is drawn and the lucky player imbibes the King’s Cup the game ends, no matter how many cards remain in the deck.
Items You Need for King’s Cup
- The King’s Cup – a goblet or vessel large enough to hold three (possibly full) drinks
- Playing Cards – one deck
- Cups – one for each player
- Alcohol – of course!
- Players – you can play King’s Cup with only two players – Hell, you can play it with only one! – but it’s way more fun with more people.
Kings Cup Drinking Game Setup
Setting up for Kings Cup is easy. To get ready –
- Place the King’s Cup in the center of the room or table where it won’t get knocked over by over-excited and half-pissed players.
- Shuffle the cards and put them within easy reach of all players. (It may be easier to pass the deck if you are playing with a lot of people.)
- Make sure everyone has a full drink!
How to Play Kings Cup
Now that you’re all setup, you can start playing the game.
Let the player whose shindig it is go first. That might be the birthday girl or graduate or party host.
Then, the game goes like this –
- First player, draw a card. Announce the card to the room. (Unless it’s a 7, in which case you shouldn’t announce the card and instead just point to the sky.)
- All players perform the action represented by the card. (Do a Waterfall for an ace, point to the sky for a 7, etc.)
- Players called out by the action drink. (Men drink for 5, the last player to touch the floor drinks for 4.)
- Let the next player draw, and repeat.
- Continue around the table, performing the actions required by the cards and taking your due drinks, until the last king is pulled from the deck.
- Player who draws the last king, drink of the bounty of the King’s Cup.
Good Rules for Kings Cup
When it comes down to it, the best rules for Kings Cup are the ones a bunch of drunk people can remember.
Those aren’t always the most fun, though.
As such, numerous alternative rules and meanings for Kings Cup cards have been invented over the game’s history.
While these rules are often attached to specific numbers, any of these alternative Kings Cup rules can be substituted for any of the more basic King’s Cup rules.
This is one of our team’s favorite distributions of King’s Cup Rules –
(Find detailed card meanings below.)
Print a high-quality version of our favorite rules here – Kings Cup Card Fave Rules.
Kings Cup Rules Ideas
Use at your leisure or peril.
The player who draws the card is exempt from drinking. All other players must drink.
The player who draws the card spins a bottle. Whoever it lands on has to drink.
(Obviously, this alternative requires the addition of a bottle to your equipment list.)
The player who draws the card must battle another player in a harmless contest – arm wrestling, thumb wrestling, Rock, Paper, Scissors, etc.
The loser has to drink.
The designated fightee can be the person to the right or left of the drawer, across from them, or, for the most fun, let the other players choose who the card drawer has to “fight.”
Never Have I Ever
The player who draws the card chooses a “Never Have I Ever” statement – e.g. “Never have I ever been arrested.”
All players who have done what the player states they haven’t (players who HAVE been arrested) must drink.
Make a Rule
The player who draws the card makes a rule all players must follow.
Rules might be – “Each player must bow before they draw a card” or “Everyone has to call other players Sister Mary + their name, like Sister Mary Nick or Sister Mary Kelly.”
Whoever breaks the rule must drink.
The rule remains in place until the next “Make a Rule” card is drawn.
The player who draws the card has to takes a sip of everyone else’s drink.
Avoid during flu season!
Take Me to Heaven
Often substituted for the “Reach for Heaven” rule, the player who draws the card does a body shot out of either their left or right neighbor’s belly button.
(Of course, it doesn’t have to be the belly button. Use your imagination.)
Again, for the most fun, let other players choose whose belly button the drawing player must drink from.
It’s time for military training.
The person who draws the card must do 20 push-ups, sit-ups, or a 20-second plank.
For every push-up, sit-up, or second of plank they fail to do, they have to take a drink.
For instance, if the player only holds their plank for 15 seconds, they have to take five drinks.
The deeper into the game, the crueler this one becomes.
The player who draws this card acts as sommelier.
All players must hand in their drinks, and the sommelier redistributes them however they wish.
The player who draws this card acts as mixologist.
The player gets to combine any three players’ drinks into a shot and choose a player to drink it.
A preview version of the King’s Cup.
(Requires the addition of a shot glass.)
See Kings Cup Rules Jack below.
Kings Cup Rules Jack
Of all the cards that change meanings in Kings Cup variations, face cards tend to be the most wildly divergent, with the jack being the most hotly (and entertainingly) debated of all.
Many people choose the jack for “Never Have I Ever” or to add “Close to Heaven” to the game instead of replacing “Reach for Heaven.”
It makes some sense, since the jack is technically in the “11” position in Kings Cup, giving you one of those classic Kings Cup rhymes: Jack is 11 – Close to Heaven.
But jacks can take on a very special place in a Kings Cup game as well.
What is jack in Kings Cup?
In many variations of Kings Cup, the jack is seen as the jester. That means he’s there to entertain.
Jack as the Jester in Kings Cup
When jack represents the jester in Kings Cup, anything goes. The rules are as wild as players’ imaginations.
You might make the jester dance or somersault or sing or recite a spontaneous poem.
If the jester refuses, the jester must drink.
If the jester performs, everyone else must drink.
But, honestly, even if no one takes a sip, the jester is often one of the most entertaining parts of the game.
Kings Cup is a very simple game that can become considerably more confusing as players go from tipsy to toasted.
As such, it’s best to start with the most basic rules.
Once it becomes a staple at your parties, you can swap the basics for more entertaining rules, making Kings Cup a little more fun each time you play.
Kings Cup can also get players very drunk very fast.
Remember, always drink responsibly and don’t force any player to do something dangerous or irresponsible. That way everyone can keep playing and having a good time!