Quite possibly the best drinking game of all-time, King’s Cup, or Circle of Death, Ring of Fire, and sometimes even Waterfall, as it’s known, is a card game that involves plenty of variation, hilarious questions, wild admissions, and absolutely silly amounts of drinking.
Better than Drunk Jenga, it’s the adult party game that almost never gets old. Let’s get to how the game is set up and played. If you don’t already have them laying around, grab a deck of waterproof playing cards off Amazon and thank us later.
Also, there's some adult language in here. If that's the sort of thing that ruffles your feathers, don't read further.
What you need to play King’s Cup
Here are the things you’re going to need to play the Kings Drinking Game. We believe that you should play the game with cheap beer. Cheap beer is good to use because it tends to have low alcohol content. You don’t want to be the person drinking a large mug of high booze Triple IPAs, do you?
Same goes for hard liquor. Playing the game with straight booze will quickly make you understand why Circle of Death or Ring of Fire are alternative names for King’s Cup.
- 3 to 10 of your friends
- Deck of Cards
- A cup of any size | Buy Now
- Wine, Beer, Mixed Drinks, or Hard Alcohol
Setting up the Game
Place the large cup/pitcher/stein/container in the middle of the table. Take the 52 card deck and spread the cards out evenly surrounding the cup. That’s pretty much it.
Some people like to hard line the rules a bit and say that the cards need to always be touching, but that’s rookie league stuff that you need not worry about. You’re all grownups, just play the fun drinking game already.
Also, if you're worried about spills at your party, be sure to get a drop cloth or sheet to cover the floor.
King’s Cup Rules
Each card’s value corresponds to a different task or objective. The suit of the drawn playing cards doesn’t come into play in this drinking card game.
The game starts when the first player draws a card from the center of the table. It ends with the last person who draws a king - aka - the fourth king of the deck. We’ve seen this happen within the first 20 draws of a game, so be prepared to start the game over, or, switch to another fun card game if so.
Also, we should mention that all drinking games, especially card drinking games, can be modified with the creation of new rules - aka - House Rules.
For example, you could place just one can of beer in the center and have the person who draws the fourth King shotgun it. Or, you could place four cans of beer and have the people who draw each can chug those.
The choice to make a rule pre-game is always at your discretion.
When You Draw an Ace
Starting off the game with the first person drawing an Ace would be quite a way to kick it off, as an Ace represents a waterfall.
To conduct a waterfall, the person drawing the card puts their drink to their lips and proceeds to continuously drink the beverage until a time of their choosing. Using the established game order, everyone continues drinking until the person before them decides to stop, going next person after next person and so on.
When the second to last player quits drinking, the final person can stop immediately, or, with some level of bravado, continue on to show just how awesome they are. Heck, they could continue until they’re face down on the ground - something we suggest you absolutely do not do.
When You Draw a Two
The most tame of the playing cards, a person drawing a two chooses a player to take 2 sips of their drink. It’s clearly the easiest of the game rules to abide by.
When You Draw a Three
Almost equally as tame, only perhaps a bit worse since it goes to you, is a drawing of a three. Three back to me means that you need to take three sips of your drink for drawing a three from the pile of cards.
When You Draw a Four
We’d like to refrain, but it is what it is. Drawing a four is for whores. So when a four is drawn from the deck, all of the girls drink.
When You Draw a Five
We make rules with fives. This is not a game for dancing jives, as not everything needs to rhyme.
Why do we make rules with fives? Because the King card already has a mission. Otherwise, you’d make a rule with the five and (maybe?) make five jive ... to staying alive?
Rulemaking is also another staple of in-game play for drinking card games. Examples include:
- Drink if your phone makes noise
- Drink if you respond to your name being said
- Drink if you draw a card with your left hand
One interesting effect of making a rule is that it stays in effect until the next five is drawn. If no other fives are drawn, than consider this rule in effect for the rest of the game.
When You Draw a Six
Not to be outdone by four ... six is for dicks. When a six is drawn, all guys drink.
When You Draw a Seven
Seven to heaven. A seven is one of the few interruption cards in that it doesn't start with the player drawing it. Upon seeing a drawn 7, all players must throw their hands toward the sky. Last to do so drinks.
When You Draw a Eight
Eight, in our King's game, is a social. Yes, we could opt to use it as the Mate card, but we feel like it's just a great time to have everyone gather together and enjoy their refreshing bevvie. Cheers!
When You Draw a Nine
Nine nine bust-a-rhyme is one of the more challenging consequences of a card, especially for DudeBros who think they’re lyrically on par with Snoop.
The person who drew the Nine recites a line. The last word is what the next player in turn must rhyme. Two rules to live by with nine-nine-bust-a-rhyme:
- No repeat rhymes
- No using purple, orange or any other word that has no natural rhyme
When You Draw a Ten
A ten drawn in King’s Cup is for choosing a category. The first person whose answer is outside of the category drinks. Same goes for not answering in an appropriate amount of time.
Popular King’s categories include:
- Condom brands
- Foods that begin with the letter Q
- Party themes (ex. Pimps & Hoes)
- Types of wine
When You Draw a Jack
Never Have I Ever. The person who drew the card announces an action, in the form of, "Never have I ever ____."
Any person who has done the thing in question takes a sip of their beverage.
When You Draw a Queen
Q for Questions.
The player choosing the Queen from the deck asks a question to any other player. That player then asks a question to another player. This continues until:
- The person hestitates too long
- The person doesn't ask a question
Loser takes a sip of their drink. The object is to try and ask something so outlandish that you mess with the other person enough to get them to break.
When You Draw a King
When the first three Kings are drawn, the person who drew the card pours part of their drink into the King's Cup, which is placed in the middle of the table.
When the 4th King is drawn, the person who drew it is required to drink the contents of the King's Cup, concluding the game.
Alternate Versions & Variations of King's Cup
You can install replacement rules for cards like the Jack or Eight. Or, you can play our alt version of the game, like where you put a 40oz in the middle and the person who draws the last king earns themself the opportunity (right/privilege/etc) to enjoy that 40.
The infinite flexibility is part of why some consider Kings to be the best drinking game.
- Bon Jovi Rule
- Question Master
- Tiny Man Rule
How to play King's Cup online
The best King's Cup would be playing the drinking game after winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. Hockey players have better things to do though.
Although, playing with Gretzky would have been great. Clearly we're talking about the drinking game.