King’s Cup rules – how to play the drinking game Kings Cup

Here's how to play King's Cup, a classic drinking game that only needs a pack of cards, your besties, and plenty of booze, to get the evening started.

The rules to Kings Cup- a beer glass with a crown

King’s Cup is a classic drinking game that’s played at universities the  world over. You might also know it as Ring of Fire, Circle of Death, or Waterfall. You just need a deck of cards, some drinks, and some mates.

King’s Cup has a well-earned place on our list of the best drinking games, and it’s right at the top of our guide to the best drinking card games. If you fancy a drinking game with a little more meat to it to start your evening, check out our guide to the best drinking board games.

It should go without saying: drink within your limits, and don’t be a dick to someone who doesn’t want to drink. What’s the point of an epic night out that you can’t remember?

Kings Cup drinking game rules - photograph by Nan Palmero of "Deya drinking a beer at Alamo Beer Company", via Wikimedia creative commons 2.0 attribution

Here’s how to play King’s Cup:

King’s Cup uses a regular deck of playing cards, minus the jokers – we recommend you pick a waterproof set, as this game is guaranteed to get sloppy. Everyone should bring their own drink, and you’ll need a spare cup to be the ‘King’s Cup’.

Put the King’s Cup in the middle of the table, and spread the deck of cards out around it face down to create a Ring of Fire. Make sure there aren’t any breaks between the cards – they should all be packed together.

YouTube Thumbnail

Players take it in turns pulling a card from the Ring of Fire, flipping it face up. Here’s what makes the game fun: each number or face card does something totally different. Some of them are challenges for the whole table, some of them let you put someone else on the spot, some of them even let you create new rules.

Card Rule
King Pour some of your drink into the King’s Cup. Then add a new rule to the game – for example, ‘Yes means no and no means yes’. From now on, anyone who breaks the rule drinks.
Queen Become the question master. Any time someone answers a question you ask, they have to drink.
Jack Never Have I Ever – say something that you’ve never done. Everyone drinks, unless they’ve done it. Great way to get confessions out of people.
Ten ‘Categories’ – pick a category, like “fish” or “football players”. First player who can’t name something new in that category drinks.
Nine ‘Rhyme’ – say anything. Players have to add a new rhyme in response. First one to fail drinks.
Eight ‘Mate’ – pick a drinking buddy. Whenever one of you drinks, the other drinks
Seven ‘Heaven’- everyone has to point to the ceiling. Last one pointing drinks.
Six ‘Dicks – men drink
Five ‘Jive’ – throw a dance move. Players have to copy the move and add something extra to it. First one to mess up drinks.
Four ‘Whores’ – women drink
Three ‘Me’ – The person who picks the card drinks
Two ‘You’ – Choose someone else to drink
Ace ‘Waterfall’ – Everyone starts downing their drink. Players can’t stop drinking until the person before them in player order finishes drinking.

Whoever pulls the fourth King from the Ring of Death has to drink the whole of the King’s Cup, no matter how foul the mixture has become. Tequila, Bud Light, and Baileys Cream Liquer, anyone?

If you want to make the game extra boozy, add a drinking penalty any time a player creates a break in the Ring of Fire when they pull a card.

If you fancy playing another card game to take your mind off the hangover, we can recommend the best playing card games that use a standard deck of cards, plus the best card games for adults.