House Rules

The object of almost any game played in a drinking establishment of some sort or another is to decide who will buy drinks. But every place has got its own quirks, and often rules to play to them.

Sometimes these rules seem to be made up on the spot. Call it home-field advantage. So if you walk out of a strange bar bewildered and penniless after a few innocent bar games, it’s probably because you didn’t know the house rules.

Pool Table Turns

  1. Place stack of quarters in line behind the last stack. Games are played in this order.
  2. Winner plays challenger with next stack of quarters.
  3. Slide quarters up when a new game starts.
  4. Nobody touches Carl’s quarters but Carl. Do you even know what Carl does with those quarters?
  5. If there is ever a discrepancy over whose quarters are next these disputes will be settled by Helen Waite in our complaints department. So if you think it’s your game, but someone else is playing, or if you have anything else you feel like you might need to bitch to the bartender about, go to Helen Waite.


  1. Start with 501 points.
  2. Subtract total points at each turn.
  3. First player to get to zero points wins.
  4. Must be exactly zero points, and go out on a double.
  5. If the player goes below zero, or gets 1 point (since you can’t score 1 on a double), score returns to previous turn’s score.
  6. No one at this bar has ever completed a game.

Ring Toss

  1. It’s a simple game, people.
  2. Stand behind the tape line.
  3. Unless the tape is scraped off the floor or under beer, in which case, about six feet’ll do it.
  4. Pull the ring back with string taught and let go, aiming for the hook.
  5. Do not throw the ring at the hook, you idiots.
  6. If you hit Pete in the head, don’t fight here. Go to the Cigar Bar.


  1. Ask bartender for a set of vintage metal lawn darts behind the bar.
  2. Yeah, these are the real deal. Outlawed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1988.
  3. No, it’s not illegal. We ain’t selling them.
  4. Go to the “lawn” behind the bar and set up rings.
  5. Swing arm back and let Jart go in a smooth controlled motion, aiming for the center of the ring.
  6. Aim for the rings. We mean it.
  7. If you hit Pete in the head, there won’t be any fight, because the sharp, metal Jart tip weighs about 4 lbs. Try not to hit anyone in the head.
  8. Also, for obvious reasons, there will be no Jart playing during Turtle Races.

Bar Dice

  1. Everyone rolls a die—highest roll goes first.
  2. The first player puts all five dice in a cup, shakes them and dumps them on the bar. If he slams the cup too hard, he buys a round. The player must roll at least one to continue. We call this an “ace”—because cards.
  3. Object is to get the most of one kind. Also, the object is to have the most of the same dice. So highest number of the most dice wins. A hand with four threes is better than a hand with three fives, but not better than a hand with five twos. Highest possible score is five sixes.
  4. Oh, yeah, Aces are wild.
  5. So actually the highest possible hand is four sixes and a one.
  6. The first player is allowed two more rolls, setting aside the dice he wants to keep (the ace and whatever pair or triple he’s trying to finish—we call this “farmed” dice). Every other player (going clockwise on days of the week that have the letter E in them and counterclockwise on days that don’t) is allowed only as many rolls as the first player took.
  7. High score wins and is out. If the high score is a tie, the whole round must be repeated. We call this a pickled herring.
  8. The second-highest scorer begins the next round. We call him the Duke of Edinburgh.
  9. The last two players left go best two rounds out of three. Loser buys drinks.
  10. Touch the dice when it’s not your turn and you have to put Carl’s quarters in your mouth.

The Old Devil’s Hatchet Zippo Test

You will need:

  • A hatchet as sharp as the devil himself
  • A block of wood
  • A doughnut
  • A Zippo lighter


  1. Player one places one hand on the wooden block and extends his index finger. In the other hand, he holds his Zippo.
  2. Player two holds the hatchet.
  3. Player one must light the Zippo 10 times.
  4. If it lights all 10 times, player two buys player one a drink.
  5. If the Zippo fails to light on any turn, player one buys the drink—with his finger.