Waterfall Drinking Game: Guide + Rules [King’s Cup]

Are you and your squad looking for a good pregame drinking activity to kick off the night?

Chances are a few people in your group are familiar with the classic part-card & part-drinking game that goes by many names.

Besides waterfall this drinking game is known as:

  • King’s Cup
  • Kings
  • Circle Of Death
  • Donut
  • Ring Of Fire

Regardless of the name you want to give this timeless classic, it has remained as a fun and engaging activity to spend a night in with friends, or as a great first step to your night out as a pregame drinking event.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible to set you up for success by listing our the general rules in our guide to playing water fall at your next happy hour event.

Note: While certain rules will differ from house to house–and friend to friend–we wanted to share with you our personal favorite rule-set for you to try out. If you are feeling like you are up to it!

Before we get into the main rules of the game, we wanted to lay out the main guidelines to get any new players or groups brand-new to the game up to speed.

Waterfall Drinking Guide

Number Of Players: 5+

While you do not need 5 people and can probably make it work with fewer, the game really works best with a group of people who can sit around the room and participate together. We’ve found that 5 – 12 is probably the sweet spot when playing a game of waterfall.

Time: 45 – 90 minutes

This is subject to how fast you guys play and whether you get distracted easily. A game can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour depending on how quickly you want to pick cards and go through the game.

What You Need To Play:

  • 1 standard deck of 52 playing cards
  • 1 “King’s Cup” glass, red Solo cup, or anything you can pour liquid in. This is placed in the middle of the cards to act as the reward for the final person to draw a King
  • Enough alcohol for your group to drink
  • 1 six-sided die

Drink Recommendations:

We recommend having something lighter to drink during the game as you will have to take sips of your drink throughout the game. Such as:

  • Light beer
  • Hard seltzer
  • Anything non-alcoholic
  • Mixed drink

Before You Start (Setup):

  1. Place the “King’s Cup: in the middle of your table and spread the deck of playing cards around the cup in a circle so that the cards are easy to choose.
  2. Remind everyone to fill up their drink with the beverage of their choice.
  3. Instruct everyone to sit around the table
  4. The player going first selects one card from the ring and flips it right-side up to show which card you have.
  5. Based on the card’s value, the players then participate in whichever activity is attached to the card.
  6. Once the activity is completed, you go clock-wise around the room with the next person selecting a card at random.


Waterfall Rules (Card – Activity)

Ace – Thunder

This drinking game involves the classic rock song Thunder by ACDC. Everyone must stand up with their drink in their hand while the player who pulled the Ace pulls up the song on Spotify or Youtube. To begin, they must take a drink of the beer when the first “Thunder” is sung by the lead singer. They must keep drinking until the next “Thunder” is sung and the person to their left must take up the drinking until the next “Thunder” is sung. Play until the song ends or everyone has killed their drink!

2 – You

For this one you must drink if you pull a 2. Simple as that. Bottoms up.

3 – See

The first person to make eye contact with the person who has just pulled the 3 will have to take a drink.

Pro – Tip: For a bonus, you can also play “3 Question Hot Seat” — where the person who draws the 3 card must answer 3 questions rapid fire from the group. make sure those questions are nice and juicy. We want answers!

4 – 4 Score and Stay-At-Home Dads

This is a card for all those ladies out there. They all get to drink together!

5 – Live

The person who draws the 5 is live and thus they must have to perform for the rest of the group. They can perform:

  • 30 seconds of karaoke
  • a poem
  • a celebrity impression
  • a hidden talent

Just about anything worth showing the group is fair game.

6 – Ricks

This is for all those men in the Waterfall game. It might not be Saturday is for the boys, but waterfall is for the Ricks!

7 – Compliment

You must give someone in the room a compliment. Once you have given them a compliment, both of you must “Cheers” and take a drink together.

Pro – Tip: If you are looking to make things a bit more spicy, make the person who draws the seven also give an insult to someone in the group along with their compliment. Just make sure it’s not too mean!

8 – Mate

For “Mate” you must choose someone to be your Mate for the rest of the game. Should they have to drink at any point in the game as a reward, you must also have to drink in solidarity with your mate. That is about it!

9 – Rhyme

For “9 is Rhyme” someone will yell out a word. The remaining players will go in clockwise rotation saying a word that rhymes with the original word. If they cannot think of a word that rhymes with the first word, or they say a word that does not rhyme with it — they drink and the round ends.

Pro – Tip: You can also play “Nein, Nein, Nein” where instead of rhyming, the person who draws the 9 card has to take a show of liquor. We’re talking 40 proof.

10 – Categories

For the game of “Categories” the person who has just drawn the 10 will name a category of something there are a lot of. You then go around in a clockwise fashion with each person calling out a different answer that falls into the category. For example, if the category were “Breakfast Cereals” — then the circle would move around with each person naming a different breakfast cereal. Froot Loops, Cheerios, Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes, etc.

The round ends when either someone:

  • A) incorrectly names something that does not fall under the category
  • B) repeat an already spoken item
  • C) they cannot think of anything to say and their time runs out

To get you started, here are some potential categories:

  • U.S. presidents
  • fast food restaurants
  • NFL football teams
  • card games
  • television shows on Bravo

Jack – Dice Roll

If you pull a Jack, you will need to grab a six-sided die and roll it for everyone to see. Whichever number is rolled, count that number for each person to your left and take a drink with the person you land on.

Pro – Tip: You can up things up a notch, and make the dice roller have to also kiss the person they have to drink with too!

Queen – Question Master

As the master of questions, you will be responsible for asking other players questions throughout the game. If anyone answers you, they must take a drink. If they ignore you successfully, then nothing happens. Your term as Question Master will end when the next person draws a Queen and they become the Question Master.

King – King’s Cup

This is the card that often gives this game its name. Whether you call it “Waterfall” or “King’s Cup” — this card means that you have to take your drink and pour some of it into the center cup surrounded by the playing cards. If you are the final person to draw a King (meaning the 4th and final King is pulled) this customarily ends the game and you must drink the contents of the middle “King’s” cup. Drink up!

Jokers – “Anything Goes”

While the game of waterfall is not customarily played with Jokers, you can take these two extra cards and make up a special rule for two lucky (or unlucky) players!


There you have it! This fun drinking game for adults is a great way to pre-game a party or catch up with friends in a nice but somewhat competitive environment. Waterfall is the type of game where it is fun to play and keep going, but everyone can take their time and enjoy the company of who they are with without having to feel rushed or pressured.

Lastly, we want to note that the rules for the different playing card values can be changed and replaced based on “House rules” or if any of the people in your group know of other rules that are fun and engaging. This is just a place to start, but at the end of the day — we encourage you to make the game your own.

Are there any new rules that we should know about? Please let us know in the comments!

Have fun!

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