December 18, 2017 You’ve Got Game: The 18 Best Bar Games

best bar games

Want guests to stay longer, spend more, and return often? Break out the bar games. You’ll bring patrons together for a great time while creating a lively atmosphere that attracts crowds. Before dusting off Trivial Pursuit, ensure you have the right games for your guests. We make it easy by sharing the 18 best bar games for 2018. Are you game?


Adult party games launch laughing fits in living rooms across America. Now, bring the fun (and millennials) to your place. Always have multiple sets of these popular bar games on hand. Fair warning: they’re definitely R-Rated.

1. Cards Against Humanity

With a 5-star Amazon rating based on nearly 40,000 reviews, this is a no brainer as far as bar games go. It’s simple to play: One player asks a question from a black card, the other players answer with their funniest white card. For a PG-version ideal for families, get Apples to Apples instead.

2. What Do You Meme?

Launched in late 2017, this one is already Amazon’s #2 best-selling adult party game. If you want millennials in your bar, you need this game that’s based on trending internet memes.

3. Exploding Kittens

Not as sinister as it sounds, this easy-to-learn party game is actually suitable for ages 7 and up. Created by the millennial-approved cartoonist, The Oatmeal, this is one of the best bar games to purchase now.

4. Pop Culture and Movie Night Trivia

While the first 3 bar games require cards (and are best for groups of 8), there’s no limit to how many people can play Pop Culture and Movie Night Trivia. Questions are pulled from the week’s biggest headlines: viral videos, trending movies, and celeb gossip. Basically, if millennials are talking about it – the topics are in these 2 bar games.

BONUS! More Bar Games Millennials Love Right Now

  • Jenga
  • Catchphrase
  • Settlers of Catan (a strategic board game, known as a Euro Style game)


Ideal for sports bars, turn your location into an arena with these bar games that require (minimal) physical activity.

5. Cornhole

This bean bag toss game is trending at college campuses and backyard barbeques. Now it’s your turn. You can easily build your own cornhole boards or buy them for about $100 per set. Clear space indoors for a cornhole tournament when it’s raining or snowing outside – you’ll cure cabin fever for guests.

6. Darts

Dart leagues continue to build momentum into 2018. Already have dartboards? Get more guests in the game by asking your best player to host a training session (reward them with a gift card).

7. Shuffleboard

Not just for seniors in Florida, shuffleboard is showing up everywhere from hipster Brooklyn bars to trendy breweries. No, you don’t need to install a regulation 52-foot shuffleboard court – a 9-foot tabletop shuffleboard works well.

8. Hook and Ring Toss

Got shuffleboard sticker shock? Island Jay’s Hook and Ring Toss bar game will cure it…considering you can make it yourself for under $10. Sometimes, the simplest bar games are the best bar games.

BONUS! Other Physical Bar Games to Try

  • Bocce ball…big in the South
  • Table hockey (or even table tennis)
  • Any Wii Sports
  • Twister


Build an event around your bar games with these easy, affordable ideas. Don’t forget to set up a Facebook Event for maximum visibility.

9. Olympic Bar Games

The real Olympics kick off in February…so why not launch your own winter Olympics? Guests can form teams to compete in everything from cornhole to flip cup, darts to beer pong. Stagger the competition to keep guests coming back on a weekly basis on your slowest night.

10. Live Trivia

Another one of the best bar games to attract midweek guests? Live trivia events. Every loves trivia night: from college students to baby boomers. It’s one of the best crowd-pleasing bar games.

No need to hire an expensive outside trivia host. Train your own staff to rock the mic. The right live trivia system will provide everything you need – from trivia questions that show up on your TVs to handheld tablets that keep automatic scores.

11. Interactive Trivia Leagues

When you give guests access to nationally scheduled trivia games 15 hours a day, 7 days a week…they’ll find their favorite for sure. In fact, many of the 11 million registered Buzztime players set up Wednesday and Thursday night trivia leagues to play SIX Trivia at their local Buzztime bar. Find out how to become a Buzztime location.

12. Competitive Karaoke

Yes, karaoke can become one of your most popular bar games. Just make it competitive by hiring a local musician or guest panel to give feedback to each performer. You could even use “The Voice” as inspiration and ask that the judges turn their backs to the performers. The winner should get a gift card – and be invited to judge the next week’s event!

13. Poker Tournament

Up the ante on fun with bar games like a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament. Don’t worry. Scoring and standings are generated automatically.
BONUS! More Live Event Ideas

  • Charades
  • Adult Spelling Bee
  • Scrabble Tournament


How to increase food and drink sales? Turn it into a game with promotions that double as bar games.

14. Flip Night

This iconic promotion is still going strong for 2018. Let guests flip a coin and assign any value to heads or tails. If you really want to bring in guests, make the coin a quarter, and let guests flip to see if they can score a 25 cent domestic beer.

15. Play by Play

It’s college basketball season. So, get guests into the game with bar games and specials based on the on-court action. It could be $3 off pitchers for 3 minutes after the home team hits a 3-point shot. Or, go big: if the home team wins by more than 10 points, give everyone in the bar 2-for-1 appetizers for an hour after the game.

16. Dice Night

Will guests get lucky and score a deal? Or “no dice”? Dice bar games bring a little casino action to your bar. Assign discounts to the dice, then let guests roll before ordering:
1=$1 off
2=make it a double on the house
3=no dice!
4=no dice!
5=50 cents off
6=no dice!

BONUS! More Promotions Disguised as Bar Games

  • Invest in a prize wheel: let guests spin the wheel to score a special
  • Card faceoff: assign discounts to 1 of the 4 card suits, guests can select a card – if they pull a joker, they have to tell the bartender a joke as payment for their drink


No list of bar games would be complete without arcade ideas There are 2 key trends in the world of arcade gaming: retro arcade games and handheld arcade games. Anything in between didn’t make it on our list of the best bar games.

17. Retro Games

Ms. Pac-Man. Donkey Kong. Space Invaders. For children of the 1980s, these retro arcade games are a nostalgic escape. Some bars are taking their chances with refurbished arcade classics (they range from $1000-$3000 on eBay). Others are purchasing new versions that look identical to the originals (same price range).

18. Handheld Arcade Games

While retro arcade bar games look “cool,” if you want guests to stay longer and spend more, give them arcade games on tabletop tablets. In fact, an independent Arbitron study revealed that guests who play Buzztime’s handheld arcade games spend an average of 21% more per table check. Even bars with a physical game room are adding handheld bar games, here’s why:

  • Space-saving: Why pull guests away from the bar to the arcade? Save space and increase orders: keep guests at the bar or table.
  • Competitive spirit: For many players, the appeal of arcade games is the leaderboard. Handheld arcade bar games on the NTN network let guests compete on a local – and national – leaderboard.
  • Strategically Designed: Today’s tabletop tablet arcade games are engineered to keep guests engaged in continuous play.
  • All ages and interests: Handheld arcades include classic arcade games – plus newer ones. From racecar challenges to word puzzles, there’s something for all ages and interests. Unlike standalone retro consoles, handheld arcades are updated regularly if you use the right system.

BONUS! Arcade Game Ideas (if You’ve Got Space)

  • Skee Ball
  • Crane pickup
  • Mini basketball
  • Table tennis

When it comes to bar games, think about the type of guest you want. Then, select games based on their interests and style of play. For example, if you’re a full-service restaurant that draws in couples for quiet dinners, offer 2-player bar games like chess and paint a few tabletops with a rustic checkerboard (different-sided coasters can be the checkers).

Or, if you’re located on a college campus, cater to big groups with equally big tournaments and trivia events that get everyone in on the gaming action. The ultimate game-winning strategy is one that keeps the customer’s needs in focus. Always.

5 Step Marketing Budget Planner

The ultimate guide for owners & managers.

1 Comment

  • brooke boyd Dec 29, 2013 5:20 pm

    Aloha from hawaii!!!! i am the manager at hilo burger joint i want to start some kind of poker event here at our bar. we already run a hosted trivia event on monday nights, it has been great for our business. I think a hosted poker event night would be a fun and great way to bring customers in to our establishment. I have contacted our local liquor distributers about sponsoring with absolute vodka. My ideas are going on and on but i need to know what i need to do with your company to stare this and perhaps connect with other bars that are customers to buzztime and get something big.. bigger than our small town of hilo. pleae let me know if you have any legal information and buzztime information need to know to start this for the new year. please let me know call me at (808)315-6669 or email me at my personal email happy holidays!!! thank you