Ranking tailgating games

Jeremy White tackles the biggest issue of football season

Jeremy White
September 07, 2017 - 3:22 pm

There are some things we all agree on: The tank was good, the Patriot Way is a pile of crap, and of course that fall is the truly elite season. Where do we find our differences? In how we tailgate. 

Some do the Dizzy Bat Thing.

Some jump through tables.

And some dress as Hulk Hogan and leg-drop a guy in the opposing jersey on top of a Bills bus each week.  


But when it comes to the games that are for everyone... we know how it all shakes out. So without further ado, I present to you, the Tailgate Game Rankings.


  • Last damn place - Ladder Golf

No one likes Ladder Golf. I mean no one REALLY likes Ladder Golf, right? At least not for a consistent amount of time. It’s fine to have around, but no one has ever said “Hey, make sure Joe brings his ladder golf set”. It looks like it might be a fun time, but then you actually play it and you feel very stupid throwing these two fake golf balls tied together with rope onto that ladder thing. It passes for a game. It’s not fun. It’s on par with chronicling state license plates on a long drive.

Pros: It’s a game.

Cons: Not very fun.


          9.) Washers

Most tailgating games are going to come in a format of one side vs. another with some sort of throwing back and forth. Washers can be a good time with the right crew. It’s easy to explain, you get fun bounces, and it rewards accuracy.  

Pros: Perhaps the most portable tailgating game. Easy for all ages, and just about anyone can be competitive.

Cons: Finding the washers on pavement isn’t always easy. In this family of games, it lacks some of the fun of the others.


          8. ) Stump

I’ve only played Stump once, but I want to give it a full go sometime. A hammer, some nails, and drinking. Sign me up.

Pros: Getting strangers to take a whack at the stump

Cons: Requires a stump, and I don’t know where those are sold


          7.) Playing Catch

An old staple of the parking lots. Throwing a football around with your friends, or your kids, is always a good way to warm things up. It’s tradition. It stands up to most weather scenarios as well.

Pros: Reminds everyone you’re at a football game

Cons: The inevitable calamity that ensues when an overthrow hits a stranger’s car and you have to awkwardly go retrieve it and, as loudly as possible, blame the person that threw the ball.  


          6.) Polish Horseshoes

Also known as Beersbee, or probably a thousand other names, Polish Horseshoes is one of our games that gets docked a few points because you need proper conditions. If you’ve never played it, PH includes stacking a beer bottle on a pole, and throwing a frisbee to try to knock it off. PH has arguably the best catches, reactions, and interaction of any of the tailgating games. You can get some epic catches, and some incredible games out of it. Sets that you buy tend to be flimsy. I love Polish Horseshoes, but for tailgating, it’s not top-5.

Pros: Highlight reel plays

Cons: Can’t play with any wind


          5.) Kan Jam

Wait. STOP. Don’t be mad. NO. Stop. Hear me out.

Kan Jam is a lot of fun, but has two main problems when it comes to tailgating. Much like Polish Horseshoes, you’re at the mercy of the weather. A windy day means no Kan Jam. Then there’s another problem… you can actually be TOO GOOD at it. Kan Jam is like bowling, in that it can be perfected. It’s got a little tic-tac-toe, or Connect Four to it, where… if you’re really good you shouldn’t ever loose. It’s one repeatably motion again and again. To battle this, beer-in-hand Kan Jam would be my recommendation. It’s a great tailgating game, but I rarely find that a large group wants to keep rolling with it and keep playing. Great game. Fun for all. Not the best tailgating game.

Pros: Local product. Fun scoring system. Beer in hand.

Cons: Weather-dependent, not conducive to larger groups, lots of space needed, wayward frisbees, friends that can’t throw frisbees don’t fit in.


          4.) Beer Ball

I gave serious thought to putting Beer Ball #1. I really wanted to. On it’s own, it’s probably the purest game. It’s a drinking game at it’s root level. Throw a ping pong ball at a beer can and chug beer. Those are the rules. You get to dive after ping pong balls. You drink your own beer in order to win (key for anyone that is playing a drinking game and actually hoping to drink a beer), and it’s a fast game. Beer ball is a 4-person tour de force. Staying on the table for the entire day is tough because most people are just going to want a break if they win. This leads to solid roster turnover. The game is great, but it’s all-over-the-place nature can get you into some trouble.

Pros: Little equipment required, mild potential to move around and consider it exercise, winners drink.

Cons: Ping pong balls more likely to get smushed, potential to get hit by cars or knock over grills.


          3.) Beer Pong

Come on. It’s elite. Beer pong has thousands of variations that can help keep it fresh. My wife’s family plays a hybrid version of pong/cups called Beer Relay. There's CIVIL WAR Beer Pong in all 53 of its own forms. You’ll need a table, and those can be in short supply with the number of Bills fans going through them these days. 

Pros: It’s fun to play, and decent to watch

Cons: Losers drink, while winners sometimes have to have a side beer ready. Wind can kill a game.


          2.) Flip Cup

Fun fact - I lost approximately ONE game of Flip Cup in four years of college*

*We always played two out of three, and I teamed up with two of my roommates to hold down the title for all four years, only losing it for about 10 minutes in our junior year.

Flip Cup > Beer Pong.  

That’s it.  

It just is.  

Pros: Team play, unlimited numbers available, variations on the game, winners drink.  

Cons: Wind? I’ve used wind for a “con” a few times but these games are near perfect.


          1.) Cornhole

The king of the tailgate, is Cornhole. It’s the easy-drinking, fun-for-all-ages game that can still get mega-competitive at the highest level. If someone has a corn hole set, you try to get them to your tailgate. Custom sets are a great offseason gift. You go to a Bills game ready to debut the new set that you bought, or made, or painted. Cornhole is the game of beer gardens around the world. When I went to Alaska in 2012, we stopped at the 49th state brewery. They had a cornhole field? (Set? Pit? Pitch? Run?) Whatever… there was cornhole, and within minutes we started a game with a couple guys that were from Germany and South Africa. Cornhole is the game of our world. It’s the best tailgate game we’ve got.  

Pros: Anyone can play, your boards can tell people who you are, there’s no sweating, stands up to all weather, can watch a football game while playing, can play and visit with friends or strangers at the same time.  

Cons:  None.

Long Live Cornhole. Happy Tailgating! See you out there.





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