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Challenging a champion at the World Series of Beer Pong

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Not all the competitors at the World Series of Beer Pong are goofy guys …
Photo: Leila Navidi

“Dude, that sounds like way more than a piss stream; it sounds like you turned on the faucet.”

I’m in the bathroom at the Flamingo, overhearing a conversation between two World Series of Beer Pong teammates. Walking back into the hallway, one of the guys tosses a ball into his teammate’s cup. At least, he tries; it bounces off the floor, then the wall.

“That’s why we’re not winning!”

I walk past a guy dressed like a pirate and past a guy wearing an Axl Rose wig and an “I Rock Catholic Girls” T-shirt.

I’ve reached the arena.

Imagine a frat party had a three-way with the movie Dodgeball and a mid-stakes poker tournament. That’s the World Series of Beer Pong. Don’t let the sexy DJ, the go-go-dancers, the crazy costumes, the yelling and the jumbo heads distract you. You’ve got to throw ping pong balls into 10 pyramid-arranged plastic cups. If you don’t, you drink. If you do, you win money.

.. but a lot of them are.

Three pits of 20 tables are filled with guys and girls in headbands, sweat bands, matching T-shirts, matching polo shirts, matching robes and, in one case, matching shower caps. They’re competing, in teams of two, to win $50,000. In between matches, girls in tight white shirts and short black shorts refill the cups with beer.

I settle in to watch a game between the Busboys (two guys in matching tux vests and bow ties) and You Wish You Could Smash This Cup (two girls, one wearing booty shorts, fishnets, hoop earrings and a midriff-bearing shirt that’s even tighter than those of the white-shirted beer girls).

This game is getting all sorts of attention. They must be good, I think. But then I realize the only reason so many people are watching the matchup is that it’s taking so damn long. These teams suck. They’re eventually moved off the main court to a table in the back of the room. The woman in the fishnets dunks the ball three times—that’s her ritual—and leans forward, balanced against the weight of her lifted back leg. Finally, she sinks the winning shot.

I tell the PR lady that I want to watch a good match, and she takes me to Ross Hampton, one of last year’s $50,000 champs. A new game is beginning and Ross shoots first.

He misses. It’s like Mighty Casey striking out.

More Beer Pong

His first opponent, a lanky guy whose shirt identifies him as “The Jew,” sinks his first shot. As does his partner, the second member of team Poococky. It’s not looking good for team Dangeross. (Side note: You know you’re good when you’re teammate agrees to name the team after you.)

Before long Poococky smashes its 10th and final shot. Dangeross has four cups to go, so unless they can sink four in a row, they’re screwed.

Dangeross sinks four in a row.

The teams head to a sudden death three-cup matchup, which Dangeross wins easily. After the matchup, I ask Ross what he did with last year’s winnings.

“Bought my first house—well, made the down payment,” he tells me, before he’s interrupted by a groupie. I regain his attention and ask him for beer pong tips.

“Keep it simple, repetitive. And stay relaxed—don’t get flustered and don’t over-think it.”

I try my luck in a heads-up exhibition match against the champ. I sink one; he sinks 10. I need nine in a row to tie the game.

I’ll tell you right now: I don’t do it. But I do sink four in a row, which, given the match I’d just watched, elevates me to championship player status.

So 2014 players: Watch out for team Lax Attack.

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