The Game Within (Or, Beer Pong, a Pissing Good Time)

Next: hot coals
Gendy Alimurung

Top athletes often speak of “the game within the game,” the strategies that exist beneath the surface of contests, often stemming from realities unseen by fans.

Take beer pong, for instance.

Hundreds of 20-somethings from around the nation gathered in Fullerton over Labor Day weekend to drink beer and throw Ping-Pong balls into plastic cups. Under the rules of the game, competitors drink beer any time the other team scores, then competition continues. Thus the Southern California Beer Pong Open was a battle between blood-alcohol level and hand-to-eye coordination.

But those vying for the $10,000 prize knew the contest involved deeper skills.

In beer pong, two-member teams stand across from each other at opposite ends of a table. Any time one team manages to land a ball in a cup, the other team has to drink the beer inside that cup. (It’s not as complicated as it sounds.)

The game can be relentless. “There is no stopping,” Lester Marks explains. “I wouldn’t let someone take a break. You can’t take a time-out in any other sport,” even if this particular form of competition happens to involve alcohol — massive quantities of alcohol.

All in all, 24 kegs of pale, golden Coors Light — the equivalent of 4,032 cans of beer — flow into human bodies during the contest.

Which brings us to the game within.

A single beer pong game can take up to a half-hour. An adult human bladder holds about a pint. A human’s urge for relief begins long before the bladder fills.

“I don’t know if my bladder is small or not,” says Trenor Morken, whose team, Epic Ruin, was in second place when he felt what he describes as a slight but perfect buzz. “If I play and I’m holding my pee, it takes my concentration away from the game. And in this game, you can’t overthink. It has to be natural.”

On the other hand, he knows his body. “As soon as I start peeing, I have to go all the time,” he says, mournfully.

He does a kind of dancing-on-coals jig and grabs his crotch. “I’ll probably have to head over there pretty soon,” he says, looking toward the restroom.

Marks’ partner, Shane Shepard, has been to the bathroom five times since 2 p.m. He checks his watch. It is now 3 p.m.

Smart players relieve themselves between games. But that’s harder than you might think. The scene at the men’s restroom: ugly. Line out the door. “No way,” moans one guy. “No way.”

Eric Castro, exiting the lavatory for, conservatively, the thousandth time, claims he can down a six-pack before nature even begins to call (for the record, that’s 4 and a half pints).

Castro is 20 beers into the afternoon and trends philosophical. “I keep going to the bathroom. But I keep drinking.”

As we wait for his friends to finish in the restroom, he speculates on what he would do with his prize money if he wins (visit his aunt in Rhode Island). His partner won the Beer Pong World Series Championship in Las Vegas one year, and with the $50,000 prize, the guy paid off his debt and bought a car and a mattress.

In Fullerton, one contestant has already scored a victory of sorts. Laura Olson, one of the few women contestants, says she’s gone to the restroom just once. “I have really good bladder control,” she brags.

Then she adds: “This is the best event ever because the girls’ restroom never has a line and the guys’ does.”

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >