Our top 5 pub games from around the world to enjoy with friends and beers

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For as long as there have been drinking establishments there have been games to entertain the patrons, from simple drinking games to bigger  tests of skill, there’s definitely something everybody can enjoy while they wait for the next round of lagers. A lot of them are classic staples that you’ll see at practically every bar in the world, so without further ado here’s our top 5:

Darts
This game has been part of the pub scene for over 100 years and it’s current board configuration was invented in 1896 by a carpenter from Lancashire by the name of Brian Gamlin. This game is played by throwing small projectiles onto a round board. There are two alternating circles colored red and green, the outer one gives double points when hit, the inner one awards triple points. The red centre is worth 50 points and the centre green ring 25.

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To play the game, each player must throw 3 darts at the board, and the first one to reach 0 from a set number, usually 501, wins.

 

Table football or Foosball

The game as we know was invented by Harold Searles Thornton in 1922 and patented the following year. Thornton was inspired to make the game after going to a match where his favorite team, the Tottenham Hotspur F.C, were playing. The board is a box that simulates a soccer field, with rows of players attached to spinning metal rods in formation that players move about and spin in order to manipulate the ball onto the opposing player’s goal zone and score. Here is a nice guide to learn how to play.

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The rules are actually very similar to those of real soccer, except there are no offsides, unless you strike the ball hard enough to send it flying out of the table and into some soon to be very angry bloke’s pint, which is not only against the rules, but potentially hazardous to your own health. You drop a small ball into the center of the table and try to outmaneuver your opponent for control of the ball and try to score a goal against your opponent, the player with the most goals wins.

Poker

The principle of poker is quite ancient and very interesting; many countries like Spain, Italy and France developed similar games, many of which appeared in literature starting as early as 1526. A French-German variant named “Poque” and “Pochen” quickly became one of the most popular games of the 17th century. Poque was first played in French-American colonies in 1803. After 20 years the English speaking inhabitants of Louisiana kept the name and re define the rules, establishing what nowadays is commonly know as poker.

Poker is of many possible games that you can play with a standard deck of cards, the game is played by shuffling the deck, and handing each player a set of cards that they use to make different combinations of cards, called “hands”,  out of these cards, the players chooses to keep his current hand or discard it totally or partially in the hopes of acquiring one of a higher value.

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It’s a game of chance as much as it is a game of skill. Players have to anticipate their opponents possible moves and determine if their hand is the higher one out of all the goers.There’s plenty of online options you can use to get up to speed on how to play the game, from apps  to video tutorials, a good example of this are the open tables websites.

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There’s many variants of poker, but the most common and most popular one nowadays is Texas Hold ‘Em. Like in all poker variants, all players compete for a pot by trying to estimate if their hand of cards value is higher than that of all the others, the player with the highest set wins each round. Here’s a nice Texas Hold’em explanation, before the game begins, the player immediately clockwise from the button posts the “small blind”, the first forced bet. The player immediately clockwise from the small blind posts the “big blind”, which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but the blinds can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure being played The game is played by having the dealer shuffle the cards and hand each player two different cards, known as “hole cards”, that only that player can see. Then the dealer pulls out another five cards and puts them face up, these are called the “board” or community cards. A player may use any combination of the seven cards available to make the best possible five-card poker hand, using all, some or none of their own private hole cards. The objective of the game is not to win each hand, but to make psychologically and statistically correct decisions regarding when and how to bet, raise, call or fold. By knowing when to best take each decision, players can maximize their gains each round, increasing their long term winnings.

Pinball

Pinball as we know dates back to the 1970s, when electronics started to get cheaper and smaller. With companies like Gottlieb, Stern, Bally and Williams making machines, pinball had its golden age until the early 1980s, when arcade video games were first becoming popular. The object of this game is to score as high as you can using 3 balls. Different tables have different scoring mechanisms so it’s not easy to make a general strategy for the game beyond “pay attention and try to keep your eyes on the balls so you can hit them with the flippers before they drain out”.

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So in short: pull back the ball plunger so you can launch the ball on to the playing field (pro tip: try not pulling it all the way, a lot of tables made in the 80’s and afterwards have alternate exits from the first lane that you can land on to score extra points) and try to keep each ball on the field as long as you possibly can so you can get the highest scores before inevitable losing track of the ball’s position and missing a flipper shot, watching while you flail helplessly as the ball drains out.

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Some of the best and most beloved tables include “ Tales of the Arabian Nights” by Williams, “Theatre of Magic” by Bally,  “Ripley’s Believe it or not!” by Stern Pinball, and  Gottlieb’s classic “Black Hole”. If you’re actually interested in some great recreations of these and other tables, be sure to check out Far Sight Studios’ The Pinball Arcade, for most platforms under sun, including Steam, iOs, Android,  Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network.

Pool Billiards

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The game of pool is another long time staple of the pub scene, played on a specialized table with 6 pockets, usually made   measuring in size from 31.07 m by 2.13 m, to 1.37 m by 2.74 m. A table generally includes 15 numbered and colored balls and a white cue ball, which is used to move the rest of the balls into each of the pockets, depending on the game variant, you might end up using less balls, such is the case with the 8 and 9 ball variants.

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The bed of the table is made from a large, flat slab of slate with no less than one inch of thickness covered by an outstretched green fabric, usually made from a blend of nylon and wool called baize. The vast majority of variations of the game are played by striking the cue ball with a 1,5 meter long wooden stick called a cue or pool cue in order to have the balls fall into one of the six pockets on the table. In 8-ball, one of the most widely variations of the game, the players strike the pyramid formation of colored balls, if they land any of the balls into the pocket, then that player has to pocket all balls of similar pattern, meaning solid colors with numbers 1 through 8 or white with a colored striped, which are balls 9 through 15, whatever pattern the player didn’t pocket is assigned to the opponent. After that each player must pocket all his assigned balls, leaving number 8 for last. Whichever player manages to pocket all balls, plus the 8th, wins the round.

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