5 Live Bar Games Your Customers Will Love

March 19, 2024
Planning Virtual Events

Sure, you COULD run your bar like a typical bar — drinks, snacks, maybe a pool table if you're feeling froggy — or, you could turn your bar into the game parlor of yours and everyone else's dreams! There are tons of different bar games to choose from, and best of all, they're incredibly cheap to run. In some cases, they're completely free! And let's face it — as a bar owner looking to score as big a bottom line as possible, ‘free’ is probably your favorite word, with ‘cheap’ coming in a close second.

Here are five simple bar games you can set up to ensure every customer has as much fun as possible in between (and during) rounds of drinks!

1. Pub Quiz

When you think free and simple bar games, chances are pub trivia comes immediately to mind. And why not? It's a classic, it always attracts a large and lively crowd, and aside from the cost of printing answer sheets, it's super-cheap — dare we say…free!

How It Works

While there are an infinite variations of pub quizzes played around the world, we find that the great pub quizzes all follow a similar structure:

  • The game is broken up into rounds, and there is a short break in between rounds to give players time to socialize, use the restroom, etc.
    • Here’s an example: A 2-hour pub quiz might have 4 rounds with 8-10 questions per round, and a 10-minute break in between rounds. At this pace, you can comfortably budget 2 minutes per question.
  • Each round has it’s own question category. Categories aren’t related to each other, unless there is a specific pre-defined theme (90s pop culture?) for the game.
  • “Fill in the blank” style questions should make up, at most, 50% of the game. Great quizzes mix in media-based trivia categories (ie. play a short clip of a song/movie is played and have players guess the title/artist), image-based trivia, and other creative trivia formats! Pictionary anyone?
  • Not every answer needs to be binary. Throw in multiple choice questions, fill in the blank questions, or any other answer type that can make the game more dynamic.
  • There’s always a ‘house’ twist. Maybe you give teams a sheet of paper-based questions they need to solve in between rounds that is counted toward the final score, maybe you have everyone in the bar stand up while you ask rapid-fire trivia and the last one standing wins bonus points (or a free drink!), maybe you ask questions during the break that can earn teams special superpowers (hints, hint blockers, etc.). Be creative, try different things, and land on your own personal twist that works for you!

Pub Trivia Resources

Free Pub Quiz Questions:

Free Answer Sheet Templates:

2. Bar Bingo

Bingo is one of the most timeless games of all time. It's one of the first games you learn as a kid, and it's also one of the most popular games among senior center patrons. So why not meet somewhere in the middle and make Bingo a popular pastime for those of a certain, bar game-happy age? But we're not talking regular old "B14, G48," balls-in-a-big-tumbler Bingo. This is BAR Bingo — a mixture of Bingo and a scavenger hunt that’s more immersive and fun than any other Bingo you've ever seen!

How It Works

  • You create bingo cards filled out with things one might see at a pub. So instead of numbers, your cards would contain things like "margarita," "bowl of chips," "fully-racked pool balls," and so on. Of course, these are just generic examples…the more personalized and niche you can get, the better. You can even get your staff in on the fun by creating some card spaces with facts about them or things that only they would know!
  • Once your guests receive their cards, you set a timer for however long the game goes on. From there, your guests can either search for their cures in your bar or they can take a walk about the area, bar-hopping and looking for objects on their cards.
  • Once your guests find said object, they must take a photo of it with their phone as proof (or write it down). Then they cross off that space on their card — once they get five in a row (as in traditional Bingo), they bring the card back to you and if they're first, you declare them the winner!

Bar Bingo Resources

Free Bingo Card Templates:

3. Cards Against Humanity

One of the most popular (and inappropriate) card games in recent years, Cards Against Humanity has entertained and titillated many an at-home game night. But did you know you can host a Cards tournament at your bar? You can, and you can do it for cheap and even free!

How It Works

  • Each table of guests is treated as one player. Tables are given 10 white cards with seemingly random sayings on them.
  • Each table takes turns drawing one black card with a fill-in-the-blank prompt. When it’s Table A’s turn to pick a black card, they read the prompt on their black card out loud (or better, display it for all to see!), and all of the other tables must select one white card that they feel fits the black card best.
  • Table A then reads out all of the submissions and decides which was the funniest. The team who submitted that card gets a point, and the game continues!
  • The game will last however many rounds you decide beforehand! You can even break the fun up by playing multiple games in one night.

Cards Against Humanity Resources

Cards Against Humanity makes all of their cards available for free on their website:

You can steal Cards Against Humanity both legally and for free!

4. Texas Hold 'Em Poker

Texas Hold 'Em Poker is among the most popular poker variants in the world, and you would do well to make regular tournaments a part of your bar game repertoire.

How It Works

  • Every player receives two cards to start. Three cards are then placed in the center of each table — these are the "community cards." After a betting round, the dealer adds another card to the community. After yet another betting round, a fifth and final card gets added to the community.
  • One last round of betting ensues, and anyone who hasn't folded (AKA given up) reveals their hand.
  • Your goal is to build the best hand from a combination of your two cards and the five "community" cards.
  • Each table in your pub plays against each other, betting chips and making bluffs until only one player remains from each table. Those winners form a "final table" where they keep playing until one player holds all the chips.
  • That winner (and runners-up, if you choose) receives their share of everyone's admission fee, or perhaps a free gift card or other prizes if you'd prefer to go that route.

Texas Hold 'Em Resources

These companies let your customers join your bar's official league and play for free. If they win often enough, they might earn the chance to compete in Tavern, Regional, or even National championships with BIG cash money on the line. And who doesn't love cash money? Especially when it's BIG.

5. Family Feud

One of the most beloved game shows of all time, Family Feud's concept is deliciously simple. Two teams of five guess the most popular answers to survey questions. The higher up their guess is on the survey, the more points they score. So it's less about what YOU know, it's what you think OTHER PEOPLE know. But how to turn Family Feud into a pub game? The answer is also deliciously simple: us! We here at Runaway Games offer an even crazier version of Family Feud, simply entitled The Feud (because Steve Harvey's bushy mustache intimidates us and we don't want to cross him).

How It Works

  • You, the Feud Host-to-be, complete our online Host Certification Training Program. Once you pass, you're ready to host The Feud!
  • You spread the word that you’re hosting a Feud game at your venue. See the handy templates in the resources section below ;)
  • Everyone who's signed up to play The Feud will check in with their names and team name. Ideally, each team should have around five players (like the TV show!), but you can easily play The Feud with anywhere from 3-8 players per team!
  • Depending on how many teams sign up, you will split them up into playoff-style brackets. For example a four-team game will see a semi-final matchup and a finals matchup, and an eight-team game will also have a quarterfinal matchup thrown in. Then you just buy a game code from us that corresponds to the number of teams you have signed up. Now it’s time for the games to begin!
  • At the start of the tournament, you’ll have access to our system where all the teams will be neatly organized into a beautiful playoff bracket. You’ll start with the first matchup and then gradually work your way through all the matchups as the night progresses.
  • Wondering how the game works?
    1. Teams will go head-to-head against each other in a battle to see who can score the most points in their matchup (a matchup usually consists of 2-4 questions, or rounds)
    2. Rather than use a buzzer and overly complicate things, you can have one person from each team play rock-paper-scissors against their counterpart to see which team will start!
    3. You’ll reveal a question, and ask the first person from each team to guess the most popular answer to that question. Guess the #1 answer, and their team will immediately decide whether they want to play that round or pass it to the other team. Guess anything other than the #1 answer, and the other team gets a chance to outguess. If they do, then they decide to either play or pass!
    4. If the playing team can guess all of the most popular 4 to 8 answer choices on the board for that question, they take all the round points! However, if the get 3 wrong answers (strikes) before they guess all the right answers, the other team will get one opportunity to guess any remaining answer on the board. Guess correctly, and they’ve just stolen all the points for that round!
    5. The teams with the most points at the end of each matchup go on to face each other, while the teams with fewer points might also go head-to-head in a consolation bracket. Whichever team wins all of their playoff rounds is the grand champion for the night!
  • The hardest part? It’s the questions. You see, to make it a true Family Feud, you need to come up with hilarious questions and you need to actually survey 100 people for their responses! That’s where we come in. All we do is think about Family Feud questions all day…and we have the resources to be able to survey a large audience, throw out the questions that don’t work, and leave you with only the best questions that will get your audience hooting and hollering with laughter all night!
  • As the Host, you don't need much, equipment-wise. All you need is a laptop with internet, a projector, and some sort of PA system complete with microphone.
  • Oh, and don't forget the most important instrument of all — YOU. Bring your charisma, charm, snappy repartee, and love of surveys (bushy mustache optional), and the bar game fanatics are sure to follow!

Family Feud Resources

Free Poster/Invitation Template:

More Information About Becoming A Feud Host

Use our completely free Family Feud poster template to attract big crowds!