How To Play Hook and Ring Game at Your Next Party

How To Play Hook and Ring Game at Your Next Party

When it comes to parties, many things can take an evening from cool to excellent. Awesome music, delicious food, groovy music, and quality friends and family are all necessary additions for the best party. But one thing that is always a must is games, lots of games.

One iconic game that has been around for years and deserves more attention is the classic hook and ring. There have been many variations of hook and ring games throughout history, and here at Caliber Games, we offer a set that is perfect for parties. This hook and ring set offers several fun ways to play for a great party.

Here is a look at how to play the hook and ring game at your next party:

What Is the Hook and Ring Game?

The hook and ring game has existed in some form for many years and can (at its broadest) be used to describe nearly any game played with a hook and ring. For our purposes, however, we are going to look at game boards specifically designed around the concept of a fixed peg and rings connected to the game board by a string.

The concept of the game is simple: Swing the ring and catch it on the hook to score points. But beyond that basic frame, there are tons of variations that can lead to hours of fun with the hook and ring game.

The version we have here at Caliber games features a T-shaped wooden board with a hook on either side of the center bar pointing in the same direction as the arms. At the end of each arm is a string with a ring tied to it so it can swing freely from the arm.

How To Play Hook and Ring Game: Two Variations

Now that you have a clearer idea of what the hook and ring game looks like, you’re ready to dive into the rules of the game.

There are many different ways to play, and here are just two of our favorite ways to play. Or, feel free to come up with your own house rules and unique variations on the hook and ring game.

#1) HOOKS! Ring Toss Classic

Hooks! Ring toss game showing rings on hooks and wooden shot ladder

The HOOKS! Ring Toss and Ladder Shot Bundle at Caliber Games is the classic hook and ring game set here at Caliber Games. It was originally designed as a drinking game (hence the shot ladder), but the game can be played with or without alcohol.

How To Play:

  1. Set up the game board so that one arm is pointing towards each opponent. Then, place the shot ladder next to the board so that rings in the board create a line between the players. Then, fill your shot glass and place it in the center ring so that two empty rings are facing each player.

  2. Each player then readies themselves with their ring in their hand, pulled back, ready to swing towards the hook on the center post. 

  3. Countdown, and then release your rings. Each ring you get on the hook allows you to move the shot glass one ring closer to your opponent. Swing as fast as possible to push the shot glass off your opponent’s side of the board.

  4. If the shot glass makes it off the board to you, you have to take the drink.

This way of playing is fun, fast, and fantastic for parties. The best part about it is that it's a drinking game that only features one drink at the end. This gives you endless customizability, so you don’t have to get hammered while playing (unless you want to).

#2) First to Five

Friends sitting and playing a game of Hooks! by the pool, shot still placed in the middle of the ladder

Another fan favorite way to play the hook and ring game at your next get-together is playing a variation that we like to call First to Five.

First to Five is less about speed and more about accuracy, rewarding players who can score their hooks faster than their opponents. If you prefer to dial in, get focused, and land a bullseye — then this version is for you.

How To Play:

  1. Set up your hook and ring game so that one arm is hanging off the end of a table that everyone who wants to play has access to. 

  2. In each round, every player gets one attempt to swing the ring onto the hook, scoring one point. The first player to reach five points is the winner.

  3. In the event of a tie where more than one player reaches five points, there is a sudden death round, eliminating players until only one is remaining.

This version is quick and can get a whole crowd involved in playing a game that doesn’t take so much focus away from the conversation and getting to know new people.

But, if you want to make this game more personal and reintroduce drinking, here is an alternative version of First to Five for two players:

How To Play (Alternative):

  1. Set up the hook and ring board so that each player is facing one arm and hook. 

  2. On an agreed count, the players will swing their hooks at the same time only once, scoring a point for landing their ring on the hook.

  3. Repeat the round on an agreed count with one swing each at the same time. 

  4. The first player to reach five points wins! The loser takes a drink.

  5. If both players reach five points in the same round, there is sudden death until one player ends a round in the lead.

With two different ways to play First to Five, you are going to have a fantastic time.

#3) Tournament Rules

Man smiling and having a good time as he plays Hooks! on a boat during the summer

The final way to play that we have to offer you is the most complicated and (in our opinion) the most difficult. That being said, it is also one of the most competitive ways to play and offers an exciting way of scoring. If you like a fast-paced, high-scoring game, then the tournament rules are for you.

How To Play: 

  1. Set up the board once again how you would for classic HOOKS!

  2. When both players are ready, there will be a countdown, and then players are free to swing their hooks as many times as they can. 

  3. Scoring is as follows:

    1. You score one point if your ring hits the hook once

    2. You score two points if your ring hits the hook twice

    3. You score five points for hooking your ring on the hook

  4. The first player to score 100 points or more wins.

While 100 points might sound like a massive score, you might be shocked by just how quickly the scoring goes by when the rings get flying. You may be wondering how you can tell the difference between hitting the ring once or twice. You should hear two distinct and separate collisions to count them as two impacts. 

Whether you play the classic HOOKS! Method, First to Five, or coming up with your own system for scoring and playing with friends, the hook and ring game is the perfect addition to any casual afternoon or celebration.

Bonus: The History of Hook and Ring Games

Variations of hook and ring games have been around since the invention of rings, when horns and sticks were used in the absence of hooks as the target for their rings. Some variations of these original hook and ring style games became games like horseshoes, the carnival games at fairs, and the hook and ring games we described above. For the sake of our history, we’re going to consider the style of the game with a hook attached to a string.

While the exact inception of the game is unknown, it is a very popular pub game in Ireland and the U.K. today, where it is believed to have begun hundreds of years ago with a single hook suspended from the ceiling and a horn on the wall as the target.

The game became quite popular in the Caribbean, where it is known as the Bimini Ring Game (and where the T-shaped design originates from). There are even variations of Bimini that involve a pole as the anchor for the hook and the ring, allowing you to score extra points for swinging the ring around the pole and then hooking it on the ring.

How To Play Hook and Ring Game: Takeaways

And there you have it, three ways to play the hook and ring game at your next party. From relaxed drinking games to fierce competition and anything in between, the hook and ring game is perfect for fostering new friendships and connections.

If you love the hook and ring game, you’ll love everything else we have at Caliber Games. Our games are high-quality and are designed to bring out the child in everyone. Check out our collection of games, and you might just find your friends' and family’s new favorite game to play!



How to Throw an Outdoor Party | The Spruce

Britain's traditional pub games | Country File

Carnival fun facts from ferris wheels to cotton candy | International Independent Showmen’s Museum