20 Best Bar Games to Keep Customers at your Bar Longer

Bar games are a great way to keep your customers entertained, and when customers are entertained, they will stay in your bar longer.

And what does increased bar dwell time result in? More drinks are purchased! This article reviews the 20 best bar games to improve the customer experience and increase bar dwell time.

The 20 Best Bar Games

1. Pool

Pool and billiards are staples of dive bars, but this classic game can add a lot to all types of bars. While playing pool, people can have a lot of fun and maybe even get a bit competitive.

Of course, pool tables can be very expensive, but they are often well worth it. Many people may even choose to go to your establishment with the express intention to have some drinks and play pool.

There are some options when it comes to how you monetize your pool table. One option is to simply let people play pool for free. This will likely lead to people playing more games and staying in your bar longer.

Plus, many customers may be drawn into the bar because of the free pool tables. In this scenario, the pool table indirectly increases the revenue of the bar through increased drink purchases and customer foot traffic.

The other option is to have people pay to play games of pool. The tables could be coin-operated, or customers could pay the bartender or bar staff to reserve the pool table for a specified amount of time.

Both options have pros and cons, so the decision is best made by the bar owners who know the clientele and their desires best.

2. Board Games

There are tons of board games that a bar could offer. Some great ideas for bar games include scrabble, chess, and checkers. These old-school games are favorites among millennials, as well as people from older generations.

Of course, whether or not you choose to offer board games for customers will largely depend on the type of vibe and atmosphere you want your bar to have. Board games are usually best for a more laid-back atmosphere.

It's unlikely that you will find many people who want to play chess while there are crowds of people dancing to club music just a few feet away. One option is hosting a weekly game night, where people can come with the express purpose of socializing while playing board games.

You could even host a game night during a weekday to increase the amount of foot traffic to your bar during usually slow days. In this way, you will not have to compromise your weekend vibe.

3. Shuffleboard

Shuffleboard, also called shovelboard, is a game in which disks are shoved by hand or with an implement so that they come to a stop on or within a scoring area marked on the board or court (on a tabletop, floor, or outdoor hard surface such as concrete).

Shuffleboard is a classic bar game that is highly entertaining. People will play shuffleboard for hours because it requires the perfect amount of focus and fun that works great in many bar environments.

Like many of the games covered in this article, shuffleboard is a great tournament game. Encourage people to get competitive by facing off with this fun game for a prize. You can be sure that people will buy a lot of drinks as the tournament progresses.

4. Foosball

Foosball is a great addition to any bar’s game room. In foosball, people play the game of soccer by moving rods that are attached to mini soccer players. While a high-quality foosball set can be quite expensive, the price is usually well worth it.

There is a great level of satisfaction that comes with getting better at foosball. Friends might come to your bar time and again to improve their game and face off against familiar and unfamiliar opponents.

5. Cornhole

Cornhole is a great low-cost game to have at bars with outdoor areas. In the game of cornhole, teams try to get bags full of sand or other material to land on a raised surface (and ideally go into the hole).

The game is a great idea for bars because the rules are incredibly simple to understand and easy to pick up. Even people who are not good at the game will likely have a lot of fun playing against their friends.

It is important for bars to have games that do not require a lot of focus or investment. Often people simply want something to keep them occupied without having to commit a significant amount of energy. Cornhole is definitely one of those games that do not require a significant investment of time or energy to have fun.

6. Air Hockey

Air hockey has been a popular game since the 1970s and has become a beloved game across the United States. This game, like foosball, is also a bit of a financial investment and can take up a lot of space but can definitely be worth it if it’s the type of game your customers like to play.

Like pool, you can monetize the game, requiring that customers pay a certain amount to use the pucks. Alternatively, you could let people play for free, and you will most likely make just as much or more money from the drinks that people purchase while having fun playing air hockey.

7. Beer Pong

Beer pong is an extremely popular drinking game that is usually confined to house parties. People set up cups on each end of a table and try to throw ping pong balls into the cups. When a ping pong ball lands in a cup, that cup is removed. A person or team wins a game of beer pong when they have eliminated all of the opponent’s cups.

The reason that it is considered a drinking game is that the cups are sometimes filled with beer. As a cup gets eliminated, the opponent has to drink that cup of beer. However, an alternative that is certainly more fitted to a bar environment is to fill the cups with water and simply drink from your can or bottle of beer when a cup is eliminated.

Although this game was popularized in the house-party environment, some bars have realized how fun it can be for their customers to play beer pong at the bar. This game is incredibly fun to both play and watch. It takes skill, and often the game can get quite competitive.

This means that people will often stay a long time in a bar that has beer pong tables either playing or watching other people play beer pong. It's a game that usually entails the purchase of many beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and for that reason, it is highly profitable for bars in addition to improving the customer experience.

Buying a beer pong set for a bar is also one of the most affordable games covered in this article. You can simply order a beer pong set from Amazon for less than $100 dollars. This means that you can easily purchase multiple sets and have large tournaments.

In fact, beer pong tournaments are much easier to host than pool, shuffleboard, or foosball tournaments because the cost of getting multiple tables is so low. You can have multiple teams playing at one time.

8. Dartboards

Dartboards are a staple of dive bars for good reason. Like cornhole, the game does not require much investment of energy. Plus, it's really fun!

Of course, a dartboard is best in bars that tend to not get too crowded since a sharp dart can certainly be a hazard in a crowded and chaotic environment. That being said, dartboards are very affordable and can certainly provide some good entertainment for your patrons in the right environment.

9. Trivia Nights

Trivia nights are great. They are tons of fun for bar customers, and they have the potential to generate a great number of bar sales. Trivia nights are perfect for weekdays when bar business might otherwise be slow.

People will often come in groups, and since trivia nights often last a while, patrons will generally spend quite a bit on bar food and drinks.

Loop TV, which offers over 150 music and non-music channels, as well as digital signage, is a popular source of entertainment for streaming on screens in bars. Loop even offers several categories of trivia games, called Trivia Loop, covering music, sports, movies, history and more, all of which can be streamed at your bar for everyone to participate.

10. Cards Against Humanity

Cards against humanity is a game that the bartender should always have ready, especially on weekdays when there might not be as much business. It's a game that can provide a sustained amount of entertainment, and it goes very well with drinking. There are many card games that really work well with bars, and Cards Against Humanity is certainly one of the best.

11. Pinball Machines

Oh pinball machines! Whether a bare-bones version or one decked out with tons of features and lights, this game can provide boundless fun. It’s such a simple game, and maybe that's why people love it so much.

Getting a pinball machine (or multiple pinball machines) can certainly be expensive, but they can define the whole vibe of your bar and make your bar stand out from the competition.

Some bars do best with the trifecta of TVs, tables, and drinks, while others might be themed. A theme that will certainly appeal to a major demographic is the retro gaming bar. If this is the type of bar you run, then you certainly cannot go wrong with a few pinball machines.

12. Ping Pong

Ping-pong tables are big, and to play the game comfortably, players require a good amount of space. Because of this, ping pong tables are generally best for outdoor bar environments.

Just remember that making sure you have nice paddles and an adequate supply of ping-pong balls can go a long way. If you have a ping pong table, but the equipment is of low quality, this can actually have more of a negative effect on the customer experience than a positive one.

13. Bocce Ball

Bocce is a lawn or yard game that's played with eight weighted balls aimed at a smaller target ball, or pallino. The objective of the game is to earn points by getting your balls closer to the pallino than your opponent does.

Bocce ball can be tons of fun for bar patrons, especially if your establishment has enough outdoor space.

14. Giant Jenga

In the game of Jenga, you build structures with wooden pieces, and then people take turns taking out pieces with the goal of taking the piece out without the structure crumbling.

Giant Jenga just takes the suspense a level further. With Giant Jenga, the pieces are much bigger, and thus, the structure is much bigger, which really increases the fun of the game.

15. Ring Toss

Ring toss is another game best suited for an outdoor environment. Players try to win by throwing rings at a poll, with the goal of getting the ring around the poll. Ring toss is certainly in the same class of games as bocce ball and cornhole, and it is really up to the bar owner to choose which one to go with.

16. Arcade Games

Like pinball machines, arcade games are perfect for a specific type of bar environment. Many people will certainly come to your bar to play classic games like Pac man, and bars that have these kinds of games typically have a solid base of regular customers.

17. Dice Games

There are tons of games that can be played with dice. A popular option is Yahtzee. These kinds of games are perfect for more low-key nights or designated game nights.

18. Poker Tournament

Hosting a poker tournament at your bar is probably not something you would do every week. It could be quite expensive to get dealers, adequate tables, and other necessities required to make the poker games a positive experience. Still, a yearly poker game might be a great way to give customers something to look forward to.

19. Skee-Ball

Skee-ball is another one of those classic arcade games. It is definitely an expensive initial investment, so while it can certainly provide a lot of fun for customers, the bar owner and manager should carefully consider whether skee-ball is worth the investment for the business.

20. Bring Your Own Games

Sometimes the best thing a bar can do is provide a space where people can gather and socialize. By hosting game nights where people are encouraged to bring their own favorite games, you show that you are committed to providing a space that people can make feel like their own. That is a great way to foster loyal customers.

Make Your Bar the Fun Spot

Successful bars are often those places where people know even before going that they are going to have lots of fun. One of the best ways to make your bar fun for customers is by providing the option to play a number of bar and pub games.

This can really increase the customer experience and increase the bar revenue, as customers spend more time in the bar and buy more food and drinks.