The World’s Most Unusual Bar Games

Walk into any bar in the USA and you’re likely to see a group of guys, Bud in one hand, pool cue in the other. There’s likely to be someone in the corner flipping away on pinball, or a collection of card players sat round a table dealing to the rules of Texas Hold’em. You won’t see any turtles. Well unless you’re in Chicago of course.

You see, across the world right from the Windy City to the far quarters of China, there are some unusual customs and traditions when it comes to bar games from racing turtles to swinging string attached to a ceiling, you can walk into bars and be in for somewhat of a surprise.

We take a look at some of the weirdest and most wonderful bar games across the planet.


Turtle Racing

Of course we’ll start in Chicago and the exciting game of turtle racing. First recorded in 1902, the race was dubbed The Strangest Race Ever Run, and to this day, that description is still very apt.

With a pitcher of beer securing entry – you don’t need to bring your own turtle – turtles must race from the centre of a ring to the outer perimeter, first to do so, wins.

And don’t worry, it’s not a case of blink and you’ll miss it. You can pop to the bar and back and only have missed a centimetres length of action.

Black Pudding Throwing

You’d be forgiven for not knowing what black pudding is, never mind how to throw one, but in the hills of Northern England it’s somewhat of an art form, and held every year is the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship in Ramsbottom. Held outside The Oaks pub, competitors must hurl a black pudding (a blood sausage, fried up out of pork blood and oatmeal) at a pile of Yorkshire puddings (an English dish made from batter and served up with a roast dinner) in an attempt to knock as many down as possible.


Hitting the nail on the head might be an idiom, but it’s also a German bar game that dates back to as early as 1810. First played during Oktoberfest, Hammerschlagen’s sole aim is for a player to drive a nail protruding out from a large piece of wood, into the wood in the fastest possible time.

It happens even when doing the DIY, the nail will often bend, in some cases making it almost impossible to win the race. Winners are then rewarded with a shot of Apfelkorn, a sweet apple-flavoured liqueur.

Bimini Ring Game

Rumour has it that Ernest Hemingway invented the Bimini Ring Game. According to the Full Tilt Bar Games Map, the Caribbean played game came after the American author caught a prize tuna off the coast of Bimini and upon return to the Big Game Club celebrated not only that but the advent of one of the region’s best loved games.

Played using a long piece of string hanging from a ceiling with a ring attached, players must throw the ring in an attempt to catch it on a hook on the way. The first to get five ‘ringers’ wins.

Milwaukee Bar Dice

Hear the slam of a cup and the scuttle of dice in any bar in the northern states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and it’s likely you’ll be sampling the sounds of Milwaukee Bar Dice. Ask for dice and a cup in any southern city and you’ll be greeted with a funny look. Not in Milwaukee.

Involving a cup and five dice, the game is actually very similar to poker, with the numbers on each die representing a value that makes up a hand. For example rolling 2,3,4,2,2 would be the equivalent of a three of a kind. Although of course, in this game it’s a little harder to bluff.



Tarneeb, which translates into Trump in Arabic, first originated in Levant as a primitive version of spades. It was initially played in the early part of the eighteenth century, where two teams of two played with a 52 card deck. Bidding goes around the table at least once in a counter-clockwise direction, and at the end of each round the dealer is afforded the opportunity to match the highest bid. This process continues until all thirteen tricks are revealed, and it is usually the first team to reach 31 that wins.


The word Gorodki translates into little cities and the game has been popular in Russia since 1923, while it can also be formatted in one of 15 unique configurations. As a general rule, players must launch a baton the Gorodki in an attempt to knock the blocks out of a two-metre square. The player who can achieve this in the fewest attempts, and while it may sound simplistic is has uniform appeal both offline and potentially as an online experience.


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