|Trying to get it in the goal at Down the Hatch|
Table tennis may not be as sexy as pool (the game’s ambassador is Forrest Gump) but a few years ago Williamsburg’s homiest pub installed a ping pong table in their grotto-like backyard garden. It's free and available even during the winter for extreme ping-pongers.
The hipsters go wild when this Park Slope rock club unfolds their ping pong table during down nights (usually Tuesdays and Sundays) for “Wreckroom": free table tennis, $1 pool, a movie screening, and $1 off drinks.
Beer Pong (Beirut)
The Big Easy
In case you went to a frat-deprived school, the object of beer pong is to sink balls in the opposing team's beer cups so they'll have to drink from them. They ain't just whistling Dixie about it at this Nawlins-themed joint outfitted with four to eight free tables and armed with a full page of rules. On Unlimited Beirut Tuesdays, $25 gets you free Bud pitchers from 8pm to 2am. During the monthly tournaments, sixty-odd teams with names such as “Girls Gone Wild” and “The Big Sleeze” compete for up to $1,500.
Mad River Bar and Grille
This Upper East Side hangout's slightly smaller tourney occurs on the last Saturday of every month. Winners take home $100 cash, gift certificates, Yankees tickets, and more. The $30 sign-up fee gets you all the Bud drafts you can drink for six hours, whether you’re playing or cheering. No uniforms necessary, just make sure to wear your baseball cap backwards.
Spin City Billiards Cafe
Snooker is to billiards what cricket is to golf: very similar, more Brit, somehow more badass. The game is played on a larger version of a pool table (usually 12’ x 6’) with twenty-one smaller balls (15 of them red) and smaller and more elusive pockets. What may have been Manhattan's last table (previously at Slate) has left the island, so make a pilgrimage to Spin City in Woodside, Queens, a gargantuan pool hall that serves a wide variety of beers (city law prohibits establishments that have more than two pool tables from selling hard liquor), a full menu, and no less than three snooker tables.
43-12 50th St., between Celtic Ave. and 43rd St., Queens; 718-507-1660; Daily, 11am-4am
Nancy Whiskey Pub
Although table shuffleboard first took off in New York City’s taverns a century ago, the table at the Nancy is one of the last standing. The bar’s hard-drinking blue-collar regulars run the 9-foot bank table for hours at a time, so make sure you have the goods if you plan on butting in, and don’t even think about it Saturdays and Sundays during May through August, when the Tribeca Blue Moon league plays for keeps.
Down the Hatch
Foosball tables are scattered throughout the city, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays hardcore foosers give this bar’s thirteen-year-old table a pounding as they go for the gold (or about fifty bucks anyway) at the DYP (Draw Your Player) tournaments. Drink specials make the $5 registration fee easy to swallow: drafts are $1 on Tuesdays and buckets of domestic beer at $11 on Thursdays. For tournament information, visit New York City Foosball.
There's a special thrill in feeling that first blast of air through the holes of an air hockey table. The Zone's third-floor game room boasts not one but two black-lit air hockey tables, and a foosball-esque bubble hockey table to boot. Although there is a full bar, the kids going bonkers over the interactive sports games can be sobering.
Cheap Shots (and Beer)
If you’re too broke to fork over the five bucks for an ESPN game card, the $1 table at this East Village dive is a cheaper alternative: domestic pints are $2 until 8pm, and $5 gets you a PBR and a shot of whiskey.