Bimini Ring Game – Finest Bar Game Ever

Simple and so easy even a drunk could do it. Just ask Hemingway.

It is the finest damn bar game in the world.  Period.  There are no sharp objects involved, it doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, you can spill your beer on it, there is only two parts to the whole thing, everyone is capable, the rules are easy, and you can bet rounds of rum on the outcome.  The Bimini Ring Game.

What could be more of an island game than the Bimini Ring Game?  Especially since it was introduced to the island of Bimini in the Bahamas by non-other than the most famous hard drinking former resident of Key West.  Ernest Hemingway.

Ring & Hook

Ring & Hook - Photo

Except that Hemingway didn’t invent it and a verifiable link to him bringing it to Bimini is impossible to establish.  I guess that’s what happens when you are famous, you get credit for a lot of shit you don’t actually do.

The game itself was really invented as far back, and I am being specifically inaccurate here, as the Crusades.  It was brought back from the Jerusalum to England and took up residence at what is supposedly the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem.  Sounds plausible so far right?  I think I’m establishing myself as an authority!

The game over on that side of the pond is/was called Ringing The Bull.  Originally one would swing a bull’s nose ring in an attempt to land it on a horn.  A few publicans got cheap evidently and replaced the horn with a hook.  You get the picture.

Take Aim

Take Aim- Photo Flickr by MonP

Fast forward to the warm clear waters, bikinis and sand beaches of the Caribbean.  Somehow (and I’m claiming it was Hemingway) the game was brought over and adjusted from the pub to the tiki bar.  In all seriousness the only differences between a pub and tiki bar is one is enclosed (cold out), one is open (awesome out), one serves whiskey and the other serves rum.  Otherwise the attitude and motivations of the clientele are exactly the same. It’s no wonder the game was embraced with drunken arms.

Who really brought the game over I can’t determine exactly, I’m just trying to come clean here.  But the game seemed to take root in the Florida Keys and Key West as well as through the Bahamas.  It is not beyond the scope of reason to think that Hemingway, on one of his numerous fishing trips on his boat, The Pilar, stopped into a watering hole in Bimini and suggested such a game be set up.

Now to the game itself.  A ring of around 1.5 inches across is hung from a piece of string that is secured to the ceiling approximately 5 feet back from the wall.  In the wall is placed a hook, which itself is 5 feet up from the floor.

To play you step back around 10 feet and hold the ring where you like.  Let go and try to set the ring on the hook on the wall.  Simple and so easy even a drunk could do it.

I like playing the game for a small wager.  Tournaments can easily be set up to fit the crowd.  Typically we’ll wager $1 per five throws.  Everyone gets a turn.  The person who rings first in the group wins.  If two people ring in a round, the person who rings in the fewest swings wins.  If that is a tie, you go to a grudge match.  I’m not all that bad at the game so I sort of cheat.  I like to size up my competition and let the pot build before I ring out.  The other day at a party I won $55.  Very nice.

And a Miss!

And a Miss! ©2011 Carlton Grooms

Back to my claim that this is the best bar game in the world.  Maybe I should clarify and say in the little latitudes or warm climates.  Darts are just too dangerous, given we are all in flip flops.  A dart in the foot will really ruin a good rum high.  Pool tables don’t last very long in the outside humid salty air, so that is out.  The cue sticks tend to disappear a lot because people think they are fishing rods.  Card games take too much concentration after a few rums.  The open-air nature of the tiki bar tends to allow the wind to cause the cards to fly away.   Dice don’t work because…well actually dice do work and I guess that’s why so many pirates played that game. After all dice were around well before the ring game.  Screw that I still think the Bimini Ring Game is finest ever invented.

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  1. So Close, But So Far: Bimini, Bahamas, Pt. 1. | Coastlines & Tan Lines™ - October 3, 2012

    […] to the stories from our host, drinking Kalik beer, and getting schooled by the master of the Bimini Ring Toss Game. We decided to leave star to his renovations, but he insisted that we return the next day and he […]

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