Games have almost always been a part of what helps set the tone of a pub. Not only do they add to the fun, but they also allow punters to test their skills or add a competitive element to the visit. The history of pub games is also interesting, with the playing of games in pubs heavily moderated under the reign of the Edwards.

Thankfully in the modern day though people can play on classic fruit machines or a number of different games freely, without incurring any sort of fine. We’re going to take a more in-depth look at some of the games of the past which you can still find at some pubs.


Backgammon is probably the oldest game on this list. Whilst it was invented in ancient Egypt, the game is a hit all over the world and worked its way into many pubs in Britain.

The object of the game is quite simple: Block the movement of your opponents checkers whilst you try to get your checkers off of the board. The easy-to-learn, hard-to-master nature of the game made it a huge hit in pubs.

Three Men's Morris

For those of us who don’t speak Old English, this is simply a tic tac toe or noughts and crosses as some people call it. Extremely simple with its gameplay, you have a 3x3 grid to play in and each player takes turns placing pieces on the grid. The first player to get three in a row wins.


A game lost to time, marbles were all the rage with pub patrons back in the 50s. An ancient game dating back to the times of the Egyptians and Greeks, many pubs used to be full of the sound of marbles pinging off of each other!

The aim of the game is to use your marbles to hit a group of marbles inside of a circle. The marbles you knock out of the circle you get to keep.


Billiards is a game you can still find at many pubs, with many punters going to their local for a few friendly games. The game was originally played on the floor, with the table being a newer addition to the game.

The game has also evolved with how it’s played, with the ancient version played with hoops thrown into skittles. The modern version is played with a cue and billiards balls.

Ringing the Bull

A very old game - dating all the way back to the middle of the 12th century - Ringing the bull sees players throwing a ring that’s tied to some string onto a bull's horn, which will be attached to the wall.

Whilst it isn’t as widespread as it used to be, some pubs still have this game freely available to play, such as The Murrell Arms, a pub in West Sussex.


Dominoes is still widely played and loved by people all over the world, Dominoes is a fun social game that pits a number of players against each other. Each player has a stack of numbered dominoes and the aim of the game is to match the opponent's dominoes until you haven’t got any left.

It was a pub favourite for a long time thanks to the fact there can be multiple players and it’s incredibly easy to play.

Pitch Penny

Pitch Penny was one of the most popular pub games at the turn of the 20th century, but since then it’s mostly fallen into obscurity. In this fun drinking game, players simply find a random hold - such as in the back of a chair or a hole in a wall - and then take turns throwing a penny into it.

It’s still possible to find pubs that play this game if you search for a pub hard enough, but a pub in Lewes called The Kings Head has a special set-up where you can play.

Different types of amusement machines

As we mentioned in the intro with classic fruit machines, different amusement machines have been playable in pubs with the most recent iteration being electronic quiz machines.

Giving punters a chance to test their knowledge and win some money in the process, you can often find crowds of people around one of these machines, sharing their knowledge in a bid to win the quiz. Speaking of quizzes…

The pub quiz

Finally, we have the classic pub quiz. Becoming a staple in pubs in the 1970s, this is still an incredibly popular pub activity, with themed quizzes based around sports, music and even tv shows like Peep Show being a hit.

Many pubs will have a certain night they host a quiz, with some people taking these quizzes incredibly seriously.