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How to Run a Pub Quiz Format

So, the big question is how to run a quiz night, set out the rules and regulations, and make it enjoyable and fun for the participants at the same time?

As a rule, pub quizzes and quiz trivia nights take place inside a public house or at a beer bar. This guide explains pub quiz rules and regulations for the modern pub game.

Quiz Rules: Running a Pub Quiz in the UK

Despite being a little chaotic and noisy at times, there are several good reasons for running a regular quiz inside a pub.

Most pub landlords will use it as a way to generate repeat and regular trade on the quiet nights, similar to running a raffle.

That said, organising the rules for pub quizzes needs to be well coordinated, ethical, fair, and properly adjudicated.

The main reason is that a well run trivia night is more likely to get your customers back drinking in your bar on a regular basis.

Charging an Entry Fee and Offering Prizes

As a general rule, it's recommended to set modest entry fees and be frugal with prize offerings. Charging pricey entry fees can discourage many people from taking part.

Furthermore, offering prizes with high values for the winners is more likely to encourage 'professional quizzers' into the game.

Why is that?

Doing so often ruins the chances for one of the regular customers to win the quiz. Hence, it also increases the chance of a contestant cheating when large valuable prizes are on offer.

For this reason, many pub quizzes charge £1 entry fee per person (more for charity events and one-offs). A prize fund around £50 is typical for quiz night rules in the United Kingdom.

Note: Some quiz organisers offer bottles of beer, wine, or food vouchers instead of cash prizes. They find it less taxing - like the rules for running a raffle.

Be Consistent with Pub Quiz Format

Regular pub quizzes should be consistent to avoid disappointing returning customers. That applies to the day of the week and entry fees. As a rule, it is best to keep the same question format and team arrangements.

Pub Quiz Rules and Regulations: How to Run a Quiz NightPub Quiz Rules for Teams

Most quizmasters prefer to run a team game format instead of individual players. It tends to get people chatting about the questions and possible answers.

As a rule, this type of pub quiz format creates a more enjoyable - not to mention sociable - fun evening in the pub.

Hence, keeping things simple - but flexible - is a good rule of thumb for fun and successful trivia nights.

Note: Having some restricting on team numbers can be a disadvantage. Even so, imposing an upper limit of eight (8) to twelve (12) participants per team would seem reasonable.

Pub Quiz and Trivia Rules on Questions

The rules for pub quizzes have no set number of trivia questions. Even so, arranging fifty (50) questions seems ideal for a typical pub quiz night format.

Moreover, the quiz master should cater for a variety of knowledge bases and varying levels of intellect. So, make sure you include a good range of different subjects.

Most quiz and trivia questions will have around 20% of easy-to-answer questions. You can balance this by adding 20% that are more difficult to answer.

The bottom line:

You want to try and ensure that all players (or teams) will get a respectable score. Doing so means that even the most knowledgeable of the contestants are unlikely to attain a score of 100%.

It is best to prepare at least one 'tie breaker question'. Often, the best fun quiz organisers will have several tie breakers already prepared.

As a rule, the nearest answer to a given question (e.g. requiring a number as the answer) is the best tie-breaker format for this type of event.

Pub Quiz Tip: Including subject questions - from celebrities to science - usually works well. A few more that test players on youth culture, and even some classical music, might also add to the success. Adding a picture round always seems to be popular. It requires players to identify or solve puzzles on different animals, people, and places.

Presenting a Trivia Night

You may find it best to start the quiz around 20:30 to 21:00. That should allow a good two hours for a weekly or monthly event. One-off quizzes tend to be a little longer than two hours.

It is usually better for the quiz master to read out the questions. That being said, some professional organisers may prefer to use questions circulated in printed form.

You may find having an entertaining quiz master, with a friendly personality, is more likely to retain the attention of the players for the whole evening.

There should be a ten (10) or fifteen (15) minute break mid-way through the presentation. This allows teams or individuals to review their answers, make a trip to the bar, and have a comfort break.

Important: Ensure a PA system will be heard above any background noise in the pub or bar. The quiz master should always read each quiz question twice.

General Regulations and Quiz Night Rules

There are three golden rules for running a pub quiz to make it an enjoyable and successful event:

  1. The correct answer is the one written on the quiz master's answer sheet (even though it might be wrong).
  2. Adhere to rule number one to reduce disputes and potential arguments or confusion.
  3. Enforce a strict rule banning the use of mobile phones and other Wi-Fi devices.

Using Mobile Phones in a Pub Quiz Competition

Using mobile phones and Internet connected mobile devices are a problem when organising quizzes. But, there are a few measures you can take to discourage players from looking up the answers.

  1. Always inform competitors about the ban on using mobiles. A good method is announcing it before the quiz starts. Even better is to state the ruling on all the pub quiz answer sheets.
  2. Encourage people to report any players they spot cheating the system. The bar staff can also keep an eye on people when they wander around collecting glasses and empties.
  3. Notify anyone caught cheating in a non-confrontational way. The embarrassment is usually enough to make them follow the rules for the rest of the quiz.
  4. There are times when you may prefer not to confront a cheating team. In this case you could announce that you (or the bar staff) have identified a team using a mobile phone. You may choose to ask any cheats not to submit their answer sheet - depending on how strict you run the pub quiz.

Marking Pub Quiz Competitions

There are several ways to arrange pub quiz marking. Often, the best method will be to use a duplicate answer sheet.

The quiz master gets the top copy before announcing the answers. Teams can then use a duplicate copy to mark their own answers.

They add up their final score and hand them in for confirmation. This means the quiz master only needs to check one answer sheet. It would be that of the team claiming to have scored the most points.

Some quiz masters use helpers to make independent marking, often after each round. But, it can be slow - and the fun evening may lose some momentum.

Even so, using this system enables you to provide an interesting running total. It tends to keep players attentive as the quiz progresses through the evening.

Related Help Guides

Note: The short video contains some general questions and answers about British history. It may provide you with some useful ideas of how to run an online pub quiz.


Pub Quiz Rules: Quiz Night Format for United Kingdom

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