Until last week I had no idea that Coldplay singer Chris Martin had called Rihanna the Frank Sinatra of our generation, or that Hawaii is the only state whose flag contains another nation’s flag (the union jack) with in it. I was unaware that glair was a term chefs used, much less that it had anything to do with the whites of eggs.
I for sure didn’t know the meaning of OTP. It’s fan speak for “one true paring.” As in “Harry and Hermione are my OTP.”
I was able to recognize the 1974 Kiss classic “Strutter” off a 30-second snippet of the song.
These are the things you learn at pub quiz.
For the uninitiated, pub quiz is like a night of Trivial Pursuit with your family, only it’s usually held at a bar (or pub), the questions are actually relevant (relatively) and most often you’re playing for money.
Also, you don’t have to invite your mom.
As a concept, pub quizzes have been around since the 1970s, but its popularity now seems to be at a high. Fresno-Clovis has four pub quizzes running each week in various parts of town and they all get crowded. The Sequoia Pub Quiz is 7 p.m. Mondays at Sequoia Brewing Company’s north Fresno location. House of Pendragon hosts its pub quiz Tuesday nights at its tasting room in Clovis. The Fresno Pub Quiz runs Wednesday nights at the Santa Fe Basque restaurant in central Fresno. Tioga Sequoia hosts the Geeks Who Drink quiz Wednesday nights at its beer garden, downtown.
For the sake of this column, I played three of the four events. This is what I discovered.
Do your homework
Not every pub quiz is created equal and you will want to do some research to find the game that suits you best.
▪ The House of Pendragon skews to a younger crowd – those around 30 let’s say. The place can get crowded and loud, which can add to the excitement of the game. There are four categories each week, set in advance. This included a picture round. The week I played, it was the “works of Steve Buscemi.”
You’ll like: Questions are shown on a video screen above the bar.
▪ The Fresno Pub Quiz has been running for six-and-half years and has its regulars. One player brings a notebook and keeps a running tally of the games and categories. Taking into account the few weeks he’s missed, he’s at 350 or so. Games are played in four rounds of 10 questions each and are heavy on the pop culture references.
You’ll like: The quiz-masters have experience at crafting questions. It’s noticeable.
▪ Sequoia Pub Quiz plays almost identically to the Fresno quiz and uses the same rule set. The crowd (120 players on a big night) can take up the restaurant’s entire back room, so you may want to call the restaurant to reserve a table.
You’ll like: Sequoia Brewing Company has a full menu, a nice selection of beers and drink specials for the night.
▪ Geeks Who Drink is a Denver-based company that hosts trivia nights at 600 pubs and restaurants across the U.S. It employs the talents of dozens of quiz-masters, writers and fact-checkers for its multi-media questions. The games run rapid-fire, with eight rounds of eight questions.
You’ll like: This is the rare, free quiz night.
Once you found the right quiz night, you will want to follow the game’s organizers on social media. All of the quizzes offer some kind of information to help teams plan for the night. Those that don’t do full-on categories each week (Fresno, Sequoia quizzes) will at least offer hints about theme of the night’s questions, so you can study up or find a ringer.
Chasing the money.
While most teams seem to play for enjoyment (or in some cases bragging rights), the quizzes do give out prizes to the winners of each round and most offer the night’s overall winner a chance at the jackpot – done by drawing a poker chip from a bag.
A red chips wins.
A white chip means there’s no winner and any prize money rolls over to the following week. Jackpots have been at $500 or more.
And because the chips in the bag are limited, each time the jackpot rolls over, the chances of winning the money increases. Logically, the quizzes tend to be better attended as the jackpots rise.
There are teams that play specifically to win those games. It’s called jack-pot hunting.
All in the name
While you can play solo, the quizzes typically allow for teams of up to six. Picking teammates is helpful if you’re into winning, but it’s equally important to pick a clever team name. For instance, the Beyonces of Social Science, my team for the week.
Like pub quiz itself, drinking and trivia seem to be a popular combination in team names. Examples include Punks in Drublic and My Drinking Team has a Trivia Problem. Some teams play on the nerd factor in their names, like The USS Enterprise Doesn’t Have a Parking Brake, which is a mouthful to be sure.
Other names are more on the nose. The winning team at the House of Pendragon quiz the week I played was aptly named House of Claustrophobia.
It was a crowded night.
Sequoia Pub Quiz
- Monday, 7:30 p.m. registration, 8 p.m. start
- Sequoia Brewing Company, 1188 E Champlain Drive, Suite 107
- $5 per player
- Sequoia Pub Quiz on Facebook
House of Pendragon Pub Quiz
- Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. registration, 7 p.m. start
- 1345 N. Willow Ave.
- $5 per player
Fresno Pub Quiz
- Wednesdays, 7:15 p.m. registration, 8 p.m. start
- Santa Fe Basque, 3110 N. Maroa Ave.
- $5 per player
Geeks Who Drinks
- Wednesdays, 7 p.m. start
- Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden, 745 Fulton St.