Ron Hamilton Discusses Back-to-Back Championships at the World Series of Beer Pong
Beer pong is a treasured weekend pastime for most bros. But to Ron Hamilton and Michael “Pop” Popielarski, shooting ping pong balls into Solo cups is much more than running the table at a house party on a Saturday night: It’s a serious competitive sport with plenty of cash on the line. Known as “Team Smashing Time,” the Long Island-based duo has become a reckoning force on the professional beer pong circuit, chalking up victories in major tournaments hosted by WorldPongTour.com. Last week, Smashing Time took home $50,000 in prize money for sinking the winning beer pong shot at the World Series of Beer Pong in Las Vegas — with more than 500 teams, the biggest beer pong tournament in the world. We caught up with Ron Hamilton just after the big win to discuss his pre-game WSOBP drinking routine, the fierce tournament trash talking, and his 1,000 to 2000 pong shot-a-day practice regimen.
BroBible: Last year you claimed to have downed a bottle of Jack Daniels before the World Series of Beer Pong final. You said the key to winning was “getting real drunk and my partner not missing.” What was the strategy for a repeat victory this year?
Ron Hamilton: Last year I didn’t drink the bottle before the finals. I did exactly the same thing this year as I did last year. Games start at 11 a.m., so I woke up around 6:30 a.m. and bought a bottle of Jack and a two litter bottle of soda. After I finished eating breakfast, I headed back up to my room and started drinking Jack and Cokes. I would usually finish about 3/4 of the bottle by around 10:45 a.m. and put the rest in a Gatorade bottle for the day.
Personally, I have to be drunk when I shoot. That’s what works for me. If I’m sober I get nervous, look embarrassed, and think about things too much when shooting, so I stick with what works.
How intense is the shit talking from other teams during the WSOBP?
The shit talking gets really intense. Smashing Time is a very well-known team and we know that everyone is gunning for us. It gets heated when we play a SoCal team or any other team that has a crowd because of the huge crowd that surrounds the table. They really rip into you if you miss. Two years ago at the WSOBP, the barracks that hold the crowd back were literally three feet away from our backs. People were throwing shit at us and leaning over the gates. I shut them up real quick when I hit the last cup. When I turned around, someone was waving a hot dog in my face. I snatched it away and ate it. That made the crowd laugh and shut up. Since then we’ve grown a fan base and — to my surprise — we’ve had A LOT of people for us in the finals. It’s been pretty cool.
How does the trash talking compare to other tournaments?
The trash talking doesn’t really compare. At the WSOBP, everyone can say whatever they want because they know there won’t be any fights. Teams have no limits on what to say. However, people somewhat fear us at a regular tournament. They know that shit talking to us will just light a fire. When we get the occasional loss, people go ape shit about how they beat us. I love when people talk shit at the WSOBP because we can easily shut them up by saying, “Okay so why don’t we head over to another room with a table and play it out for $100 to $500 a head?”
What’s your strategy for tuning out the haters?
Sometimes I wear my head phones and put in my iPod. But to tell you the truth, I love it. I love when people are talking shit. I will just hit a cup and talk shit right back to them. I kinda feed off it. So does Pop.
How did you cross the threshold from playing casually during parties to being a serious competitive force as a professional beer pong duo?
See that’s the thing, I never really played casually at parties and whatnot. I started playing in small, 10-team tournaments right from the beginning. That was basically the first time I ever played. I went from playing in small 10-team tournaments every Monday night to playing in a tournament every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week.
Now that you’ve dominated the WSOBP for two years in a row, what’s next? Any plans to three-peat?
Three-peat, 15-peat… whatever. No one ever plans to lose. What’s next for Smashing Time is the WorldPongTour.com’s $50,000 Atlantic City Championships in June. Last year we won it when it was $25,000. We went 25-1 and took the tournament down with 187 teams. We plan on repeat winning that.
How many hours a day/week do you practice playing pong?
I was pretty much practicing and playing everyday back when I was playing three to five tournaments a week. My normal day would consist of me waking up at around three p.m., setting up a 10-rack of cups, and constantly shoot all day long. I would shoot about 1,000 to 2,000 shots a day. At 10 p.m. I would go get ready, play in a tournament, win, come home around 4 to 5 a.m., go to bed , and do it all over again the next day. I would walk in the house when my Mom would be going to work.
How many beer pong tournaments do you compete in every year?
Now a days about 20 to 30 in a year. Back in the day around 4 to 5 a week, so let’s say anywhere from 250 to 300 a year.
Do you have a favorite tournament?
The tournament that pays out the most. So as of right now, the WSOBP.
Do you still play pong casually or does Smashing Time stay strictly professional?
We are strictly professional. You will never see us playing casually at a party or anything like that, ever.
Any plans for spending the $50,000 purse from the WSOBP?
I’m in the process of buying a house with my fiance and we have a baby girl on the way, so my $25,000 will be saved in the bank. As for Pop? He never spends a dime so he probably has like $300,000 stuffed under his bed or something.
Do aspiring pong players ever ask for tips to improve their beer pong skills?
People ask me all the time how to improve their game. I tell them about how I use to set up a 10-rack and use 1- balls to shoot at the cups. I would have to hit all 10 balls in all 10 cups without hitting the same cup twice. Once I hit all 10 cups with each ball, I would take one away and start re-shooting at nine cups. I would do this all the way down to one cup, which I would have to hit that 10 times before I could stop practicing. It took hours to finish.
Any advice on how a casual weekend beer pong player can take their game to the next level?
You HAVE to go play in a tournament setting to take your game to the next level. You HAVE to challenge the best teams there, see where you stand, and just keep on playing. There are teams here in Long Island we could beat with our eyes closed and shooting lefty back in the day. I hate to admit it, but now it can be a dog fight to see who wins. So teams like that definitely took their games to the next level by competing against us all the time.
Check out the trailer “The Last Cup: the Road to the World Series of Beer Pong,” a doc*mentary from B-Side Entertainment about the competitive beer pong subculture.