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Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub

Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub

Make your trivia night the best it can be for both you the pub owner by avoiding the common pitfalls of hosting trivia in either a bar or a pub”

Welcome back to another week of blogging. I hope you have a had a fun and profitable weekend hosting your trivia events, and that the tips and hints given throughout last week were useful. Stay tuned this week for a new series of posts.


We are back this week with a new set of posts that will focus on a range of posts including how to perhaps “allow” cheating in your trivia event and a full recap of the last few weeks of posts in one handy posts.


Today though we are going to look at something I assume you are all familiar with….hosting trivia in a bar or pub. Now, for many of you reading this, bar trivia may be your main source of income and bookings. Without the invention of trivia in bars and pubs, there would hardly be a trivia industry. On any given night you can wander the cities of the world and trivia will be going on.


The first thing you need to understand before we start this post, which I am sure you already do, is that your job is to make the establishment money. Its not necessarily about the contests but how much the players spend in the bar. If your trivia attracts 40 people who spend $10 each, it is much better than attracting 140 people who spend nothing. So what we are going to look for here is the common pitfalls at a bar or pub trivia event that could result in you  finding yourself facing an uphill struggle.

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Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub – The Dilemma

The Dilemma you have as a trivia host in a bar is that you have to create a fun, enjoyable trivia set that keeps going at a good pace and ensure the punters have fun, but to the same degree you need to create a night which has enough time, gaps and opportunity for your customers to go to the bar and buy a keg!

Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub – Making them spend

The ultimate questions is how do you, as a quiz host, make sure the people in the bar are spending money. First off, don’t rush things. If you go too quick, they won’t buy. Don’t have an interval? They won’t buy.

Quick tips –

  • Get the bar to provide a free buffet or table snacks that will encourage people to need a drink
  • Have an intermission or 2
  • Have additional games so after the main quiz have a jackpot, then a round of card bingo etc. All with little 5-10 minute gaps

Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub – Novelty features

I personally do not like this approach but some trivia hosts give a bonus point for buying a drink. So for every beer you buy you get a point! I never found this to work but some swear by it!

Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub – Using the happy hour

One better way, if you are going to use some sort of bar/quiz promotion is to have a happy hour that coincides with the break. This works! If you tell the customers that during the 15 minute interval and then for the 15 minutes after the quiz there is a happy hour….watch the storm to the bar!

Pitfalls of trivia at a Bar and Pub – Timing is of the essence

The oldest trick in the book is to advertise your quiz for 30 minutes prior to it starting hence your customers will already be on drink #2 by the time the quiz begins. This doesn’t always sit well with customers and also only really works once or twice as customers will soon click on the real start time and get there then.


What I find what works best is how you use your time during the quiz to maximize drinking time. Here is a possible format with a manual method of hosting trivia –


  1. Issue Picture Round
  2. Round one – 10 questions – 5 minutes thinking time – Collect and Mark
  3. Round two – 10 questions – 5 minutes thinking time – Collect and Mark
  4. Round three – 10 questions – 5 minutes thinking time – Collect and Mark
  5. Collect in picture Round
  6. 15 minute break
  7. Music round (not part of quiz – prize is a bottle of wine) – Marking
  8. Round four – 10 questions – 5 minutes thinking time – Collect and Mark
  9. Round Five – 10 questions – 5 minutes thinking time – Collect and Mark
  10. 10 minutes break to sort out placings
  11. Prizes
  12. Jackpot Round
  13. Happy Hour until closing


So you can see that the player has loads to do but on the other hand has plenty of free time this solving your dilemma!

So we have looked here at a number of key subjects on the theme of common pitfalls of bar trivia –

  • Making people spend money
  • Ensuring that they have time to spend but not too much
  • Creating a rush to the bar
  • Ensuring that there are ample breaks


All in all it’s a fine art and different methods will work with different audiences. That golden rule applies to all trivia hosting issues as what works with one pub will not necessarily work with another so you need to use a bit of trial and error. But you have to make sure they are spending!


Thanks for reading today and I hope this post has been useful to you.  With most of your business likely to be coming through pubs and bars, especially when you are starting out on your path, then this should have been helpful.


Stay tuned this week for more posts, hints, tips and guidance on getting the most from your career and as always, any suggestions or recommendations are more than welcomed!


Until then….happy trivia hosting.


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