The Games Issue

06/18/2008 12:00 AM |


The Abbey
Pool and assorted arcade games (Big Buck Hunter 2, Ms. Pacman, and MegaTouch) in a Williamsburg bar that is almost devoid of tourists.
536 Driggs Ave, Bklyn

Antarctica’s “name night” means that if your name is on the calendar, you drink free until 11pm on weeknights and 1am on weekends — that’s kind of a game, right? So is pool, of which there are a few tables.
287 Hudson St, Bklyn

Artland Bar
Free pool Mondays. Bonus: there is never anyone in this bar, so you can get a lot of practice.
609 Grand St, Bklyn

Old-school arcade games: Asteroids, Rampage, Moon Patrol, 1943, Tempest, Tapper, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Gyruss, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Rolling Thunder, Super Mario Bros., Crystal Castles, Arkanoid, Out Run Zaxxon, Smash, Gauntlet, Star Wars, Frogger, Tetris, Galaga, Ms. Pacman, Rock Field, Centipede, Berzerk, Rush ‘N Attack. Chances are that if you’re reading this magazine, you already know about this bar. Fratnerd. 388 Union Ave, Bklyn

Bleecker Street Bar
Pool and dart leagues on Tuesdays, three pool tables, three dartboards, pinball, and video games. We keep meaning to join a dart league, but publishing’s demanding schedule precludes it, and also darts are hard.
56 Bleecker St

Boulevard Tavern
Pool and pinball on the outskirts of Greenpoint: as romantic as it sounds.
579 Meeker Ave, Bklyn

Ms. Pacman, Elvis Pinball and Emerald. (Like the Pokemon game? Holy crap we are old and will die soon.)
437 Graham Ave, Bklyn

Ms. Pacman, Galaga and  a Try Not To Look Like An Idiot In At Least One of Your Photo Booth Photos machines.
560 Manhattan Ave, Bklyn

Flight 151
A flight-themed bar with plenty of games. Tuesdays are coin-flip nights: every customer who correctly calls a coin-toss gets to drink for free. Wednesdays are for “Spin the Wheel” wherein customers spin for $2 shots of whatever liquor the wheel lands on. Thursdays are trivia nights. We actually got drunk just writing this. Tails! 151 Eighth Ave

Redd’s Tavern
Skeeball, pool, darts, Tetris, Megatouch, free popcorn and a well stocked jukebox. Dylan Thomas was actually playing Tetris at the White Horse the night he died.
511 Grand St

Slate PLUS
Fifteen ping-pong tables and twenty-five pool tables. They ain’t fucking around here.
54 W. 21st St

Free table tennis and $1 pool on nights when there is no live music. One of those games is cooler than the other, but we’re not saying.
125 Fifth Ave, Bklyn

Spin City Café & Billiards
Make the trip out to Queens for a bar that has tons of pool tables, and a few snooker tables, if you happen to be a rich old British man.
43-12 50th St

BRAIN GAMES (board games, trivia, debate)

A local favorite with board games (Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble), pinball and Ms. Pacman. Think about this: if there were iPhones back then, Trivial Pursuit never would’ve been invented.
175 Smith St, Bklyn

Common Ground Bar and Pub

Quiz Trivia every Wednesday beginning at 8:30pm. The answer is Bernard Goetz.
206 Ave A

Dempsey’s Pub
Among the usual pool tables and dartboards, Dempsey’s Pub hosts a weekly Pub Quiz every Wednesday at 7:30. The winner gets a $25 bar tab. The answer is, obviously, periwinkle.
61 2nd Ave

Dive 75
Besides its official name, Dive 75 is also known as “the bar with the board games”. Q: What’s the origin of the term “dive” when referring to bars?
101 W. 75th St

Pool, and a quiz night at 9pm on the last Tuesday of every month (teams of four compete to win a keg). Not an easy regift, the keg…
56 Greenwich Ave

Freddy’s Bar and Backroom

This beloved dive has a board game night the first Sunday of every month, featuring Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Life, Scrabble, Cranium, as well as any game you care to bring. No one ever really plays Cranium.
485 Dean St, Bklyn

The Gael Pub
A small Irish pub that hosts a trivia quiz every Tuesday, and darts all week long. The answer is John Millington Synge.
1465 Third Ave

Lolita Bar
Debate night. Channel your inner intellectual and talk about “things that matter.” This is kind of like every night at the bar, no?
266 Broome St

Pete’s Candy Store
Pete’s provides its patrons with Bingo every Tuesday from 7-9. Free entry into the game, but no cash prizes (“funny prizes” instead). There’s a quiz-off every Wednesday; first prize is a $25 bar tab, second prize is a $15 bar tab, and the third prize winner gets a tasty sandwich.
709 Lorimer St, Bklyn

Every Monday: Rock n’ roll trivia at 7:30. Obviously, the answer is Neil Peart.
158 Ludlow St

Professor Thom’s
Tuesday nights are for trivia, and Wednesday nights for Bingo at this Boston-centric bar. The answer is Concord, MA.
219 Second Ave

Red Hook Bait & Tackle

A small pub with an unlimited supply of goldfish and Swedish Fish for your munching pleasure. Also, a pub quiz every Wednesday at 8pm; winner gets $50 bar tab and bragging rights. The answer is sturgeon. 
320 Van Brunt St, Bklyn

Rocky Sullivan’s Pub
Every Thursday at 8:30, Rocky Sullivan’s hosts a trivia quiz with rounds on general knowledge, special categories, photo identification and music. Play for free and collect your prize after each round: drinks, mix CDs and the grand prize, a round of drinks.(Small fry compared to a keg, no?)
34 Van Dyke St, Bklyn

The Slipper Room
A weekly “Big Quiz Thing.” It’s really very big. Maybe there will be naked dancing girls for this. Maybe not.
167 Orchard St


The Big Easy
This debauchery- (and ostensibly Mardi Gras-) themed bar has five beer pong tables, mini golf and bocce. College was the best, right?
1768 Second Ave

Bowlmor Lanes
Per-game and hourly rates varying depending on the day and hour. You should trying bowling in a different character, it’s fun.
110 University Place

Bushwick Country Club

Mini-golf with a windmill made of old PBR cans. Why the terrorists hate us.
618 Grand St, Bklyn

Cheap Shots
Fully equipped with Air Hockey tables, and rock-paper-scissor Tuesdays (if the patron beats the bartender, drinks are half-priced), board games and darts. Watch for flying pucks.
140 First Ave

Fat Cat Billiards
This place is kind of a game mecca: live jazz and blues with ping pong, more than a dozen pool tables, chess, Scrabble, shuffle puck, backgammon, foosball. A warning to those who prefer to play ping pong with the paddle in one hand and a Manhattan in the other: Fat Cat only serves beer and wine.
75 Christopher St
Bocce. All day every day.
131 Atlantic Ave, Bklyn

The Gutter
Here be bowling. $6 per game before 8pm, $7 per game after 8pm, $2 shoes. Reminds a certain L Mag staffer of a curling bar. For true.
200 N. 14th St, Bklyn

The ping pong table in the backyard has some of the most serious dudes ever waiting to play. We’re talking guys with their own paddles, and complexes.
180 Grand St, Bklyn

Joshua Tree
Slightly less typical than pool and darts, Joshua Tree hosts a Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution contest every Sunday and Monday starting at 8pm, Every Tuesday is trivia-quiz Tuesday. Also, check your dignity at the door.
366 W. 44th St

Mad River Bar and Grille

Mad River hosts a Beer Pong tournament on the last Saturday of every month. The winner gets cold hard cash, gift certificates, the occasional pair of Yankees tickets and a pledge to clean up his room.
1443 Third Ave

Nancy Whiskey Pub
The board may be crooked, but there is no finer shuffleboard experience in all the land.
1 Lispernard St

Union Hall
Two indoor bocce courts, live music and a library right in the middle of Park Slope. Also, sliders.
702 Union St at Fifth Ave, Bklyn

ACTUAL GAMES THAT MIGHT MAKE YOU SWEAT (some you can’t even be drunk for)

Arm Wrestling

Sometimes, the only way to impress people and make them your friends is to be stronger than they are. Check out the New York Arm Wrestling Association ( for the schedule of tournaments and championships.


The NYC Badminton Club has clubs operating in Manhattan and Queens. Their website ( lists the various locations and times for every day. Members play for $15, while nonmembers play for $25/day. One of the few sports where it’s actually recommended that you hold a Manhattan in your free hand.

Baseball & Softball

The fields in Central Park are open to the public, but teams, leagues and miscellaneous groups must apply for a permit from the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. LGBT players looking to play can look into the Big Apple Softball League. This is the one where they all take steroids.

Hurling/Gaelic Football

Bring out your inner Mick by playing some Gaelic football like the bhoys back in the County Mayo. And if you have no idea what that means, this may not be the recreational diversion for you. The Gaelic Athletic Association of Greater New York ( is where serious players come to compete, with both junior and senior hurling and Gaelic football leagues from April to October. (Hurling, btw, is a brutal, wonderful mix of lacrosse, field hockey and a village riot). Eligibility requires a contract signed in Gaelic. Non-Irish need not apply, same goes for dogs. 


If you think you are really, really good at basketball, you can try the courts at West 4th or at Rucker Park and let us know how it went. On the other hand, if you get intimidated by the neighborhood under-ten set, check out to find a court close to you. And pull your socks down while you’re at it.

Lawn Bowling (Bowls)

Lawn Bowling is a British sport that can be played as a solo player or as a team of two, three or four people. It involves rolling a not-quite-round bowl, and trying to place it as close to possible to a white ball (called the jack). The object of the game is to place more bowls closer to the jack than your opponent. You can play at the Central Park green, north of Sheep Meadow every day but Monday. The season runs from May 1-November 7; the dues are $95 (which includes the permit that is required to play). Also, you must like marmalade and have a good working knowledge of the British royal family.


Those who are slightly intimidated, yet curious, about boxing should check out Trinity Boxing Club at 110 Greenwich St. A trial class is $30, and they stress the fact that you can learn to box without getting punched in the face. (Although, frankly, how to take a punch to the face is a useful skill to accquire.) If you’re in it for the history as well as the exercise, check out the famous Gleason’s of Brooklyn, located at 77 Front St.


The New York City Social Sports Club offers Broomball year-round. Registration is closed for the summer season, but the fall season begins in early October. Practices and games take place at the Chinatown YMCA Houston Street Center. Broomball is the next kickball? Discuss.


The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation requires a permit to boat on its 160 square miles of water trail. That said, there are launch points all over the five boroughs. If you’re not into the whole permit thing, you can pedal boat in Prospect Park instead. Or if you’ve always been a closet elitist, button up your Lacoste overcoat and head to the City Island Yacht Club, where maritime lore meets the Bronx. Take a look at the website (, to find out more about CIYC’s self-described dedication to the cultivation of naval science. Membership fees are steep, but then again, it’s a yacht club.


Van Cortlandt Park has 13 cricket fields in total. Ferry Point Park has two fields, as does Sound View Park. You probably don’t really understand cricket, we don’t really understand cricket, and we suspect, cricket players don’t really understand cricket. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying: check out the New York Metropolitan and District Cricket Association (, or just check out the action of the Brooklyn Cricket League, home of the Brooklyn Knights Cricketers (


Check out the New York Social Sports Club ( for a dodgeball league where singles come to chuck balls at each other. If you’re into impromptu games, use a public schoolyard — they’re open to the public on weekends. Is Dodgeball the new Broomball, posited earlier this feature as the new Kickball? Discuss, if we haven’t blown your mind.


Central Park has strict rules for its football players. You must have a permit, leave the cleats at home, and play from September-November only. You can snag a permit from our old friends at the Department of Parks & Recreation. Or, if you own a minivan, you could ride out to the ‘burbs to play with the Tappan Zee Touch Football League! If you’re afraid of the suburbs or too cheap to pay for gas, not to worry – many of the league’s games are played at Fordham University fields in the Bronx. Check out the website ( for more information.


It is a sport, therefore you are an athlete. There is, of course, Chelsea Piers. Also, the Brooklyn Golf Center, at 3200 Flatbush Ave, offers 100 hitting bays and a 300 x 300  yard range.


The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers offers three seasons and eight divisions of ice hockey goodness. The four-on-four summer seasons begins on July 21. Each team is guaranteed 8 games, but the tournament costs $3,200 per team.  LGBT hockey players can check out the New York City Gay Hockey Association for teams (recreational and competitive), games and tournaments. If you’re not that into hockey, but would like to run around and pummel some friends, check out Black Top Street Hockey. For roller hockey, check out the intersection of Houston Street and 6th Ave.

Horseback riding

Prospect Park has a 3.5-mile bridle path that begins at the Park Circle. If you don’t have your own horse (you don’t?), you can rent one from Kensington Stables, located across from the Parade Ground. Central Park also has a bridle path. The Riverdale Equestrian Center will rent you a horse for $100/hr, and you get to name him and brush his hair and talk about boys and everything.


Sign up at for kickball games in Prospect Park. Or join the Kickball Empire in Williamsburg that will someday have a purge rivaling the Stalinist show trials of the 30s, or indeed, the opening of the Stasi files in Berlin. Serious-ass business,

Lacrosse hosts a New York City lacrosse pick-up game. Check the website for details. Otherwise, most of the lacrosse gyms and workouts are for kids. Sorry, bros. In Canada, lacrosse isn’t nearly so identified with douchebaggery. But that’s in Canada.


Cousins Paintball is located at 2727 Arthur Kill Road, in Staten Island. Reservations are required, and the fields are open from 8:30-4 every day. NYC Paintball offers climate-controlled indoor play at 47-11 Van Dam Street, Long Island City.  Is this really a sport? No. It’s disturbing militaristic wish fulfillment by people too privileged to actually join the military.


Petanque is bocce, only with old French men instead of old Italian men (the rules may also be different). There’s a New York petanque club that plays in Washington Square.

Rock/Wall Climbing

Central Park’s North Meadow Recreation Center has a wall that allows for supervised wall climbing (adults and children ages 8 and up). No permit is required, but classes are. Chelsea Piers has the biggest indoor rock-climbing wall in the Northeast. Call for prices.


Riverside Skate Park is located at 108th St and Riverside Drive. and is open from 11-7 pm Weekends and from 3:30-7 on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Millennium Skate Park is on Colonial Road between 68th St and Wakeman Place. Check out for some non-New York Parks Department approved skate spots. Watch out for cops. We’re also going to take a moment to mock those gentlemen who think it’s ok to long-board around as if it’s just a replacement for a bike: you look ridiculous and you can’t even skate.


Prospect Park has soccer fields at the Parade Ground. Permits are only required for organized games. Metro offers recreational soccer leagues in almost all of the city’s bobo haunts, including the Upper West Side, Pier 40 at Chelsea Piers and Riverside Park.  If you think you’re not a yupppie, the Urban Soccer offers what they term “Manhattan’s alternative outdoor and indoor soccer” experience. Figure out what that means at

The Major Stickball League has three seasons of six weeks each followed by two weeks of playoffs. The East Harlem Stickball league has games from April-October. We once saw stickball on ESPN. It was grown dudes with spandex and big forearms, not lil’ urchins with newsboy caps. And we felt sad for America.


New York is a a tennis-loving city. Check out  Central Park, Fort Washington Park and Randall’s Island Parks all come highly recommended.

Ultimate Frisbee

If you hate getting your weed delivered because the guy always wants to smoke up and stick around, like, forever, there are pick-up games every Saturday at 11am in Van Cortland Park and Cunningham Park in Queens every Sunday at 4. Central Park (at 99th St) hosts a co-ed pick-up game at 3 on weekends and 6 on weekdays.


Metro Beach Sports offers a beach volleyball (and beach soccer) league. Games are played Monday and Tuesday nights, and it costs $795 per team or $150 per individual player. Games take place at the Water Taxi beach in Long Island City. Big City Volleyball League also offers an air conditioned summer season. Some nudity required.


Go to to sign up for a team and compete in their league. Games and practices take place in Manhattan, Queens and barbecues throughout Westchester County.


Metro wrestling hosts an LGBT practice every Saturday from 5-7 at Fighthouse (122 W 27th St, 2nd floor), and Sunday at the LGBT Center (208 W 13th St, Room 412); rates are $10/day or $35/month. For hetero wrestlers, the Hamilton Fish Recreation Facility on East Houston and Stanton Streets offers 45-minute adult wrestling sessions beginning at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The $50 annual membership fee is certainly appealing, but tapeworm is not; be wary of getting excessively sweaty on public facility’s mats. For details, see