Gerber and Volpe, who have been best friends since high school, think of Flip Cup Guys as a brand name, donning referee outfits and acting as masters of ceremonies at the flip cup competitions. The pair hosts the games at their home base, Lounge 11 in Hoboken.
On their Web site, Hoboken.FlipCupGuys.com, big red letters boldly proclaim, "Flip cup just got bigger," as if to say the drinking game revolution is here. (See sidebar for flip cup rules.)
The guys got the idea to improve flip cup into organized tournaments last October when they participated in a charity flip cup tournament at the Elks Lodge in Hoboken. While the guys live in Union City, they say they practically live in Hoboken.
Gerber says that even though they dream of taking their flip cup tournaments national, "We'll never forget our Hoboken roots."
Volpe says that even though they'll be hosting their first tournament in New York City on April 12 at the Village Pourhouse, they'll always host Flip Cup in Hoboken, too.
"That's the slam dunk - we live here, it's easy," Volpe explains, adding that a Las Vegas or Atlantic City tournament is the ultimate dream.
Volpe attributes the success of the past two Hoboken Flip Cup tourneys to two things:
"The most important thing is definitely the age group that's in the [Hoboken] area," and he adds, that during the day, not much else is going on. "What else is there to do on a Saturday afternoon?"
Gerber says that their roles as refs are simple and not necessarily functional - they ref to a certain extent, but they mainly manage the event, which includes making sure everyone plays by the rules.
Plastic cups only. And no hard liquor.
"We absolutely cannot advocate anybody drinking at any time," says Gerber, explaining that they banned someone from playing because the person wanted to use vodka.
Some people even drink water instead of beer, because they're just there to have a good time - and that's exactly what the Flip Cup Guys want. They've never had a problem, proudly proclaiming that everybody has been very responsible at their events.
There's even a Flip Cup Girl, their friend Danielle, who helps them coordinate the events.
Gerber and Volpe estimate that 60 percent of tourney participants are women - like Hoboken residents Melissa Spitz and Rhonda Greenberg.
Spitz has been the captain of multiple teams, because she's been in on this since the beginning, and she believes that participating in the tournaments is a great way to meet people and just have fun.
"I'm definitely a young professional, and flip cup is a game that I played all the time in college, and the idea is something that brings people together," says Spitz.
Greenberg heads up the Imposters, also known as "Massard's Massive Heads" as per the caricature of one of their teammates on their T-shirts. At Hoboken Flip Cup II, her team made it to the finals.
"I think it was just a good opportunity to hang out with friends, meet new people and dabble in a little friendly competition," says Greenberg, who says that though the competition can get a little fierce, her team is tightly-knit. "We all have a great time, good chemistry - we support each other."
And even though Spitz's and Greenberg's teams have yet to win a tourney, they still get to compete in what Gerber and Volpe have affectionately dubbed the "Toilet Bowl," as a secondary bracket for teams that have been eliminated but still want to compete - which they do, for an actual toilet seat.
With Flip Cup II topping out at about 240 people and events selling out faster than the Flip Cup Guys can, well, flip a cup, Gerber and Volpe are eager to work on getting their local game up to major league status.
Through five rounds of elimination-style competition, the best of seven series for each event, and the consolation bracket, the Hoboken Flip Cup tournaments are charged with a good-spirited, all-around fun energy.
The Flip Cup Guys are hosting the Inaugural NYC Flip Cup Tournament in Manhattan on April 12 at the Village Pourhouse, 64 Third Ave. at 11th Street, and on April 26 at the current home of Hoboken Flip Cup, Lounge 11 (the corner of Fifth and Madison streets).
FLIP CUP EXPLAINED
Each tournament consists of 32 teams with six members on each team, all competing in a social barroom environment where players come to the table for one of the most popular drinking games out there today.
The objective is to be the first team to finish all its cups, usually filled with whatever beer is on tap. The first in line at the table drinks their cup, and puts it down on the table, and then has to flip it over with their finger, and the next team member can only drink their cup when the player before them has flipped the cup. When the last person on a team has flipped the last cup, that team has just won a round of flip cup.
Gerber describes it as "the most simple, stupid concept on the face of the planet, but for some reason it draws massive amounts of attention and team spirit. It's not the typical night out at the bar, but it does have a sense of barroom community around it."
Comments on this story can be sent to Mpaul@hudsonreporter.com.