Who Else Wants SIMPLE Cornhole Rules?

These Cornhole rules are meant to be easy to understand. There are some rules out there that are pages and pages that basically say the same thing you see below. Cornhole is a pretty simple game. These rules are both simple and complete. They are also the most common “official” rules of the game. We figure there’s no reason to complicate things. Enjoy!

Getting Started

  • For casual play, boxes are generally set up 24ft apart from front of box to box. (For tournament play, boxes are set up 27ft apart from front of box to box)
  • To play the game you will need two teams.
  • Teams can be made up of either one or two people each.
  • For singles play (1 per team), opponents start and play from the same end.
  • For doubles play (2 per team), teammates should line up next to opposite boxes and on opposite sides.
  • Start with all bags (8) at one end.

How to Play

  • Previous game winner or coin toss should determine which team throws the first bag.
  • Alternate throws between teams until all bags are thrown.
  • The foul line is made by the front of the boxes and all throws must be made from behind the foul line.
  • If a player breaks the foul line or throws out of turn, the player will lose a turn.
  • The team that scores the most points in a round, starts the throwing for the next round.
  • If the round is tied the last team to win a round throws first.
  • Any bag that touches the ground during a throw should be removed from the board and not counted.

Points

  • 1 point for any bag thrown that is on the board but not touching the ground.
  • 3 points for any bag in the hole
  • Any bag that touches the ground during the throw or while hanging from the board does not count.

Tallying the Score

  • For each throwing round, the team with the most points wins the round and subtracts the other team’s points from theirs.
  • The difference is added to the team’s score that won the round.
  • The first team to 21 wins.

60 Responses to Who Else Wants SIMPLE Cornhole Rules?

  1. Andy May 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    For some fun and to keep the game a little more balance for teams that are not as good, we like to change up the scoring.

    The only difference is we make it so that you have to hit 21 points on the nose to win. If you go over 21, then you move back to 17 points.

    This takes some strategy for each team sometime throwing off the board. It lets the team that is behind also have a better chance of catching up.

  2. Phil June 4, 2007 at 12:59 am #

    We play NBA jam rules where if a player throws a double deuce, they are “on fire” and they keep tossing until they fail to get a cornhole.

  3. Wayne July 15, 2007 at 12:13 am #

    if you go over 21 do all palyers throw in all the bags?? and then the turm is over ??

    please reply.

    thanks

  4. Eric July 16, 2007 at 9:34 pm #

    Hello Wayne,

    Most do not play bust. I you do play bust and you cannot go over 21 without going back to 15, then you would just throw away your bags once you hit 21. This is of course unless your competor makes a point. Then you need to make another to keep your 21.

    If yo do not play bust, you would play out the round even if you hit 21. If your competetor has bags left, they may cancel out some points and keep you from winning.

  5. Cody July 18, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Is a round after 1 player from each team throws each of their 4 bags or is a round after both players from both teams throw (which would be a total of 16 bags thrown, 8 from each team)?

  6. Eric July 18, 2007 at 10:50 pm #

    Cody,

    A round is after 8 bags are thrown, 1 player from each team, from the same side. Great question!

  7. Gregg cornking June 21, 2008 at 12:21 am #

    Another scoring idea is when you hit 21 the other team has a chance to catch up and beat your score if they can do it in one turn. If they do, you get a chance to get a head again until the score is final and the other team can not catch you.

  8. david July 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    We had to open one of our bags that we made after 6 months. We found a lot of black bugs in it. Is there something to treat the corn with for bugs before we fill the bags. Thanks.

  9. Eric July 16, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    Hello David,
    I don’t know of anything that is not toxic like bug spray. For storage, you can keep them in a sealed Ziploc or Tupperware container to make sure nothing gets at them.

  10. Jason August 16, 2008 at 12:40 am #

    I play bust where you have to hit 21 on the nose or you go back to 13, but i dont know how to score it. For instance say Team 1 has 20 total and they throw a cornhole on the first throw. Ok that gives them 23, so what does the other player do? Do they just throw their bags away?

  11. Eric August 18, 2008 at 6:57 am #

    Jason,
    Because everyone else would just throw off for the rest of that throwing sequence, once you go over you would just send the bags down to the other end to start the next sequence.

  12. Cornhole Dude August 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Yeah, that bug problem sucks. I think a lot of people are going for bags that don’t use corn anymore. They don’t lose their filling or raise a cloud of dust when they hit either.

    Hope you guys don’t mind me jumping in the conversation. I just found this and love talking about cornhole. You got a LOT of great stuff in here! Thanks for putting it together!

  13. Jessi June 28, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    If you look at the American Cornhole Association and the American Cornhole Orginization they say to put your boards 33 feet from center hole to center hole or 27 feet from front to front this page says 30 feet from center hole to center hole. Which is correct?

  14. Kim June 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m with Jessi… very confused as to how far apart the boards are suppose to be? Just made our first set of boards and want to get ready for a t’ment… but don’t know which length is correct.

  15. Ben July 6, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    Jessi and Kim,

    For tournaments, the correct distance is 27 feet from front of board to front of board (which is also 33 feet from center hole to center hole). Most people when they are playing “leisurely” will put the boards 24 feet from front to front, but if I were you, I’d keep it at 27 just to get used to it. Have fun!

  16. mickey August 4, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    can you pitch the bags overhand like shooting free throws in basketball??

  17. Ben August 4, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Mickey,

    You can pitch the bags however you want as long as you don’t cross the front of the board (the foul line).

  18. Faye September 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    How long and wide should the boards be? Also, How be should the hole be? and how do you determine where the hole gos??

  19. Faye September 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    How long and wide should the boards be? Also, How be should the hole be? and how do you determine how long the boards are?

  20. Ben September 11, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Faye,

    The boards are 2 feet wide by 4 foot long. The hole is 6 inches in diameter centered 12 inches from the sides of the board and 9 inches from the top of the board.

  21. Diane December 22, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    You need to bake your corn in the oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes to kill the worms/bugs that are laying dormant in the corn. If you do this you won’t have any problem with the cornhole bags.

  22. P Su May 17, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    How long are the legs?

  23. mickey May 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    The legs should be long enough to make the hole end of the board 12 inches high!

  24. mike s. June 1, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    If you play bust and exceed 21 and still have bags to toss that round can you start to score again? Say you bust on your first toss, you have three more to throw. Can you score?

  25. Mike K June 4, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Mike S. the answer is no. You can only count the points at the end of the round so no matter how many points you go over you still go back to 13 or whatever number you agreed on starting the next round.

  26. Davey Jones June 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    Simply put the corn hole bags in the freezer for 24 hours. That will take care of any bugs. Store them in the freezer once you are done using them. 🙂

  27. mike s. June 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Mike S
    If you can’t score, is that round dead at the point someone goes over 21? Or, my question is. Can you keep scoreing from 13 in the round you bust?

  28. Mike K June 6, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Yes, the round is dead at the point you go over. This is due to the fact that the other team need only throw all thier bags away to cause you to go over 21. To save time, just send the bags over to the other side to start the next round with your score going back to 13 and the other team remaining where they were.

    I really hate playing with these rules. It’s so much simpler to just reward the team that reaches 21 or more first. This isn’t blackjack but some would like to make it that way. In my opinion, the game should use a handicap system similar to golf. That way you keep the rules simple and the playing field can be evenly matched. It doesn’t have to be an offical handicap system for casual playing either. If you are just playing casual games then it is easier to simply make sure good players team up with the not so good players. And use some common sense and spot some points to teams you know are not that good at the game. Make it fun for everyone and everyone has a good time.

  29. rob June 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    great site! where or what site is the best place to get good quality bags (multiple colors)? corn?!

  30. mickey June 12, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    I guess corn is pretty good. For buying bags, go on Ebay and find someone selling them that lives close by you. That way you don’t pay shipping. I’ve met people at White Castle, McDonald’s, at their house, etc. Don’t pay over $15 for a set of 8 unless their made up special.

  31. Lindsay June 22, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    When we play, if one team gets more than 21, we make them start over again… Say one team gets 23, they start over at 2. It makes the games longer, but it is all good fun!

  32. Reef Runner November 5, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    I’m really interested in the subject about “BUGS”. I haven’t had them yet (?), I don’t think, but I would like to prevent, or ward them off, if possible. As for baking them in the oven, is this something that can be done to finished bags, or should this be done to the raw corn, prior to being put into cornhole bags.
    Also, switching over to the other extreme, is it acceptable to put finished bags in a plastic container (zip lock), and then put them in a deep freeze for a couple of days, or for extended periods ? I’ve got some new bags (4 sets), and I would really love to preserve them, and ward off the bug problem………..All comments, based on experience, would be appreciated.

  33. Reef Runner November 5, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    As for scoring (IMHO), looking through the majority of the post here, what happened to the “BASIS” for this website – which was to explain everything Cornhole, and in particular, the rules and scoring, in a “SIMPLE” manner ??? Why does everyone continue to make it more complicated and confusing than it has to be, especially for the Newbie ? This is what continues to confuse people, when they read a different method of play/scoring, every time they look at something pertaining to Cornhole. As outlined by the author of this website, all points are counted, and cancel out against, all of the opponents points. The difference in the high score, and the low score, for that throw, is the number of points scored, plain and simple. First one to 21 wins. What’s wrong with using the rules, that are already established, and in print ? Why make up confusing variations ? This isn’t “Rocket Science”, and it doesn’t have to appear, as such. Remember the old saying – “KISS”

  34. Heavy D January 18, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    What if a bag is only hanging on the front edge cause a prior throw missed short and is on the ground? The rules say a bag can’t touch the ground

  35. Eric April 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Heavy D – We still don’t count it. We call it a dead bag if it won’t stay up without the other bag.

  36. Jerry May 15, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Setting Distance; We place the boards at the 27′ tournament distance but allow (handicap) the youngsters and some of the gals to stand at the foul line and step forward with their toss which basically would make it a 24′ distance for their throws.

  37. B July 7, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Had an argument come up last night. While playing the exactly 21 scoring rules a team had 22 points sitting on the board after each opponent threw 2 bags each, leaving 2 bags for each of the players. At this point in the round the opponent declared the frame dead and sent the bags to the other side. The other opponent wanted to complete the frame. The opponent that had over 22 points could have knocked a hanger off of the board, and if this was successful would have removed a point (provided the tossed bag also fell off) and won by being at exactly at 21 at that point.

    The question is can an opponent call a frame dead when all 8 bags have not been tossed and not give the opportunity for an opposing team to finish?

    Typically when playing “exactly 21” this is never an issue as any team going over doesn’t have much of a chance to knock a bag off, but in this case the point difference was 1 and the team over 21 could have knocked that bag on the board off and won.

    Heated discussion!

  38. Reef Runner July 7, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Count back up, five posts…………………there is really nothing to argue about !
    In Cornhole, the first team to score 21 points, is the winner. The whole object of the game is to score 21 points, or better, and the first one to do that, is the winner………..IMHO ! Why make up rules to complicate things……..or heat up things ?

  39. Ben July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    B,

    It really depends on how you like to play. Our rules for exactly 21 are pretty simple:

    We play till the end of the round no matter what.
    A player cannot call the frame dead for the other player.
    The person that finished on exactly 21 at the END of a round wins.

    In the case you mentioned if Player A had 22 points with 2 bags left. He would have an opportunity to knock a bag off on his third throw. In that situation, if Player A was unsuccessful, Player B would throw off at a risk of landing on the board and giving Player A the win. If player B threw off, then player A would have to try to knock a bag off the board again. If he was unsuccessful and was over 21 at the end of the round, then in our rules, he would go back down to either 13 or 15 based on who we play with and then play would resume until somebody hit 21 exactly at the end of the round. This type of play really brings out the skill near the end of the game, and its not uncommon to go back down to 13 or 15 3-5 times before somebody hits that 21 on the dot.

  40. B July 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Local rules, 21 exactly comes from the rules this guy started playing from. “It takes skill to hit 21 exactly on the nose” is what this guys says, and does change things up with the busting principle. Quite a few people play like that as a variation.

    But yeah he argued after I put one on the board to make the score 19-14, he missed, and I put a bag in making the score 22-14. He immediately called an end to the round when I had 2 bags left and I wanted to try and knock the one bag on the board off. At 22 points I was busted UNLESS one bag got knocked off. He obviously wouldn’t have thrown at the board and would intentially miss because he wouldn’t want to drop me down with the 21 exact rules, but also wouldn’t let me throw saying the second you busted the frame was over.

    My argument is that scoring is calculated at the end of the frame, and all 8 bags are thrown during that frame. With 21 exact you can bust, but my argument is why shouldn’t I be allowed to throw and try to knock my bag on the board off.

    Hahahaha it was a funny argument with him bringing up baseball rules dart rules all kinds of shit, and then saying his buddy would agree with him and rules are rules lol!

  41. Chris July 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Hey I’m new to the cornhole game. Just wanted to know what you guys think in the following situation. I played my buddy the other night. We both had 20pts going into the next frame. I threw a one pointer that was closest to the cornhole that would have given me 21. On my buddy’s final throw though, he corn holed. I thought that I would have won by reaching 21, seeing that he went back down to 13. However, he said that his cornhole cancelled my 21 out because he had the highest scoring round still. My question is, is this really true? I can’t find any rules that determines who is right in this situation. I don’t understand how he can go down to 13, and that cancels out my 1 pointer for the win. Are there no concrete game- point rules that come into play? In my opinion this just prolongs the game, and more importantly rewards failure on his part since he wasn’t able to beat my one pointer for the win. This instead gives him the opportunity then to cornhole, which is a much easier shot to make than his 1 point shot would have had to of been in order to beat my 1 pointer. What do you guys think?

  42. Mike K July 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Chris, I’ve been playing similar rules at a friends house and the rules are simple. You don’t get any points until all the bags have been thrown. Just because you get a bag on the board does not give you a winning point. If your apponent would have missed the board completely then you have one bag on then you would have won. In your case, his three minus your one means he got two points and you got none. He went over though so the score is 20 to 13 or 20 to 11 depending on the rules you play by. In another scenario, he could have knocked your bag in the hole leaving his on the board. Then you would have gone back to 13 and he would still be at 20. We play going back to 11 and you are right, the game could drag on. I’ve gone back to 11 three times in partner play and still won the game.

    There are no concrete rules in casual cornhole so you can make up new rules or use existing ones you like.

  43. J Man July 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    I have played with the rule that if you go over 21 you go down as much as you went over. If the score was 19 to 16 and the leading team threw for 5 points in the round, then the score would be 18 to 16. Two point put the leading team to 21 minus the 3 extra points going back to 18.

  44. Babs August 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Where I was playing with a group of people, they played that you get 2 points for a “hanger” through the cornhole…meaning, if you could touch the bag from beneath the playing surface you would get 2 points. Thoughts? Anyone else heard of this?

  45. mickey finn August 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Hi Babs, I played it that way a few years ago. I haven’t seen it played that way recently. They probably took it from horse shoes in which a leaner is 2 points.

  46. Munk September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Ahhh yes. Love these rules discussions. We play up to 21 on the button cancellation scoring. Definitely not only brings out the skill but helps poor teams “catchup” when the other team goes over 21 a few times (rolled back to 15).

    Here is what happened:

    Score tied at 20. Both players put their first bags on the board. Player A puts his second bag near the hole. Player B says hmm may as well make him go over and push his into the hole. However, in an attempt to do that Player B puts his bag in the hole but keeps A;s hanging on the edge of the hole.
    Player A knowing he can’t do anything and player B is over 21 goes to throw his bags away, but player B knows he can knock that back in to cancel his 3 and get that bag to sit down and get 21 –which of course is what happens.
    player A argument was you can’t do that you go back to 15 (our number) once that goes in. Player B gives many instances supporting his thoughts the mainly being the fact that points are not counted til at the end of the round so why would a round end mid-turn cuz he went over 21?
    Bags are usually thrown away once someone goes over 21, but as player B points out thats only because most of the times someone goes over 21 its cuz one is in the hole and there is nothing else that can be possibly done if the other player throws their bags away.
    Give me your thoughts!
    And for the record i agree with the guy that went to 22 and was trying to knock his one back off the board..awesome idea!!

  47. mr411 October 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Just curious as to any leagues in California. I played cornhole for the first time on my sons ship on a tiger cruise. Oh my I love the game. Cant seem to find much here in California any suggestions. I did go on the website and emailed as what to do for membership and all. Thanks

  48. Newtoit May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Very new to cornhole and about to host a fundraiser tournament with about 30 two man teams. We are trying to figure a way to reduce the amount of time needed to finish before too late in the night. We thought we would not do the cancellation scoring and just score all the bags landed or in the hole, but then each game could only take one or two rounds/innings. Would it be better to set a number of rounds such as 3 or 4 and then the team with the most points at the end wins that match??? Any suggestions welcomed.

  49. Dabears! May 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Score tied 20 20 opponent throws one point… I try to cancel and cornhole! That makes score 22 20 now they said they won because we went over and cancelled my cornhole because we had to go back to 13 which means their one point still counts! I’m confused on rule.. If they should of won or the score shoulda been 13-20! So what’s your thoughts?

  50. Mike K May 28, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    @Dabears!, that is not a win for the other team since you clearly canceled out thier point (3 -1 = 2 points for you not them). Going over 21 doesn’t mean you lose, it just means you go back to a score of 13. Since you went over 21 and assuming you are playing to exactly 21 and agreed on going back to 13 then the score would be 13 to 20 with your team leading off since you scored more points than they did on the last round. Your team is now forced to score points on every round until reaching 21 exactly.

    We play going back to eleven if you go over and I’ve gone over three times and still won the game so just make sure you go over the rules and they make sense to everyone prior to playing. The only thing I hate about the exact 21 play is how long some of the games can be. We all have to play by the house rules whatever they might be but your senario doesn’t even make any sense for them to win like that.

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