Everybody has a favorite bar game. And while I understand the allure of a drunken game of pinball or shuffleboard, there's no thrill quite like downing a pint of cheap beer and trying to make as many shots as possible in less than a minute. Pop-A-Shot, the arcade basketball game that pits one person racing against the clock shooting basketballs at a miniature hoop, isn't a phenomenon in Portland yet, but after one very buzzed afternoon, I found three places in town—and one alluring alternative—where you can pretend you're LaMarcus Aldridge swishing jumpers for 40 glorious seconds. Here's my comprehensive rundown to drinkin' and ballin'.
Spirit of 77 Page 34
Pro: Free Pop-A-Shot!
Con: Arguing with frat bros over who's next in line.
Price per cheapest pitcher: $17 (yikes!)
Overheard: "There are too many balls flying at me!"
There's a lot to grumble about at this Blazers-themed hangout, including the high-priced food and lack of any cheap beer options when you miss happy hour. But the bar's Pop-A-Shot rig—four hoops, each outfitted with three balls—allows you to play not against a computer but your best friend, creating some epic showdowns and lots of competition from strangers eager to take a turn at challenging your high score. Try going on Sunday for breakfast—it's a douchebag zoo during all Blazer games.
The Matador Page 23
Pro: Really cheap drinks
Con: Navigating the sea of people dancing to Journey to find the lone Pop-A-Shot machine.
Price per cheapest pitcher: $6
Overheard: "One player is easier because you don't have to wait for the other person's balls."
Burnside dive the Matador isn't really known for its bar games, but they've got a Pop-A-Sho t machine next to the DJ booth and arcade boxing game. Matador's "Street Basketball" Pop-A-Shot is the classic kind: You pay $1 for one game, and have to score 50 points to make it past the first round. On the third attempt we made it to the third round, but ran out of beer money before we could score over 200.
Slabtown Page 33
Pro: Nobody plays Pop-A-Shot at Slabtown. Plus, there's a change machine.
Con: Bring a lot of money; you're gonna get hooked.
Price per cheapest pitcher: $7
Overheard: "Well, at least we got Chalupa points."
Fact: Pop-A-Shot is easier when you're drunk. In every instance, my game improved after I drank a beer—OK, maybe it just took a while to get used to the hoop, but let's forget about that for a second. Slabtown is the perfect place to play, because nobody goes to the back corner and you can play pinball or pingpong after you get so pissed you can't make it past the second round.
Pro: Real basketball!
Con: It's hard to shoot in the dark when it's 38 degrees outside and raining.
Six-pack of Miller High Life: $5
Overheard: "Does this rim look high to you?"
Sure, it's fun to play HORSE at midnight, but after struggling for 10 minutes to hit one 3-pointer in the cold, the safety and warmth of arcade basketball wins.