It’s Tuesday night, and as the clock ticks closer to 7 p.m., tables at Cedar Springs Tap House are getting progressively fuller, and louder. It’s trivia night, and scores of regulars and eager newcomers are here to play Geeks Who Drink trivia.
Geeks Who Drink, which runs quiz nights in 46 states, is likely the largest trivia conglomerate in D-FW, but it’s not the only one. Sporcle, which started with online and app-based trivia, now runs live trivia events around the country, including in Dallas.
And you can’t ignore the local guys -- some bars run their own trivia events, like Martin House Brewing Company. Plus, some individuals have started their own trivia outfits such as Freakshow Trivia and Goat Head Trivia, both entrepreneurial ventures offering appealingly offbeat, sometimes NSFW events.
It’s hard not to love the chance to win something -- usually bar gift cards, sometimes more obscure items like action figures and specialty candy -- while you drink with friends on a weeknight. We’ve rounded up a few of the best trivia nights in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The big name in trivia
Geeks Who Drink
The longest-running Geeks Who Drink host in D-FW, Jason Warren came on the scene in 2011. He's more than just a host, though; he's also one of the company’s question writers, crafting queries for quizzes nationwide.
With a day job as a social studies curriculum software developer, trivia comes naturally to Warren. But he’s not exactly a buttoned-up, bookish type.
“[I’m] the gay drunken version of Alex Trebek,” he says. “For me the key is: Kick back, have fun, let the energy be infectious. I treat it a little bit like it’s a show.”
And his show is full of good-natured ribbing of the contestants and smarmy jokes, all while he spits out rapid-fire questions. Round themes range from "A Game of Thrones: A Round on Toilets" to "Yes Anderson: A Round on Improv and Hipster Director Wes Anderson."
The questions can be challenging but always include context clues. "Because of the structure, you might come up with an answer that you had no business knowing," says Geeks Who Drink marketing director Ken Brill, "and you feel really smart about what you’ve done."
Find Warren at the below events:
- For a low key night: High Fives, 1804 McMillan Ave., Dallas. Monday at 7:30 p.m.
- For a rambunctious group: Cedar Springs Tap House, 4123 Cedar Springs Rd., Ste. 100, Dallas. Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- For an unapologetically competitive crowd: Bryan Street Tavern, 4315 Bryan St, Dallas. Wednesday at 8 p.m.
See the schedule of other Geeks Who Drink events, with other hosts, here.
If you like Jeopardy
Jeopardy fans will like Sporcle’s quiz format. Teams wager their confidence by writing answers on sheets labeled with point values from 1 to 10, based on how likely they think they are to get it right. In the final round, teams bet a point value of their choosing, reminiscent of Final Jeopardy.
“You never are completely out of the game, as long as you’re getting the answers right here and there,” says Chris Amos, who hosts four trivia nights a week. But, he warns, “You have to be strategic with how you wager and how you answer, because it will come back to haunt you if you’re too quick to answer.”
Amos, a concert manager by day and a Fort Worth local, got involved with Sporcle in early 2016. A “huge trivia nerd” with a penchant for comic books and long blond dreadlocks, he likes to make his quiz nights feel like a personalized experience based on the crowd.
The prizes at most of his trivia nights are gift cards to the establishment, but he brings extra prizes based on holidays or themes. On a recent Monday at Deep Ellum’s Braindead Brewing, he brought Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday.
Find Amos at the below events:
- For a relaxed vibe: Braindead Brewing, 2625 Main St., Dallas. Monday at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- For a competitive, eclectic group: Pickles BBQ & Icehouse, 8247 Rufe Snow Dr., Watauga. Tuesday at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- For a rowdy college crew: Bronco's Sports Bar and Grill, 900 Airport Fwy, Ste. 166, Hurst. Wednesday at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- The newcomer: a brand-new trivia night starting Aug. 19: Halcyon, 2900 Greenville Ave., Dallas. Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
See the schedule of other Sporcle events, with other hosts, here.
For craft beer and casual vibes
Ice Cole Craft Trivia
The self-proclaimed “mayor of Jort Worth” (more on that in a sec), Ice Cole is a one-man trivia host extraordinaire. When his little brother prompted him to helm the new trivia nights at Fort Worth’s Martin House Brewing Company, Ice Cole protested that he wasn’t even that good at trivia.
“He goes, ‘it’ll be fine, you’ll do great,’” Ice Cole says, laughing -- and since that day in 2014, he’s still at it, having even expanded to two more locations.
He crafts the questions himself, drawing on personal experience as a physical therapist for science and anatomy questions. He also researches far and wide for other categories to make sure any contestant will know at least some answers, or get close with deductive reasoning.
Although he says inspiration can come from anywhere, coming up with new material alone can be tough. “Thinking’s exhausting,” he says. “Sometimes I wish I could just go build something or carry something heavy for a little while [instead].”
Besides the one-of-a-kind questions and repartee with the crowd, Ice Cole’s signature is his outfit: the jean shorts, or jorts. On the hot Fourth of July when he hosted his first trivia event, he cut his own pair of jorts. He wore them to trivia events for three years.
After that, decency kicked in. “They get a little shorter with each wash, so I had to make a new pair.”
Find Ice Cole at the below events:
- For trivia die-hards: HopFusion Ale Works, 200 E Broadway Ave., Fort Worth. Every other Sunday at 7 p.m.
- The newcomer: a recently-begun trivia night: LUCK at Trinity Groves, 3011 Gulden Ln., Ste. 112, Dallas. Rotating Mondays at 8 p.m.
- For a good-timin’ party: Martin House Brewing Company, 220 S Sylvania Ave., Ste. 209, Fort Worth. First Thursday of the month at 6 p.m.
The long-running local show
When Patric Carroll was a bartender back in 2002, he got a new Tuesday night gig: hosting trivia at the Flying Saucer in Addison. His theater background lent itself to putting on a high-energy show, and a few years later, Freakshow Trivia was born.
“I’ve always liked the word 'freak,'” says Carroll. “It never meant ostracizing, or something to be shunned from society. It meant you think a little different, you look a little different, let’s try something a little different.”
Which is what he wants to do with his trivia business. Freakshow Trivia hosts six shows weekly, three of which he handles personally. He aims to differentiate his brand from what he thinks can be “a little soulless” trivia with corporate conglomerates.
By day, he’s a stay-at-home dad to his toddler son, but from Monday through Wednesday, he flips a switch. In his younger days, he went as far as to "go a little crazy and jump up on tables," but now he tries to keep engagement high from his seat while quizzing contestants on everything from pop culture to geography to movies.
Find Carroll at the below events:
- For a trendy, quieter ambiance: Public School 972, 14854 Montfort Dr., Dallas. Monday at 8 p.m.
- For a “wheels-off, no-holds-barred” atmosphere: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, 14999 Montfort Dr., Dallas. Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
- For a gregarious good time: Holy Grail Pub, 8240 Preston Rd., Ste. 150, Plano. Wednesday at 9 p.m.
See the schedule of other Freakshow Trivia events, with other hosts, here.
The snarky duo
Goat Head Trivia
Like the trivia version of a buddy comedy, Travis Taylor and Nathan Adams are a package deal. The duo started their hosting partnership at Ten Bells in Bishop Arts District in early 2016, where they made the happy discovery that their friendship translated to on-mike chemistry.
“We’re a little competitive with each other for the sake of comedy sometimes,” Taylor says, describing himself as the straight man of the two. “He’s got a real knack for horrible jokes, very dry [or] way too cheesy ... If he does well, I’ll play the Seinfeld thing for him. It’s kind of like a reward.”
After finding success with their sometimes-vulgar, witty-banter-based show at Ten Bells, even partnering with Red Pegasus Comics for themed nights, they expanded to The Nines, where a fog machine helps enhance their theatricality.
Goat Head Trivia is designed to simultaneously entertain and challenge contestants. Two of the four rounds are usually about movies and music, and writing an extra-difficult fourth round is Adams’ specialty. “He likes it when people don’t like him; when they're mad at him,” Taylor says.
Find Taylor and Adams at the below events:
- For a laidback, low-pressure environment: The Nines, 2911 Main St., Dallas. Every other Monday at 8 p.m.
- For a competitive crowd of regulars: Ten Bells Tavern, 232 W 7th St., Dallas. Every other Wednesday at 8 p.m.