If you’ve ever found yourself hollering the answers at a Jeopardy rerun while making dinner, it might be time to call up a few friends and head out to one of two wildly popular trivia nights around town. Hosted on Wednesday nights at Bert’s Pub and Thursday nights at Bill’s Place, pub trivia nights have grown over the last several years.
Whether you possess a wealth of history facts or have a little known gift of unscrambling movie titles, there’s a category for everyone. But be warned, it’s best to show up early if you plan to play. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Bill’s and 7:30 p.m. at Bert’s, but regulars often start staking a claim on their preferred tables around 5:30 p.m.
Trivia night started at Bert’s in 1999, when it was still called Grant’s Brewery Pub and located in the train depot on Front Street. Thirteen years later, the restaurant fills to capacity every Wednesday night with eager teams vying for a chance to secure a winning prize. In fact, two of the teams started at Grant’s and still get together every week for play. One of Bert’s trivia hosts, Karissa Craig, credits trivia night with helping her get connected in Yakima after moving to town in 2006.
“It’s always a great night,” Craig said. “Trivia brings out a great group of people, some who maybe wouldn’t come out on their own.”
Sometimes the restaurant gets so crowded that teams hang out in the hallway, shouting out answers and heckling the host from back by the bathrooms. Newcomers and individual players are welcome to pony up to the bar, often forming a team, sometimes with a little help from the bartender.
Matt Ruybal and wife Deb host Bill’s Place trivia night each week, putting together a full-blown interactive PowerPoint presentation. “I like making the game really visual,” Ruybal said. “And I think the players get a kick out of it.”
Bill’s Place has its own set of regulars on Thursday nights.
“We have a blast,” Ruybal said. “It’s awesome to have a night dedicated solely for the purpose of people using their brains. It’s a great vibe in the bar.”
Trivia is played in rounds. Each round features a category such as geography, current events, history or pop culture. Each category has an average of 10 questions. Teams of two to six people (and sometimes more or fewer) work together to answer the questions correctly. At the end of the night, a first, second and third prize are handed to the winning teams in the form of gift certificates for food or drink to the restaurants.
But the highlight of the evening is the “bonus” round. Players individually buy in for $1 and the winning team gets the pot. If no one wins that week, the pot rolls over to the next week. Sometimes it grows to several hundred dollars.
And where do those obscure, sometimes tricky questions come from? That’s up to the trivia host. The host researches categories and develops questions. It’s up to them to verify answers. Ruybal spends Sundays watching football and scouring the Internet for trivia in preparation for the upcoming week.
“Some people shy away from playing because they are worried they won’t know any of the answers,” Ruybal said. “But it’s a game and meant to be fun. We put a lot of effort into making sure it’s a fun night for everyone.”