The Blind Draw

The Blind Draw Cornhole

What is a Blind Draw?

In cornhole, a Blind Draw or Swap event is a unique tournament format. Players enter as singles and they get partnered into doubles teams using some form of randomization. It’s called a “blind” draw because you don’t know who you’ll get as a partner. In the past, a director might have drawn names or numbers from a hat. Today it’s more sophisticated. Most blind draw events are now run on computer software or an app. 

A Swap or Switch event is a popular variation on the Blind Draw.  At these events you will get a different partner for each game of a round robin portion of the event. Most swaps are typically 4 games and feed into a tournament.  Standings are created from game stats like W/L record and point differential. Partners are set from this ranking for the tournament portion of the night. No matter if it’s a swap or a traditional Blind Draw, your partners are sure to have some basic expectations for the night. 

Navigating a Blind-Draw can be challenging. Players will encounter a variety of unwritten rules. These “rules” pop-up whether you are playing at a small local event or a big money blind draw. There is a lot to consider when playing in a Blind Draw particularly what your partners will expect from you.  Keeping a few basic rules in mind can help you achieve more success. I like to break down a blind draw into 3 simple concepts: 1. Your Approach, 2. Communication, and 3. Decision Making. By considering and leveraging these three concepts, you will be a better partner and get better results when you play a blind draw. 

The Approach

How your handle yourself and the initial meeting with your partner will go a long way towards getting things going in the right direction. This section of the article deals with a player’s approach to both the blind draw format and their partner.

Getting started.

You’ve chosen to go to a blind draw. If it’s your first time, you might not know what to expect, or more importantly, who you’ll get as a partner. When you go to a blind-draw, take note of the divisions. Directors often use divisions to level the playing field and make it competitive for all players. Divisions may be as simple as Uppers and Lowers. A Director might use PPR (Points Per Round) to help group similar players. If you have questions about what division to play in, check with the director. It’s OK to start in the lower divisions and work your way up. Rarely have I seen a first time player come to their very first organized cornhole event and dominate. You might be that guy. A week in a lower division will make it clear if that is true. Then you can move up next week.

Mutual Respect:

It was once said that you should treat your blind draw partner as if you have drawn the best player in the world. No doubt! Each person in the field deserves to be treated fairly. Like you they are putting themselves out there, and like you they paid to be there. Make sure you give your partner your undivided attention and best effort each and every game. At no time should you quit on your partner, walk out on them or yell at them. It’s not fair to them and is disrespectful. This is great advice no matter what skill level you or your partner are.

The Draw:

When the draw happens, some people will be happy, others not so much. No matter the draw, games have not been played at this point. Looking at the bracket you will see a couple of teams with two good players. There will be teams that are likely overmatched, and there will be teams that fall somewhere in the middle. Remember; doubles is a team game. A player can only control the bags in their hand. Each player will need to play their best for the team to get the best results.

So you’ve drawn a new player or someone who is less skilled. Remember that you CHOSE participate. That player may be excited to play with you. No matter who you’ve drawn, you owe your partner 100% effort with each shot. Maybe you’ve drawn a top player. Remember that no matter how good some players might look on paper, they may not play the style of game needed get a new or less skilled player all the way to the podium. To be fair, the start is not the time to announce you are going to the championship because you drew “pro player A” and it is equally not the time to quit on your partner. It is expected that you give them your undivided attention during each game and do your best. Wins are a product of both players’ performance. BOTH players will need to make smart decisions and try their best to execute good shots in order the team to have a chance at the championship. 

Blind Draw Handshake

The First Meeting:

Meeting your partner for the first time is the first step towards a good night for both players. First impressions go a long way towards good communication. Let your partner know your intentions. Intentions start with why you chose to go to a blind draw in the first place. If you were looking for a fun night–out drinking a couple of beers with your buddies while playing some bags, tell your partner that.  They can relax and have a fun night too!  If you are highly competitive and you went there to try and win, it is important your partner understands this. It’s OK to let your partner know that you are new to competitive cornhole and that you are there to learn. What is important is to communicate your expectations and allow your partner to tell you theirs. You can then decide together what it is you are going to try to do that night as a team.

Be Positive:

Being positive can be hard depending on the draw.  Negativity rarely leads to good result though. Even if you are there to win and you draw a new player, you can adjust your goals. Focus on getting a win or two. It’s possible to get hot and upset someone. This is where you can help a new player. You may not be a coach and when you paid your entry, it didn’t include giving free lessons. That approach is Ok, but you can still call the game and help the new guy learn the ropes.  Calling the game for your team may help your partner minimize damage and maximizing any scoring opportunities. A new player will appreciate the guidance and it could lead to a win or two more than you think. Getting a new player a couple of wins can be rewarding. The main goal most directors have for their local blind draws is to provide and environment for all players to have a good time. Find common ground and work together to achieve a realistic result.

Side Note: It’s always welcomed to offer to buy your new friend a beer no matter what your skill level! A free beer feels like a win and makes for a good night!

Moving Up:

The only thing separating you from big tournament wins are your partners. Right????  Partnering with better players is more fun! Maybe you simply want to play inside with the adults. You might think the blind draw is the perfect time to “play up” but that is not always the best decision. So how do you determine when it’s time to move up? This is a good rule of thumb: you should not sign up for a division where you would not play the best player in a singles game with the entry fee on the line. This may sound harsh. However, ask yourself; “Why should I expect my partner to be excited to play with me if I’m afraid to play against them?” Players know when you are not in the correct division. You’ll see the eye rolls and the lazy bags will be tossed back to you. It’s not right, but it happens. You’ll know it’s time to move up when you are finishing on the podium each week and the other players are mad you are always winning. Until then, be wise. Play in the division you play singles and doubles in. When you move up, move up in all 3 events at the same time.


That first meeting of the night is the beginning of communication with your partner. Since you win and lose as a team, it is important that you communicate about the game and various situations you may face. If your approach is good, this communication should come more naturally.


Some of the first communication you’ll have with a blind draw partner will often be; “What bags do you like?”  Cornhole bags have a wide range of speeds. Each material will react differently to a player’s throw. An unwritten rule of blind draws is that the better player should be able to adjust to their partner’s bags. While fundamentally this is true, that skilled player may also perform better with a bag that is slower or faster than the bag you usually use. A different bag could allow your partner to play a style of game that they cannot execute with your bags. If you are a less skilled player, you may want to put a set of bags in your partner’s hands that they can play at their best with. You may be able to toss near your average game with any bag. having abag that you are comfortable with may be extremely important to you. If so, let your partner know. Ultimately, the choice is a team decision. Talking about the bags with your partner will help both players. It can lead to finding something that works best for both to toss their best.

Inside or Out?:

The follow up question after bags is usually; “Do you like inside or out?”. This is an opportunity for you as a player to let your partner know if you like to throw with your arm over the board (inside) or do you like throwing outside arm. Often for the better player in a blind draw it won’t matter. So if it makes even a minor difference in your being comfortable, this is the time to tell your partner.

Random Stuff:

At a blind draw you could be playing in a bar, outside in a parking lot, or in some otherwise less than perfect cornhole venue. There can be conditions to deal with like an uphill or downhill slope. There may be wind. Courts can be up against a wall with limited room to step out. There can be a number of things to discuss with your partner before playing a game. Addressing these little things that can make a player more comfortable and allow them to perform their at their best. Communication such as this is a vital part of doubles cornhole. If you are communicating before you’ve even thrown a bag, it will carry over into the game itself. This can be the difference in a couple of points. Those couple points might lead to an extra round or two. It could give your team another chance to win a close game.

Decision Time

Cornhole is a simple game. Put your bags in the hole. If you put all 4 in, you can’t lose. Putting more hags in the hole than your opponent usually leads to winning. Simple right? Games will change when situations call for shots other than a simple slide shot. Games are won and lost more often than not when there is a decision to make. A player’s ability to confidently execute a shot other than a slide and knowing when to use those shots can be the difference in winning or losing.

Slide, Slide, Slide:

The slide shot is by far the most common shot in the game. When the board is open or you see a clear lane, the shot is always a slide shot. Don’t overthink it. There isn’t much to discuss when you are going for a simple slide shot. If you are new to the game, the slide shot might not be as consistent as you would like. It is still the right shot 95% of the time.

The Block:

Has your opponent dropped a block? Is there a pile up? Once the lanes and gaps have closed, it’s decision time. This is when you should talk to your partner. Do you lay up? Do you push through a bag? Is the hole open for an airmail? All of these shots are more complicated than an open board slide. Making a good decision is important at these moments. A good shot is based on your skill and what the board is dictating. Good decisions put your team in the best position to score. You may find yourself trying to minimize the damage in a round. Either way this is a team game. The decisions you make on your end put points on the scoreboard that do not come off. Giving up 5 or 6, that can be a huge swing for your opponents and it can crush your partner’s confidence.

Don’t’ freelance. Freelancing is when a player chooses to shoot a shot that is riskier than a slide shot and they haven’t gotten the green light to shoot from their partner. You wouldn’t want your partner to take a high risk shot that could result in giving up big points. You should respect your partner enough to check with them about that airmail and to take shots that are within your skillset.

Blocking: Playing for a block is a high level skill. More often than not, a less skilled will struggle to get a good block down. This will usually result in your opponent scoring. Unless you are well practiced in throwing blocks, the block is a shoot you shouldn’t be thinking throwing. If you feel that blocking is needed, it is an easy conversation during a timeout.


Let’s just put this out there: your airmail is NOT as good as your slide shot. Unless you are Jimmy McGuffin or an airmail specialist (80%+), you likely make your airmail at a much lower percentage than your slide shot. The risk associated with an airmail attempt is much higher than the reward in most instances. Do yourself and your partner a favor and keep that airmail holstered. Unless you communicate with each other and are in agreement, it is rarely time to shoot a high risk shot. This is especially important if you are the “B player”. Unless your partner calls for you to shoot, it’s best to listen to them and to continue tossing your bags down the middle.

Crunch Time:

Games are long when smart decisions are made. The longer the game, the more the nerves will seep into your opponent’s mind and in turn make their way into their fingers. When the game gets around 14 points for one team, you will see the game change. The pressure to perform will increase. This is “Crunch Time”. Communication at this time will help you and your partner play with more confidence and focus. It’s at this time you are going to need to make good decisions. 


Minimizing distractions is important. Food, your partner wants your attention. When you are worried about eating your food while it’s still hot, or when your order will be delivered, your attention is split. You owe your partner your undivided attention and best effort, you can’t be giving them that when you are worried about your dinner.

Chit Chat, cornhole is a social game. It’s OK to talk with your friends. But, if you are giving your partner your best effort, you will be focused on the game and not carrying on a conversation with your buddies behind the board. Your partner is working hard to throw ’em back to you. They expect you to be engaged in the game.

A blind draw is no place for headphones. Talking with and hearing your partner is part of the game. Take your headphones out and play the game together as a team. You are there to play doubles not singles. You can’t listen to your partner if you’re tuned out.

There are other distractions such as not being able to find your partner because they are having a smoke or in the bathroom. Let your partner know if you are stepping away so they can find you when the next game starts.

Blind Draws = Good Times!

We know you want to have fun. Blind Draws should be fun. Fun however is different for everyone. Players need to understand that when they attend a blind draw. Players need to have respect for their partners and the game in order for the blind draw to be fair and fun for all. Both players have paid to be there. Every player owes their partner their undivided attention and their best effort on each shot. Having fun is the result  of a positive approach, good communication and thoughtful decision making. These basic principles will lead to more fun at blind draws and longer, deeper, runs in the brackets.

Ultra Cornhole Blind Draw Winners

Disclaimer: Eric Tscherne is an ACL Pro who has played cornhole in the San Diego area for more than 6 years. Admittedly, he has been both a terrible blind draw partner and a great one depending on the day. In developing this article, Eric considered his experiences as both an up and coming player, and as a high level player. Eric has broken every one of these rules at some point. This article was reviewed by additional local players and directors of varying skill. It isn’t perfect. These rules are a primer for playing in local Blind Draws and Swap events. They are not the end all, be all. 


About Eric Tscherne

American Cornhole League (ACL) professional cornhole player. Team Ultra player since 2019. Tscherne began playing cornhole in 2014 on a beach in San Diego with some local dads on a camping trip. Tscherne is also an Industrial Designer who has been honored for his work on Hot Wheels and PAW Patrol among other toy and animation properties.

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