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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 04/15/2008

Play Video Games, Win Big

By Fritz Hahn

You've spent hours practicing the lightning-fast Slayer and Metallica riffs in Guitar Hero, and you've pumped an endless stream of quarters into Big Buck Hunter while going after those big horn sheep. Shouldn't you be rewarded for your dedication?

A number of bars think so. Video game competitions are the new Texas Hold 'Em poker nights, bringing in new customers and encouraging regulars to hang out longer. Below is a list of bars that let you play for cash and prizes, as well as places where you can drop by during the week for a cold beer and a chance to hone your Wii Bowling skills.

Guitar Hero | Big Buck Hunter | Rock Band | Bars With Wiis

Guitar Hero

Kirkpatrick's Irish Pub
Wednesday at 9:30
The Ashburn bar's new Wii night is really two tournaments in one. First up is Guitar Hero, with the high scores earning restaurant gift cards and other prizes. Once everyone's had a chance to rock out, the bartenders swap heavy metal for the Wii Sports collection and host golf or bowling competitions. Everyone gets $3 bottles of Sam Adams seasonal beers.

Champs Americana
Thursdays at 10
Work on your moves as well as your hammer-on skills before coming out to Pentagon Row, because the weekly $50 prize winner is determined by audience applause, not high score. There's a monthly tournament - usually held one of the last two Thursdays - with $200 for the winner. Drink specials include $15 Corona buckets and $4.50 pints of Sam Adams beers.

Hard Times Cafe
Friday at 9
A few dozen people turn up every week for Guitar Hero night at the restaurant's Woodbridge branch. Prizes include $25 in cash and restaurant gift certificates for the high scores. A DJ spins tunes in between rounds.

Practice Time: While there aren't any prizes offered, hit McFadden's on Monday, when the TVs in the back room are reserved for Guitar Hero and Rock Band from 5 to close, and drink specials include $2 Rolling Rocks. During Wednesday's game night, skip the board games for more Guitar Hero action from 5 to midnight. Daily specials include $10 buckets of Bud Light bottles and half-price burgers.

Tuesdays at Rhino Bar are shared between Guitar Hero and karaoke -- sit through a few '80s hits and '90s hip-hop songs before a chance to wow the crowd by wailing on a plastic guitar. It can be maddening, but a lot of fun, and manager David Nelson tells me that the bar may start hosting Wii baseball competitions later this summer, which sounds promising. Heineken, Heineken Light and Dos Equis bottles are $3 all night.

Big Buck Hunter

Wednesday at 9 through April 30.
Many people in D.C. spend at least part of their evenings firing shotguns at elk, mountain lions and raccoons. Thankfully for the National Zoo, we're talking about Big Buck Hunter, and the rifles are just plastic. Though the number of establishments offering this game is relatively small, it's the subject of a month-long tournament at Garrett's in Georgetown. Winners take home baseball tickets and other prizes.

Practice Time: Try you hand at Big Buck Hunter at Pharmacy Bar, Solly's or Duffy's in D.C., or Ragtime, Carpool and the Front Page in Arlington.

Rock Band

The Reef
Tuesday at 8
This one just started last week, so it isn't a competition yet, but owner Brian Harrison says that "if enough people show up and they get really good at it," he'll consider a weekly game with prizes. Bring your own three-man team (singer, guitarist, drummer) or show up solo and try to find a band to join. Hint: Drummers are always in demand. Bell's Two Hearted Ale is $3 a pint all night.

Practice Time: McFadden's runs Rock Band during the Monday and Wednesday Guitar Hero nights (see Guitar Hero listings for more information).

Here Wii Go

Want to play around on a Wii but don't have one at home? Try one of these bars, which have consoles for their patrons' use.

Bedrock Billiards: Available daily, but there's a fee: $12 per hour for two players Sunday through Wednesday, and $14 per hour Thursday through Saturday.

Continental: Again, it costs $12 per hour hour to rent the Wii.

Cue Bar: Laced, an arty hip-hop party held on the third Thursday of the month, features a Wii on one of the bar's huge projection TVs. There's no charge to get in. Check out the art installations or show off your Wii bowling skills.

Doubletree Hotel Bethesda: There's a Wii loaded with sports games in an alcove off the bar of the O.Z. Restaurant. It's free to play, as long as you buy drinks.

The Front Page: The Ballston Branch of the Front Page brings out its video game system Sunday through Tuesday in the back bar. There's no charge.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 15, 2008; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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RiRa has free Wii as well

Posted by: DC | April 18, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Buck Hunter can be found at Big Hunt as well.

Posted by: cha | April 19, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Rocket Bar also has Buck Hunter

Posted by: Chinatown | April 29, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

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