Billiards Games: 15 Pool Games You Must Try

The evolution of the Billiards can be traced to the 15th century in Northern Europe, where it used to be played as an outdoor lawn game that is similar to croquet. The sport would eventually be moved indoors to game rooms and played with cue sticks on a wooden table lined with a green cloth that simulated the green lawn it was previously played on, with a border all around the table’s edges.

These traditional billiards table games would be played by kings, presidents, commoners, and hustlers as well. Today, Billiards games refer to any type of tactical game that is played on rectangular pool tables that are cushion-railed and cloth-topped, played with a cue stick that is 40 to 60 inches to strike one or more balls towards a given spot.

Two players or two teams play by attacking and defending tactfully so as to score more points against their opponents and reach a given score to win. The player scores by driving a ball against the others or into pockets.

While there is a wide variety of these games, the two main varieties of billiards games are carom and pocket. The pocket billiard, which involves pocketing an object ball, would become quite popular around the world and synonymously be used to refer to the pool game. In this article, we take a look at the various types of games that you can enjoy at a pool table.

15 Games to Play on a Pool Table

3 Ball

The 3-Ball pool game is the quickest billiard game you will ever play! This is because you can win it right from the break depending on how fast you can pocket all the balls, and with the fewest number of shots. Just like it is in the game of pool, the fewer the attempts you make at pocketing numbered balls 1,2, and 3, the better you will fare.

To determine the winner in a game, the player with the lowest scores in a specified number of rounds wins the entire game. The three balls pool is fun, easy to learn, and fast-paced. To play pool, start by placing the cue ball anywhere behind the table’s head string, aiming at where the balls are racked to break the rack in from the lowest numbered object ball to the highest in the least amount of shots that are possible.

This game can be played by more than two players as the rounds are not dependent on a single rack or turn-taking, but preferably up to 5 players. To pick up the pace of the game, set a cut-off score on the number of attempts that a player can have per turn, and the players drop off one by one when they fail to make the shots within the given attempts until one remains and is the winner of the game. It is a foul to pocket the cue ball or knock it off the table, and also double jumping the cue balls.

Learn How to Play 3 Ball:

7 Ball

The 7-ball pool game is a rotation-based pocket billiard that is fantastic for beginners (you guessed it, it has seven balls). The player breaks balls 1-7 that are racked horizontally and then chooses his preferred side of pockets. In the rack, the 7 balls are placed in a sequence starting with the 1, and the 7th ball is placed in the middle.

For the break to count, the player must hit ball 1, then follow through with sequential ball shots till all are sunk. To win the game, the player must sink the balls in descending order and must remember to call the pocket before sinking the 7th ball as the last ball.

8 Ball

Previously known as the” stripes and solids” or “highs and lows” game, the 8 ball pool is a straightforward game that opens with a break when a player hits a rack of 15 billiard balls with a shooting ball. The break should either sink one of the object balls or drive at least four of them to the rail lest it becomes foul and the opponent gets a chance to either shoot with the table as is or re-rack.

A successful break allows the player to take another shot. The players then try to score the solid balls or striped balls into one of the six pockets of the pool table, and then the rest of the type they succeed to sink with the white cue ball. Once the player has succeeded in scoring all of the other balls’ inset, they must “call” a pocket and then sink the 8th ball as the black one into the pool’s pockets. The player that successfully sinks the 8th ball first, wins.

Learn How to Play:

Although ideally designed for two players, the eight-ball game can be played by even-numbered teams where the teams alternate their players in a repeated order. Please note that sinking the cue ball into the pool table’s pockets in the 8 ball pool is a foul known as a scratch, and so is failing to “call” a shot on the 8th ball shot. Also, in the 8 ball game, taking a shot and failing to hit any object ball with the cue ball is a foul.

9 Ball

The 9-ball pool game is one of the common billiards games that is won by the player that pockets the 9th ball first on a majority of the sets of rounds in a match on a standard pool table game. In this game, billiard balls numbered 1-9 are racked in a diamond shape, from where the players alternate striking the cue to attempt and score the 9 balls in ascending order (numerically) using a white ball.

One match comprises several rounds that are played in succession. Should the player score the cue ball into the pool table’s pockets, or fail to make contact first with the ball with the lowest numbered ball that is still in play, those are considered to be player fouls making it the opponent’s cue ball. This is more of a modern one and is popularly played for monetary gain.

The player wins the nine-ball game by hitting the lowest numbered ball, or by successfully pocketing all of the 9 balls. It is considered a foul if a player jumps a ball off the table, pots the cue, and object ball at the same time knocks the number 9 ball off the table, or fails to play with at least one foot on the floor.

15 Ball

The 15-ball pool game is very similar to the 9-ball billiard game of pool. The main difference with this point-based pool game is that the players must always call the shots that they wish to make first, and also pocket the balls in ascending order. It pretty much follows the same rules that the 9-ball game does, only that the points awarded are slightly different.

The numbers on each legally pocketed ball determine the number of points a player gets, and the winner will be the player that hits the 61 points mark first, which is over half the total number of points on 15 balls.

So the players aim for the objects with the highest numbers first to get more points, and each player gets only one shot whether they make the shot or miss. Pocketing a cue ball together with the object ball does not earn you any points, and the ball gets re-spotted giving the opposing player a chance to play.

Check the Rules Out:

Baseball Billiards

This game is named after the 9 “innings” that a baseball billiards player is allowed before the game that requires a cue ball and 21 object balls end. The number 1 ball is placed at the triangle’s apex, numbers 2 and 3 in each corner, and the number 9 ball in the middle.

Each player gets to break at their 9-inning, and balls pocketed by the player as they break are scored as per their ball number. Each player is entitled to nine innings and the one with the most points, in the end, wins the game. A scratch or missing to call a shot in this billiard table game before you can pocket a ball is a foul.

Cutthroat Pool

This is an interesting group pool game where after the usual break, the players play to pocket each other’s balls, where the billiards balls are numbered and split into three groups and each assigned to one of the three players. This unique billiards game is played by three players or teams in multiples of three, with ball numbers in three ranges of 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and 11 to 15 for each player or team.

You rack and break the game the same way you do an 8 ball pool game. Once the first ball is sunk, pull it up and look at its number to determine the number range of the player, then put it back in the center dot. The next player will then re-rack and do the same thing to determine their range, and the other balls left to go to the 3rd player /team.

To win, the player must pocket all their opponent’s balls before the opponent can pocket theirs, while also defending their own ball set from being pocketed. The cutthroat game is an aggressive one, and the last man standing and the one that wins the game is the one that has most of their balls still on the table.

The player with the most balls left on the table, even if there is only one ball on the table, becomes the ultimate winner. Scratching the cue is a foul and would negate the pocket, and so is striking an object with the cue accidentally. The battle is to ensure as you pocket your opponents, your ball on the table is secure.

One Pocket

One pocket is a game of pool that is based on skill, where the skilled players look to be the ones to score all eight balls first, while also watching out to not leave their opponents some good open shots. The game has 6 pockets, but each player can only pocket the balls into one pocket per turn.

The balls do not have to be organized in a specific way on the table like from the lowest ball to the highest, as long as the main rule that all balls get pocketed in only one pocket gets observed, and each player has to have a different pocket.

Playing smart and sinking in the specified pocket earns the player points to win the game. However, should the player pocket the object ball into an opponent’s pocket, it becomes a foul and the opponent earns a point. Registering 3 consecutive fouls will have the player automatically lose to their opponents. Jumping the cue ball or knocking it off the table is considered a foul.

Learn How to Play One Pocket:


Are you familiar with the 10-pin bowling game? Well, that is where the Bowlliards pool game borrows its traits from. Bowlliards is like bowling on a pool table, where the game starts with 10 balls racked on the pool table’s lower side, that a player breaks and then tries to pocket as many of these balls as possible until such a point that they miss or commit a foul.

Just as in bowling, the players attempt to pocket all the balls without scratching or missing a shot. The player who gets the highest score after the maximum of 10 frames becomes the winner

Straight Pool

Straight pool is a fun pool game whose objective is to sink in as many balls as possible, irrespective of their number or color. It is an easy game compared to the other pool games that do not have as many rules as, for example, the 8 ball pool game. Racking too is simple, where 15 balls are racked in the triangle in the middle of the table without following any order as either way, any one of them is worth one point.

The players then strike and pocket a ball after first calling it out and announcing the pocket they will be sinking it. To play, the players flip a coin to decide on which shooter to break the game. Should the shooter break and sink a ball, they get a point and shoot again. However, if nothing is pocketed, then it is the opponent’s rerack cue ball and their turn to take a shot.

This goes on throughout the game, where every time a player sinks a ball, they take another shot. Should they fail to pocket a ball, then it becomes the opponent’s ball. The players win according to their points rankings, which they normally earn according to the number of balls that they have successfully pocketed. The winner is the one with the most points.

Check the Rules Out:

Kelly Pool

The Kelly pool game is played with 15 items that are numbered 1 to 15, which could be pills, peas, or beads. Each player is given the numbered beads as a way of getting assigned a private number, and each player pockets their secret number to win the game.

To play this billiard pool game, each player should first hit the lowest numbered ball using the cue ball, and should they also pocket their secret number while doing this, they win the game. Some version of the game has the players winning by getting points when they pocket their secret numbers, and the first player to reach a certain predetermined legal shot score wins automatically.

Bank Pool

In the bank pool game, all shots are only legally potted once they have been called. The game is racked with 15 balls and a cue ball at the table’s foot spot, either placed in a triangle or a random order. A coin flip or any other pre-agreed method is used to determine the player that breaks.

Any ball that gets pocketed on the break is re-spotted and doesn’t count, but the move does grant the player the right to keep shooting the ball till they either foul, scratch, miss a shot, or win by a legal shot. This is a fun but challenging game, where the player can bounce the ball off one cushion or more, but should always call the ball, the cushions, and the pocket to hit.

Generally speaking, all shots should be called in full, as any shots not called are illegal and the pocketed ball from such a shot should be re-spotted at the table’s foot stop. After a called shot, the called ball should go to the called pocket. The player who legally pockets more object balls and each after a called shot, that is the first 8 balls out of 15 and in no particular order wins the bank pool game.

Check out These GREAT Bank Shots:

Bottle Pool

Bottle pool/billiards is a billiards hybrid game that is a combination of pocket and carom billiard games. The game, which is played on a standard table, uses a cue ball and a narrow-necked shake/tally bottle made of leather. The game combines the elements of straight pool, chess, and billiards games to offer you an intriguing game.

For the table set up, the red and yellow object balls are placed at the foot end near each corner pocket and against the straight rail, with the bottle in the center resting on its mouth. The player then breaks with the cue ball from behind the head string and tries to shoot at one of the two object balls and into corner pockets.

To score, the player must legally pocket ball 1 or 2 in a corner pocket and score as per the ball’s numerical value (1& 2 points respectively), carom the cue ball off the two balls (1 point), caroming off one or both object balls with the cue ball and then knocking it into the bottle and onto its side (5 points), and an automatic win would be caroming the ball off object balls and into the bottle and knocking it onto its base.

Rotation Pool

The rotation pool is also known as the Chicago pool, which has a lot of similarities with the Kelly pool billiard games. Played with 15 object balls, the rotational pool has each player get one shot per turn, whether they get to pocket the ball or not.

In this game, there are several ‘money balls’ that are assigned money, and the player gets to keep the money assigned to that particular money ball should they pocket one. The winning player in this billiard table game will be the one that hits the 61 points on the balls pocketed first.

Russian Pyramid

This is possibly the most challenging yet fun billiards pocket game you will ever play in a pool hall. The game has 14 white object balls and a yellow cue ball. The Russian pyramid billiard games balls a little larger than the standard pool ones and the pockets a little smaller too, which can make potting of the balls a little challenging but fun still.

The balls are racked in the center and to break, the player uses a cue ball placed right in front of the home line. To win, the player must be the first to pocket 8 balls, and it is pretty straightforward as the players don’t have to nominate the pockets beforehand or pocket the balls in any order.

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What is the difference between billiards and snooker?

Billiards and snooker differ mainly in the number of balls and scoring. Billiards only uses 3 pool balls: yellow ball, white ball, and red ball, and either the white or yellow can be used as the cue ball with the objective being scoring set points.

On the other hand, the snooker uses 21 balls in total: 1 cue ball, 15 reds, and 6 colored balls. The player must pot the red object ball first, followed by a color, and so on, with the player that scores more points at the end of the frame winning.

What is the difference between pool and billiards?

Many people still use the term billiards to refer to a pool game. The major difference, however, is this: While billiards refers to any tabletop game that is played using cue balls and a cue stick, pool table games are a type of billiard game that has 6 billiard pockets.

What’s the first shot in pool called?

The first shot in a pool game is called a break. It is when a player makes the first hit at the racked object balls with a cue ball in billiards games.

Final Thoughts

There is a wide variety of Billiard games that are fun and enjoyable to both the players and the spectators alike. So, the next time you are enjoying some cue sports, be open to trying out a couple of other games that are variants of the pool table games. However, to enjoy any of these pool games, you must remember to have all the basic equipment.

We are talking about having a billiards/pool table, billiard balls, cue sticks for the players, cue chalk, and a racking triangle. Go out there and try the various billiards games found on this list. We are pretty sure you will find some billiards games that will create some memorable fun times with friends and family.

Updated on 04-25-21