10 Different Types of Billiards Games – Do You Know Them All?

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There are actually many different games you can play on a billiards table. Below you'll find 10 different types of games you may not have heard of along with instructions on how to play.

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Eight Ball

This is an incredibly popular game that is sometimes called “spots and stripes,” “solids and stripes,” or “highs and lows.” It’s played on a table that has six pockets and features many variations that tend to be regional.

Each game of eight ball is played with 16 balls and cue sticks. The players start with all of the balls, except for the white cue ball, racked together in the center of the table and then use their cue stick and cue ball to break the balls apart. Players are assigned to either try to pocket the seven striped balls or the seven solid balls.

Once a player has pocketed all of their seven balls, then they can try to pocket the black eight ball, which will end the game and cause them to win. Players can also win if their opponent accidentally pockets the eight ball before their time or accidentally knocks the black eight ball off of the table.

Nine Ball

This is a more contemporary game and while it was originally known for being played solely for money, it has recently come into its own as a legitimate game. It’s the dominant tournament game in a number of professional pool associations for a few reasons. Not only do games progress quickly, but they are fast paced, which tends to be very engaging.

There are 10 balls on the table, one of which is the white cue ball. Players attempt to pocket the nine ball to win the game, but to do that they must first contact that ball by the cue ball.

All balls except the cue ball are placed on the center of the table to begin and then players break the rack to break apart the balls. A player can win by hitting the lowest ball and pocketing the nine ball without fouling.

There are many different rules and variations that have been created, resulting in many derived games, like six-ball, seven-ball, and ten-ball.

14.1 Continuous – Straight Pool

While this used to be the top game used in championship competition, faster playing games have recently overtaken it because straight pool tends to be much slower in pace. Players can attempt to shoot any ball into a pocket as long as it is hit first by the cue ball.

Fifteen object balls are racked in the center of the table. Breaking the rack has a few rules, and one is that there must be two balls plus the cue ball that touch the rail after the rack. While players can shoot to pocket any ball that they want, they must first call the ball they will sink, as well as the pocket where they are going to send it.

Players earn points for every ball that they legally pocket. The object is to reach a certain number of points during the game.

One Pocket

While there are six pockets on the table during this game, only one pocket per player is used. Players compete to try to score points, and earn them when they pocket an object ball into their chosen pocket.

Balls can be respotted if players pocket a ball into a pocket other than their designated pocket or their opponent’s pocket. Pocketing a ball into the opponent’s pocket ends the turn and gives the opponent a point.

Players can lose points if they foul, and three consecutive fouls will lose the game. Another way that this game is different from straight pool is that players do not need to call their shots.

During this game, the balls are placed randomly around the table. The first player to shoot is able to choose a foot corner pocket that they are going to shoot into, and their opponent will automatically have to shoot into the other foot corner pocket.


This game is generally played by three players or by a team with a standard set of balls. Every player is assigned five numbered balls, and the goal is to be the last player with one of their balls still on the table.

Players can continue to play as long as they are able to legally pocket a ball on every shot. Additionally, they can choose to pocket one of their own balls if it will help them strategically, which sometimes can give a strong player a great advantage.

When a player doesn’t have anymore of their five balls left on the table, then they are eliminated and no longer able to play; however, some players can get back into the game if their opponents accidentally scratch.

There are multiple variations on this game that allow more players to play, permit multi-game scoring, or have alternative spotting and scratching rules.

English Billiards

This is a combination game that combines pocket billiards and carom billiards. There are two cue balls, as well as a red object ball in the game. The different teams or players use different cue balls.

Players start the game by seeing who will go first by hitting their cue ball up the table to bounce off of the cushion and return. The player who gets their cue ball closer to the baulk cushion chooses who will break.

This game is scored, and players earn points in a few different ways. They can earn points by striking the cue ball to hit the red and other cue ball, striking the red ball so it will enter a pocket, striking the other cue ball so it will enter a pocket, or striking a ball with the cue ball and then having the cue ball enter the pocket.

There are multiple fouls, and each one will result in points being given to the opponent.


Also called “carambola,” carom billiards is played on pocketless tables that can sometimes have heated slate as the playing bed. The idea of the game is to score points by sending a cue ball off of the opponent’s cue ball and then into an object ball with just one shot.

There are many different variations of carom billiards. The most popular game played is straight rail, which doesn’t have a scoring restriction and is incredibly popular in Europe.

Balkline offers more rules that can be used to help curb nursing techniques. While there are a number of variations of balkline, all of them result in the table being divided into preset regions that are known as balk spaces.

Artistic billiards is probably the most interesting of all of the carom billiards variations. It requires players to perform 76 different shots. They all differ in difficulty and have a maximum point value that the player can earn, depending on their execution of the shot.


This is played on a traditional table with six pockets, but requires 22 colored balls, as well as a white cue ball. Players have to use the cue ball to strike the colored balls to pocket them in the right sequence.

Every time that a player is able to pocket a ball, they earn points. Players continue to take shot after shot as long as they are able to continue to pocket their balls. Additionally, players can earn points if their opponent fouls.

Fouls are common for a lot of reasons, but the most obvious reason for a foul is when a player doesn’t hit the right ball or accidentally hits the cue ball and sends it into a pocket.

Power Snooker

Power snooker is a very popular variation of snooker and is designed to be much more exciting and faster than the original game, which is enjoyable not only for players, but also for spectators. Players play in matches that are timed and use nine red balls during the 30 minutes.

The balls are re-racked after every frame until the 30 minutes is up, and the winner is the player who was able to earn the most points in the half hour. Additionally, there is a shot clock that times 20 seconds for each shot.

Scoring is the same as in traditional snooker, but players can keep their turn as long as they are able to cause two red balls to hit the cushion. When a player exceeds their 20 second shot limit then they are penalized by 20 points and their opponent has the option to take over the game or allow them to continue playing.

Three Ball

This interesting game is played with a cue ball and only three object balls. It is very common for players and spectators to bet on the outcome of the game. Each player tries to pocket all three of the balls as quickly as possible, using few shots.

While any number of players can play, this game becomes a little difficult to enjoy if more than five players play at once. This game requires much more luck than other billiards games, as it is difficult to actually pocket any balls on the break.

While there are no set rules for three ball, players earn points for striking and fouling. Players keep their turn until they pocket all three balls or until they reach a max point limit and concede their turn.

When a player’s turn is over, then the next player gets a fresh rack, and after everyone has played then the player with the lowest score is the winner.