All You Need to Know About The Game of Pool/Billiard

When you are first learning to play billiards/pool, it can seem like an art form.

There are a variety of different terms, strategies, and variations that you must learn in addition to simply sinking the ball into the pocket.

However, you’re going to have so much fun playing that you’ll forget all that. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about the game of pool/billiard.

Why Play Pool? 

The game of billiards/pool has been played by everyone from the common folk to royalty and is a favorite of many people today.

While it’s true that the appearance of the pool table and cue stick have evolved into a more sleek and effective design, the love for this game keeps spreading.

Here are a few reasons why you should play pool:

  • One thing to keep in mind is that this game doesn’t require you to be physically athletic- but you do need to have a sharp mind and always think ahead to your next shot. 
  • Many people enjoy mingling, playing, and even listening to music in pool rooms.
  • By putting a pool table in your basement/home you may be able to keep your teens- and their friends in your home.
    • They will be able to enjoy the competition, socialization, and have fun with their friends in an environment that is safe and secure.
  • Playing this game is a fun way to relax after a long day.
  • Playing this game will provide you with an appreciation for a sport involving creativity and skill.
    • In addition, it’s a sport that can develop into a professional, profitable hobby.

All You Need to Play Pool 

In the billiard/pool world, you’ll always hear about gadgets/gizmos that promise to be the only thing you’ll ever need.

However, when you look past the hype and take a closer look at the daily activities of pool players, there are a few things you will realize you must have to become a good player yourself.

Here are a few of those- assuming you already have your cues:

Case

You might be surprised, but there are lots of pool players that do not have a quality case to keep their pool cue in.

However, if you’re going to be traveling with your cue, it’s important that you have a case to protect it.

Cue Cleaner

The more you use your cue, the more dirt is going to accumulate on it. You need something that you can give it a quick wipe down between racks.

Shaft Sanders/Burnishing Papers

While it’s true that a topical cleaner is going to get most of the dirt/grime off your cue, at some point you’ll need to do a deep clean on it.

The best way to do this is with shaft sanders/burnishing papers.

Scuffers/Shapers

Every pool player has their own favorite tip scuffer- but regardless of the brand you choose, they all do the same thing.

They scuff up the tip of your cue to maximize retention of chalk.

Every pool player knows that the better your cue retains the chalk, the less likely you will be to miscue.

Joint Protectors

If you are concerned about the life of your pool cue, consider investing in a set of joint protectors/joint caps.

They protect your pool cue joint/pin from damage, and keep your cue safer.

Break Cue

If you know anything about pool, one if the first rules is that you never break with your own cue.

Instead, use a break cue- it has a stronger tip and in some cases, the joints have been reinforced.

Even if you don’t use a break cue, avoid using your shooting cue to break.

Hand Towel

Since this is such a basic tool, a hand towel is necessary to help dry off the sweat, grease, and grime on your hands over the course of the evening.

After all, you don’t want it getting all over your cue.

Keeping your hands clean will keep your cue clean, which will make your stroke that much smoother.

Pocket Marker

If you play in an 8-ball league, you’re going to need a pocket marker. This is used to indicate the hole that you plan to sink the 8-ball into.

Coin Holder

Chances are, in most cases, you’ll be playing a coin-operated pool table. So, unless you enjoy walking around jingling, you’ll want to get a coin holder.

Most of them hold up to $10 in quarters and fit in the pocket of your case.

Entertainment

When you’re playing in a tournament, you’ll have plenty of down time between matches, so you’ll want something to keep yourself occupied.

Bring a book, your iPod/MP3 player, a deck of cards, anything to help pass the time.

How to Play Pool 

Now, let’s take a closer look at the game itself- the different types of pool games and the basic game rules.

Different Types of Pool Game

8-Ball

The game of 8-Ball is played using 15 balls and the cue ball. In order to win the game, you must pocket the 8-ball after pocketing all 7 of your other balls (stripes or solids).

 When racking for 8-ball, you need to place the 8-ball right in the center, a stripe ball in one back corner and a solid in the other. Then, the rest of the balls can go in any order.

9-Ball

The game of 9-Ball uses balls 1-9 and the cue ball. The object of the game is to sink the 9-ball.

Legal shots cause the cue ball to first touch the lowest numbered ball on the table- but that ball does not have to be the one that is pocketed to continue your turn.

In order to rack for 9-Ball, you’ll place the balls in a diamond shape at the front of the rack.

The 9-ball should be in the center and the 1-ball should be in the front.

One Pocket

When playing One Pocket, the winner must pocket 8 balls out of the 15 into one of the pockets on the table.

The pocket that will be used is determined at the beginning of the match. If you end up sinking a ball into your opponent’s pocket, that counts as a point for them.

If a ball is pocketed in a non-target pocket, it must be placed back on the table.

You will rack the same for One Pocket that you do for 8-Ball.

14.1 Continuous

In this pool game, you call which ball is going to sink into which pocket- you get one point for each successful shot.

After you have pocketed 14 balls, you return them to the table and rack them again, leaving the front space vacant.

You must then try to pocket the 15th ball without disturbing the newly racked balls.

The first player to reach 150 points is the winner. You will rack the same for this game as you do for 8-Ball.

Cutthroat/Elimination

This is a 3-player pool game in which you will try to pocket the balls of the other two players.

The balls are divided into 3 groups: 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15. You can determine which player has which group before the match starts or assign groups as they are pocketed.

If you scratch, one ball of each opponent is returned to the table, even if one player is already out of balls.

As long as you pocket a ball- even if it’s your own- you keep playing.

Game Rules

Keep in mind, though athleticism is not a requirement for playing pool, it does require some skill and some thinking ahead.

There are a few rules for this game, but it is going to take you some time to master.

You must understand what will cause you to lose a turn so that you can stay in the game as long as possible.

Following are some of the basic rules for the game of pool. Rules apply to all types of pool games unless otherwise specified in the specific game rules.

Setting Up/Pre-Game 

When you rack the balls, you must use the triangle. The spot on the end of the table is known as the foot spot and the apex/top of the triangle is positioned here.

Breaking 

At the beginning of the game, one player will use the cue to hit the cue ball at the racked balls.

If a ball is not pocketed on the break, the other player has an opportunity.

Whichever ball you pocket- solid or stripe- will determine the balls that you will aim for the rest of the game.

Playing the Game 

Turns alternate between players, with each one being given a chance to hit a ball into a pocket. You will use the cue to hit the cue ball to knock the others into the pocket.

You can never touch the cue ball to move it, unless the other player has scratched.

Then, you are given the opportunity to place the cue ball behind the head line on the table- which is an imaginary line connecting the dots on either side of the table near the head.

The 8-ball must be left on the table until all of the solids or stripes have been pocketed.

If you pocket the 8-ball and you still have balls on the table, you automatically lose.

Fouls 

There are some billiards fouls that are interference. For example, if anything touches a ball that is moving, it’s known as interference.

That is, if one player happens to be hanging over the edge of the table and their clothes get in the way, it is interference and the other player gets to shoot.

If you miss the cue ball or push it instead of hitting it, you lose your turn entirely.

Finally, if you do hit the ball and it bounces/jumps off the table, you lose your turn.

Pool Tournaments 

While it’s true that you don’t have to be athletic to play pool, you do need to be prepared to play.

After all, this is the most important part of playing your best- and starts a long time before you reach the table.

So, when you enter a pool tournament, keep the following suggestions in mind to enhance your overall performance.

Eat Healthy

You must make sure that you are eating healthy and avoiding heavy meals so that you can avoid fatigue.

Also, make sure that you’re eating the appropriate amount of food- just enough that you’re not hungry but not so much that you’re stuffed.

Snacks such as nuts, apples, and bananas can help you maintain your energy.

Foods that are low in starch content will help ensure that you remain focused and calm during your match.

In addition, you need to make sure that you are well hydrated. Studies show that dehydration decreases your ability to perform at your best.

Mentally Prepare Yourself

As you are heading to the tournament, try playing a match in your head and running out.

Think about what it feels like to play a round where you put a good stroke on each shot. 

The whole idea behind this exercise is to ingrain some positive images into your subconscious, which helps increase your chances of making those positive thoughts/images a reality.

Develop a Routine & Don’t Judge Yourself

Observe some professional pool players and their pre-match routines. If they are preparing for success, it only makes sense that you should too.

Another thing to remember is that the way you are shooting during your warm up is not an indication of how you will be shooting during the tournament.

Develop a habit of not judging your pre-match performance.

Begin with the Simple Shots

One of the best ways that you can get started in coordinating your mental and physical abilities are with the simple, medium-speed shots.

Keep in mind that you want to work on visualizing what you want to do and learn to get a feel for your surroundings.

Get a Feel for the Table

As you are warming up with the simple shots, work on trying as many different ones as you can from a variety of angles.

This will help you get those creative juices flowing and get your positivity up.

In addition, this will help you become more familiar with the speed of the table.

Avoid Technical Thoughts

Understand that once you start warming up before a tournament, it’s time to start playing- practice has ended.

Don’t focus so much on the mechanics of your strokes.

 You need to be at a point where you have some confidence in your abilities and visualizing shots. It’s time to play the game.

Practice Pre-Shot Routine

In addition to the above, you must work on your pre-shot routine that you use before all of your shots.

This will help you build a solid foundation to ensure a high-quality performance- and this is the only thing you are in complete control of.

Maintain Positivity

When you are playing pool- especially in a tournament- a positive attitude is critical.

Do what you need to put yourself in the best frame of mind so that you can play to the best of your ability.

This means that you should be having fun and enjoying yourself- promise yourself that you’ll love playing, regardless of whether you win or lose.

Have No Expectations

While it can be difficult, you should never expect to win the game.

Keep in mind that this is a very fickle game and sometimes the balls just simply will not cooperate.

 Regardless of how well you have played, sometimes it’s just not your time to win. 

The balls have no loyalty to anyone at all and sometimes they simply don’t want you to win.

Pay Attention to the Process

Regardless of the circumstances, it’s critical to put your focus on the process and not worry so much about the results.

If you think about it, it’s actually pretty exciting to not know exactly what is going to happen.

Really, the only thing you are in control of at this time is the process of making sure that you put a good stroke on the cue ball when it’s your turn.

Best Pool Table Brands 

When it comes to buying pool table, there are lots of things to keep in mind. There are so many quality levels, sizes, and styles to choose from.

You can make a plan for what to buy by setting a spending limit, measuring the room you plan to place the table in, and thinking through which type is best for you.

Keep in mind that a pool table is more than an entertainment- it can enhance your room.

Here are a few guidelines for purchasing a pool table:

Start by shopping at the right store. 

While it’s true that most sporting goods stores or department stores do often sell pool tables, you’re not likely to interact with someone that knows a whole lot about them.

If you want something quick and easy, this is fine.

However, if you prefer to get a quality table and know what you’re getting, a specialty store is going to be your best option.

If this is not a viable option for you, do some research and have an idea of specific brands/tables you want to see before you go shopping.

Look over the pool table and feel free to ask questions. 

In order to make an informed purchase, it’s necessary to ask some questions about the table that you are considering purchasing.

If the employees are unable to answer your questions, ask them if they have any consumer info on the tables you’re looking at.

They should be able to provide you with something.

Do more research after you’ve visited a few stores and have some tables in mind that you’re interested in. 

In addition to learning more about manufacturer specs, you’ll want to locate some user reviews to see how people feel about that specific table.

After all, this is going to be a pretty large investment, you want to make sure you’re getting a quality product.

If possible, you’ll want to hire someone that is familiar with handling and installation of pool tables. 

After all, you don’t want to risk putting it together wrong or breaking it during the move.

Whenever possible, you’ll want to obtain a warranty. 

Most of the time they do come with one that covers repairs for typical wear and tear.

However, you may want to pay a little extra for the extended warranty.

You don’t want to make such a large purchase only to have something go wrong in a few years without an option to have it repaired.

Now that you have some guidelines for purchasing a pool table, take a look at this list of best pool table brands for home use.

These will cost you under $2000.

  • The Olhausen Grace
  • The Legacy Riley
  • The Brunswick Tremont
  • The Brunswick Black Wolf

Best Pool Cue Brands 

When it’s time to purchase a new pool cue, there are several ways that you can be sure you choose the one that is right for you.

Of course, you’ll first need to set your budget and decide whether you want a one-piece or two-piece cue.

Before you purchase a cue, you need to hold it and check out a few things: the wrap, weight, and straightness.

You should be able to test the cue out on a pool table to be sure it will work for you.

Here are a few guidelines for choosing a pool cue:

While you’re going to spend a lot on a pool table- 

A pool cue really isn’t something that you really need to go into debt for. So, be completely honest with yourself about what you can afford.

When you have a budget in mind, it will help you be selective about the cue that you choose.

For home use, a one-piece cue is perfectly fine. 

It doesn’t come apart- so they’re not meant to travel. 

Typically, these are the best option for home use because they are a little cheaper. 

Of course, that’s not to say they can’t travel, it’s just harder to travel with them. The major disadvantage is that they tend to warp over time.

For traveling/competitive play, purchase a two-piece cue. 

These will typically come with a case to make traveling with it easier.

If you feel it’s better, you can purchase a two-piece for home use, but it’s not necessary. 

One advantage of the two-piece cue is that if the shaft starts to warp, you can buy a new one and retain the butt.

You’ll want to make sure the cue is the proper length for your height. 

Typically, a one-piece cue is about 57” and a two-piece is 58”.

However, children and those who are below average height need one that is 48” or 52”.

On the other hand, players who are over 6’5” should special order a cue that is 61” long.

Test the Cue 

Once you have the basics in mind as listed above, you should always test the cue before you take it home. You don’t want to get home and be unhappy with your purchase.

  • A pool cue weighs between 17-21 ounces and most players prefer 19-20 ounces.
    • The weight of the cue does have an effect on your shot, so make sure you can easily manage it.
  • When holding the cue, your back hand is on the wrap.
    • Since your skin will have the most contact with this part, you’ll want it to be comfortable.
    • Some options for wraps include linen and leather, but some have no wrap.
    • If your hands tend to get sweaty, you’ll definitely want one instead of trying to play with the bare fiberglass or wood.
    • You can’t choose this just by looking at it- you have to feel it to make sure it feels good.
  • Check the straightness of the cue by holding the butt at eye level and looking down the length.
    • Then, slowly spin it around to see the entire surface. You are checking for any abnormalities in the cue.
    • You should only buy one that is completely straight.
  • Cue tips have an effect on the way you play.
    • You can get a soft, medium, or hard tip. The softer ones are nice if you put spin on the cue ball.
    • On the other hand, the hard tip will last longer. When it comes to a new cue, medium tip comes standard.
  • If possible, you need to test the cue before you purchase it.
  • If you are at a pool table/recreational store, they should have tables set up. Get yourself into your shooting position and take a few shots.
    • If they don’t have this option available, ask what their return policy is.
    • After all, you can’t be sure the cue is right for you unless you use it.

With these guidelines for buying a pool cue in mind, let’s take a look at the best pool cue brands:

  • Lucky Cues
  • Star Pool Cues
  • Sledgehammer
  • McDermott
  • Stinger

Conclusion 

 As you can see, in addition to sinking the ball into the pocket, there are lots of other things such as strategies, terms, and variations that you need to learn. 


Of course, you want to be good at it and win- but the truth is that you just need to relax and have fun.