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What are Some Billiards Games?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Billiards describes games that are played using cue sticks and balls on a cloth-covered, rectangular table. Pocket billiards games are played on a table with pockets and often use many balls, while carom billiards games are played on a table without pockets and use only two object balls and one cue ball. Billiards games are considered to be in the classification of cue sports, or pool games. Some types of billiards games are: cut throat, eight ball, nine ball, pocket billiards or straight pool, and English billiards.

English billiards was the main billiard game played in Britain from 1770 until 1920. Snooker became more popular in Britain after 1920. Both snooker and English billiards are cue sports played on a six-pocketed table, but English billiards uses only three balls while Snooker uses 22 balls. Billiards became popular in France and the United States as well as in many other countries in the world.

Straight pool, or continuous pocket billiards, uses 15 balls in the rack and the break has to have the cue ball as well as two of the other balls, called object balls, go to the rail. If the three balls do not go to the rail, two points are subtracted and the opponent can choose to have the breaker try again or accept the table for him or her self. When calling each shot, both the ball and the pocket must be named.

In the billiards game known as nine ball only the lowest numbered nine balls are used. Whoever sinks the nine ball on a legal shot wins. A player automatically loses nine ball with three fouls, or misses, in a row.

The billiards game eight ball, also called American eight ball, has many variations in its rules. Some rules state that the winner is the one who sinks the eight ball on a break. Other rules contend that if the eight ball is sunk on a break, it is neither a win nor a loss. British pubs have different rules for British eight ball and the cue balls are also different. In American bars, the cue ball is bigger than the object balls, whereas in British pubs the cue ball is smaller and more lightweight than the object balls.

Cut throat is a billiards game for three people. Cut throat is often played for fun rather than as a skill game. Each player has five balls. Player one has numbers one through five, player two has numbers six through ten and player three has numbers eleven through fifteen. The object of cut throat is to sink the other players' balls and be the only player with one ball left on the table.

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Discussion Comments
By anon140262 — On Jan 07, 2011

anyone know how to play the game "yippig" or at least that's what we called it... it's pretty much like hand hockey on a pool table... forgot how to play. if anyone knows, let me know. thanks

By anon7149 — On Jan 19, 2008

I've been looking all over for some official rules of "French Pool". Back about 14 years ago some guests introduced me to the game, and I've forgotten exactly how it went. The previous posting is almost exactly how I remember the game being played. We did set an upper limit of points, 40 for instance. You'd get a point per pocketed ball. If you ever missed one of the first six, or scratched the que ball, it was the next guy's turn to reset the entire table. It was a game of substantial cue control, and now that I've just gotten my own pool table, I'm trying to recall the game so I can enhance my playing skill level.

By anon1208 — On May 20, 2007

I learned a game on Sam's table, by a man named Sean. He called it "french pool." 1 - 6 are placed in front of the pockets, starting left to right in order, clockwise from the left pocket closest to the shooter. The caller can only call the 2-5. After all six balls are made and the diamond is broken, the caller can call the 1 or 6 as the first shot(as a bank only), not touching the diamond, in the next rotation. This is a game for many to play at once. The person following the 1st shooter calls the 1st ball to be sunk. If the shooter should miss, then the caller is the shooter and a new person will call the shots. But the remaining 7-15 are placed in diamond position like 9-ball. They can not be broken until the six balls sitting in front of the pockets are made by the caller for the shooter. If the shooter misses any of the called shots,it's the callers turn to shoot. Once the six balls at the pockets are made, the diamond can be broke. This is the only time during the shooters turn he /she can miss. From that shot on the remaining balls must be made without missing. The caller doesn't call after breaking on the diamond.

I know this sounds complicated but it goes very quick and everyone gets a turn. It's a test of control on the cue, to line up for the next shot. I still haven't made all 15 balls without messing up!! When any shot is missed, the game starts over, at the beginning, for the next shooter. The game never seems to end, unless all 15 balls are made. If anyone has questions, or a name for this game, let us know.

By anon1206 — On May 20, 2007

I played this game as a young'in with a man named Sam. I now own his old table I learned this game on. He called the container the pill bottle. Therefore we called the game "pill pool".

By anon287 — On Apr 20, 2007

I have a billiard game that uses a jug with little balls numbered from 1-16. I believe the object of the game is that each player draws a numbered ball from the jug and tries to pocket the other apposing players ball, however neither player knows what number the other player has. I believe if a player draws the sixteen ball he automatically wins the game.

Does anyone know the name of this game?

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