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What is Bumper Pool?

By D Frank
Updated May 23, 2024
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Bumper pool is a great game that can bring hours of daily entertainment to players. A bumper pool table differs from a standard pool table in that it table only has two pockets (holes) whereas the standard pool table has six pockets. Furthermore, the table contains 12 bumpers, two each that sit beside the hole at the far end of each side of the table, while the remaining 8 bumpers are situated around the middle of the table. These bumpers are used by players trying to bank their ball into the opposition's hole. While the standard pool game has 15 balls in solid and stripe form, in bumper pool each player has five balls — red versus white. The tables come in a variety of sizes but the regulation size is roughly 54 inches (1.37 meters) by 30 inches (0.76 meters). These tables typically have a green felt fabric covering a slate or wood base.

To begin play in bumper pool, each player lines up their five balls at opposite ends of the table. Each player will have one ball with a dot on it. This ball will be placed just in front of the pocket and must be shot, using a cue stick, into the opponent's pocket before a player can shoot at any of the other balls. The goal of bumper pool is to be the first player to shoot his five balls into the opponent's hole. This game is usually played one on one or by teams of two. At the start of the game, both players will shoot the dotted ball at the same time, banking it off the side rail toward the opponent's hole. The player who sinks the ball continues to shoot. If no ball falls into the hole off the first shot, the player with a ball closest to the opponent's hole shoots again.

In bumper pool, a good defense is just as important as a good offense. If an opposing player has a ball close to a hole, the other player can use his shot to knock that player's ball away from the hole, sending the ball to the other end of the table if possible. The best bumper pool players are masters with the cue stick. They can bank balls softly off the side rail or bumper when needed to drop a ball into the pocket, and they can also knock their opponent's ball away from the hole when it appears their opponent has an upcoming easy score.

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Discussion Comments
By anon174423 — On May 10, 2011

The person shooting continues to shoot, as long as he makes one of his own balls, no matter what happens to the opponents balls, unless the shot sinks the opponents last ball while also sinking the shooters ball which is not the shooters last ball. In this case, the opponent would win the game because all of his balls would be sunk and the shooter would still have a ball or balls remaining.

By anon174419 — On May 10, 2011

To start the game, the ball with the dot on it is placed in front of the hole at which the opponent will shoot and the opponents ball with the dot is lined up on the other end in front of the goal towards which you will shoot. This ball must be sunk before the player can shoot any of the other balls.

The remaining four balls are lined up, two on each side, along the centerline of the hole and the two bumper pegs on the end of the table beside the hole. The balls are placed equidistant between the bumper and the side rail of the table. Diagram:

|- O - O * @ * O - O -|

where the |represent the edges of the bumper rails; the - is the space between the balls; the Os are the ball; the *s are the bumpers and the @ is the hole.

On some tables there will be a spot marked where the balls go at the starting position.

By anon136996 — On Dec 25, 2010

I was playing a game and I was the red balls and prior to me hitting the one white ball stopped on the opponents hole without going in, so now its my turn I hit my red ball in to the opposite hole and when it falls in the other white ball drops in from the other hole at the end of the table. what's the rule?

By anon95318 — On Jul 12, 2010

I'm not an expert but my bumper pool table has no markings on it. So long as both sides start the same distance from the opponent's pocket then it doesn't matter (says me). We usually set about 4 cm in.

Pocketing the balls doesn't require banking first. Rules are consistent in that area.

The difficult bit is both starting together. Very 'draw!'

By j4140 — On Jun 12, 2010

Where exactly are the balls initially placed? We bought a used bumper pool table but the markings are gone. how far out from the bumper how far apart from each other? Personally, I don't know if it matters, but my dad is a stickler for details and will not use it until this mystery is solved.

I have looked everywhere and cannot find anything. I will have to go to a store and measure if you can't help.

By anon65254 — On Feb 11, 2010

i believe the answer is no. i have a question for you all. our bumper table is from the 1940's. it came with a third hole in the middle of the table. what rules are there for that use of the third hole? thank you.

By talkstomuch — On Apr 19, 2009

I want to know if you are required to bank the ball before it goes in? I just got my table from a yard sale. I played when I was in school but I forgot the rules. Plus I learned to play in a small town. Sometimes we rewrite the rules a little.

By anon23321 — On Dec 21, 2008

does every shot have to be banked off the bumper?

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