How-To Guide of Billiards Trick Shots | Blatt Billiards

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A How-To Guide of Billiards Trick Shots

by David Roeder |

When you first start playing pool, your primary goal is to learn the ins and outs of the game while improving your skills. As you become more comfortable with the game, you may want to try learning different trick shots to impress your family and friends.

What Is a Trick Shot?

Billiards 8 balls

A trick shot is a shot that can seem impossible or unlikely to make. It requires enhanced skills and practice to learn how to pull off the shot successfully. You will often need to determine the placement of the balls, the banking angles, and the proper sequence to get the desired ball or balls into the desired pockets.

During regular play, you can make trick shots that do not violate the rules. There are also trick shots that allow you to use other items like the ball triangle or additional cues, but which are not permitted in regular pool. However, these shots are allowed when playing artistic pool, the name given to trick shot competitions.

Examples of Trick Shots

Billiards balls and cue on billiards table. Billiard sport concept

Parting the Red Sea

This trick shot uses nine balls and sets off a chain reaction to move the balls apart and “part the sea” as a single ball travels into the side pocket.

Jailed 8-Ball in Any Pocket

For this shot to be successful, you must ensure the 8-ball is on the foot mark. Then place one ball on each side of the 8-ball and another two slightly moved in on the top and bottom to form a partially opened circle. However, the balls must be racked tightly.

The cue ball should be shot into one of the corner balls to cause the 8-ball to be shot into one of the pockets. You can place a spare cue on the table to direct the 8-ball into one of the upper corner pockets so the handle blocks the side pockets.

Four in a Line Two Rail

Start by placing a racking triangle in its normal position on the table. Next, place a set of four balls along the outside of one of the sides of the triangle, starting at the top. Position the cue ball between the second and third mark on the side rail.

The objective is to shoot the cue ball between the second and third balls. The outer balls should go into the corner and side pockets. The second ball rebounds off the foot rail and side rail before going into the corner pocket on the opposite side of the table. Then the third ball should go straight into the corner pocket.

Most Famous Trick Shots of All Time

Billiards 8 ball on dark background

Wall of Balls

This is a famous trick shot made by Alex Lely. First, the cue ball is placed behind a wall of eight balls near one of the corner pockets. Then two other balls are placed next to each other in front of the opposite corner pocket. The objective is to spin the cue ball off the side rail and cause it to curve around the wall of balls and sink the ball in front of the opposite corner pocket.

Machine-Gun Shot

Bogdan Wolkowski is well known for making the machine-gun shot. It is considered one of the most difficult trick shots to make. A series of seven balls is placed on the table in a line. The 8-ball is shot first from the side of the table toward the corner pocket. While it is moving, the other seven balls are shot off rapidly, so all seven are pocketed in the same corner pocket before the 8-ball.

The Domino Effect

Lukasz Szywala created this trick shot. It uses three cue sticks and part of a fourth cue stick to segregate the balls from one another. A small cloth is placed in front of the side pocket, and two cue balls are placed on the side pocket. Both cue balls are struck from the top to send them in opposite directions over the cue sticks.

The left corner pocket, from the side pocket, has one ball in front of it. The opposite side pocket on the same side of the table has two balls in front of it. One cue stick is placed here, and then there are four sets of two balls evenly spaced with one ball in each set placed on top of cue chalks, which sets off a chain reaction to sink another ball in front of the corner pocket on the opposite side of the table.

Trick Shots for Beginners

Billiard. Balls pyramid fith number 8 ball on a foreground.

Two Sides and Two Corners

This trick shot is one of the easiest to set up and make but still rather impressive because you sink four balls in a single shot. To set up the balls for this shot, place the cue ball slightly behind the side pockets in the center of the table.

Next, place one ball to the left and another to the right of the cue ball but slightly forward. When the cue ball strikes these balls on the sides as it moves down the table, it pushes them into the side pockets.

Put another ball just in front of the foot spot on the table. Then place the final ball slightly in the front of the previous ball to the left. These balls should be lined up so both balls go into the corner pockets when the cue ball strikes the ball in front of the foot spot. 

Line of Four Balls in Four Pockets

Place four balls in a line in front of one of the side pockets. You just need to hit the third ball before the second ball with a slight angle, and all four balls will be pocketed. The first ball goes into the side pocket, the second ball into the corner pocket down the table, and the third ball should rebound off the foot rail and travel back up the table until it goes into the corner pocket. The fourth ball should move across the table and into the other side pocket.

Back Kick-Off Point

This is another easy shot to set up and make. First, place three balls just below one of the side pockets so they are against the cushion. Next, hit the cue ball off the point on the side pocket so its rebound angle hits the first ball in the set of three and causes the third ball to travel into the corner pocket. 

Trick Shots for Experts

pool or billiards balls on blue table . focus on the ball number 1

Two Sides Two Corners Eight Balls

You set up this trick shot similar to Two Sides and Two Corners, but it uses four more balls. To set up the shot, move the cue ball and the initial set of two balls farther up the table. The cue ball is placed on the head spot.

Next, place two balls on each side of the table on the center string next to the side pockets. Last, place the last two balls at the other end of the table, with one on the foot spot and the other slightly in front and on the left side.

The objective of this shot is to shoot the cue ball down the table to hit the ball in front of the foot spot. When you shoot, the two balls on the sides of the cue ball should strike the outer balls on the side pockets, which then knock the other balls into the side pockets.

These two balls then travel down the table into the corner pockets, followed by the two balls at the end of the table.   

The Butterfly Shot

This shot uses six balls set up on the table so that when the cue ball is shot in between them, it causes all six balls to travel to one of the table’s pockets. First, place the cue ball on the head spot. Next, rack the balls by placing two sets of three balls slightly in front of the cue ball so that the middle ball is off-center from the other two balls.

The objective is that when the cue ball is shot down the table, it will strike both center balls and set off a chain reaction causing the balls on each end to travel to one of the corner pockets while the middle balls travel to the side pockets.

Clearance and Chain Reaction

This shot uses fifteen balls and the cue ball. Place a set of three balls in a triangle formation so one corner ball is touching the side of the head ral to the left of the corner pocket. Next, place seven balls against the side rail, starting at the side mark closest to the corner pocket. Use the side rail mark near the side pocket and place a set of two balls in front of and behind this mark. Last, place a single ball in front of the corner pocket.

Your goal is to set off a chain reaction where the cue ball is shot toward the outer ball of the first set of two balls. This causes the second outer ball in the next set of two to strike the triangle formation. Then one of the balls in that formation strikes the line of balls, causing the last ball in the set of seven to bounce off the ball in front of the side pocket and be directed into the side pocket. 

Trick Shot Billiard Tips

Billiards balls and cue on billiards table.

These are just a few of the many trick shots you can perfect. However, it does take patience and practice to learn how to set up the balls and make the shots using these tips:

  • Adjust the placement of balls if necessary to get the balls to go in the proper directions.
  • Do not give up if you are unsuccessful—it can take multiple attempts before you pull off a trick shot.
  • Take extra care not to jab the cue’s tip into the table felt.
  • Be careful when bouncing balls with trick shots so they do not fly off the table.
  • Use removable table markers when placing balls for the shots, to determine the best placement.
  • Get a second set of pool balls and extra cue sticks for more advanced and expert shots.
  • Most importantly, remember to have fun.

Professional Pool Table Lessons

8-Ball with girl in background

Whether you want to learn how to play pool or are ready to learn how to make trick shots, Blatt Billiards can help with our professional pool table lessons.

You can use our facilities or choose a convenient location. We can also come to your location when you want to host a pool table party or a friendly tournament with trick shots and lessons. Please feel free to contact us at 212-674-8855 for further information.

Blatt infographic on biliards trick shots