How to Play Bumper Pool | Blatt Billiards

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How to Play Bumper Pool

by David Roeder |

Bumper pool is one popular game to choose when you are looking for fun billiard games to play besides 8-ball pool. The bumper pool game table is different from your standard pool table. The table can be octagonal or rectangular, and it is often much smaller than a typical pool table.

Another major difference between a bumper pool table and a conventional one are the bumpers on the table. For starters, there is a set of dual crossing bumpers in the center of the table with an opening in the middle.

Next, at the end of each side of the table, there is a single pocket with bumpers on each side. The bumpers are round with rubber tops, either red or white. 

What Is Bumper Pool?

Bantam Bumper Pool Table

Bumper pool has certain features of playing 8-ball pool. For example, the game requires players to use pool cue sticks to hit the balls. Bumper pool is also played on a table with a flat playing surface. Last, you will use a set of balls to play the game.

However, bumper pool requires playing it on a bumper pool table. There are also only ten balls used to play the game—five red balls and five white balls. One white ball will have a red dot, while one red ball will have a white dot.

Additionally, there is no pool cue ball like you use when pool is played. You can also use regular pool balls. One player selects balls one through five, and the second player selects balls eleven through fifteen. For the spotted ball, you use either the one ball or the eleven ball.

What Are the Bumper Pool Rules?

The rules for bumper pool are simple—be the first player to sink all five of your balls into your hole at the opposite end of the bumper pool table.

How Many People Can Play Bumper Pool?

You can play a game of bumper pool with either two players or four players. If four people are playing, you play as two teams of two people. 

How Do You Set Up the Table?

First, you must decide which color balls each player will use. For example, the player with the white balls will set up their balls on the side of the table with the two red bumpers around the hole—and vice versa for the player with the red balls.

Place two solid white balls to the left of the red bumper and the other two solid white balls to the right of the other red bumper. Last, place the white ball with the red dot directly in front of the hole. The player with the red balls will set up their balls similarly.

Who Starts the Game?

Unlike pool, where one person breaks the balls while the second player waits, in bumper pool both players simultaneously shoot their balls with the colored dot on it. The first ball, with the colored dot, must be shot to the right of the table.

The player who gets their ball as close to their scoring hole or sinks it gets to continue shooting. If the balls are the same distance away, or both players sink their balls, the player whose ball stopped or was sunk first will continue playing.

Both players must first sink their spotted ball before shooting any of their solid-colored balls when it is their turn. Their turn is over if they do not sink a ball after taking a shot.

Before you start the game, players will need to decide if you only want to allow one ball to be in play at a time or, once you sink your spotted ball, you can have any of your other balls in play simultaneously.

What Are Some Strategies for Bumper Pool?

bumper pool game table

Players can play either offensively or defensively. They can focus on getting their balls to the other end of the table and into their scoring hole. They can also focus on defensive moves like using their balls to hit their opponent’s balls farther away from the scoring hole.

Another defensive technique is to shoot one of your balls in front of the scoring hole. This strategy requires the other player to knock your ball out of the way before they can sink a ball. Otherwise, they’ll get a penalty if they sink your ball with theirs.

The penalty for doing this is you get to pick and place two of your balls into your scoring hole while taking their ball and placing it back on their side of the table.

You can also use the bumpers and side cushion rails to your advantage. Use them to bounce your ball to the other side of the table or as a defensive move to use one of your balls to hit one of your opponent’s balls farther away.

What Are the Other Penalties for Bumper Pool?

Bumper Pool Home

Another penalty can occur if you shoot your ball off the table or cause the other player's ball to leave the table. If it was your ball, place your ball in the center of the bumpers in the middle of the table, and your turn is over.

If you knock the other player’s ball off the table, they get to place your ball in the center of the table around the bumpers and put their ball back on the table where it was before it was knocked off the table. Then it is automatically their turn.

Some players also assign a penalty for illegal jump shots. When one occurs, the other player gets to place your ball anywhere on the table they desire—even in the center of the bumpers. Some players will use a variation where they put your ball anywhere on the table and sink two of their balls.

Bantom Bumper Pool

Another penalty that can cause you to lose the game quickly is hitting your ball into the opponent’s scoring hole. If you do, they automatically get to put two of their balls into their scoring hole and place your ball back in its original position. Plus, your turn automatically ends. However, if it was your fifth ball, you automatically lose the game.

There is no penalty if you knock the other player’s ball into their scoring hole or your scoring hole. If you do, the ball is automatically counted as being sunk.

How to Play Teams in Bumper Pool

To play teams, one team member will shoot first. They continue to play until their turn is over. When it is your team’s turn again, the second team member plays. You keep alternating as such until the game is over.

Quality Bumper Pool Tables

As you can see, learning how to play bumper pool is not difficult. Plus, it is a fun billiards game to play. To find a quality bumper pool table or conversion game table for your home, please feel free to browse our selections or contact Blatt’s Billiards at 212-674-8855 for further assistance today.

How to Play Bumper Pool Infographic