How to Play Pool in Four Steps – Blatt Billiards

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How to Play Pool in Four Steps

by Brian Roeder |

Pool is a very popular game people of all ages enjoy around the world. Some people even become professional pool players when they become proficient in this sport. While most people will not become professional players, they still have fun playing pool with family and friends.

Pool is sometimes called billiards by some players. Pool specifically refers to a game where the pool table has side pockets for sinking the balls. Billiards, on the other hand, refers to any type of game played on a tabletop with balls and a wooden stick, as with bumper pool.

Learning how to play pool is not difficult but it does require taking some time to become familiar with the game, the equipment used, the order of play, and the various rules.

Step 1: Know Your Equipment

premier pool ball set

Before you can start playing, you need to know what equipment is used to play pool. You probably already know there are pool balls, a pool table, and a pool stick (cue) involved. However, it is important to know the following:

  • Pool Balls – Pool balls are numbered 1 through 15. There is a single white ball called the cue ball and a solid black 8 ball. The other balls are either stripes or solids.
  • Pool Table – This is the playing surface used to play pool. There are different styles and sizes of tables.
  • Pool Cue – Each player uses a pool cue to hit the cue ball and try to sink the other balls into the side pockets.
  • Pool Chalk – Chalk is used on the ends of pool cues to help improve the contact between the pool cue and cue ball.
  • Pool Bridge – This is a pool cue extension used to help make more difficult shots.
  • Pool Triangle – This piece of equipment is used to rack or arrange the pool balls at the start of a game.

Step 2: Understand Pool Terminology

a man has placed balls on the pool table and is ready to play a game

Certain terminology is used when playing pool, such as:

  • Breaking – The break occurs when the game starts and the cue ball is hit into the “racked balls.”
  • Racking – Racking is using the pool triangle to arrange the balls in the proper order. The balls can be placed in any order with one exception—the 8 ball must always go in the center of the rack.
  • Scratching – This is where you strike the cue ball and miss, hit the cue ball into the pocket, or hit the cue ball off the table.

Step 3: Learn the Rules and Order of Play

Pool games have different rules depending on whether you are playing a variation of the regular game. It is best to learn the rules of regular pool first before learning variations like 9 ball.

Playing Pool
  • Before the start of each game, the balls are racked at one end of the table. Many pool tables have a white dot to indicate where to place the top ball inside the rack on the table.
  • Players should decide who will break.
  • After breaking, if any of the balls, except the 8 ball, is sunk into the side pockets, the player can decide if they want to be stripes or solids if they sink both types of balls. If they only sink one type of ball, then they claim that type for the duration of the game.
  • Players take turns sinking balls into the side pockets. A turn ends when the player does not sink their type of ball into the side pocket.
  • After all of a player’s balls have been sunk, they can sink the 8 ball to win the game.
  • The other player wins if a player sinks the 8 ball before they sink all of their ball type.
  • If a player scratches and hits the cue ball into a side pocket or off the table, the other player is allowed to place the cue ball just about anywhere on the table.
  • If a player sinks the other player’s balls, their turn is over, and the other player gets the added benefit of having another of their balls sunk.
  • Variations in the general rules should be agreed upon by all players prior to breaking.

Step 4: Playing Pool

crystal glass billiard table

Now that you have an understanding of the equipment, terminology, rules, and order of play, you are ready to start playing pool. When you play, you need to find the right hand position on the table to help line up your shots with the pool cue. For new players, it takes time to find the best position, so try different ways until you find the best one.

The primary objective of the game is to hit the ball with the right amount of force to sink it in a side pocket without sinking the cue ball. The only way to learn how much force is needed is with practice. The more you practice, the better you will get.

When you first start out playing pool, remember to have fun. It is not whether you win or lose—it is about enjoying the game with family and friends.

If you fall in love with pool, the next step is to get a pool table for your home from Blatt Billiards. We offer a wide selection of pool tables, including custom-built, handcrafted tables. For further information or to request a free quote, please feel free to contact us at 212-674-8855 today!