The different types of pool games and how to play each of them

The different types of pool games and how to play each of them

Lenah Ann
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:22 PM

A pool game is a cue sport played on a carpeted table with six pockets along the rails, into which balls are deposited. There are different pool games: eight-ball, blackball, nine-ball, ten-ball, seven-ball, straight pool, one-pocket, and bank pool, among others.

Other types of pool games
Wales' Mark Williams plays a shot during the Masters snooker final tournament against England's Judd Trump in London on 15 January 2023. Photo: Justin Tallis
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People who own pool tables at home can try many pool games today. They vary in skills and other factors surrounding an overall tournament, so it becomes a must-know pool game for interested players worldwide.

What are some of the types of pool games?

Some games are in different forms, and pool games are no exception. According to various online sources, below are the different types of pool tables and how they are played around the globe.

10. Eight-ball pool

The eight-ball is the most-played one in the world, and most players are familiar with it. It comprises six pockets and requires sixteen balls with seven stripes and seven solids. There is also a cue ball and a black ball that kick off the game.

All sixteen balls are merged in the middle of the table to form stack players must break. The sport kicks off, and the player who pockets the first solid ball must pocket the rest of the solids and vice versa.

What are some of the types of pool games?
Women's world pool champion Jeanette The Black Widow Lee gives NY Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde a quick lesson in 8 Ball. Photo: Kevin Kane
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After all the assigned balls have been pocketed, players have to sink the eight-ball in the specified pocket that the other player calls. The player that sinks the ball wins; if they fail to pocket the ball, the opponent wins the match.

9. Traditional snooker

It is a type of sport that most people enjoy playing and is widely known worldwide. A pool table with six pockets is required to play a snooker game, and the setting is straightforward and traditional.

Players require twenty-two coloured standard balls along with a white cue ball to kick off the match. The white ball is used to strike against other standard balls to earn points and to pocket systematically to ensure fairness.

Types of pool games billiards
People play snooker in a resettlement site for former Mon refugees. Photo: Thierry Falise
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Players continuously take turns as long as they pocket the balls one after the other. If a player fails to pocket the ball, their opponent takes their turn and vice versa. A foul is committed when a player pockets the cue ball accidentally, and the opponent gets the points.

8. Cushion Caroms

Most players still need to familiarize themselves with this type of sport. Players who play Caroms have to play with two cue and one red ball on the table. The rules of this fantastic game are elementary and compelling.

A player has to strike the cue ball against the other two balls on the pool table while striking the rail for once. These three balls are used to play, making it a limited pool game format.

Types of pool games to play
Tsuyoshi Suzuki of Japan competes during the men's carom 3 cushion singles final against Joji Kai of Japan at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on 17 November 2010. Photo: STR
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Points are awarded according to the performance of a player. Before the match, players set the number of points to be issued. So, the player reaching that first mark is considered the winner.

7. Four-ball

Four-ball is one of the most common pool games in the pool arena, and its name directly corresponds to the number of balls in the pool table. The game requires two red and two white balls to play the game.

The white ones are the cue balls, just like in other pool games. The game's criteria work simply for most of the players. A point is scored when the cue is stroked and connects with the other two or three. If the cue ball strikes with all other balls, the player will get two points straight.

Types of pool table games
Steve Davis former World Snooker Champion teamed with Ralf Souquet v Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones (USA) as Steve pots the 4 ball watched by his opponents. Photo: PA Images
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A stroke that hits just a single ball will be counted as a zero-point gain, and if a cue ball is struck with one other ball, the point is lost, so the opponent takes the stick and continues. It goes on until a winner is determined.

6. Bank pool

Bank pool is one compelling sport that most players play for the sake of challenges. This type of pool game is different from other pool table games; the players have to strike the directed ball without making combos and fusions.

Players bank the called shots right into the pockets after striking all the cushions, and those that hit the bank with 5 or 8 balls win the match. The numbers can vary depending on the level being played.

5. Straight pool game

Straight pool games are the simplest ones around. It is easy to play since players can easily hit any ball that is present on the pool table. There are no rules to imply a foul on a specific ball, making it an impressive choice for beginners.

Other types of pool games
Basil Alshajjar of the Philippines in action during their match against Indonesia in Manila on 3 December 2019. Photo: George Calvelo
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The players agree upon points before the match, and a maximum point value is set as a target. They have to pocket the balls to earn points in the game, and the more points a player makes, the more chances they can reach the set target and be declared the winner.

4. Cutthroat pool

In this particular one, the basic idea is that each player claims a group of numbered balls before the game kicks off. They then try to pocket each other's before theirs are pocketed.

For instance, when playing with three players, groups are divided into three; player A gets the ones numbered 1 to 5, B gets 6 to 10, and C gets 11 to 15.

Depending on the number of balls pocketed, a group is chosen when the first shot is made. If players pocket an opponent's ball, they keep shooting until they scratch or commit a foul.

Elimination of a player starts when all their balls have been pocketed, and the winner is the last player remaining on the table. Cutthroat is a fun and competitive billiards sport for groups of three and five.

3. One pocket

This pool game is played just like in the snooker one because it also contains six pockets. The game differs from snooker as only one player can use one pocket at a time, hence its name.

Players are expected to be on their heels in accuracy to acquire points and be the winner. Keenness is needed to pocket the ball into a chosen pocket. A foul is committed when a player pockets the ball into their opponent's pocket, which costs them their turn.

When a player registers three consecutive fouls, they automatically lose. However, in this type of pool game, there is no need for players to call out their shots and the balls have no specific way of arrangement, and the balls are placed randomly to favour everyone.

What are some of the types of pool games?
Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers Rinku Singh playing pocket billiards pool during spring training at Pirate City on 18 February 2009. Photo: Al Tielemans
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The objective is to get eight balls into the chosen pocket before an opponent does the same to win the eight points. The game can be played by two players or by a team of two.

2. Seven-ball

This pool game is similar to a nine-ball but has some unique rules. It is considered rotational because they are racked in a hexagonal formation.

It is played with a unique hexagonal seven-ball rack or a standard nine-ball diamond rack. They are placed in the middle, and the remaining numbers are placed in order surrounding the seven balls.

The opponent is allowed to choose three pockets along the right or the left long rail of the pool table, and the player who breaks the stack gets the three opposite pockets on the long rail.

The lowest numbers are hit first and sunk first to gain points before proceeding gradually until the winner is determined. The winner is the one with the most points garnered.

1. English billiards

This type of pool table game is made up of a combination of the carom and the pocket billiards. Participants need two cue and a red balls during the match. They then divide into teams, and each team chooses the cues to be used throughout the match.

Before every match, a player is chosen to go first to allow fairness. Players hit the cue ball across the table, so it bounces off the cushion and returns. The winner is determined by their cue ball getting closer than the others, and they go first.

Participants earn points when their cue ball hits and pockets the red ball. This goes on until the match's end, and the number of scores determines the winner. Players can also earn points if they hit their opponent's cue ball and pockets it or by striking it with another ball.

Additionally, participants lose a point to their opponents when they commit a foul. The number of points players have determines the winner; the one with the most points is the winner.

Other types of pool games
Mark Williams plays a shot during the Masters snooker tournament final against England's Judd Trump at Alexandra Palace in London on 15 January 2023. Photo: Justin Tallis
Source: Getty Images

How many types of pool games are there?

Pool games are categorized into two main types; carom and pocket. Carom has straight rail, balkline and three cushion billiards. Both are played on a pocketless table that has three balls; two cue balls and one object ball.

How many types of eight-ball pools are there?

There are eight variations of the eight-ball pool game. Different game variations bring about a required way of approach when playing the game.

How many games are in a pool match?

All types of pool games
Coral Gables, Florida, Man Kind Grooming & Services, barber and billiards. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg
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Sixteen games are in a pool match. A team with four people playing eight balls means sixteen pool games per match.

Different types of pool games have different approaches with rules and regulations to be adhered to while playing. Players from other parts of the world have their preferred tastes according to their liking and understanding of a given type of pool game.

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Lenah Ann photo
Lenah Ann
Lenah Ann is a Kenyan-based content creator with 2 years of experience. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and Communication from Dedan Kimathi, Kenya in 2021.