7 Popular Types of Billiards Games You Should Know About (with videos)
Have you spent your entire life playing one or two different types of billiards games? Interested in learning more about other fun variations of billiards? You’re in the right place!
In this brief article, we’ll fill you in on some of the most popular types of billiards games people all over the world play. Hopefully, some of these games inspire you to try something new at the pool table!
We won’t bore you with every single detail of every game, but we think it’s important to know the main objectives of each game in order to decide if you’d like to give them a try.
1. 3-Cushion Carom
3-cushion carom is one of the popular variations of Carom billiards, or “French” billiards. Carom billiards games are played on a pool table without any pockets.
This game is one of the most challenging variations of carom billiards. It takes many years of practice to become great at 3-cushion. For a good player, averaging anything above 1 point per game is still exceptional.
3-cushion carom is played with 2 cue balls and 1 object ball. The object ball is typically red, one cue ball is white, and the other is yellow or white with a spot.
- The objective is to strike the object ball, the opponent’s cue ball, and 3 cushions in one shot.
- Your cue ball has to strike the object ball first and then bounce off 3 rail cushions before hitting the opponent’s cue ball for a carom (a point).
Learn more about 3-cushion below!
2. 8 Ball Pool
8 ball pool is one of the most popular pocket billiards games, especially in North America. The game is played with a total of 16 balls: 15 objects balls and the cue ball.
The balls numbered 1 to 8 have solid colors, and those from 9 to 15 are striped. In the British 8 ball pool variation, the object balls are red and yellow. In traditional 8 ball, there are 7 different colors, and 2 balls of each color (not including the black 8 ball).
- Sink all the solids or striped balls (depending on what you are assigned after the break shot) and then the 8 ball. The first player to achieve this wins the game.
- In some variations, you can win by sinking the 8 ball with the break shot, as long as the cue ball doesn’t go in or get knocked off the pool table.
For more information and rules, watch below.
3. 9 Ball Pool
9 ball pool is a fast-paced pocket billiards game. It can be highly engaging for players and fans.
The game is played with 10 balls: 9 object balls numbered 1-9 and the cue ball. Given that it takes little time to complete, 9 ball pool is often played in a race with a specific number of games. For instance, many players love to play the best of 5 (or race to 3).
- The main objective is to make all numbered balls in order, then sink the 9 ball legally.
- A legal shot = striking the lowest-numbered ball in the table first. The object ball or cue ball must strike a rail.
- You can also make a combo shot (sink any other ball after hitting the lowest-numbered ball).
Learn more below.
4. 10 Ball Pool
10 ball pool is similar to 9 ball, but with an extra ball and a few tweaks in the rules. The game is a more challenging alternative to 9 ball. For this reason, many skilled players prefer it over 9 ball.
The game is played with 11 balls – the cue ball plus 10 object balls numbered 1 to 10. Also, the game is racked in a triangle rack, unlike 9 ball that uses the diamond rack.
- The objective is to sink all numbered balls in order, then the 10 ball into the called pocket.
- Unlike 9 ball, players have to call shots during the game. But, a player must still hit the lowest-numbered ball first. The object ball or cue ball must hit the rail, or be pocketed.
Learn more about 10 ball below.
5. 3 Ball Pool
3 ball pool is played with 3 object balls and the cue ball. You can use any of the standard object balls. Their colors or numbers do not matter.
There are fewer standard rules in 3 ball pool, making it easier and quicker to play. Also, any number of players can play. 3 ball is most commonly played with 3 to 5 players. This game is very popular for gamblers, and anyone wanting to bet money for fun.
- Sink the 3 object balls in the fewest shots possible.
- Players take turns pocketing the 3 balls. A point is awarded for every shot taken, whether you sink the ball or not. After all the players finish, the one with the fewest points wins.
Learn how to play 3 ball pool below!
6. Straight Pool
Straight pool, or 14.1 continuous pool, is a cue sport played with 15 numbered balls and the cue ball. The game is continuous in that after the 14 balls are pocketed, the game is re-racked, and players continue shooting.
- Be the first to reach the agreed-upon maximum points – usually 125 or 150 points
- Each pocketed ball earns a point. Balls can be pocketed in any order.
- Straight pool is a call-pocket game.
Check out this below, explaining straight pool in more detail.
7. Cutthroat Pool
Cutthroat pool is a fun billiards game for a group – usually 3 people. Cutthroat focuses on defense rather than offense. The goal is not to sink your balls. Instead, you aim to sink as many of your opponent’s balls as possible.
Sometimes you must sacrifice one of your balls by sinking it to get better cue ball positioning.
- Sink the opponent’s balls and leave at least 1 of your balls on the table at the end.
- This is a great 3 player-game. Each player claims 5 of the 15 object balls. For instance, you can claim balls numbered 1-5. Another player gets balls 6-10, and the third is assigned balls 11-15. Your goal is to sink all the opponents’ balls before they sink all your balls.
Learn more about cutthroat pool below.
Many of us are only used to hearing about a couple different games, such as 8 or 9 ball, but there are other games out there that deserve a little more respect.
Learning about other games can make pool a lot more fun, especially when you’re getting bored of the same game over and over. Playing other games can also make you a better player overall, as it encourages imagination and creativity.
These different games will vary in rules and difficulty level. Of this list, 3 ball pool is likely the easiest to learn and play because it has no complicated rules. Also, the game is played with only 3 balls, making things even more straightforward. It has a greater element of luck, which can make things even more fun.
You can start your billiards journey with these simpler games and slowly progress to the more complex ones as your skills improve.
If you decide to branch out and play other games, let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
As Always, Happy Shooting!