Bar Billiards, also known as Russian Billiards, is one of the most popular bar games in the UK. But you’ll find pubs, clubs, and plenty of other places to play this fun game. You might be familiar with traditional Billiards, but this game is slightly different.
What is The Bar Billiards Game?
The game is believed to have been brought to the UK and other countries after tourists visited Russia in the 1930s. The exact origin of the game is a little hazy, but the history doesn’t matter; you just need to know how you play it!
Unlike traditional Billiards, this game is played on a special table that is a little smaller and doesn’t have any pockets. Holes can be found around the table, with each hole having a point value allocated to it.
The table also has skittles; these are shaped like little mushrooms and can be moved around the table for various arrangements. Each player will take turns hitting a ball on the table to score points.
But there are a lot of other little rules to be aware of. If you hit a skittle or hit another ball, you could lose points. In Bar Billiards, every shot counts when playing! The aim of the game is to score the most points, but you are also playing against a time limit.
Many bars and clubs with Bar Billiard tables often have a time limit to them. This means you will usually only have 15 – 20 minutes to play the game! Even if you are playing with an at-home table, this time limit rule is usually kept.
So, that’s what Bar Billiards is all about. If you are thinking of this game a try on your next night out; there are a few other things to learn.
What You’ll Need To Play?
You’ll need a table, Pool cues, balls, and skittles to play Bar Billiards. Because of all the equipment, most people play this game in pubs and clubs. If you’re a Pool or Snooker player, you can reuse your cues for this game.
Check out some of our picks for the best McDermott Pool cues in this guide. While the ball colors can vary, they will normally be red and white. There will be seven balls in one color and the main striker ball in another. Balls are the same size and weight.
Because many of these tables are coin-operated, finding a Bar Billiards table you can buy for at-home use is difficult. They are available but not easy to find, so many people play the game using a regular Billiards table.
If you would like to play Bar Billiards at home, we recommend a table like the American Legend Kirkwood 90” Billiard Table. You won’t be able to use the same rules due to the number of pockets/ holes. But you can still play the game with some minor tweaks.
Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
To win at Bar Billiards, you need to score the most points. Players take turns taking their shots and can win or lose points each turn. Like regular Billiards and many Pool games, you need to think carefully with each strike.
However, you will also (likely) have a time limit to think about, so you can’t afford to take too much time setting up a shot. Bar Billiards is a lot of fun and a hybrid of other Billiard/ Pool games.
Simply decide which player is going to go first. Bar Billiards is designed for two players, but it could also be played with four people in teams of two. Then decide how the points will work on the table.
A proper Bar Billiards table will feature nine different holes. Five holes can be found at one end of the table, with the other four being spread out in a diamond pattern on the other end. Some tables will already have a point value allocated to each hole, which can be found stamped in front of it.
But you can decide the value for each hole amongst yourselves. Once done, you should set up the skittles on the table. You should only put out four skittles, with one being in front of the hole with the highest value.
Playing Bar Billiards
On your turn, you should take a ball and place it at the center of the table. Then take your shot with the aim of hitting a ball down one of the holes. If you succeed, you’ll score points equal to the value of the hole.
The next player then takes their turn, following the same gameplay pattern. However, things can go wrong quite easily in Bar Billiards. Throughout the game, you might hit fouls which will cause you to lose points.
The most common foul is hitting one of the skittles on the table. But you can add more foul rules if you like. For example, some more hardcore players say failing to pot a ball on your turn will also mean you lose points.
You can also decide exactly how many points you lose for each penalty. So, if you’re new to the game, feel free to take things slow and only introduce harsher penalties when you’ve got the hang of the basics.
The End Game
If you are playing at a bar or club, your table will often have a time limit. When the time is up, you should compare scores, the player who scores the most points wins! If you’re playing at home, you should set an agreed-upon time limit before starting.
Using A Regular Table
Since getting an authentic Bar Billiards table can be tricky, most at-home games use regular Pool/ Billiard tables. You can follow the same rules on these tables but won’t have quite as many holes/ pockets to use.
Bar Billiards – A Fast-Paced Club Classic
Bar Billiards is a great game to play on a night out. It’s much more strategic than you might first think and quite different from other well-known bar classics like Snooker and Pool.