Bumper Pool Rules

Learn basic bumper pool rules with an overview of this retro billiards game.

Bumper pool is a billiards game. In its simplest form, it is like traditional pool.

The game is played on a traditional flat green surface, made from the same material (felt) as the standard pool table. Like traditional pool, bumper pool is played with billiards balls and wooden pool cues.

But that is where the similarities end.

The Bumper Pool Table

Bumper pool is played on a rectangular or octagonal table that is much smaller than a traditional pool table.

At each end of the table is one pocket. Each pocket has two bumpers that act as goal posts.

In the center of the table are two diagonal crossing rows of bumpers. There are six bumpers in each row.

octagonal bumper pool table

These bumpers have a rubber top that will bounce a ball in various directions. This is the most challenging aspect of the game.

Setting Up a Game of Bumper Pool

Before we dive into bumper pool rules, you need to set up the game correctly.

To begin, five balls are placed on both ends of the table surface, five white and five red.

At the start of the game, you must place your balls on the white dots that correspond with your pocket.

There are two white dots in a horizontal line on each side of your pocket. The 5th dot is directly in front of your pocket.

The ball that lies on this dot is specially marked and must be struck first during gameplay. This is one of the most important rules of bumper pool.

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Bumper Pool Rules: The Basics

The rules of bumper pool can be difficult to follow the first time playing. But after a couple trial runs, you should get the hang of it.

Bumper pool can be played with two players, or four players as teams.

Starting the Game

First, decide on a count down and strike your marked balls at the same time to begin the game.

You will each shoot your marked ball off the right side cushion. Your goal is to sink the ball in your opponent’s pocket. Or to get as close as possible.

If your ball is closest to the cup, it is your turn first. You may then choose to strike any of your other remaining balls.

If each player sinks the opening shot, you must once again strike a ball at the same time. This time, the leftmost ball will be used.

During Game Play

Bumper pool rules get fairly simple after the start of the game. If you sink a ball, you continue with your turn.

Though rare, it is possible to sink all of your balls before your opponent even gets a chance. If you can do that, your friends may have reservations playing with you again.

If you do not sink one of your balls during your turn, possession goes to your opponent. This continues until a player has sunk all five of their balls. However, if you sink the fifth ball in your own pocket, you forfeit the game.

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Penalties for Breaking the Rules of Bumper Pool

Marked balls must be pocketed first. If you fail to make your marked ball before making another one, your opponent may freely sink two balls.

As you painfully watch, your opponent may place any two balls by hand into the pocket. Avoid the sadness, don’t break the simplest rule of bumper pool.

The same rule applies if you sink one of your balls into your own pocket.

Or, if you happen to hit your ball off the table. Though it was accidental, your opponent will receive another automatic two-ball score.

However, this time, your opponent may place your fallen ball anywhere on the table. Hopefully, your opponent is the heavier handed player. Jumping your balls over other balls will result in the same penalty.

Basically, if you break the bumper pool rules, you are at an extreme disadvantage.

Be mindful of the marked ball and play with finesse, not power.

Once you learn how to play bumper pool correctly, odds are you will have fun.

That’s it. Bumper pool rules are pretty simple.

A Brief History of Bumper Pool

It is believed that billiards was adapted from the game of croquet in France during the 15th century.

Croquet was moved indoors and put on a waist-level table.

The earliest billiards game closely resembled bumper pool rather than traditional pool.

The origin of modern bumper pool is pretty foggy.

Though it was created at some point during the 20th century, the exact date is not known. Bumper pool reached its peak in popularity in the 1970s and 80s, due to its small size and fun gameplay. Bumper pool could be found in homes and bars throughout the country.

Today, bumper pool can still be found in homes and certain bars.

However, it is not nearly as popular as it used to be.

If you are lucky enough to come across a table in your local bar, play it! It can be extremely fun and unlike any game you have ever played.

And now for a (somewhat) helpful but entertaining video on how to play:

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