How to Play Pool

How to Play Pool

Bar Games 101 includes several articles about how to play pool

The following guide provides an overview of each article, organized by types of pool games to play, skills to learn and equipment to use, plus some additional resources, so you can plot your own pool playing journey.

The origins of pool, also known as pocket billiards, date all the way back to the 15th century.

Originally played as a lawn game, pool eventually moved indoors and became very popular in pool halls, bars and households.

Roots of Pool and Billiards

As a professional sport, the game of pool peaked in the U.S during the 1970’s. 

With all of the games and digital options available today, pool’s popularity has declined a little.

Yet it remains one of the best overall bar games, and a favorite among families and avid players for home recreation.

One of the best aspects of pool is that it can be played and enjoyed by men and women of all ages, and players of all levels.

With this guide we hope to introduce you to the game of pool so you can learn how to play different games, improve your skills and enjoy it more with your friends and family, whether at the bar or at home.

How to Play Pool: Popular Games and Variations
 
Learning pool games

As you begin your pool playing journey, it helps to start with an understanding of popular game formats.

There are many different games and ways to play pool.

Perhaps the most popular pool game is Eight-Ball. Other popular games include 9-ball, Cutthroat and Straight Pool.

The following articles provide rules and general instructions on how to play several types of pocket billiards games:

Eight-Ball Rules: An Overview of Pool’s Most Popular Game

This article provides an introduction to the game of 8-ball, including standard rules and common variations.

Keep in mind that how you play eight-ball in any given establishment depends on what the house rules say. 

Learn how to play eight-ball.

A Quick Guide to Nine-Ball

Nine ball is what’s known as a rotation game. In other words, the balls must be pocketed in order.

This article provides a basic introduction to the game of 9 ball.

How to Play Straight Pool 

Straight pool, also known as 14:1 continuous pool, is a game for more advanced pool players.

But if you’re ready to challenge yourself and have ample time to learn and play against another eager player, straight pool is a great way to enjoy pool in its purest form.

It will also help you get better at games like 8-ball and 9-ball.

An Overview of Cutthroat Pool 

Cutthroat pool is a fun game when you have an odd number of players, such as 3 or 5.

This game involves picking your own group of balls and trying to knock in your opponents’ balls before they get yours.

It’s a fun game for bars and a great way to try something new. Learn more

How to Play Bumper Pool 

You may not see it as often anymore, but bumper pool is a really fun game.

It’s played on a specific bumper pool table, either rectangular or octagonal, and is prefect for smaller spaces in a bar, arcade or at home.

This post explains the basic rules of bumper pool with game instructions. 

More Billiards Games to Try Out

This post covers 7 other types of pool games to try out, such as 7-ball, 15-ball, one pocket, and bowlliards. It provides an overview of how to play each game with links to additional resources for more detail.

When you’re getting sick of 8-ball, or just looking for a game to practice with, this is a great resource.

Coming Soon: How to play 3-ball pool – a great way to practice.

Learning Basic Pool Skills

Learning Pool Skills

If you’ve played a few games and realize you might like this sport, the next step in your pool playing journey is to develop a solid skill set.

This means working on the fundamentals of playing pool, such as your stance, grip, aim, stroke and follow-through, cueing the ball, and making contact with the object ball.

The following articles will help you learn why these skills are important and how to practice them:

How to hold a pool stick: hand placement, grip and bridge.

This post starts with the most basic elements of how to hold your pool cue. It includes basic concepts of hand placement and pendulum stroke, using a light and natural grip on the cue, and how to create a comfortable yet stable bridge. 

Read on…

How to get better at pool: 9 fundamental practice tips

Getting better at pool requires practice. When it comes to a practice routine, most of us just like to go and hit some balls around the table.

But if you add a little structure and work on essential mechanics of your stroke and overall game, it can go along way in making you a better pool player.

This post reviews how to practice pool, including gripping the cue, practicing the swing, aiming, pre-shot routines, stroke execution and follow through.

Chalking Your Pool Cue 

Chalking a pool stick is one of the most basic but often overlooked aspects of playing better pool.

We’ve all heard that awful sound of the tip slipping off the side of the cue ball, also known as a miscue.

It’s usually because you didn’t put enough chalk on the tip, or you chalked it incorrectly (i.e. put way too much on).

Read this post to learn the basics of why and how to chalk.

How to Use a Mechanical Bridge 

A mechanical bridge is the pool cue with a notched attachment or cross at the end of it. These are used to extend your reach on the table.

Many players forget to avail themselves of this handy tool.

If you’re not sure how to use these or why a bridge stick would be helpful, read this post.

Pool Table Anatomy 101

This post provides a diagram and general overview of the parts of a pool table. When learning new shots and how to play certain games, it helps to have a basic understanding of pool table terminology. 

Coming Soon: Cueing the ball for draw, follow and english: An overview of essential shooting techniques.

Further Reading:

Know Your Equipment

Pool Equipment Guide

Once you’ve established a basic skills set and have learned how to play a few games, or if you’re ready to jump right in, it’s time to find the best billiards equipment for your playing style.

Pool is played on tables of different sizes, and players use cues of varying weight, length and style.

There are also many accessories that are essential to a good experience on the pool table, including a quality set of billiard balls and the right rack for your preferred game(s).

Here are a few posts to help you find the best equipment when learning how to play pool and taking it to the next level at home or on the go:

The Best Pool Cues for Beginners

This is probably the first decision a developing pool player will make. There are tons of options out these, so finding the right cue or set of cues can seem a little daunting at first.

This article breaks down what to look for in a quality beginner pool cue, as well as some of the best options on the market for new players.

How to Choose the Best Set of Billiard Balls

If you’ve invested in a high quality pool table, you should make sure you have a decent set of billiard balls to shoot with.

Like all other aspects of this game, there is more to the design and make-up of a billiard ball than meets the eye.

It’s not too complicated, but this post will help you find a good set that will meet the needs of most pool players. 

Do you Really Need a Breaking Cue?

Having a good break is one of the most important components to your overall pool game. Many players use a heavier breaking cue with a reinforced tip and extra durability to increase their breaking power.

However, for many us, a breaking cue is unnecessary and can even be detrimental to our game.

Read this post and find out if a breaking cue makes sense for you, and how to choose the right one based on your speed x power.

Pool Table Alternatives:The Best Mini Pool Tables and Portable Pool Tables

For some of us, a full size pool table just isn’t in the cards.

Whether we don’t have enough room in the house or in the budget, it’s ok – there are plenty of other options out there. Of course, you could play out at the bar or pool hall.

But you can also opt for a smaller table that would be fun for the kids and save some space.

If you want to take the game with you, check out some of the best portable options on the market.

Pool Table Lighting

It doesn’t matter how nice your table is if you can’t see. The wrong lighting set-up can ruin a game of pool.

Our guide to pool table lighting will set you on the right path towards a properly lit pool table. 

Coming Soon: 

We will have more resources about the best pool table equipment in the near future, including how to choose pool table lighting, best 7 foot and 8 foot tables, how to find the right table felt and more.

Fun and Inspirational

If you need some extra inspiration while learning how to play pool, one of the best place to look is the moves. Or, you can dream about designing your very own custom billiards room. 

The Best Pool Movies

This post includes an overview of three of the best pool movies ever made: The Hustler, The Color of Money and Pool Hall Junkies. These are not only fine films, they also serve as pool learning resources. Just check out the trick shots analyzed in this article.

Billiard Room Inspiration

Here are 20 examples of billiard room designs to feast your eyes on, including modern looks, traditional and over the top whimsical.