How To Play Pool: A Roadmap For Beginners

How to Play Pool A Roadmap for Beginners

Pool is a very popular bar game and is enjoyed all over the world. However, when looking at this game, it can be intimidating to understand how you should play it.

Well, we have that covered.

In this article, we have put together the perfect roadmap in explaining to beginners how to play pool. We will tell you all the rules and equipment you will need to play.

Thus, next time you see a pool table, you have no excuse not to join in.

What Is Pool?

You may have heard of the game pool and not actually know what it is. Well, pool is a type of cue sport, which is played on a table that has six pockets around the edges of the table.

You will attempt to pot balls into these holes/pockets.

Within pool, there are several well-known games that are commonly played. Each pool game has its own name. Some of the more well-known pool games include:

  • Blackball,
  • One Pocket,
  • Seven Ball,
  • Eight Ball,
  • Nine Ball,
  • Bank Pool
  • Straight Pool.

As a result, there are so many games within the pool category to learn.

Hence, to learn pool, you need to develop a basic understanding of these games and learn some skills that you can apply to each game. Skills that you need for all of these pool games include:

  • Aiming,
  • Cue Ball Control,
  • Breaking,
  • Strategy,
  • Shooting,
  • Defense.

Origins Of Pool

The history of pool dates all the way back to the 15th Century. Originally, this game was played outside as a lawn game. However, eventually this game was moved inside and popularity grew for this game.

Pool was especially popular in a lot of households, bars, and pool halls.
Pool eventually became a professional sport, due to its popularity.

This sport was most popular in the US in the 1970s. However, with the vast range of games available today and with the emergence of digital games.

The popularity of pool has slightly declined. Although, it still remains one of the most popular bar games that is continued to be played today.

The reason why pool has retained its popularity is that it can be played by anyone. Men, women, and children of all ages and playing abilities can play this game.

Therefore, our guide below will help the most inexperienced player gain some confidence when they next want to play a game of pool.

Equipment Used For Pool

Any beginner needs to understand the equipment that they will be using. The right equipment will help you learn the skills to be able to play pool well and for it to be enjoyable.

Pool can be played on various tables that all differ in size. Alongside that, the cues that every player uses also come in different sizes, lengths, and weights.

When becoming a good pool player, you want to make sure that you have the right cue pole to play with. This all comes down to personal preference.

However, if you are a short person, then you may want to go with a short cue.

While if you are tall, then a longer cue will be more suitable for you. For any beginner, a 20-ounce cue is an ideal weight to start with, as it will help you spin the ball better.

Along with the table and your cue, there will be 15 balls on the table and a white cue ball. The white cue ball is the ball you will always be hitting with your cue to try and pot other balls across the table.

Depending on the game you are playing, there is generally always a triangle-shaped rack to use when you want to start a game. This is where you put all the 15 balls at the start of the game.

Skills Needed For Pool

When it comes to pool, there are a couple of basic skills you will need to learn, if you want to be good at this game. After a couple of games, you may discover that you really enjoy playing pool, therefore, you need to develop the core skills.

Some of the core skills you need for pool consists of:

  • Stance,
  • Aim,
  • Grip,
  • Cueing the ball.

Knowing how to hold the pool stick is important. You want to have the correct hand placement and grip, as this will help you pot balls easier.

A lot of players try to skip over this step, however knowing how to hold the stick correctly will improve your power, control, and accuracy while playing.

The bridge is a critical skill any player needs to learn and develop. For beginners, we suggest that you learn and practice the open bridge. This is where you place your hand that isn’t holding the pool stick, flat on the table.

Next, cup your hand and slightly raise your knuckles from the table. This is the base of the open bridge, you can spread your fingers for stability.

Then press your thumb against the upper part of your index finger, creating a V shape. This V shape is where your pool cue will rest. The cue should then slide smoothly across this area when you are potting.

Once you know how to hold the stick correctly, you can then progress to learning how to pot the balls more accurately.

Like with any sport or game, this all takes practice, and any beginner can become better with a little bit of practice. However, just playing games of pool can help you improve your techniques.

The Difference Between Pool And Snooker

The Difference Between Pool And Snooker

It is quite common for people to get confused between pool and snooker. Both are very popular games, but they have major differences that set them apart from one another.

The equipment that is used for either is completely different from each other, and the rules differ as well.

However, as they both are games about potting balls into pockets, it isn’t surprising that people get confused between them both.


As you will see below, pool describes an entire category of cue games that can be played. Typically, there will be 15 balls that will be number 1 to 15 and a cue ball.

There are a lot of popular pool games, all that have various rules.

You might be surprised to know that there isn’t actually a game called pool. Instead, pool refers to a collection of games.


Snooker is one game that is made up of several games that are also known as frames. The match is won, when a player has won the most frames.

The table that this game is played on is actually longer than a typical pool table. While also, the balls are smaller and the pockets are narrower.

In snooker, there are 15 red balls which each are worth 1 point. There is one yellow ball that is worth 2 points and a green ball that is worth 3 points.

Also, there is a brown ball that is worth 4 points, a blue ball worth 5 points, a pink ball worth 6 pinks, and a black ball worth 7 points.

The aim of snooker is to score the most points by the end of each frame. You can pot any ball that you want using the white cue ball.

However, players alternate between pocketing a red ball and any colored ball. If a player misses a shot, then their opponent can take their turn.

Red balls will stay in their pockets and colored balls will be returned to the table.

The frame is won once all the red balls have been potted and the player has a larger number of points that their opponent can’t catch up to.

The Different Pool Games

The Different Pool Games

As we have mentioned above, there are quite a few variations of pool games that you can learn to play. For any beginner, it is important to learn and understand the popular variations of this game.

As there are many different ways to play pool.

Below, we have broken down how to play the most popular variations of pool that you will likely come across.

Eight Ball

Eight ball is seen as one of the most popular pool games. It is likely when you have gone to a bar and saw people playing pool, they were most likely playing eight ball.

It is believed that the eight ball was first played around 1908. However, back then the game was played with seven red balls, seven yellow balls, one black ball, and a cue ball.

It wasn’t until much later on that the solid colored or striped balls were used. Today, we use seven solid-colored balls that are numbered 1 through to 7.

There are also seven striped balls that are numbered 9 through to 15. You will also find a black 8 ball and a white cue ball.

When you rack the balls into the triangle shape, the order of the balls tends to be random. However, the black 8 ball should be in the center of the triangle. Also, typically one solid and one striped ball will be placed in the two lower corners of the triangle.

The original version of eight ball was a lot simpler than the variation we play today. However, as the game is so simple, that is why it is one of the most popular pool games to play by beginners and experienced players.


Rules for this game change from location to location. One player will usually try to pocket just the solids and the other all the striped balls. However, the main aim of this game is for each player to pocket all of their balls.

Once a player has pockets all of their suit, they can then pocket the black ball and win the game.

However, if any player accidentally pockets the black ball, before all of their suit they immediately lose the game.

Nine Ball

Nine ball is sometimes referred to as the rotation game. This means that the balls must be pocketed in a certain order.

For beginners, nine ball can seem a bit scary, as it is a lot more technical than eight ball.

However, while nine ball does require a bit more precision, it is still a simple and easy game that beginners can enjoy.

Unlike eight balls, only balls numbered 1 through to 9 are used. When you rack the balls, you will use the traditional diamond-shaped rack.

The ball numbered 1 will go at the top of the diamond shape. While the ball numbered 9 is normally placed in the center of the diamond rack.

The other balls can be placed in a random order in the diamond rack. However, try not to place the balls in order.

If there isn’t a diamond rack available, then you can use the triangle rack and shape the diamond with your hands.


The rules of nine-ball are quite simple. All you want to do is pot the balls in ascending order from 1 to 9. The player who manages to pot the 9 ball, once all the other balls have been potted, will win.

There is the possibility of combo shots. These combo shots can allow the player shooting to win before all the other balls have been potted.

However, with combo shots, you must always have contact with the lowest numbered ball first. For example, you could be shooting for the 4 ball and notice that you could combo the 4 into the 9 ball.

If you manage it then, you would win the game.

However, you can’t shoot directly for the 9 ball until it is the only ball remaining on the table. If you do try to do combo shots, then you must always hit the lowest numbered ball on the table first.

If you pot your ball, then you can continue potting the balls in order. However, if you miss your shot, then your opponent can take over.

10 Ball

Ten ball is quite similar to nine-ball, as it is another form of rotation game. However, the differences in this game make it slightly more difficult.

This game is slightly more advanced, but it is a great challenge for any player.

Just like with nine ball, the aim of ten ball is to pot the lowest numbered ball on the table and make your way up to number 10.

This game uses the standard triangle rack, with the 1 ball at the top of the triangle, with the 2 and 3 balls in each corner of the triangle.

While the number 10 ball goes in the middle of the triangle. The other balls can be put in any order that you like.


When it comes to ten ball, you must always aim for the lowest numbered ball on the table.

Each time, the player must call out the ball they are going for and the pocket that they intend to pocket the ball into. Like with 9 ball, you can make combo shots.

If you accidentally pot a different ball than you had intended to pot. Or it goes into a different pocket, it is up to your opponent what happens next.

They can either carry on playing from that point, or they can hand the shot back to you.

If you miss the ball, then it is your opponent’s turn, and they will carry on from where you left off. Hence, the player who manages to pot all the ten ball wins the game.

Straight Pool

Straight pool, which is also called continuous pool, is a more advanced pool game. However, it does help you get better at both 8 and 9 ball.

Therefore, if you want a challenge, and you’ve got some time on your hands, this is the pool game for you.

Straight pool was seen as America’s first official tournament game in 1912 and remained the game of choice until the 1980s.

However, as the popularity of eight and nine ball grew, straight pool lost its appeal.

Especially, as it takes a couple of hours to complete. However, this game is perfect to practice your breakup shots.


This is seen as a multi-rack game, which is all about continuous scoring. You are not limited by anything, and the numbers on the balls don’t mean anything.

The aim is to pot any ball, and each ball is seen as one point. The first player to reach the previously agreed goal is the winner.

As a beginner, we would recommend setting the goal to 30. Then, as you become more advanced, you can increase the goal to up to 60.

Sometimes the goal can just depend on how much time you have to play.

In the tournaments, professionals usually have a goal of 150, however, they are much more familiar and confident with the game.

Once all the balls have been pocketed except for the cue and one remaining ball, it is time to re-rack the pocket balls to continue play.

Once the balls have been re-racked with a space at the top vacant for the remaining ball. The player who made the last shot pockets the remaining ball and breaks up the new rack simultaneously.

This is the hardest part of the game. You want to pocket your remaining ball but break up the rack all in one go to carry on playing. It takes a lot of practice to get it right.

Cutthroat Pool

Cutthroat Pool

Cutthroat pool is a great game when there is an odd number of players, like 3 or 5. However, this game is really easy to play for beginners. Each player is assigned a group of balls.

The aim of this game is to eliminate the other players’ balls. The winner is the person whose balls are left on the table after all the others have been eliminated.

When claiming your balls, they are normally grouped in the following ways:

  • 3 Players – 1-5; 6-10; 11-15
  • 5 Players – 1-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12; 13-15

You will use a standard triangle to rack the balls. The 1 ball should be placed at the top of the rack.

While balls 6 and 11 should be placed in either corner of the triangle. The rest of the balls should be in random order.


It is up to you whether you want to call which shots you intend to pot. This means you will call out which ball you intend to pot into which pocket.

If you agree to play using called shots, and pocket an opponent’s ball in an unintended pocket, this is seen as an illegal move.

A legal shot in Cutthroat pool asks you to make contact with your opponent’s balls first.

You can’t hit your ball first. The aim is to pot your opponent’s ball or cause any numbered ball or cue ball to make contact with the cushion.

The penalty for any fouls caused is that one of each of your opponents pocketed balls are returned to the table. This means that no player is truly eliminated from the game.


Pool is a really fun game for anyone to learn how to play. It does require you to practice, which will help you improve your skills for this game.

However, this game has enjoyed popularity for many years and is continued to be seen played in bars today.

We have given you all the information that any beginner needs to begin playing pool.

Now you have all this information, you can go and develop your skills and start playing all the games that pool has to offer.

Dave White