The felt surface. The hard clack of balls bouncing off one another. The feel of cue chalk on your fingers. Chances are you’ve played pool or billiards at some point in your life. Your experience might be limited to some crazy nights in college, but still. It’s one of those common games that most of us at least know the basics. So, why not introduce it to your family? There are many fun, kid-friendly pool games and billiards games you can enjoy with your crew.
Generally speaking, billiards refers to any type of tabletop game played with a cue stick and ball. Pool essentially means a game played on a table with six pockets into which balls can be deposited. Since billiards can include variations without pockets, there is a distinction between the two. However, most people in a casual setting use the terms interchangeably.
Playing pool may sound pretty easy, but we’re not all Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. Like anything else, it takes practice to become a pool shark. As luck would have it, you can hone your skills with plenty of easy pool games and billiards games. You’ll probably be shocked to discover just how many pool games there are available to play online or in-person.
Pool games are not only a blast to play but also require skill and strategy. If you haven’t played pool before or are looking to sharpen your skills, finding a pool game to play online or offline is worth giving a shot (no pun intended). Here are some of our favorite pool games and billiard games to try right now.
Pool Games and Billiard Games to Try
The goal of 8-Ball is to be the first to sink all of your balls (known as object balls) in pockets. Once you’ve pocketed all of your balls, you must then sink the 8-Ball. But you have to call the pocket beforehand — and sink it into that pocket — to win.
This rotation game uses only the first nine balls. The object of 9-Ball pool is to sink the balls in ascending order, 1 to 9. Players must hit the lowest numbered ball on the table, and the game is won by calling and pocketing the ninth ball.
One Pocket involves only two pockets for scoring — one for each player. Any ball you aim for might end up in your target pocket. You want to sink a total of eight object balls in your target pocket before your opponent, for a total of eight points.
Want a unique challenge? This game only uses three balls. You can play it with more than two players, each of you taking a turn to sink all the balls and tallying how many shots it took before moving onto the next player. The objective of 3-Ball is to have the fewest number of shots at the end of the round. Whoever achieves that wins the game.
Say hello to a game for aspiring pool sharks! Like baseball, the idea is that each player gets nine innings to score as many points as possible (with an inning being your run at the balls on the table). Here, players use a rack of 21 balls, with each ball counting for its numerical face value. And, oh yeah, every ball must be called before being pocketed. After one player shoots for nine innings, the next player takes a turn. Whoever pockets the highest number of balls based on face value wins.
A great three-person game, Cut-Throat involves each played being assigned ball groupings: 1 to 5, 6 to 10, or 11 to 15. The objective is to be the only player left with any balls still on the table. Which means you want to sink your opponents’ balls.
Got a pool newb in the family? Hey, it’s OK if that newb is you. Look no further than this game, which is one of the simplest games to play. The object of the game is to reach 61 points. The face value of each ball is the number of points you receive by pocketing the ball. It’s generally a good idea to shoot for the highest-numbered ball first. However, here’s the trick: Each player gets one shot only on their turn, whether they miss or make the shot. Then the turn will immediately go to the next player.
Yep, it’s like bowling for billiards! You can play this one with others or by yourself. The objective of the game is to get the most points after 10 frames. Rack 10 balls in a triangle, with each player getting two innings per frame. Try to hit as many balls as possible in any order, calling each shot. Each ball counts for one point. If you make all 10 balls in the first inning, you’ve gotten a strike!
This billiards game is a combination of darts and pool. Turn the pockets on the pool table into points! Make the middle pocket worth 10 points and the red and yellow balls worth 20. You can make the end pockets worth five. Assign a certain amount of points to each color and pocket. There will be no assigned pool balls and the person who gets the most points wins.
Instead of focusing on stripes and solids, the first person to get eight balls in wins the game. There’s no need to call pockets, and the 8-ball isn’t a piece player need to be wary of. The kids won’t even need a strategy to play. So if you break the rack and get one in and continue to get balls in after each shot, you win once you reach eight. Be sure to play rock paper scissors or flip a coin to see who goes first.
Do you lose if you hit the 8-ball in? In most games of pool, it’s best to steer clear of this tricky black sphere. Getting it in a pocket before the game is over can cause you to lose or be fouled. In some games, it’s an immediate loss. Jumping or knocking the 8-ball off the table can also cause you to lose. It’s frowned upon to get both the 8-ball and the cue ball into a pocket together too. And incorrectly marking a pocket while shooting an 8-ball can also be an automatic loss, depending on who you play with.
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