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How to play billiards

If you are looking up how to play billiards, I’m betting my last 20 bucks that the game has been around much longer than you have. Please don’t feel bad. I’m sure my grandparents are younger than this table game too.

This game was first played over 600 years ago. Did you just do a double-take? Lol, I did too. That is a long time to keep a game around, right. But as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

In this article, I’m going to keep it short, sweet and very informative. Let me get right to the good stuff.

The art of playing billiard games. The A-Z on how to play like a pro

Like any known game, there is always a few tips and tricks to keep up your sleeve if you want to be victorious. But before tips and tricks, how about a bit of a history lesson? Consider it the ice breaker for the article.


The first billiards game was played in the 1340s. It was a lawn game, believe it or not. Yup, no tables insight. It was also very similar to croquet. This game was then developed to be played indoors on a green table and a simple border. The green cloth was made to emulate grass. It was a game played by all classes, from the King down to a common peasant.

Initially, it was played with two object balls on a table with six pockets using a hoop similar to a croquet wicket. There was also an upright stick that was used as a target. The hoop and target gradually disappeared during the 18th century, leaving the balls and pockets only. 


To play this billiards game, you will need the following items -; which by the way, you can find at any if not all billiards stores.

  1. Cue sticks
  2. Cue ball
  3. Three object balls; one yellow, one red and one white
  4. Cue rack
  5. Bridge
  6. Chalk
  7. Cue cleaner
  8. Table (of course)
  9. Billiard balls

Playing billiards games |Aim of the game

The aim of this game is pretty straightforward, to score more points than your opponent does.

Rules of Billiards

The rules of the billiards game have evolved over the years. It is usual with any game as players often change rules to suit their needs. Rules in the UK might differ from those in the USA because they are two very different continents. But the basics remain. The UK billiards rules are the most common because of how it combines many different games into one.

  • Players must flip a coin to determine who plays first.
  • They must agree on a score number to reach to claim the win before the game begins.
  • Two players or two teams play the game.
  • Potting balls against your opponent earn points.
  • Each player must play using their cue stick and cue ball.
  • The red object ball will be placed on the billiards head spot. Then, the player breaking first must place their white cue ball (or yellow ball) in the D and shoot their ball.
  • Scoring is to be taken in turns.
  • Players must stay at the table until or unless they fail to score/ pot a ball.
  • An opposing player is allowed to have all the balls placed back in their spots or play his shot after a foul


  1. It is a foul or a scratch if the cue ball is pocketed.
  2. If the cue ball bumps or touches an object ball that has already been potted e.g in a pocket full of object balls), that shot is considered to be a foul
  3. A foul also occurs when an opponent’s ball does not hit any other object ball. In this case, one point is given to the other player’s score.
  4. When a player’s ball goes straight into a pocket without hitting any other object ball


Most billiards games, just like any other, are won by having the highest score. You can score points in three different ways in English billiards;

For Two Points

  • Performing a Canon shot is when a player’s cue ball strikes both of the other balls.
  • By pocketing or going in off the opponent’s ball

For Three Points

  • Pocketing or scoring shot on the red ball.

You are allowed to play any of the combinations of these shots from one strike.


What are the different types of Billiards games?

There is more than one type of billiards game, Two to be exact. They are all played on a table with the same dimensions of 12 feet by 6 feet. They use a cue stick, an object ball, and, of course, a cue ball.

What is Carom Billiards?

The word carom means any strike and rebound. There are four main carom variations, namely balkline, one-cushion, three-cushion, and artistic billiards. Out of these, three-cushion carom is the most popular. The three standard balls in carom billiards games are one white cue ball, another yellow cue ball and a third red object ball.

The objective of Caroms

The main objective of caroms is to strike one of the white or yellow cue balls into both of the other objective balls. This applies to all four types of caroms.

How it’s Played: Played on a pocketless table with a heated surface to eliminate moisture and speed up the game action. A player scores points by rebounding his/her cue ball off both the object ball and the opponent’s cue ball in one shot.


  • Any hits, strikes and or rebounds made by the cue ball before coming to rest considered as one carom.
  • Each successful carom completed earns a player one point.
  • The white cue ball hits the object balls one after the other. But you can hit balls any number of times just as long as both balls are hit.
  • The cue can hit the cushions at any point before or after hitting the first object ball.
  • The cue ball does not have to bump three different cushions, as long as the ball touches any cushion at least three times.

What are the three-cushion billiards rules?


  • The first player is allowed to choose either any ball white or yellow.
  • The red ball is kept on the foot spot and the white ball on the head string.
  • The cue ball must be placed within six inches of the white object ball on either side of the billiard table.
  • The cue ball must strike the red ball first on the first break shot.
  • In the following shots, the cue ball hits either a red or white ball.
  • The first player can choose their next cue ball if they score on their opening shot.

What is Pocket Billiards?

This cue sport is also called straight pool. It is played on the same table as the other billiards games. It also uses the same three balls.

How it’s played; Players must use the cue tip and cue ball to pot any other ball on the table, regardless of the colour. In this game, a player must call the ball before pocketing each one. One object ball earns one point. Each game may be played for up to 100 or 150 points. Because of this, they often re-rack, which makes games last much longer than typical eight-ball matches.


  1. You are not restricted to just solids or stripes
  2. The eight balls are not different from the other balls
  3. It is a called game, and each ball is worth one point
  4. The first to reach the agreed score is the winner


If you play pool, this article is a breath of fresh air because I touched on all the variations of billiards. You may be a pineapple person, but peaches and cream don’t hurt at all once in a while. I know eight-ball is fun, but variety is the spice of life. I’ve given you all the info that a billiards game requires. Now go and try something new.

We have come to the end of this article. I hope that I quenched your thirst for knowledge on the fantastic game of billiards.