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An easy beginners guide to understanding snooker rules

Playing snooker can be daunting if you are a beginner.

You may be thinking it’s too much, and you’ll never get the hang of it.

But just hang in there a tiny bit longer because we’re here to help.

This article has everything you need, from the lingo snooker players use to the game’s rules and everything in between. We’ll have you playing with the big boys in no time!

If you’re ready to play, let’s go shoot some balls. Lol.

Snooker Terms You Should Familiarize Yourself With

There are a few snooker terms you need to know to play the game well. `We’ll look at the most common and important one’s you’ll need to know.


A game of snooker is called a frame. A game can have as few as three frames or as many as thirty-five games for world championships. Players agree on the number of frames. It has to be an odd number like 3,5, or 7.

Cue ball

In snooker, the white ball is the only ball that players are allowed to strike with the tip of a cue stick.


The 15 red balls at the start of each frame a player must pot on every turn.


The term refers to the six balls, excluding the cue ball and the reds (green, yellow, brown, blue, pink and black).

Ball ON

The ball a player nominates or intends to shoot at with the cue ball.


Putting a ball into one of six snooker table pockets.

Spotting balls

Reds are not spotted during a game. They are not returned to their original spots once they are pocketed. Colors are spotted back to their spots or as close as possible to the spot if there’s another ball occupying it.


In this scenario, there is no direct pathway for the cue ball to hit the ball ON. The cue ball is snookered if obstructed in all positions on or in the ‘D’.


When a player breaks the rules of play, they commit a foul.


When one player fouls such that their opponent is snookered and unable to strike any balls ON, they are given a Free ball. The player can choose any ball on the table as a free ball for this shot only. They must nominate it as the ball ON. If potted, it will count as a legal shot and will be spotted back on the table.


The main objective in a snooker game is to score more ball points and win more frames than your opponent.

To do this, you must shoot the white cue ball and pot as many objects balls in a set sequence in one of the six table pockets.

The ins and outs of snooker tables

Typical English or international snooker tables measure six by twelve feet long and are just under three feet tall. There are six pockets into which balls are potted. Four of the pockets are on each corner of the table, and the remaining two pockets are in the middle of each long side cushion.

A snooker game starts from one end of the table width called the baulk. A line is drawn 29 inches across the baulk cushion, called the baulk line. The baulk line runs parallel to the baulk cushion. The D is a semi-circle drawn at the center of the baulk line. It has a radius of eleven and a half inches.

A few ball basics

Snooker balls are generally made of phenolic resin and are approximately 52.5 mm in diameter, although most manufacturers make them up to 52.6 mm. There are fifteen red balls, six ‘colors ‘ (green, brown, yellow, blue, pink and black) balls and one white cue ball. The point values are red 1, yellow 2, green 3, brown 4, blue 5, pink 6 and black 7.

The object balls are set up as follows :

  • The yellow, brown and green balls are placed left to right on the baulk line within the D. The mnemonic God Bless You is commonly used to remember this formation.
  • The blue ball goes right in the center of the table.
  • Halfway between the blue ball and the top cushion(the opposite side of the baulk cushion) sits the pink ball.
  • The fifteen red balls are set up in a tight pyramid between the pink and black balls, with the apex as close to the pink ball as possible without touching it.
  • The black ball sits in the center behind the reds, twelve and three-quarters inches from the top cushion.

Snooker rules for scoring and bagging the game

Points are awarded in two ways:

  • Points are given for fouls committed by an opponent
  • Legally potting balls either reds or colors

How you should play snooker

Each game starts with a coin toss. The player who bags the coin toss makes the first break (the first frame).

The first shot of each turn is made with the cue ball inside the D-area.

The player must strike a red ball or a free ball nominated as a red ball.

Once a player is unav to pot a ball legally, a foul(see fouls) is called, and the opponent has the option to become the striker or ask the fouling player to break again.

If a player pots a red ball (ball ON), they are awarded one point, and their next shot has to be one of the colors. That ball becomes the ball ON.

Players must nominate or state the colors ball they plan to strike beforehand. It’s not necessary to nominate reds. As long as any reds remain on the table, the player must alternate between reds and colors until they fail to pot a targeted ball.

When a red ball is potted, it remains in the pocket, but an object ball is spotted and put back onto its spot on the table unless another ball occupies it.

In that case, it is put as close as possible to its original starting position.

If a player is unable to pot a ball or fouls it, their turn comes to an end, and their opponent gets a turn.

As long as there are reds on the table, an incoming player must strike it on every first turn. Once all the red balls are off the table, players pot the object balls in numerically, from the lowest to the highest value.

Any legally potted colors are not spotted and remain off the table.

The game is ended when the last ball is off the table.

The player with the highest score wins. A game also ends when a player resigns as there are not enough balls on the table to make up for their opponent’s score.

The maximum number of points a player can score in a single turn at the table is 147. It is achieved by potting a red then a black ball 15 times (15 reds,15 blacks). It’s pretty rare to get a 147.

Foul rules in snooker

A player who commits a foul is immediately penalized, and their opponent is awarded the value of the ball struck or four points, whichever is greater.

Common Snooker Fouls

  1. Striking another ball that is not the ball ON or failing to hit any ball.
  2. When a player pots any other ball that is not the ball ON or potting the cue ball.
  3. A push shot happens when the tip of a player’s cue remains in contact with the cue ball when it strikes the target ball or when the cue ball has started rolling forward.
  4. If the cue ball is struck such that it jumps over the ball ON, a ‘jump shot’ foul stroke is called.
  5. Hitting a red or a color ball off the table.
  6. Striking the cue ball with both feet off the floor.
  7.  Touching any of the object balls or reds is a foul.
  8. If a cue ball touches another ball on the table, the referee will declare ‘touching ball’, and the player must play away from it. If the other ball moves, it’s fouled.
  9. Pocketing two balls (pocketing two reds is allowed, though) on the same stroke.
  10. Striking when there are balls still moving from a previous shot.

A penalty of seven points is incurred for the following fouls:

  1. A player fouls after potting a red but before nominating a color.
  2. Striking reds in successive strokes.
  3. Using a ball that is not on the table during a game.
  4. Using any other ball as the cue ball.

Now that you are in the know, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Practice, practice, practice till you have fully mastered the game. And who knows, maybe we’ll be reading about you having won a world championship title soon.