How to Play Pool

Playing billiards or pool or cue sports have been around since the 15th century and is still among the favorite table games around the world to this day. Here’s how to play pool.



Playing billiards needs a neatly cushioned pool table with 6 pockets located at the sides and corners where numbered heavy balls are to be shot. Each player needs a cue stick each to strike the cue ball with. They also need cue chalk to keep that cue stick able to strike the balls cleanly.

Playing the Game

To begin playing billiards, the players (often two) should decide who should start the game. This is sometimes decided by the players each picking a ball with eyes closed and then see who has the ball with the highest number on it. Then all balls are placed at one end of the table in a triangular formation, with the help of a triangular rack, except the white numberless cue ball. These are the first steps on how to play pool.

Balls and the Cue Stick

The first player stands at the other end of the table, assuming a semi crouching stance to lower the body to the table while holding the cue stick. If the first player, player A, is right-handed, player A uses the left thumb, forefinger, and middle finger to guide the cue tip (the narrower end) and uses the right hand to hold the cue butt (the broader end) and push it with.

Hitting, Shooting, and Winning

Playing billiards means player A should hit the cue ball with the cue stick tip and make the cue ball hit the triangular formation of balls at the other end of the table. If player A misses, player B takes the next turn. When the ball formation is hit and jumbled, each player takes turn hitting the balls according to number using the cue ball and tries to shoot them into any of the 6 pockets. The player with the most number of balls shot into the pockets wins. The sum of the numbers of the balls shot into pockets also determine who wins. This is how to play pool and how one wins in it.

There are many variants where one player will shoot the stripes and the other will shoot solids. Then there is 9 ball where the players shoot 1 through 9 consecutively with the player sinking the 9 ball winning. Whatever the variant, players sink balls by shooting the white cue ball into the other balls thus sinking them into a pocket.

The Key to Winning

Playing billiards aims to hit the white cue ball with the cue stick tip with the right amount of force, timing, and accuracy. The cue tip should hit the cue ball in the center for greatest power and force. This is enhanced by rubbing the tip with a cue chalk for firmer contact. The cue ball alone should hit the other balls to shoot them into the pockets.

As mentioned earlier, a popular variant is 9-ball. Hitting other balls with the cue ball should begin with ball 1 then ball 2 then ball 3 then ball 4 and so on. Hitting ball 3 (the wrong ball) when ball 2 (the right ball) is still on the table is a foul, and the other player gets a fresh chance at hitting ball 2 by “spotting.”


A “spot” is when a player fails to hit the right ball (ball 2 in the example above) and hits other balls with the cue ball instead. The next player gets a chance for a spot. The other player can now place the cue ball anywhere on the table setting up their own shot and play continues.

Hitting the Right Ball But Shooting Another

Any player may shoot any ball into any pocket as long as the player first hits the right ball with the cue ball at the time of engagement. If the cue ball hits other balls before it hits the right ball, and other balls get shot into pockets in the process, the turn is forfeited and the other player gets a spot.

If the cue ball is shot into any pocket, the turn is forfeited and the cue ball is returned to the table. Then the other player is privileged with a spot.

Further Reading on How to Play Pool

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