Billiards is a collection of skill games that originated in England during the reign of the British Empire. Although it was previously played in Commonwealth countries, the game has spread worldwide, with countries such as Russia developing their unique iterations.
Want to know more about the different types of billiard games? Allow me to fill you in a little on the basics before you watch:-
Billiard games are a variety of games played on a rectangular table, with a defined number of small balls together with a cue stick.
All types of billiards are considered cue sports, as they are all played with a cue.
I have detailed many of the different types of billiards below – be sure to give some of the videos a watch, this way you can really appreciate at the skill some of these players possess.
Different Types of Billiard Games
What are cue sports and what are the different types of billiards?
There are a number of different types of billiard games and they fall under two broad categories of cue sports, Carom Billiards and pocket billiards. Carom billiard games are played on pocketless tables, while pocket billiard games are played on tables with pockets.
As depicted in the graphic below: 8 ball, 9 ball and snooker fall under the category of pocket billiards and carom and three-cushion fall under the category of carom billiards, or simply billiards
If you are interested to know in more detail about the differences between pool, carom and snooker then i recommend you check out this article i wrote.
Types of carom billiards
Carom billiards refers to games played on pocket-less tables that measure 10 feet in length.
There are many different types of billiards under the carom billiards umbrella, such games include:
- artistic billiards
- balkline and straight rail
- cushion caroms
- three-cushion billiards.
Artistic or fantasy billiards is a cue sport in which players compete by hitting the ball for 76 shots of differing difficulty. Each shot has its point value ranging from four for the ‘simplest’ shot and twelve for the ‘most challenging’ shot.
If you were to attain a perfect score for all 76 balls, you would get 500 points.
Balkline and Straight Rail
Balkline is a general term used to refer to carom billiards played with a red object ball and two cue balls. The playing table measures ten feet by five feet has no pockets but has divisions called balk spaces that are demarked by balklines.
Before the introduction of the balklines, spectators complained that the game was too easy that top players scored many points. As a result, balklines were added to make the game more challenging to players and exciting to the spectators.
The game, initially known as straight rail, had no balklines. To score a point, you had to hit both object balls with the cue ball after a single stroke. A player wins if they attain the number of points agreed upon by other players.
Cushion caroms were previously known as the indirect game. It is played on a table similar to balklines’, and it also has two cue balls and one red ball. In this game, you have to hit the cue ball against both object balls and hit the rail at least once before the second object ball gets hit. If this happens, you get a point; when no ball gets hit, a point gets deducted. The first player to reach the agreed number of points is the winner.
The game draws its name from the number of balls used to play it; two red and two white. One of the white balls is usually spotted to make it distinctive (in some cases, a yellow ball is used). The players use the white (or yellow) balls as the cue balls.
You score a point if the cue ball strikes and rebounds on any two of the other three balls on the playing table. If the cue ball hits all the other three balls, you get two points. If you only strike one object ball, you get zero points and hand over the cue stick to the next player.
In three-cushion billiards, the goal is to rebound the cue ball away from the object balls and contact the rail cushion three or more times before it hits the final object ball. Each player has their cue ball (white and yellow) with the neutral being red. You have to hit an object ball first, after which the order of striking the cushions and the other ball does not matter.
Pocket billiards – Pool
Pool is a form of pocket billiards and has many different types of billiard games.
The table used for pool usually measures between seven, eight or nine feet in length.
It has quite a few variations, namely:
- 8-ball pool
- 9-ball pool
- 10-ball pool
- bank pool
- straight pool.
Have you ever wondered why people call it pool? It might surprise you to find out the reason why – You should definitely check that article out.
There are many different types of billiard games out there to choose from, but the most played type of billiard game would be 8 ball.
8-ball pool, also known as stripes and solids, is a popular variation of pool played by both amateurs and professionals.
The playing table has six pockets. The game starts with sixteen balls – a white cue ball, seven solid balls, seven striped balls, and a black 8-ball.
In the beginning, the balls are grouped, and one player scatters them by hitting a break shot. Once a player legally pockets a solid ball, the other player gets assigned stripes. The reverse is also true.
The objective of the game is to pocket the 8-ball in a called pocket once a player clears all of their legally assigned balls. If you pocket the black ball before clearing your balls, the opponent wins. The same applies if you have cleared the table but pocket both the cue ball and the 8-ball during the final shot.
Another type of billiard game is 9 ball. This popular game gets played on a six-pocket billiards table with ten balls – one cue ball and nine object balls. The objective of the game is to pot the 9-ball legally.
A legal shot occurs when you hit the cue ball into the lowest numbered object ball and driving either of the two into the rails. You do not have to pocket the balls sequentially provided you hit the lowest numbered ball first.
If you pot the 9-ball while other balls are, nonetheless, on the board, you win the game. Because it takes a short time to complete, 9-ball pool is mostly played in a race to set of games, such as best of five.
This type of billiard game is considered a more challenging alternative of 9-ball pool.
The rules are similar, with the only difference being that all shots besides the break shot have to be called. For this reason, it is mostly played by professionals.
One-pocket pool is different from other types of billiards in that only two pockets are active, with each player having their designated pocket.
Every time you pot a ball into your pocket, you earn a point. You can hit any ball regardless of its colour or number, and the first person to pocket eight balls wins the game. Potting a ball into the wrong pocket is a foul, and three consecutive fouls mean that the opponent wins the game.
This is another variation of cue sports is slightly different from its pool bothers.
Bank pool requires players to bank called shots into called pockets after striking it against the cushion.
There are no combo shots, kick shots and kiss shots in this variation of pool; the cue has to hit the object ball directly.
To win, you have to be the first to bank five or eight balls, depending on the type of rack you are playing.
This is another type of billiards that has somewhat different rules.
In straight pool, you can strike any ball on the table since the aim is to reach a set number of points.
Each ball that gets legally potted earns you a point, and you have to do it until you reach the agreed-upon maximum, say 125.
The player has to call the ball they intend to hit as well as the pocket they are targeting.
Cutthroat is a different billiard game to the others as this is more for fun.
The above games are also for fun, but they also have a profecional element.
At the start, each player gets five consecutively numbered object balls or less, depending on the number of people playing. The aim of the activity is to be the final player to have at the minimum, one of the assigned object balls remaining on the table. A player gets eliminated if they pot all of their balls before the game ends.
Pocket billiards – Snooker
Snooker is a type of billiard game that fulls under the pocket billiard side of cue sports.
It’s played on a six-pocket table called a snooker table which measures twelve feet in length and six feet in width. Its the cue sport that uses the largest table to play on.
The difference between snooker and pool is in their history, culture and terminologies and size of the tables.
The game starts with 21 balls – one cue ball and twenty object balls. The goal is to pot all of the remaining balls in the correct order. Each of the balls has a designated number of points, and the player who scores the highest number wins.
Other than caroms, pool and snooker, there are different types of billiard games such as English billiards and Russian pyramid.
As you can see, there are quite a few different types of billiard games out there. Some fall under the carom billiards catagery and other fall under the pocket billiards one.
Similar to other disciplines, cue sports are under constant evolution. You should expect to see new variations of billiards in the future as players attempt to make the game more challenging and exciting.
Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.