What is carom billiards and how to play it

  • By: Rob
  • Date: April 23, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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Do you enjoy playing pool? If so, you may be interested in learning about carom billiards – a similar but slightly different game. Carom is a great variation of pool that have some clear differences in the way you play, score points and the equipment used.

Carom billiards is played pocketless billiards table. The objective is to score counts by making successful caroms. The game can be played either solo or against an opponent, and is a great way to improve your pool skills! It’s considered one of the hardest forms of billiards to play.

In this article, we will explain what carom billiards is and how to play three-cusion billiards. We will also provide tips for improving your game. So if you are ready to learn more about this fun and challenging cue sport, keep reading!

What is carom billiards

Carom billiards, also known as carambole billiards or simply caroms, is a billiards discipline in which players use cues to hit weighted balls, with the objective being to”carom” the object ball.

The word carom comes from the French carambolage, meaning “to strike (something) with a sharp blow.”

You can also check out this video below to explain what is Carom billiards. I also run through what it is in detail below.

Carom billiards is an area of billiards that is significantly different from other billiard games like snooker or 8-ball.

Some common games that fall under the carom billiard are; one-cushion, straight rail, balkline, three-cushion, and artistic billiards.

All have slightly different variations on the rules but all use caroms to score points.

Two of the main differences between other cue sports and carom billiards is that;

  • Carom billiard tables are pocketless. The tables are made using 4 rail cushions without any pockets.
  • They usually only require 3 balls to play

This is in contrast to pocket billiards which is played on a table that has 6 pockets and 15+ balls

It’s believed that Carom billiards first came about in the 18th century in France, but the details of its history are a little hazy.

Today, carom billiards is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels around the world. While the game can be played on any size table, competitive tournaments are typically played on regulation-size tables that measure 5 feet by 10 feet.

Some consider Carom billiards to be one of the most difficult forms of all cue sports. Carom billiards is a very strategic game, and requires a lot of precision and skill.

With pocket billiards some of the lines you need to take maybe more obvious whereas, with carom, the player needs to have an understanding of bank shots.

How do you win in carom billiards

There are many forms of carom billiards but the general idea of all forms of carom is the same, to score points and win. Points or “counts” as they are usually called in carom are scored when you make a successful carom shot.

A carom shot is when the cue ball hits an object ball and then hits another object ball or the rail. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Whoever reacher the number of counts needed first is declared the winner.

For example;

With three-cushion billiards also known as three-cushion carom, is a popular form of carom billiards. Counts are scored when you carom the cue ball off both object balls and where the cue ball bounces off at least three cushions BEFORE the last object ball.

Counts are scored for each carom made.

To win at 3-cushion billiards a player will need to score the number of points required to win the game.

If the agreed amount is 100 counts, then the fitst people to reach that number is the winner.

Carom billiards table

A carom billiards table is a lot like a regular pocket billiard table, except that there are no pockets.

A typical carom billiard table is measured 10ft x 5ft, which is slightly bigger than standard pool tables but smaller than a snooker table.

Other than the size and it being a pocketless table everything else is similar.

The table bed will be made from slate or particleboard and the playing field of the table is surrounded by rail cushions.

Carom billiards rules

Each carom billiard game has slightly different rules but some common ones are:

  • If you fail to make a count your opponent gets the opportunity to play.
  • To score a count you must carom the cue ball off the object ball. Different games have different variations of this. — In Three-cushion billiards, you score counts by hitting both object balls but before the last object ball is hit, the cue ball must bounce off three cushions. —– In One-cushion billiards its very similar to Three-cushion billiards except just one cushion needs to be hit before the last bject ball is hit. Balkline, counts are scored by hitting the opponents ball and the object ball in one shot.
  • If you make a sucsessful carom shot then you continue your turn.
  • If your opponent commits a foul, or you make a successful carom shot, it is awarded to you and counts.
  • Shooting with the wrong cue ball is a foul and if called the offending player will lose their turn and a count is awarded to the opponent. — -The ball is to be played from where it is.

Carom billiards tips

If you’re just starting out in carom billiards, here are a few tips to help you improve your game:

– Practice, practice, practice! The more you play, the better you’ll get.

– Pay attention to the angle of the cue stick when you hit the ball. This is important for accuracy.

  • Carom is all about understanding bank shots, understanding the diamonds on the rails, and learning the angles.

– Use the correct cue stick. This will help you control the cue ball better.

  • Straight rail, balkline generally use lighter (17 oz) and shorter cues (55 inches),with the tip diamiter smaller (11 mm)
  • 3 cushion billiards generally use heavier (18 oz) and longer cues (56 inches), with the tip diamiter bigger (12mm).

– Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shots. The more you try, the more you’ll learn about the game.

Carom billiards is a challenging and exciting game that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s always something new to learn in this fascinating sport.

Carom billiards scoring

In carom billiards, scoring points or counts as the are called is all about making caroms.

Unlike other pool games, there are no pockets, so you can’t simply sink the ball into a hole. Instead, you need to bounce the ball off of the cushions and into one of your opponent’s balls.

If you can do this, then you’ll earn one point.

There are some nuances to the scoring system depending on which carom game you are playing but making caroms is always the aim.

The game is typically played to 100 points, but this can vary depending on the rules that are in place. So, if you want to rack up the points in carom billiards, then you need to make every shot count.

What is the difference between carom and billiard

Carom and billiard are two related but distinct cue sports. Both involve striking a cue ball with a cue stick in order to strike one or more object balls, but the specific rules and equipment used in each game vary significantly.

Carom is played on a pocketless table with three or four balls – It used to be two white cue balls and one red object ball, but to make it clearer for spectators they changed the ball colors to 1 white cue ball, 1 yellow cue ball and a red object ball.

Depending on the Carom game, a fourth ball may be used.

The objective is to carom the object ball to score points.

The objective of Pocket billiard, on the other hand, is to sing your balls in the pocket to score points.

How to play carom billiards

As we mentioned already, there are many forms of Carom, one of them is called “three-cushion billiards” – which is mainly what we will look at here. to get a better idea about three cushion, you can watch this video below featuring one of the game’s greatest, Efren Reyes.

Carom billiards is a branch of billiards that is made up of many different games. Similar to the way “pool” is made of 8-ball, 9-ball, 10-ball etc.

As with pool, each variation of the sport has different rules. With Carom the rules are similar with some slight differences.

  • Caram billiards is a turn-based game
  • You score points or counts on your go. If you foul or fail to score on your go, then your turn is passed to your opponent.
  • To win, a player needs to reach a predetermined amount of points.
  • To score (three-cushion billiards), a player needs to carom the opponent’s cue ball, then bounce of three cushions and strike the object ball – This can be achieved in any order. A Succesful carom is 1 count.

Each carom game is slightly different, but I will explain how to play three-cushion billiards.

To start:

The object ball (red ball) is placed on its spot and at the opposite end of the table the yellow cue ball is placed, the white cue ball is placed either slightly to the left or right of the yellow ball.

The person who has the white cue ball goes first.

Once a player reachers the amount of points needed, then that player wins the game.


So there you have it – everything you need to know about carom billiards! This challenging game can be a lot of fun and is a great way to improve your pool skills. If you’re interested in playing, be sure to find an opponent or practice solo on a pocketless billiards table. And most importantly, have fun!

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.

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