Billiards Games: Learn 5 different Ways To Play

billiards games featured image of two billiard balls

Where you aware that there’s more than three billiards games to play when it comes to billiards pool tables? Most of us are accustomed to playing 8-ball pool and maybe if your one of the few you’re into Snooker or Carom Billiards. If you’re anything like most pool table owners in Canada, you play 8-ball and it’s probably your top choice in billiard games.

Click here to learn the difference between snooker vs. pool vs. billiards

So why would you want to play anything different? Maybe you’re an 8-Ball pool wizard and your friends suck at pool, so you need to even the playing field. The chances are if you own a pool table, your skills are probably more developed than your guests who don’t play as much. Learning a new billiard game can be a way to keep everyone stimulated by changing the rules to a game that isn’t so familiar. 

Whatever the case is, make it a point to try these billiards games out when the opportunity presents itself. Each game has its charm but like any new game, you’ll need to give it a few tries to really pass fair judgement. Playing a few games will allow everyone to get the hang of things and give them a chance to fully understand the allure of what the game has to offer.

For die-hard billiards fans or competitive 8-ball players, perhaps none of these may be an equal substitute. Regardless of which games is your ulitamte fav, if you’re ready to try something different, here are a few billiards games might enjoy playing.

Cutthroat Pool

Here’s a game that is best played with 3 or 5 players. It’s perfect for when you have an odd number of players since no one has to sit out and wait to play.

How to win at cutthroat pool

The goal of the game is to sink the other team’s balls before they sink yours. In other words, you win when your balls are the only ones left on the table.

How to set it up

To start, divide the balls into groups according to the number of players.

So if there are 3 players, there are 3 groups of 5 balls:

  • Group 1: Balls numbered 1-5
  • Group 2: Balls numbered 6-10
  • Group 3: Balls numbered 11-15

If there are 5 players, there are 5 groups of 3 balls each:

  • Group 1: Balls numbered 1-3
  • Group 2: Balls numbered 4-6
  • Group 3: Balls numbered 7-9
  • Group 4: Balls numbered 10-12
  • Group 5: Balls numbered 13-15

Rack the balls just as you would a regular 8-ball pool game.

how to rack the balls in an 8-ball pool game

How to determine which group is yours

The first person to sink a ball chooses their group first. Remember that the goal is to pocket your opponent’s balls so choose the group with the most balls currently on the table. Some balls may have been pocketed right off the break.

Second person to sink a ball chooses their group (and so forth if there are 5 players).

How to play cutthroat

Once you miss a shot or scratch, your turn is over.

If all of your balls are pocketed, you’re eliminated.

“The Last man standing” wins the game (player who has any of their balls on the table when all other players have been eliminated).

7-Ball (an alternative to 9-Ball)

If you enjoy a good game of 9-Ball, then 7-Ball might float your boat. The goal of the game is the same as 9-Ball, however, there are a few twists in this two-player thriller.

How to win at 7-Ball

  • You must follow the numerical order of balls, starting with sinking the lowest numbered ball first.
  • The player that sinks the 7-ball wins the game.

How to set it up

The balls are racked in the shape of a hexagon instead of a diamond. It started with the #1 ball at the top and follows the numerical order moving to the right. The 7-ball is in the middle.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7-ball-rack-order.jpg

You can use a diamond rack but there are also hexagon racks that you can use if you want to get fancy.

hexagon rack for 7-ball billiards game

If you only have a pyramid shaped rack:

  • Place a ball you don’t need at the top of the rack (any number between the 8-ball and 15-ball)
  • Follow the 7-ball racking sequence

The special twist to 7-Ball

Another rule that sets this game apart is that after player 1 breaks, player 2 must choose three pockets on one long side of the table. Player 1 (player who made the break shot, is assigned the 3 pockets on the opposite side of the table.

(Yes, you read it right. Don’t fret, it’s not as bad as you think.)

·  You’re allowed to sink balls numbered 1-6 in any pocket of the table.

·  You can ONLY sink the 7-ball in one of the three pockets that you chose (or were assigned).

How to play 7-ball

Apart from those subtle twist of how to pocket the last ball, the game of 7-Ball shares the same rules in 9-Ball:

  • The balls must be targeted in order from 1-7.
  • If you strike the target ball first, you can sink balls out of numerical order (shot combinations are legal).
  • If you scratch on the 7-ball you lose the game.
  • If a ball is pocketed out of order (you miss the target ball) you lose your turn but the ball will remain pocketed.

The infamous game of One Pocket

If you’re up for a challenge, One Pocket is an excellent way to mix things up and test your skills. You can play this game with two or four players.

Harpeth Pool Table: Check out The Harpeth II

How to win at One Pocket

The object of the game is to be the first to sink 8 balls. As the name of the game suggests, you only get one pocket to target.

How to choose your pocket

The eligible pockets to target are the two pockets at the foot of the table (one of the two pockets opposite from the breaking end of the table).

To decide who chooses the pocket you can toss a coin, have an arm wrestle, challenge a non-lethal duel or just simply have one person choose which pocket they will be targeting

The opponent will automatically be assigned the other pocket.

How to set it up and play

15 balls are used in this game and are racked just the same as you would a regular game of 8-Ball.

  • Once a pocket is chosen a player breaks to start the game.
  • You are allowed to hit ANY ball on the table into your pocket. 
  • Every ball is a target ball and is fair game (no losing on the 8-ball).
  • If you sink a ball in your pocket you continue your turn.
  • If you sink a ball in any pocket other than your own, the ball is retrieved and placed back on the table and your turn is over.
  • The first player or team to sink 8 balls in their pocket wins.


Ready to bring the thrills of the bowling alley directly into your games room? While this game may not be as well-known to the world, it doesn’t mean it’s not without merit. Bowlliards is the perfect blend of 8-ball and bowling. Surprise your firends and family by showing them how a way to bowl without the bowling alley.

Bill Murray in Kingpin

How to win at Bowlliards

The scoring system is identical to bowling. For the purists, you ultimately want to score a perfect game of 300 points. Points are scored by sinking as many balls as you can within each frame. To win against your competition you have to score the most points in 10 frames.

How to set up the table

Only 10 balls are used in this game (same as 10 pin bowling).

Rack 10 balls in a pyramid shape in any order.

classic set of balls for bowlliards (a type of billiards game)

Don’t think you need to go out and buy new balls. Any ten pool table balls will do for this game.

Regular balls for bowlliards
Can be in any order (random)

How to play

A frame will start with a break shot.

Each player tries to sink as many balls as possible within one frame.

Each player gets two chances in each frame. (If a player misses they can continue sinking balls until they miss a second time or sink them all)

If a player can sink ALL 10 balls in without missing, it’s a strike.

If a player misses once but finishes sinking all 10 balls it’s a spare.

If a player misses twice, they count the number of balls they sunk as their score for that frame.

How to score bowlliards

If you’re not familiar with how to score a bowling game, this could cause you some pain. Once you get the concept of how strikes and frames work it gets easier. Here are the basics:

  • Each ball is worth the same: 1 point.
  • A strike is worth 10 points plus the points you score in the next two bowls.
  • A spare is worth 10 points plus the points you score in the next bowl.

Just remember that when you score a strike, mark your score with an X. Just like roman numerals it’s worth 10 points. At the end of the game you have two more numbers in that frame because a strike is worth the 10 points plus the next two bowls.

The points you make on the next 2 bowls will be added to your strike in the previous frame AND the current frame you’re in. Click here for a detailed explanation on how to score in bowling.


15-Ball (Another 9-Ball Variation)

We’re going to cap off this billiard games extravaganza with a really easy one to remember (if you’re familiar with 9-Ball). If you enjoy a good game of 9-Ball then this will be right up your alley. It’s all the same action-packed rules as 9-Ball with the exception that you’re using 15 balls in the game.

How to win at 15-Ball

The player who sinks the 15-ball is the winner of the game.

How to set it up

Rack the balls using a pyramid shape rack.

Place the 15-ball in the middle.

Place the 1-ball at the top of the rack.

Place the 2 and 3-ball in opposite corners at the bottom of the rack.

How to play

You must target balls in order from least to greatest (start with the 1-ball and end on the 15-ball).

You can use combination shots to sink balls out of order (you must hit the target ball first).

If you scratch on the 15-ball you lose the game.

There’s an alternate version of 15-ball that we feel we should mention. It is also known as Rotation Pool which you can find all the rules here.

Billiard games for tables that last a lifetime

A quality pool table is something you can have in your home for more than 20 years with the proper maintenance. It’s nice to have a few different billiards games to play over the lifespan of your pool table. 

For any questions about billiard tables or games room furniture, give us a call. We’re happy to help in every way possible. 


New From Canadian Home Leisure

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.