What are English Billiards Rules: Complete Guide for Beginners.

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English billiards rules include the requirement of two players, three balls, and a pocketless table. The objective is to score points by hitting both the opponent’s and one’s own balls with the cue ball.

English billiards, sometimes called simply billiards, is a cue sport played by two players on a pocketless table with three balls – a red, white, and yellow. The game is played with a white cue ball and each player uses a white wooden cue to strike the balls.

The aim of english billiards is to score points by striking both the opponent’s and one’s own balls with the cue ball. Points can be earned by potting balls or by hitting them in a specific way according to the rules. There are various ways to score points, including cannon, in-off, and pot. The game is often played as a social activity and is considered a test of skill, strategy, and concentration.

What are English Billiards Rules: Complete Guide for Beginners.

Credit: rsbarcelona.com

Basic Rules Of English Billiards

English billiards is a game that most people have seen in sports bars but don’t really understand the rules of the game. In this guide, we will take a look at the basic rules of english billiards, especially for beginners.

Object Of The Game

The objective of english billiards is to score points. You score points by striking both object balls with your cue ball in a single shot. English billiards is played between two players or two teams.

Playing Equipment

The playing equipment for english billiards consists of:

  • One white cue ball
  • Two red object balls (each worth 1 point)
  • One white object ball (worth 4 points)
  • Two cues
  • A scoreboard

Game Setup

To set up a game of english billiards, follow the steps below:

  • Place the three balls in a triangle on one end of the table. The red balls should be at the bottom, with the white ball at the tip of the triangle. This setup is known as the pyramid.
  • The first player should break the pyramid by hitting the white cue ball towards the pyramid.
  • After the break, the player who scores has the first turn and tries to score points while adhering to the rules of the game.

Player’S Cue Movements

The player should strike the white cue ball with the tip of the cue, propelling the ball forward to make contact with the object balls. The player should aim the cue ball at the contacts or the spots on the object balls to hit them.

The cue ball should then bounce off the object balls and sides of the table to eventually come to a stop.

Legal Shots And Fouls

A player can score a point only if they make a legal shot. A legal shot entails:

  • Striking one of the object balls with the cue ball.
  • Having an object ball hit the opponent’s ball.
  • Pockting the opponent’s ball.

Any contact that does not meet these requirements is a foul. Fouls result in the opponent gaining points. The game may also get penalty points for fouls like playing out of turn or making double hits. The player earns a maximum of break points of 147 in an ideal game.

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Players must also avoid knocking the balls off the table. Therefore, players must play with care and control to avoid fouling or losing a turn.

These are the basic rules of english billiards that you should familiarize yourself with before you start playing this exciting game. Have fun and enjoy the game!

Advanced Rules Of English Billiards


  • A player can score when they pocket any red or colored ball legally. Scoring happens as follows –
  • Red ball = 1 point
  • Yellow ball = 2 points
  • Green ball = 3 points
  • Brown ball = 4 points
  • Blue ball = 5 points
  • Pink ball = 6 points
  • Black ball = 7 points

Patterns and strategies:

  • A player should focus on potting red balls first and then taking colored balls in a specific order.
  • Patterns can be useful when setting up a break, and it requires a player to analyze the best position for the cue ball after every shot.
  • Players should be aware of their opponent’s tactics and try to prevent them from establishing a break.


  • A break is a series of consecutive shots in which a player scores points continually.
  • A player needs to pot a red ball legally to begin the break.
  • Scoring depends on the number of balls potted consecutively – for example:
  • 30 breaks – player pots 30 points in a row.
  • 50 breaks – player pots 50 points in a row.
  • 75 breaks – player pots 75 points in a row.
  • A break ends when the player misses a shot or fails to pot a ball.

Different types of shots:

  • Screw shot – aiming low and screwing the ball back.
  • Top spin shot – aiming high, hitting above center, and giving the ball topspin.
  • Stun shot – hitting the ball in the center without follow-through or backswing.
  • Swerve shot – hitting the cue ball with side-spin to curve it around an obstructing ball.
  • Massé – striking the cue ball with extreme spin for a curved shot or jump shot.

Etiquette and sportsmanship:

  • Players should maintain good sportsmanship throughout the game.
  • Remaining still and silent while your opponent is taking their shot is a necessity.
  • Players should also be mindful of their language and behavior during the game.
  • It is advisable to congratulate your opponent on a good shot.

Differences Between English Billiards And Other Cue Sports

English billiards is a cue sport that has been around for well over two centuries. It was initially played on a table with no pockets but has evolved over the years to include six pockets. The game is as popular today as it has ever been, with beginners and seasoned pros enjoying the challenge of competing against one another.

Differences Between English Billiards And Snooker

Although english billiards and snooker are both cue sports, they have significant differences that set them apart. Here are some of the differences:

  • English billiards is played on a table that is larger than a snooker table, measuring 12ft by 6ft. Snooker, on the other hand, is played on a smaller table that is 11ft 8inches by 5ft 10inches.
  • In english billiards, the player uses only three balls which are the red, white, and yellow. Snooker, on the other hand, uses 21 balls, 15 reds, and 6 other-colored balls.
  • In english billiards, the player scores points by potting the three balls or making a cannon, which is hitting both object balls with the cue ball in a single shot. In snooker, the player scores points by potting balls in the correct order.
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Differences Between English Billiards And Pool

English billiards and pool have several differences that distinguish them from one another. Here are some of the differences:

  • English billiards is played on a larger table, measuring 12ft by 6ft, while pool is played on a smaller table that is 9ft by 4.5ft or 8ft by 4ft.
  • In english billiards, the player uses only three balls, i.e., the red, white, and yellow, while pool uses 16 balls that are divided into two groups: The solid-colored balls and the striped balls.
  • The rules of scoring are different in the two games. In english billiards, the player scores points by potting the three balls or making a cannon, while in pool, the player scores points by potting any ball on the table.

Playing english billiards is a great way to exercise your mind and improve your critical thinking skills. With its rich history and engaging gameplay, this cue sport is guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours.

Resources For Improving Your Game

English billiards is a game that requires skill, precision, and strategy. While understanding rules is important, developing your skills is equally essential. In this section, we’ll explore various resources for improving your game.


Books are the perfect resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the game, including the history, techniques, and strategies involved. Some of the best books on english billiards include:

  • “learn english billiards” by roy bacon: This beginner-friendly book explains the basics of the game, including strokes, tactics, and rules. The book also provides tips on how to improve your game.
  • “english billiards for beginners” by sydney lee: This book covers various aspects of the game, including the rules, techniques, and game strategies. It also includes illustrations that demonstrate the techniques described in the book.


Videos are an excellent way to learn english billiards techniques, as you can observe how experts play the game. Moreover, videos also provide insights into the game’s nuances that may be missed in a written format. Some of the best english billiards videos include:

  • “the snooker gym: English billiards” by pj nolan: this video series is perfect for beginners who want to learn about the game’s basics and more advanced techniques. The videos cover techniques such as top of the table, in-off, and more.
  • “english billiards – the basics” by cueist international: This video is a great starting point for those who are new to english billiards. It explains the basic rules of the game, including stroke mechanics and strategies for potting balls.

Practice Exercises

The key to success in any sport, including english billiards, is practice. There are many practice exercises you can do to improve your game. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Line-up drills: These drills involve setting up a line of five to nine balls at the baulk end of the table. Your objective is to pot all the balls without moving the cue ball.
  • Spot stroke: In this exercise, you place all the balls on the table and try to pot 100 balls in as few attempts as possible.
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Joining A Club

Joining an english billiards club is perhaps the best way to improve your game. You’ll have access to professionals, advice and guidance to help you master the game. Moreover, you’ll be able to meet other players, participate in competitions, and learn from them.

If you have the budget, enrolling in a specialized training institute can also be a great way to improve your skills.

Improving your english billiards game takes time, effort, and a willingness to learn. Utilizing the resources mentioned above will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your skills. Remember, with persistence and patience, you can become a skilled english billiards player.

Frequently Asked Questions On What Are English Billiards Rules

What Is English Billiards?

English billiards is a cue sport that originated in england. The game involves pocketing colored balls with the help of a cue stick. It is a more complex version of the game pool.

How Many Balls Are Used In English Billiards?

There are three balls used in english billiards: a red, a white, and a yellow ball. The red ball is worth one point, the white ball carries no points, and the yellow ball is worth two points.

How Is English Billiards Scored?

The goal of english billiards is for players to score points by pocketing the red and yellow ball in a specific order. Points are also awarded for performing specific feats, such as making a cannon (when the cue ball hits both balls on the table) or pocketing the opponent’s ball.

What Are The Basic Rules Of English Billiards?

The basic rules of english billiards are that players take turns hitting the cue ball, aiming to hit either the red or yellow ball. Players must first hit the red ball and then the yellow ball before scoring points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

What Is The Difference Between English And American Billiards?

The main difference between english billiards and american billiards lies in the number of balls used. English billiards uses three balls while american billiards uses 15 balls. Additionally, american billiards is played on a slightly larger table than english billiards.


Based on our detailed exploration of the english billiards rules, we can conclude that this game is undoubtedly an engaging and challenging sport that requires practice, patience, and precision. The game of billiards originated in england and has gained popularity worldwide over the years.

The fundamentals and mechanics of billiards are fairly simple, yet the game requires mastery and technique to be successful. The game can develop strategic thinking, concentration and focus, and sportsmanship among the players. With these rules in mind, you can go ahead and enjoy playing this game of skill and focus with your friends and family.

Remember, with practice, you can master the art of billiards and compete at a professional level. So, grab your cue, chalk up, and start playing!

Dave Mueller

Hey, I'm Dave. I like to write about things that interest me. I'll write about anything from current events to personal experiences. I hope you enjoy what you read and please feel free to leave me any feedback.