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How to Play Pool

You'll never be able to hustle people at pool if you don't actually know how to play.


  • Step 1: Find an open table If there is an open table, snag it by placing your quarters into the slot and dispensing the balls.
  • TIP: If there is a line for tables, mark that you have 'next game' by placing a quarter into the placeholder on the side of the table.
  • Step 2: Decide on rules Decide on teams and 'house' rules, like if a shot has to be called for it to count.
  • TIP: There are many choices for pool cues, but basically the longer one’s arms, the longer the cue you should choose. And make sure the tip is in good shape.
  • Step 3: Rack balls Rack the balls by arranging them in an alternating pattern, or stripes and solids, with the 8 ball in the middle.
  • Step 4: Tighten rack Tighten the rack by rolling it back and forth a few times, then move the front tip to the black rack mark on the table and remove the frame.
  • Step 5: Break the rack The first player or team breaks the rack by hitting the white cue ball from the opposite rack mark at the balls.
  • Step 6: Shoot again If a ball goes in on the break, the player takes another shot, now aiming for whichever type—stripe or solid—he got in.
  • TIP: If he sank both stripes and solids on the break, he gets to choose which pattern he will try to sink.
  • Step 7: Alternate shots If the player doesn’t sink a ball on the break, players alternate shots until someone does.
  • Step 8: Continue until missed shot A player’s turn continues until he misses a shot.
  • Step 9: If a player sinks the cue ball If a player sinks the white cue ball, the opposing player takes over shooting. He may place the cue ball anywhere on one side of the table between the rack mark and the fence, and may only strike a ball on the opposite side of the table.
  • Step 10: If a player sinks the 8-ball If the 8-ball is unintentionally sunk during normal play, the other player automatically wins.
  • TIP: When setting up your shots, pay attention to where the 8-ball is and anticipate where the cue ball will ricochet as to not sink the 8-ball by accident.
  • Step 11: After sinking all your balls After sinking all the balls of your pattern, you must sink the 8-ball.
  • Step 12: If cue ball sinks when trying to sink 8-ball If the cue ball sinks while attempting to sink the 8-ball, the opponent automatically wins.
  • FACT: The dome on Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, conceals a billiard room because in his day playing billiards was illegal in Virginia.

You Will Need

  • A pool table
  • Quarters
  • Billiard stick
  • And 2 or 4 players

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