Other Games to Play on a Pool Table

A pool table makes a great addition to any home, but what happens when you want some variation from standard play? Fortunately, there are a number of alternative games that are fun, challenging and creative.

One Pocket PoolOne-Pocket Pool

Do you find that it’s too easy to play standard pool, with just too many pockets to choose from? One-Pocket Pool is fiendishly difficult, with each player forced to pot into a designated pocket.

You start the game by placing all balls randomly within the rack, with the player making the break choosing a particular pocket that they will use for the rest of the game. They will need to pot every ball into that pocket for the rest of the game. Their opponent then nominates an alternative pocket and operates with the same restriction in place.

A point is scored each time a ball is potted, with the winner typically being the first player to reach 8 points. Some variants of One-Pocket Pool see a player losing a point in the case of a foul. Where a player makes 3 consecutive fouls, they immediately lose the game.

The beauty of One Pocket Pool is that it can also be played with a handicap system in place too, allowing players of differing abilities to compete on an equal footing. The weaker player might, for example, start with a certain number of points already on the scoreboard.

The origins of One-Pocket Pool are unclear, although it is known that the first tournament involving the game took place in 1961.

Full rules & history of one pocket pool

Cut Throat PoolCut-Throat

The game of Cut-Throat is unique, allowing 3 players to compete in a game. Unlike other variations of pool, the aim of the game is actually to be the last player left with a ball on the table. That’s a way of playing that can take quite some getting used to!

Within Cut-Throat the 15 balls are divided into 3 sets: low balls (those numbered 1 to 5), mid balls (numbered 6 to 10) and high balls (numbered 11 to 15). Each of the 3 players is assigned one of these sets of balls.

Each player takes it in turn to pot a ball, remaining at the table until he makes a miss. It is sometimes appropriate for a player to pot one of his own balls, which may involve exchanging an initially weaker position for an opportunity to stay at the table longer. This is known within the gaming as “cutting your own throat” and explains how the game received its name.

If you mistakenly pot the cue ball, then each of your opponents is given a chance to restore one of their own balls to the table. A player who has no balls on the table at any given point of the game is forced to miss his turn, although he may yet return to the game, in circumstances where an opponent pots the cue ball.

Cut throat pool gameplay & rules

Straight PoolStraight Pool

Invented in 1910, Straight Pool is a relative of an earlier game, which was known as continuous pool. The game of Straight Pool makes use of a scoring system, with the winner being the first player to reach 100 points.

All fouls within the game lead to a penalty of a single point, with the exception of a penalty at the break, which incurs a 2 point penalty. There is a further situation that can lead to a devastating loss of points: a player who fouls on 3 successive shots receives a 15 point penalty.

Crucially, players must nominate their target ball and pocket before playing each shot. The player scores a single point each time a nominated ball is potted in the specified pocket.

Constant re-racking throughout the game reflects the continuous origins of the game. Without such re-racking, it would be impossible for players to reach the high scores that are needed in order to win a match.

Straight Pool has been popular for some years in the United States, but has only received wider recognition on a worldwide basis in recent years. Official rules for this variation of pool are now set by the World Pool-Billiard Association.

Straight Pool history & rules

Bumper PoolBumper Pool

Many people consider that it is more fun to watch Bumper Pool than possibly any other game that is played on a pool table. It’s certainly a game that is able to generate considerable excitement.

Much of that excitement stems from the placing upon the table of a series of objects that are designed to make it harder for individual players to pot balls. These obstacles (known as bumpers) are typically placed in a manner that ensures that they flank pockets, while the majority of bumpers are arranged in the centre of the table. In combination, they make gameplay considerably more challenging.

Only 10 balls are used in total, with 5 red balls and 5 white balls. Each set of 5 balls contains a single marked ball.

The aim of the game is for each player to pot their 5 balls into a pocket at the opposite end of the table. The marked ball must be potted first of all. In an interesting variation from so many other games of pool, there is no cue ball involved. This means that players can directly strike a ball into the pocket. The players also take their first shots simultaneously. If both players are successful with that first shot, then play continues in that way.

It’s not known when Bumper Pool was originally invented, but there are a number of Bumper Pool leagues in existence throughout the United States.

Bumper pool gameplay & rules

Table TennisTable Tennis

Our final suggestion for another game to play on a pool table marks a significant departure from a standard game of pool. Have you ever thought about using your table for a game of table tennis?

This may seem like an extraordinary idea, particularly given that a pool table doesn’t look to be ideal for table tennis. The answer is to make use of a separate covering that can be placed on top of the table, transforming it into the perfect base for table tennis. All that you need then is a couple of bats and a ball!

Although this concept may sound odd, the reality is that it’s become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, it’s now possible to buy convertible tables that are specifically designed to be used for a range of games.

Table tennis conversion kits for pool tables

A pool table will often represent an excellent investment, bringing hours of fun to the entire family. If you happen to tire of standard games of pool, then consider the alternative games that are listed above.

Whether you are attracted by the high scoring of Straight Pool, the unusual gameplay of Bumper Pool, or the multi-player options offered by Cut-Throat, you are sure to have lots of fun. When you feel like you don’t want to pot any more balls into pockets, you can always pick up a bat and have a game of table tennis. A pool table offers an almost endless range of possibilities.

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