Beyond 9-Ball: Mix It Up With These 9 Fun Billiards Games You Can Play

by Mike Jones

You've just met up with your mates at the local pub and grabbed your usual pool table, but you're tired of playing 8-ball and 9-ball. Lucky for you, there are other games you can play on a pool table.

So, get ready to rack 'em and teach your friends some of these fun new billiards games.

1. Any 8

Any 8
Any 8

This is a great game for beginners or for pool players who just want to have a good time without worrying about complex rules and strategies.

Best thing about this one is that it is super easy to play, though it can only be played with two players.

Here are the basics:

1. Flip a coin to see which player gets to choose a pocket and go first.

2. Rack 'em and the coin flip winner gets to break.

3. It's anything goes here - if you make a pocket on your shot, then keep shooting until you don't. And, you don't have to call your shots!

The player who pockets eight balls first is the winner. This game was made up by renowned billiards instructor Tom Simpson.

2. One Pocket Pool

If you're looking for a really challenging game you can play with friends, then this is a great choice.

The basic premise of this game is that you only get to use the two foot corner pockets for sinking balls. Yup, each player gets a designated pocket, hence the name of "one pocket" for this game.

All of the pool balls are used in this game, and the first player to sink eight balls wins.

1. Flip a coin to see which player gets to choose a pocket and go first.

2. Rack 'em and the coin flip winner gets to break.

3. Shoot at any ball in your attempt to be the first to get eight of them in your designated pocket.

If you sink a ball in any of the other pockets other than your designated one, that ball is treated just like when you scratch and it's put back on the table and the next player gets a turn.

You can play this game as a two player game, or as teams of two, for the most fun.

3. Kiss Pool

You might have heard of this one before by one of it's other names - Irish Pool or Philadelphia. This game is ideal for intermediate players who are looking to improve their skills when it comes to predicting where balls will end up.

This game uses all 15 balls, so get ready to rack them up. Put the cue ball at the front of the rack and the 1-ball at the head spot for the break.

You have to call your shots in order to score a point in this game.

Here's the cool part about this game - you gotta shoot your called ball into the cueball in such a way that it bounces off the cueball and goes to the pocket.

That's right, the ball you call (the object ball) is what you are hitting, instead of the cueball. If you end up with the cueball in the pocket, there is no penalty, but the cueball is spotted back to the center of the table and game play continue.

Why is that and what is the purpose? Essentially, you are practicing "billiarding" balls into pockets.

The winner is the first player to score eight balls first.

4. Bank Pool

This is another challenging billiards game you can play as a two-player game or as teams of two against each other.

This game follows the basic rules of pocket billiards with a few variations listed below.

You earn points in this game, with each legally pocketed ball being worth one point.

What makes this game so hard is that each shot has to bank off the side before going into the pocket. Sounds difficult, right? Well, there's more!

The ball you pocket cannot touch any other balls before landing in the pocket, otherwise it's not cleanly banked. And, you have to call the pocket for all of your shots.

Still not challenging enough? Well, if you pocket another ball after you sink the object ball, that second ball doesn't count.

But what if you make it into a pocket that you didn't call, or you didn't make a clean bank? Well, you owe a ball to the table cause any balls made when you foul like this gotta be spotted back to the table.

Yeah, this one is crazy challenging, even for the best pool players among us. But one thing is for certain, if you can master this game, you'll greatly improve your billiards skills.

5. Cutthroat Pool

Though this one sounds quite dastardly, it's actually a fun game you can play on a pool table with a group of people.

The point of cutthroat pool is to pocket all of your opponents' group of balls before one of them can pocket all of yours.

I think this pool table game is most fun for between three to five players. Note that all of the balls are used in this game.

So, here's the basic run down of how to play this one.

1. Flip a coin to see who gets to break.

2. If the player who breaks pockets a ball, then they get to claim a group of balls.

While there are a few different acceptable ways for players to claim their group, we think it's easiest to only let players claim a group after they have pocketed a ball. This means the last person left ends up with the worst group, so make sure you pocket one quickly!

Each player needs to claim a group of sequential pool balls. For example, if you're playing with five people, it would look something like this:
  • Player one claims balls 1-3
  • Player two claims balls 4-6
  • Player three claims balls 7-9
  • Player four claims balls 10-12
  • Player five claims balls 13-15
3. You get to keep shooting when you pocket an opponent's ball.

The last player with balls left on the table is the winner.

As you can see, this is a fun and competitive billiards game for a group of friends. You can even make it more interesting by placing friendly bets on who will emerge as the victor, with the losers having to buy the beer.

6. 7-Ball

Though it's not something that you see all that often, there is a 7-ball rack that you can use to play this unique billiards game. But don't worry, if you can't find one of these rare racks, you can still make the 7-ball hexagon shape in a 9-ball rack.

This one is kind of like playing 9-ball in the sense that you have to go in sequential order, but it does have a little twist to it.

How to rack for 7-ball billiards - put the 7-ball in the middle and place the other balls around it in a hexagon shape. You have to place the 1-ball at the apex, or top of the rack.

Once you get the balls racked, here's how to play:

1. Flip a coin to determine who will break.

2. After the break, player one claims all the pockets on one side of the rails. Player two gets the pockets on the opposite side of the table.

All of the claimed pockets must be on the same side of the table.

3. Players then try to sink the lowest numbered ball on the table, but only in the pockets on their side of the table.

Scratch on the 7-ball, and you lose. Otherwise, you play by the same rules as a game of 9-ball.

7. 15-Ball (with or without points)

At it's core, this game is basically just 9-ball, except with all of the pool balls on the table.

However, there are two variations here - you can play it exactly like 9-ball without points, or you can play it with points.

Without Points

You'll notice that these rules are basically what you use for 9-ball games.

1. Flip a coin to determine who will break.

2. Players then try to sink the lowest numbered ball on the table.

3. Winner is the player who sinks the 15-ball on a called shot.

We suggest playing without points the first time that you play 15-ball on your pool table, just so you get a feel for playing the game. Then, level it up by playing with points.

With Points

So, for this one, the core rules above still apply, except that players are also earning points.

Balls numbered 1-10 earn you one point each. Balls numbered 11-15 earn you two points each.

Here's how to play this variation:

1. Rack 'em so the 15-ball is in the center, 1-ball at the apex of the rack, and the 2-ball and 3-ball in the lower corners.

2. Flip a coin to determine who will break.

3. Players then try to sink the lowest numbered ball on the table.

4. Winner is the player who reaches the point level agreed upon before the game.

You can play this game with several players, so you can set a point level as high as you want. Just keep playing games until someone reaches the point level.

You can also add in other variations, if you want, to make the game play more interesting for you and your friends.

8. Baseball Pool

This is one of the more interesting unique billiards games that we've ever come across. We can only assume that it was started by some baseball fans.

The basics of this game is that each player tries to score as many points as possible during nine innings.

You play this game with a set of 21 pool balls, but since those are hard to find you can just use a 15-ball set. And each player tries to knock in as many balls as possible during their "inning" without scratching or missing.

Points earned are based on the face value of the ball that you pocket. And yes, pockets must be called before the shots.

This is a fun game to play with friends when you don't want something that is too difficult for everyone to enjoy.

9. Bowlliards

In keeping up with the sports theme above, this billiards game is inspired by the sport of bowling. You even play and score like you do in bowling.

1. Rack 10 pool balls into a triangle and flip to see who breaks.

2. Each player gets to take two "innings" per "frame".

3. On their turn, each player should sink as many balls as possible, with all shots being called in advance.

4. If shots are missed or scratched on the player's first inning, then they get to try again immediately in their second inning.

Make 10 balls in your first inning, and you get a strike on the scoreboard! If it takes you until your second inning to accomplish sinking all the balls, then you get a spare. If you don't have all the ball in at the end of your second inning, then you add up the number of the sunk balls for you score for that "frame".

All balls are worth one point each in this game.

As you can see, there are a lot of fun takes on traditional pocket billiards that you can play with your friends. Who knows, maybe you'll end up inventing your own variation that you enjoy more than these!

image: Pexels

About Mike Jones

As a child of the 80's, my fondest gaming memories are playing Pitfall, Frogger, Kaboom! and Chopper Command on our old Atari 8600. These days I've been rocking the Nintendo Classic and learning some new card and board games with the family."

Thoughts on "Beyond 9-Ball: Mix It Up With These 9 Fun Billiards Games You Can Play"