Pool as a Hobby: Where the Balls are Always in Your Court

Pool as a hobby is a fun and relaxing way to unwind after a long day. Whether you’re playing a casual game with friends or competing in a local league, pool offers endless entertainment and socialization opportunities.

With its combination of skill and strategy, pool is a great way to challenge yourself and improve your game. So grab your cue and get ready to sink some balls!


Pool, also known as pocket billiards, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The earliest recorded playing of billiards was in France in the 1340s, where it was played as an outdoor lawn game similar to croquet.

Over time, the game evolved, and by the 15th century, it had moved indoors and was played on a table with green cloth to simulate grass.

During the 16th century, billiards became increasingly popular in Europe, especially among the wealthy and the nobility. The game was used as a way to socialize, and it was often played in elegant surroundings, such as grand halls and palaces.

By the 18th century, billiards had become a favorite pastime among the middle classes as well, and it was played in taverns and coffee houses throughout Europe.

In the 19th century, billiards made its way to America, where it quickly became a popular pastime. The first American billiards tournament was held in 1878, and by the turn of the century, there were over 10,000 billiards halls across the country.

Today, pool remains a popular hobby around the world, with millions of people playing the game in their homes, in bars and clubs, and in organized leagues and tournaments. The game has evolved over time, with new variations and rules being introduced, but the basic principles remain the same – to use a cue stick to strike balls and pocket them in the table’s pockets.

Table: A brief history of pool

1340sEarliest recorded playing of a recognisable form of billiards in France
15th centuryBilliards moves indoors and is played on a table with green cloth
16th centuryBilliards becomes increasingly popular in Europe
18th centuryBilliards becomes a favorite pastime among the middle classes in Europe
19th centuryBilliards makes its way to America and becomes a popular pastime
1878First American billiards tournament is held
20th centuryPool becomes a popular hobby around the world

Sources: World History | On This Day in History

Rules and Scoring

Pocket billiards, also known as pool, is a fun hobby that requires skill and strategy. To play the game, you need a pool table, balls, and a cue stick. The objective of the game is to pocket all of your object balls before your opponent does.

In this section, you will learn about the traditional rules of pocket billiards, game variations, and the scoring system.

Traditional Rules

The traditional rules of pocket billiards are used in most games, including straight pool, 9-ball, and 8-ball. In these games, each player takes turns shooting the cue ball to hit the object balls into the pockets. The player who pockets all of their object balls first wins the game.

Here are some of the traditional rules of pocket billiards:

  • The game starts with the cue ball behind the head string.
  • You must hit the lowest numbered ball on the table first.
  • If you scratch (pocket the cue ball), your opponent gets ball in hand, meaning they can place the cue ball anywhere on the table for their next shot.
  • If you hit the wrong ball first or fail to hit any balls, it is a foul.
  • If you pocket the 8-ball before all of your object balls, you lose the game.

Game Variations

There are many variations of pocket billiards, each with its own set of rules. Some popular variations include one pocket, bank pool, and cutthroat. In one pocket, each player chooses one pocket to shoot at, while in bank pool, players must bank the object ball off the cushion before pocketing it.

Cutthroat is a game where three players compete, each assigned a group of object balls to pocket.

Scoring System

In pocket billiards, the scoring system varies depending on the game being played. In most games, the player who pockets all of their object balls first wins the game.

However, in some games, such as straight pool, players accumulate points for each ball they pocket. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Here are some common scoring systems in pocket billiards:

  • In straight pool, players accumulate points for each ball they pocket. The game ends when a player reaches a predetermined number of points.
  • In 9-ball, players must pocket the balls in numerical order. The player who pockets the 9-ball wins the game.
  • In 8-ball, players are assigned a group of object balls to pocket. The player who pockets all of their object balls and the 8-ball first wins the game.

Equipment and Setup

When it comes to playing pocket billiards, having the right equipment is essential. In this section, we will cover the different types of equipment you need to get started, including the table, balls, rack, cue stick, and other equipment.

Table and Balls

The pool table is the centerpiece of any pocket billiards game. It is rectangular in shape, with six pockets, one at each corner and two in the middle of each long side.

The standard size for a pool table is 4 by 8 feet or 4 1/2 by 9 feet. The table is covered with a felt cloth, which provides a smooth surface for the balls to roll on.

The balls used in pocket billiards are usually made of phenolic resin and come in two types: the cue ball and the object balls.

The cue ball is white, while the object balls come in 15 different colors and are numbered from 1 to 15. The object balls are arranged in a triangle at the beginning of each game.


The rack is used to set up the balls at the beginning of each game. There are different types of racks available, but the most common one is the triangle rack.

The triangle rack is made of plastic or wood and has 15 ball slots arranged in a triangle shape. To set up the game, place the 1-ball at the top of the triangle, the 2-ball and 3-ball at the bottom corners, and the rest of the balls in a random order.

Cue Stick

The cue stick is the most important piece of equipment in pocket billiards. It is used to strike the cue ball and move the object balls around the table.

Cue sticks are made of different materials, including wood, graphite, and fiberglass. They come in different weights and lengths, and the tip of the stick can be made of leather, phenolic resin, or other materials.

Other Equipment

In addition to the table, balls, rack, and cue stick, there are other pieces of equipment that you may need to play pocket billiards. These include:

  • Chalk: Used to keep the tip of the cue stick from slipping off the ball.
  • Bridge: A support used to extend your reach when making a shot.
  • Gloves: Used to keep your hands dry and prevent them from sticking to the cue stick.
  • Scoreboard: Used to keep track of the score during the game.

Overall, having the right equipment is essential to playing pocket billiards. From the table to the cue stick, each piece of equipment plays a crucial role in the game. So, make sure you have everything you need before you start playing.


Playing pool is a great hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re playing casually with friends or competing in a heated tournament, the gameplay of pocket billiards is both challenging and rewarding.

Object of the Game

The objective of pool is to use a cue stick to hit numbered balls into the pockets on the table. The first player to sink all of their balls and then the black ball (also known as the 8 ball) wins the game. In some variations of the game, such as 9 ball, players must hit the balls in a specific order.

Fouls and Penalties

There are many different fouls and penalties in pool, and it’s important to know them in order to avoid losing points or even the game. Some common fouls include scratching (when the cue ball goes into a pocket), hitting the wrong ball, and not hitting any balls at all. Penalties can include the loss of points, the loss of a turn, or even the loss of the game.

Strategy and Techniques

To be successful in pool, you need to have a good strategy and a variety of techniques at your disposal. Some common strategies include playing defensively (blocking your opponent’s shots) or playing aggressively (making difficult shots). Techniques such as spin (also known as English) and cushion shots can also be used to inspire and unite your game.

Here is a table that summarizes some of the key aspects of gameplay in pool:

Pool gameA game played on a billiards table with numbered balls and pockets
Billiards gamesA family of games played on a billiards table with various rules and objectives
CushionThe padded edge of the billiards table
Black ballThe last ball to be sunk in a game of pool
9 ballA variation of pool in which players must hit the balls in a specific order
ObjectiveThe goal of the game
FoulA rule violation that results in a penalty
PenaltyAn action taken by the referee in response to a foul
RotationA variation of pool in which players must hit the balls in a specific order
HeatedA game that is competitive and intense
InspireTo motivate or encourage
UniteTo bring together

In summary, playing pool is a fun and challenging hobby that requires skill, strategy, and a good understanding of the rules. By mastering the techniques and strategies of the game, you can become a skilled player and enjoy hours of entertainment with friends and family.

Literature and Art

Billiards in Literature

Billiards has been a popular subject in literature for a long time. Many famous authors have written about the game, including Ernest Hemingway, who wrote a short story called “The Three-Day Blow,” which features two characters playing pool.

Another notable work of literature that includes billiards is “The Hustler” by Walter Tevis. This novel tells the story of a young pool player named Eddie Felson, who wants to become the best pool player in the world.

In addition to novels, there are also many non-fiction books that have been written about billiards. One of the most famous is “The Billiard Encyclopedia” by Victor Stein and Paul Rubino. This comprehensive guide covers everything from the history of the game to advanced techniques and strategies.

Billiards in Art

Billiards has also been a popular subject in visual art. One of the most famous examples is “The Billiard Room” by Edward Hopper. This painting depicts a deserted billiard room with a lone pool table in the center. Another famous painting that features billiards is “The Pool Game” by George Bellows. This painting shows a group of men playing pool in a smoky pool hall.

In addition to paintings, there are also many photographs of billiards players and billiard halls. One notable photographer is Michael Dweck, who has captured images of pool players in action and the unique atmosphere of pool halls.

Overall, billiards has had a significant impact on both literature and art. Its popularity has inspired many authors and artists to create works that capture the spirit of the game. Whether you are a fan of literature or art, there is sure to be something that captures your interest in the world of billiards.

Organizations and Tournaments

If you’re interested in pocket billiards as a hobby, there are plenty of organizations and tournaments you can participate in to take your game to the next level. Here are some of the major organizations and tournaments you should know about:

World Pool-Billiard Association

The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) is the international governing body for pool. It was formed in 1987 and is headquartered in South Africa.

The WPA is responsible for organizing major international tournaments, including the World Pool Championship, the World Cup of Pool, and the World 9-Ball Championship.

If you’re interested in competing in international tournaments, you’ll need to become a member of your country’s national pool association, which is affiliated with the WPA. You can find a list of affiliated national associations on the WPA’s website.

Amateur Organizations

If you’re just starting out with pocket billiards, you may want to consider joining an amateur organization to develop your skills and meet other players in your area.

The American Poolplayers Association (APA) is the world’s largest amateur pool league, with nearly 250,000 members throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The APA offers both 8-ball and 9-ball leagues, as well as a variety of other formats.

Another amateur organization to consider is the Canadian Poolplayers Association (CPA), which is affiliated with the American Poolplayers Association. The CPA offers both 8-ball and 9-ball leagues, as well as a variety of other formats.

Major Tournaments

If you’re looking to compete in major tournaments, there are several to choose from. The US Open One Pocket Championship, held annually in Las Vegas, is one of the most prestigious one-pocket tournaments in the world. The tournament features a $10,000 first prize and attracts top players from around the world.

Another major tournament to consider is the World Pool Masters, which is held annually in Europe. The tournament features 16 of the world’s top players competing in a single-elimination format.

If you’re looking for a more casual tournament experience, consider checking out your local bar or pool hall. Many bars and pool halls host regular tournaments for players of all skill levels.

Overall, there are plenty of organizations and tournaments to choose from if you’re interested in pocket billiards as a hobby. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there’s something out there for you.


If you’re new to playing pocket billiards (pool), you may have some questions about the game. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

What are the basic rules of pocket billiards?

The basic rules of pocket billiards are simple. You use a cue ball to hit a set of object balls into pockets on the table. The first player to sink all of their object balls and the 8-ball wins the game. There are many variations of the game, but these are the basic rules.

How do I rack the balls?

To rack the balls, you place the 1-ball at the front of the rack, followed by the 2-ball, 3-ball, and so on, in a diamond shape. The 8-ball goes in the center of the rack. The back corners of the rack must be one solid ball and one striped ball. The other balls can be placed in any order.

What is a scratch?

A scratch is when you hit the cue ball into a pocket or off the table. If you scratch, your opponent gets ball in hand, which means they can place the cue ball anywhere on the table before taking their shot.

Can I hit the opponent’s balls?

No, you cannot hit the opponent’s balls directly. If you hit your opponent’s ball with the cue ball, it is a foul. However, if you hit your own ball first and then it hits your opponent’s ball, it is a legal shot.

What happens if I sink the 8-ball before I’m supposed to?

If you sink the 8-ball before you have sunk all of your object balls, you lose the game.

How do I win a game of pool?

To win a game of pool, you must sink all of your object balls and then sink the 8-ball. If you scratch while sinking the 8-ball, you lose the game.

For more detailed rules and information about pocket billiards, check out this book or this video on the topic.


In conclusion, pool is an enjoyable hobby that can provide hours of entertainment for you and your friends. It is a game that requires skill, strategy, and patience. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, there is always room for improvement and growth in your game.

By playing pool, you can improve your hand-eye coordination, focus, and concentration. It can also be a great way to relieve stress and unwind after a long day. Additionally, playing pool can be a social activity that allows you to meet new people and make new friends.

When it comes to choosing a pool cue, it is important to consider factors such as weight, length, and material. A heavier cue may provide more power, while a lighter cue may offer more control. A longer cue may be better suited for taller players, while a shorter cue may be more comfortable for those with smaller hands. As for materials, cues can be made from wood, graphite, or fiberglass, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

In terms of pool table size, the standard size is 4 by 8 feet or 4.5 by 9 feet, but there are smaller and larger sizes available as well. When playing pool, it is important to follow the rules and etiquette of the game, such as calling your shots and not distracting other players.

Overall, pool is a fun and challenging hobby that can provide many benefits. So grab a cue, rack up the balls, and enjoy the game!

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