English Billiards Rules

If you typically play pool and want a new challenge, try learning English billiard rules. English billiards originally derived from a game called carom and is very similar to snooker. In fact, English billiards is played on a snooker table. Unlike pool, English billiard rules refer to pockets as pots. Winning is based on points rather than being the first to sink a particular ball. The most difficult thing to master with English billiards is determining the different shots and learning how points are awarded.

Other differences between pool and English billiard rules include the addition of another cue ball and red object balls. There are no solids or stripes, high or low, or even numbered balls in English billiards. The International Billiards and Snooker Federation outlines complete English billiard rules, although other online sites provide variations on the official rules. The following are the main points of English billiards.

  1. Under English billiard rules, determining first break is called stringing. Both players hit their respective cue balls at the same time. The player closest to the baulk (head string) picks who breaks and which cue ball they use.
  2. For the break, a red ball is place on the black spot of a snooker table. The cue ball is placed within a “D” behind the baulk line.
  3. According to English billiard rules, scoring depends on the shot. Points are awarded for a winner (pot), a loser (in-off), or a canon. Points vary based on what ball is hit and in what order, as well as whether a ball is potted. Scoring occurs on any combination of winner, loser, or cannon, with a maximum of ten points per shot.
  4. Each player’s turn is called an inning. Innings end when a player scores no points for a shot. The opponent then plays the balls where they rest at the end of the inning.
  5. To win a game of English billiards, players determine a fixed point total or timeframe. The first player to reach the pre-determined number of points wins. In a timed game, the player with the highest points when time runs out wins.
  6. Fouls such as illegally potting a ball, jumping object balls, a scratch, or a ball leaving the table result in a two point penalty to the player. If a foul is called, the player’s inning ends and their opponent can either play the balls as they rest or opt to play in-hand.
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