Rules of Billiards | How it is Played?

Billiards is perhaps the favourite sport of millions of English men following the legacy of British Empires. The game looks pretty similar to the snooker as basic equipment, except the balls are very much the same, but despite little differences between both Billiards has a separate fanbase not only in Britain but numerous other Asian and European countries as well.

Rules of Carom Billiards

Billiards is considered the amalgamation of different games including the “Winning and Losing Caromball game”. The popularity of the game can be estimated by substantial interest people show in Billiards championship and several other competitive level tournaments held every year.

Object of Playing Billiards

The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent, and to score these points, you have to hit a certain colour sequence of balls in the pocket to acquire a specific number of points.The game of Billiards include complex scoring, so it is essential that you read this blog till the end to comprehend everything from scoring system to basic rules of the game.

How to Play?

Billiards is played with a cue stick, used by each player and they have to utilise one object ball ( red ball) and two cue balls (yellow and white). Each player is supposed to use a different colour cue ball to score points. Before the start of the game, a certain point limit is decided at which the game would be stopped and the first one to reach it will win the game.

Scoring in Billiards is more complex than you think, and numerous instances would occur when you’d have no idea whether it’s a legal shot or a foul. For a better overview of rules and how points are scored, make sure you read till the end.

General Rules of Billiards

  • The game of Billiards is played with three balls, red, yellow and white.
  • Both players have their own cue ball, one gets the white while the other one gets the yellow ball for the whole game.
  • After the toss for the first break, the red ball is placed on the Billiards spot, the player with the first turn places his ball in the D and then plays the ball.
  • Then they take alternative turns, whenever one of them fails to score a point.
  • In case of a foul, 2 points are awarded to the opponent and he has the option of having the balls all put on their spots or leave the table as it is.
  • If the red ball is potted, it comes back and repotted at the same spot.
  • If you pot your own cue ball, it is considered a foul.
  • The balls keep coming back on the surface, thereby giving ample opportunities to the players to score points until the decided time ends.
  • The first player to reach the decided number of points wins the game.

Toss For Break

Both players hit any colour of ball, chosen by them, with no other ball on the table. And the player, whose ball hits the cushion and gets nearest to the baulk cushion gets to choose who breaks first and who will play with which colour.

Time Duration of Billiards

Before the game of Billiards, a time limit is set and after this particular time, the player with the highest score wins the game. This time limit can be 50 minutes, 60 minutes, or even more depending on the organisers of the tournament.

Equipment & Playing Field

The game of billiards is played on Billiards table with following other equipment required. Only three balls are required, red, yellow and white.

A standard size Billiards table measures 356.9 cm x 177.8cm and all three balls are 5.25cm in size, each.

Similar cue sticks to Snooker are used in Billiards and their size and weight can vary depending on the age and level of the player.

Fouls in Billiards

Different types of fouls occur in Billiards. These fouls can be very expensive because they let the opponent either respond to the ball or play from where they lie. Moreover, he also gets 2 more points for your mistake. Lets see some of the common fouls:

  • A player striking or playing the opponent’s cue ball or red ball
  • Sending any ball out off the table
  • Failing to make contact with one’s cue ball and at least one object ball
  • Double hit

Scoring in Billiards

Scoring in Billiards can confuse anyone, let me break it down to 3 simple ways of scoring points.

A Cannon: A Cannon is a billiards term referring to a situation when a cue ball is struck and it hits the red ball and then other cue ball. This scores two points.

A Pot: A pot occurs when the cue ball sends the red ball in the pocket. This results in 3 points for the striker. If the striker’s cue ball sends down the opponent’s cue ball after hitting red, he gets 2 points.

In-Off: In-off can be easily confused with Pot because both sound the same things. In-Off refers to a situation when you strike your object ball which hits another ball but it’s your cue ball that goes into the pocket. This results in 3 points. And if your cue ball hits your opponent’s cue ball then goes into the pocket, this results in 2 points.


Referee stands alongside players and monitors every scoring shot played at the table, from declaring fouls to giving points, the referee has an important role to fulfill in a professional Billiards game.

Famous Billiards Events

The International Billiards Championship is the most famous Billiards tournament in which players from different countries participate.

Governing Body

The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) is the international governing body of Billiards. The body was founded in 1968 and is currently based in Bristol, United Kingdom.