8-Ball

8 ball

8-Ball is the most-commonly played billiards game. It features balls numbered 1-15, comprised of seven solid-colored balls (1-7), seven striped balls (9-15) and the 8-ball. Going by American Poolplayers' Association (APA) rules, the game starts with the balls racked at the head of the table, usually indicated by a small dot in the center of one end of the table. The balls may be racked however as long as the 8-ball is in the center, with the apex facing the breaking side and a solid and a strip in each corner of the rack. One player breaks and following the break, the player tries to make a legal, intended, shot. The point of the game is to make your set of balls, solids or stripes, before your opponent and sink the 8-ball last in an intended pocket. If you scratch it is a ball in hand, meaning the opposing player gets to place the cue ball anywhere on the table. A foul can happen if: the cue ball goes in one of the pockets-you scratch, you hit no rails, you hit your opponent's ball first, striking the 8-ball first, or if the cue ball jumps off the table are the most common fouls.

9-Ball

9 ball

9-ball is a quicker and harder billiards game, but very popular among professionals for its short duration. 9-ball is played using balls 1-9. The rack is different as well. The 1-ball goes at the apex and the 9-ball goes in the center. The nine balls form a diamond when racked. A player breaks. The point of this game is to hit the balls on the table in sequential order starting at the lowest-valued ball available. The shooting player may only hit the lowest-valued ball available. If the player hits any other ball or no ball, it is a ball in hand. Players may combo balls and if the 9-ball is pocketed legally, whether it's the only ball remaining on the table or whether it is comboed, it counts. Unlike in 8-ball, shots do not have to be called.

Cutthroat

Cutthroat, played with all 15 balls

Cutthroat is a three-person game where each player is assigned a set of balls. There's low (1-5), middle (6-10), and high (11-15). In this game, you want to try and be the last player with at least one ball on the table. Rules vary by place, but sometimes the set of balls is assigned before the first turn, i.e. breaker is low, second player is middle and third player is high. If you scratch in cutthroat, the other two players are rewarded with one of each of their balls brought back out onto the table, even if one or both of the players are out of the game. You may make your own ball in cutthroat if you feel you may be able to get better positioning on another shot.

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