Okay, you've got a pool table, a rack of balls, a cue ball,
and a cue. Now what? Now, according to the World Book Encyclopedia's
article on billiards, "players attempt to
use the cue ball to drive object balls into the pockets," presumably
having hit the cue ball (that's the white ball) with the pool
cue (that's the stick) first.
What's the difference between billiards and pool?
Billiards refers to a number of games played on a rectangular felt table,
and pool is the most popular version of billiards played in the United States.
Here are the basic rules for the two most common pool games.
Strategy Play for 8-Ball
The purpose of this game is for one player to pocket the solid colored group of balls numbered 1 to 7 or the striped balls from 9 to 15. The balls are racked in a triangle shape with the 1 ball in the front of the rack on the foot spot and the 8-ball in
the center. The first player places the cue ball behind the line called the head string and drives the ball into the triangle of object balls. The cue ball must strike the head ball or the second ball. This is known as the break. A player can automati
cally win the game by pocketing the 8-ball on the break. Choice of balls
to be pocketed is determined by the player pocketing the first ball. A player wins the game by pocketing all his object balls followed by the 8-ball in a marked pocket.
Strategy Play for 9-Ball
The game of 9-Ball is played with a cue ball and nine object balls numbered 1 through 9. 9-Ball is a rotation game where the balls are shot in numerical order. The first player uses the cue ball to break the nine balls racked in a diamond shape. The 1-ball is at the front of the rack in the foot spot and the 9-ball is racked in the center. The 1-ball must be the first object ball struck on the break. After the break, the shooter must strike the lowest numbered ball on the table first. Push outs are not legal in APA amateur play to keep the level of play fair to all players. A player wins the game when the 9-ball is pocketed. A player keeps shooting as long as he strikes the lowest numbered ball first and pockets a ball. He need not pocket the lowest numbered ball to continue shooting. If the shooter shoots the 1-ball into the 9-ball and the 9 is pocketed, the game is over. Players are awarded one point for each object ball they pocket (except those pocketed when he scratched or otherwise fouls) and two points for pocketing the 9-ball. A team wins the match when they are the first to obtain 51 points.