How To Play Snooker For Beginners

Discover snooker basics: rules, equipment, gameplay, and tips for beginners. Master the game with confidence!

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-04-05

Naim Rosinski

10 minutes read

Snooker Table

How to Play Snooker for Beginners

Welcome to our guide on mastering the game of snooker for beginners. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the intricacies of snooker, offering a detailed exploration of its rules, equipment, gameplay, and essential strategies. 

Whether you're stepping onto the snooker table for the first time or seeking to enhance your skills, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to navigate the world of snooker with confidence and proficiency. From understanding the basics to mastering advanced techniques, let's embark on this journey to unravel the mysteries of snooker together.

The Background of Snooker Explained 

Snooker, a game steeped in British tradition, saw its professional association, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), established by the United Kingdom in 1970. Consequently, British players have long dominated the sport at both professional and competition levels. 

However, there has been a notable surge in snooker's popularity in countries like India and China in recent years. Governed by the WPBSA, which reinstated the original English billiards rules in 1968, snooker has evolved into a widely embraced pastime worldwide. 

The Snooker World Championship, inaugurated in 1927, stands as the sport's premier event, capturing the attention of enthusiasts globally. Beyond professional circuits, snooker's allure extends to clubs and pubs, where players of all skill levels partake in the game, underscoring its broad appeal and accessibility to amateurs.

The Aim of Snooker

The primary goal in playing by snooker rules is straightforward: to accumulate more points from snooker balls than one's opponent within each frame, which constitutes an individual game unit. 

This objective is accomplished by skilfully manoeuvring the white cue ball to strike the coloured balls in a prescribed sequence, aiming to pocket them into the table's designated pockets.

Snooker Table Regulations 

Snooker is played on a rectangular table. Professional snooker tables typically measure 12 feet in length, 6 feet in width, and nearly 3 feet in height.

The table's surface is covered with green baize and is commonly constructed from wood with a slate top. It features six pockets strategically positioned for potting the balls.

Image Credits: Dublin Town

Image Credits: Dublin Town

Four pockets are situated in the corners of the table, while another two pockets are located in the middle of each long side cushion. 

At the baulk end, which serves as the starting point, there is a line spanning the width of the table, positioned 29 inches from the baulk cushion. There is also D marker, which is centred on this line, forming an 11.5-inch-radius semicircle with the baulk line serving as its diameter.

Equipment Rules for Snooker and Ball Values 

To engage in snooker, minimal specialised and regulated equipment is required. A standard snooker set comprises a cue and twenty-two hardened balls crafted from phenolic resin, each measuring 52.5mm in diameter.

Within the set, there are 15 red balls, each worth one point when potted, along with six additional balls of different colours: yellow (worth 2 points), green (worth 3 points), brown (worth 4 points), blue (worth 5 points), pink (worth 6 points), and black (worth 7 points). Among these balls, only the white cue ball may be legally struck by players during the game.

In each shot, players are then required to use a snooker cue to strike the white ball. Typically crafted from wood, snooker cues must adhere to a minimum length of 3 feet. Contemporary cues maintain a traditional design and shape that is widely recognized and accepted within the sport.

Snooker Ball Colour Order 

The positioning of coloured balls adheres to a specific arrangement on the snooker table: Fifteen reds are set in a triangular formation, with one red positioned at the apex behind the pink ball. Along the baulk line points across the semi-circle, the green, brown, and yellow balls are placed from left to right.

The blue ball occupies the midpoint of the table, while the pink ball rests midway between there and the top cushion, opposite the baulk cushion. Finally, the black ball is situated on its designated spot in the centre, precisely 12¾ inches away from the top cushion. This meticulous arrangement ensures consistency and fairness in gameplay.

Image Credits: Pearson Cues

Image Credits: Pearson Cues

Rules of Snooker and General Game Regulations 

Snooker is typically a singles game, where one player competes against another. However, doubles and team games are also prevalent in the sport. Matches are often played to determine the winner based on the "best of" a predetermined number of frames, which can range from three frames up to 35 frames, particularly in prestigious events like the World Championships.

If you're new to the sport of snooker, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the following general game regulations:

1.    A coin toss determines the player to start the first frame, with turns alternating thereafter.
2.    Players must keep at least one foot on the ground while taking a shot.
3.    The break is made from within the D area, with the cue ball striking a red ball.
4.    There are initially 15 red balls on the table, each worth one point when potted.
5.    All balls must be stationary before the next shot, with the cue ball striking the nominated ball first.
6.    Red balls are not replaced after being potted, but coloured balls are re-spotted until all reds are gone.
7.    If a spot is occupied, coloured balls are placed as close to their spot as possible without touching other balls.
8.    If the cue ball is touching another ball, a "touching ball" ruling is called, requiring the player to play away from it.
9.    Snooker fouls (worth between four and seven points) include failing to hit a nominated ball, potting the white ball, etc.
10.    A free ball is declared if a player cannot hit the next legal ball following a foul, allowing them to hit any ball of their choice (nominated).
11.    Frames can be restarted if both players agree or if a stalemate is imminent.
12.    Referees may call a "miss" if a player fails to strike the correct ball, resulting in at least four points for the opponent and the option to replay the shot.

Scoring and Potting Order in Snooker

In snooker, potting a red ball earns one point, after which the player must nominate a colour for their next shot. The coloured balls are assigned descending values, with the black ball being the most valuable and the yellow ball worth two points. Following the potting order, the coloured balls are re-spotted while the red balls are not, requiring the player to alternate between potting a red and a colour until all reds are cleared. Subsequently, the remaining six colours are potted in ascending points order, concluding with the black ball. 

The maximum score achievable in one visit to the table is 147, typically attained through a break of potting all 15 reds with 15 blacks. However, if a player starts with a free ball, this maximum can be increased. Fouls committed during play result in a minimum of four points awarded to the opponent, with higher point values being awarded for fouls on coloured balls. 

Image Credits: Tribune

Image Credits: Tribune

A "snooker" occurs when a player is unable to directly hit the next legal ball, often strategised to force a foul and earn additional points. If a player realises, they cannot secure victory, often due to requiring multiple snookers in addition to remaining balls, they may concede the frame.

How to Win a Game of Snooker

In snooker competitions, the victor is determined by the player who wins more frames than their opponent. Winning a frame entails scoring the highest number of points within that specific frame. If a player holds a lead exceeding the points remaining on the table, their opponent requires "snookers" to have a chance at victory. 

In the event of a tied frame, players engage in a black ball game, where the individual who pots the black ball is declared the winner.

Best Snooker Tips for Beginners 

For beginners looking to improve their snooker game, here are some essential tips to keep in mind.

1.    Practice Shots: Take a moment to line up your shot and practice your stroke before striking the ball. This helps refine your technique and accuracy.
2.    Loosen Your Grip: Avoid gripping the cue too tightly, as this can restrict your movement and affect the fluidity of your shot. Maintain a relaxed grip for better control.
3.    Always Chalk Up: Keep your cue tip chalked before each shot to prevent slipping and ensure a solid connection with the ball.
4.    Maintain Stability: Ensure your feet are firmly planted on the ground and avoid leaning while taking a shot. Stability is crucial for consistency and accuracy.
5.    Use Chin Alignment: Instead of solely relying on your cue for alignment, consider using the angle of your chin to guide your shots. This can help improve your overall positioning and aim.

Time to Pick up the Snooker Cue 

In conclusion, snooker stands as a timeless game deeply rooted in tradition, yet continually evolving in its global appeal. From its origins in British clubs to its current popularity across continents like Asia, snooker has captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. 

Governed by strict regulations and played on meticulously crafted tables, snooker demands both skill and strategy from its players. Whether competing at professional levels or enjoying casual games with friends, the allure of snooker lies in its blend of precision, finesse, and camaraderie. 

By adhering to the rules, honing techniques, and embracing a spirit of continuous improvement, players of all levels can find enjoyment and success in the classic game of snooker.


How do I start learning snooker? 

Starting to learn snooker is an exciting journey, and with the right guidance, you'll be on your way to mastering the game. For a comprehensive beginner's guide with essential tips and tactics, refer to the detailed information provided above. Additionally, if you don't have access to a snooker table at home, consider searching for your local snooker club or facility. Joining a club offers access to equipment, coaching, and opportunities to play with fellow enthusiasts. Happy cueing!

How does a snooker game start? 

At the start of each frame, the balls are arranged according to the guidelines explained in the full beginner's guide provided above. The frame kicks off with one player positioning the cue ball "in-hand" anywhere on or inside the D area on the table and making the initial break-off shot, aiming to strike one or more of the red balls.

What is the colour order in snooker? 

In snooker, there are a total of 22 balls used in the game. These consist of one white ball, which is the cue ball used to strike the other balls. Additionally, there are 15 red balls, each valued at 1 point. In addition to the red balls, there are six coloured balls: yellow (2 points), green (3 points), brown (4 points), blue (5 points), pink (6 points), and black (7 points). These coloured balls have specific values and are each positioned on the table according to their respective spots.

Is it easy to learn snooker? 

Snooker, like any skill-based endeavor, isn't something you can master overnight. It demands dedication, patience, and practice. Every snooker player, regardless of their eventual prowess, starts as a beginner. It's crucial not to be disheartened by slow progress.

Consider snooker proficiency like constructing a sturdy house: without a solid foundation, the structure is unstable. Similarly, mastering the basics lays the groundwork for continuous improvement. Getting the fundamentals right from the start ensures a strong platform upon which to build your skills.

In essence, while snooker isn't inherently easy to learn, with perseverance and a focus on mastering the basics, you can steadily progress and refine your game over time.

For more guides, news, and interviews in the world of snooker, make sure to stay connected with

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.