9 Steps on How to Play Pool

Have you ever wondered how to play pool? It looks easy, but how easy is it really? Let's find out!

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-12-18

Umaima Saeed

9 Steps on How to Play Pool

Pool, a classic game of precision and strategy, is a beloved pastime enjoyed by enthusiasts worldwide. Whether you’re stepping into a billiards hall for the first time or looking to refine your skills, mastering the basics of pool is essential for an enjoyable gameplay experience.
So how do you play pool without scratching fabric, or looking like an idiot on the table?
Let’s rack ‘em up, as we learn 9 steps on how to play pool. 

Step 1. Understanding the Equipment

Before diving into the game, familiarise yourself with the essential equipment. A standard pool table is typically rectangular, covered with felt, and surrounded by cushioned rails. The cue ball, distinguishable by its solid white colour, is used to strike other balls. Additionally, there are 15 object balls in total, numbered from 1 to 15, divided into solid and striped balls, along with the black 8-ball.
Get comfortable with your cue, as they more relaxed you are with it, they better you might play. 

Step 2. Mastering the Stance and Grip

Establishing a solid stance and grip is fundamental. Stand comfortably, positioning your dominant foot forward and maintaining a stable posture. Hold the cue with a relaxed but firm grip, keeping your bridge hand—the one supporting the cue—steady and level on the table.

Step 3. Understanding the Rules

Familiarise yourself with the basic rules of the game. The primary aim in pool is to pocket all your designated balls (stripes or solids) and then pocket the 8-ball to win. Failure to pocket the 8-ball or pocketing it prematurely results in a loss.
No one wants a premature 8-ball flop. 

Step 4. Learning the Fundamentals of Cueing

Cueing, or striking the cue ball accurately, is crucial. Find the balance between power and control, as striking to softly might not pocket your desired ball, while excessive force could lead to loss of accuracy.

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Step 5. Mastering Angles and Ball Control

Understanding angles is pivotal in pool. Learn about the concept of deflection and how it affects the cue ball’s trajectory after contact. Additionally, practice controlling the cue ball’s movement after striking it, known as cue ball control. This skill enables you to position the cue ball for your next shot.

Step 6. Developing Strategy and Planning Shots

Strategy plays a vital role in pool. Plan your shots ahead by analysing the layout of the balls on the table. Consider both short-term and long-term strategies, focusing on pocketing your designated balls while strategically placing the cue ball for subsequent shots.

Step 7. Practicing Patience and Precision

Pool is a game that demands patience and precision. Take your time to line up your shots, visualising the angle and trajectory before making your move. Precision comes with practice, so don’t be discouraged by initial misses.

Step 8. Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Lastly, respect for the game and your opponent is key. Adhere to proper etiquette, such as refraining from distracting behaviour while your opponent is taking a shot. Embrace a sportsmanlike attitude, regardless of the game's outcome.

Step 9. Have Fun

It’s just a game with friends, so remember to first and foremost to have fun playing a game!

Playing pool is a skilful and engaging pastime that rewards practice, strategy, and precision. By mastering the basics—understanding equipment, refining stance and grip, learning rules, cueing techniques, controlling the cue ball, strategising shots, and embracing sportsmanship—you can elevate your gameplay experience and enjoy the thrill of this timeless game.
Of course it helps if you have a pool table at home, but if you don’t, just get out and play!

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.