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Glossary of Pool & Billiard Terms

14.1 Continuous
More commonly known as "straight pool", it was for many years the most popular game in pool and the game on which all World Championships were based.

14.1 is a call-shot game played with all 15 numbered balls and cue ball. Every ball pocketed counts as one point and a game is played to a agreed up score, generally 50, 100, or 150 points.

Traditional straight pool matches are played to 150 points.14.1 is also called "continuous pool" because, after the opening break, play continues until a player reaches the winning score. When only one numbered ball is left on the table, the remaining 14 are racked (with the apex ball missing), and play continues.

A fast paced offensive game similar to 9-ball but only using balls numbered 1 through 7. Pocketing the 7-ball wins the game. Under the current pro rules of 7-ball, any missed shot gives your opponent ball-in-hand.

Unquestionably the most popular game in all pocket billiards history. 8-ball is often the first game new players learn. It is widely played in pool rooms and is the predominant game outside of pool rooms, such as in bars and taverns.

All fifteen numbered balls are used in a conventional triangle rack. Each player is assigned either the solid balls (1-7) or the striped balls (9-15). The object is to pocket all of your assigned balls and then pocket the 8-ball.

The rules of 8-ball vary drastically. You are cautioned to become familiar with the house rules before entering into a game.

9-ball is the current championship game in pocket billiards. Players love the fast pace of the game, and it has proven ideal for television coverage with races to seven fitting well into a one hour time slot.

9-ball is a rotation game so a player must hit the lowest numbered ball first. The object of the game is pocket the 9-ball on any legal shot.

a game for money, as in, "Let's go in and see if there is any action." Or when inquiring about a pool room, a player might ask "Do they get much action in there?"

artistic pool
a somewhat new term that applies to trick shooting. Artistic pool players and artistic pool competitions have to do trick shots on a pocket billiard table.

see Billiard Congress of America.

balance point
the point on the cue, normally about 16i from the butt, where the cue will balance on a finger or fulcrum.

being able to place the cue ball anywhere on the table for your next shot.

ball return system
a special feature on some tables that allows pocketed balls drop into a rail where they automatically travel to a box built into the foot of the table.

bank shot
any shot where the object ball strikes a cushion before being pocketed.

the playable surface of a table, usually made of slate.

Also see slate.

Billiard Congress of America
known as the BCA, is the official governing body of pocket billiards played or sanctioned in the U.S. The BCA maintains the complete rules on their BCA Web Site.

billiard shot
a billiard shot is when the cue ball touches a numbered ball on its ways to strike the intended object ball. Note that there is a subtle distinction between caroms, billiards, and combinations.

billiard table
a rectangular table with cushions bounding the playing area, but without pockets A billiard table is typically larger than a pool table, generally measuring 10 feet by 5 feet. Also, billiard tables often have heated beds that cause them to play much faster than pool tables. See also pool table.

any of the group of games played on a rectangular table with cushions (with or without pockets).

the first shot of any game that is intended to break the racked balls apart. Note that different pool games have specific requirement about how many balls must touch a cushion in order for a break to be legal. Also the penalty for an illegal break varies among games.

using the front hand to control the shaft of the cue.

Also see mechanical bridge, closed bridge, and open bridge.

the rubber knob on the bottom of the cue which protects it when rested on the floor. Novices often incorrectly refer to the cushions on a pool table as bumpers.

the large end of a cue stick. Although the term butt is often used to mean the entire lower half of the cue, it actually only refers to the portion of the cue below the wrap (area where the cue is gripped).

a carom shot is when the object ball caroms (touches or kisses) one or more other balls on its way to the pocket. Note that there is a subtle distinction between caroms, billiards, and combinations.

call shot
a rule or type of game which requires the shooter to specify the ball to be pocketed and the pocket into which it will be made, prior to making the shot. Calling your shot generally requires only that call the ball and the pocket. You do not need to call banks, caroms, kisses, or other methods you will use to pocket the ball.

center string
an imaginary line that passes between the centers of the side pockets.

a caked powder in a small cube which is applied to a the cue tip and causes friction between the cue tip and the cue ball.

cheat the pocket
shooting the object ball to the left or right side of the pocket in order to create an angle for position play. Commonly used on a shot that would otherwise be straight-in.

chin lock
a technique used for maintaining proper alignment when moving into the shooting position. A shot should always be lined up before you move down into your shooting position. If you lock your chin on the vertical plane of the shot, you will naturally be in proper alignment when you are down on the table.

cinching a shot
total focus on the aim point and making the ball, perhaps even not worrying about resulting position.

closed bridge
a specific way of holding the shaft in your hand. In a closed bridge, the cue is held in the circle by touching the tips of your index finger and thumb together.

the material which covers the bed and cushions of a pool table. The cloth used to cover a pool table is very special and can come in a variety of grades. Along with the general quality of the table itself, the cloth play a very important role in how a particular table plays.

a shot where the cue ball first contacts a ball other than the ball to be pocketed. Note that there is a subtle distinction between caroms, billiards, and combinations.

an object ball right in front of a pocket that cannot be missed.

slang for a mechanical bridge.

the stick used for shooting pocket billiards.

cue ball
the white (unnumbered) ball used to shoot at object (numbered) balls.

cue ball in hand see Ball-in-hand.

using other than a center hit to control the movement of the cue ball.

the raised cloth-covered rubber bumpers which surround the playing are of a table.

cut shot
any shot where the cue ball contacts the object ball off center and thus drives the object ball in a direction other than the cue balls original path.

a game in pool designed for three players. See "Cut Throat" in the Tips section under "Games & Rules".

dead-ball shot see Stop shot.

dead stroke
similar to playing on autopilot where a player is at peak level and is playing without conscious effort or thought.

the dots along the rails which divide them into even increments.

dot see Diamonds.

a method of cue ball control which causes the cue ball to move back toward its point of origin after contacting the object ball.

drop pockets
a pool table with no gulley system so balls remain in the pockets where they were made.

double elimination
a tournament format in which a players are not eliminated until they lose two matches.

an object ball right in front of a pocket that cannot be missed.

eight-ball see 8-ball.

to apply English or spin to the cue ball, you hit the cue ball away from the center which puts spin on the cue ball. English mean different things to different people. Some players feel English mean hitting the cue ball anywhere except center-ball, including follow and draw shots, while others feel English means hitting the cue ball either right or left of the center axis.

feather shot
an extremely thin cut shot where the cue ball just barely grazes or touches the object ball.

Feel generally refers to that elusive quality that makes one cue feel special or superior to another. In essence, it is the cumulative effect of all of a cues characteristics, including weight, shaft diameter, balance, grip material, length, etc. It can vary greatly from one player to another. A cue that feels great to one player does not necessarily fell good to another.

a piece of protective material (normally white) between the shaft and the cue tip.

flat draw
a low hit on the cue ball (but not as low as normal draw), often used to change the cue ball's angle of deflection off the object ball.

a method of cue ball control which causes the cue ball to move forward after contacting the object ball.

the action of stroking through the cue ball after the tip contacts the ball.

foot spot
the spot marked on the foot of the table where the balls are racked. It is centered in the table, two diamonds from the foot rail.

foot string
an imaginary line that passes between the second diamonds on the long rails and through the foot spot.

force draw
also known as a "power draw", means applying very powerful draw on the cue ball thereby causing the maximum amount of draw.

force follow
applying very powerful follow on the cue ball thereby causing the maximum amount of follow.

on two piece cues, the area of the cue between the joint and the wrap.

a rules violation which causes a player to lose his turn at the table.

fourteen-one continuous see 14.1 Continuous.

a player's turn at the table, also known as an inning.

when a ball is in firm contact with a cushion or another ball.

granny stick
slang for a mechanical bridge.

holding the cue with your back hand.

a pool table with rails under the pockets which returns all pocketed balls to a common ball box at the foot of the table.

a scoring method that evens the chances between players of varying skill levels.

head spot
the spot marked on the head of the table which is in the center of the table and two diamonds from the head rail.

head string
an imaginary line that passes between the second diamonds on the long rails and through the head spot.

In addition to referring to how one might hit the cue ball, it also is often used to describe how a cue plays. A player might ask another if a particular cue "hits well?"

a term used to describe players who take advantage of less skilled players in money games. The ethics of such players are dubious.

the ornamentation on a cue is often made by inlaying exotic materials into the wood of the butt portion of the cue. Inlays of ebony and ivory are quite common. The value of a cue is often based on the number inlays.

Also see points.

a player's turn a the table. An inning may include several shots, but always ends when the player wins the game, misses a shot, fouls.

the part of the cushion that is cut to form the opening of the pocket.

the two fittings that are screwed together to connect a two piece cue.

jump shot
intentionally causing the cue ball to become airborne so that it jumps over balls which are obstructing the path to the object ball.

jump the table
accidentally causing the cue ball or any object ball to leave the table. It is normally a foul.

causing the cue ball to contact one or more cushions before striking the object ball.

kill shot see Stop shot.

generally refers to the object ball light lightly touching another ball on its way to the pocket.

the area of the table behind the head string. If you have "ball in hand in the kitchen" you must shoot from behind the head string.

determining who will break. Each player shoots a solid ball (not the cue ball) from behind the head string to the foot of the table. The player whose ball returns closest to the head rail wins the lag and the break. The winner of the lag may elect to pass the break to his opponent.

the arrangement of the balls after a shot.

long string
an imaginary line that runs from the center of the head rail to the center of the foot rail.

masse shot
a shot with extreme English which is applied by holding the cue at a position of 30-90 degrees while applying left or right spin.

mechanical bridge
a notched metal or plastic plate attached to the end of a stick that is used as a bridge in situations where the use of a hand bridge is impossible.

when the cue strikes the cue ball improperly and slides off.

natural English
the English that is applied to the cue ball which accentuates the natural direction the cue ball would have travelled.

one of many games played in pool. See 9-ball in the chapter on Rules.

object ball
any numbered ball at which you are shooting or is the next ball to be pocketed.

One Pocket
one of many games played in pool. See One Pocket in the chapter on Rules.

open bridge
a specific way of holding the shaft in your hand. An open bridge is created by placing your bridge hand on the table and resting the cue in a crease made by your thumb and index finger.

the ornamentation on a cue, between the wrap and the joint, is often made by inlaying exotic materials into the wood so the inlays form points. The value of a cue is often based on the number points.

Also see inlays.

pool table
a rectangular table with cushions bounding the playing area and six pockets. Regulation size is 4 1/2i x 9i.

position play
consistently controlling the movement of the cue ball after it strikes the object ball to gain a subsequent favorable shooting position.

in 9-ball, the first player to shoot following the break can elect a pushout, which is a kind of free shot. Pocketing the cue ball or causing the cue ball to leave the table are the only fouls. Any balls pocketed are spotted. The incoming player may make a legal shot or hand the table back to the player who pushed out.

the triangular wood or plastic device used to position the balls for the start of the game.

the number of games needed to win a match, i.e. a race to 7.

slang for mechanical bridge.

slang for the cue ball.

one of many games played in pool. See "rotation" in the chapter on Rules.

the series of balls pocketed in one inning.

run out
a series of balls pocketed in one inning to win the game.

a defensive move which is designed is to leave your opponent without a shot.

when the cue ball is pocketed.

set see Race

the narrow tapered end of a cue stick to which the tip is attached.

any one of numerous acts which unethical players employ to rattle or upset their opponent. Taking, making noise, and chalking your cue while your opponent is shooting are all considered sharking tactics.

shooting system
a term embraced by the BCA to indicate all of the fundamental components that go into making a shot, i.e. stance, grip, bridge, stroke, etc.

short stop or shortstop
an excellent player but not quite at the same level of the very best. The term is used relative to who the player is compared to, i.e. a local shortstop is one of the better players on the local scene. When speaking of pros, a shortstop is one who often finishes in the money but never wins the tournaments.

an action which begins when the cue tip contacts the cue ball and ends when all balls have stopped moving.

single elimination
a tournament format in which a player is eliminated after the loss of a single match.

the preferred material for the bed of a pool table. The slate of a good pool table is between 1-1.5 inches thick and accounts for the majority of a pool table's weight (often in excess of 800 pounds).

Also see bed.

when the object ball lies behind another ball which makes it impossible to be struck by the cue with a direct hit.

the way a player stands at the table in the shooting position.

stick see Cue.

stop shot
a shot in which the cue ball stops immediately on impact with the object ball.

stun shot
similar to a stop shot, but used when there is a slight angle on the shot. The cue ball is stunned but still has some lateral movement along the tangent line.

straight pool see 14.1 Continuous

table see Pool table.

tangent line
one of the critical concepts in pool. The tangent line is an imaginary like that is perpendicular to the line the object ball will follow on any shot that is not straight in. If the cue ball strikes the object ball while it is still skidding, i.e. with out any forward or backward roll, it will move along the tangent line after striking the object ball. This single concept is the basis for all position play in pool.

The use of follow and draw allows you to modify the path of the cue ball in relation to the tangent line. Follow will cause the cue ball to travel forward of the tangent line, while draw forces the cue ball to travel a path behind the tangent line.

the end of the cue stick which strikes the cue ball. Normally the tip is made of leather or multiple thin layers of laminated leather. Synthetic materials have also been used for cue tips but were not favorably received by players and are seldom seen anymore.

triangle see rack.

slang for the cue ball.

the part of the cue, near the butt, which is commonly covered with linen or leather, designed for the player's grip.

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