How to Play Snooker

Snooker is played on a 12 x 6-foot table (approximately), with six pockets. There is one cue ball, 15 red balls, and six colored balls. When there are still red balls on the table, the player’s first shot on every turn must hit a red with the cue ball. A pocketed red ball scores 1 point and the next shot must be for any of the other colored balls which have values from 2 to 7 points. The colored ball goes back to its original spot while the reds stay down if pocketed. The game continues alternating reds and colors. The player’s turn ends on a miss or a foul, and the incoming player takes the balls in position except for certain situations after a foul. When all red balls are gone, the colored balls are pocketed in order of value and stay in the pocket. The player with the most points once all the balls are pocketed wins the frame. The match is to a predetermined number of frames won.


  • The values of the object balls are Red=1, Yellow=2, Green=3, Brown=4, Blue=5, Pink=6, Black=7. The non-red object balls are called the colors, and each has an assigned spot on the table.
  • At the start of each frame (rack), the 15 reds are placed in a triangle between the pink and black spots with the apex red ball almost touching the pink ball. The cue ball begins anywhere in the “D”, a semi-circular area at the “baulk” or bottom end of the table. The first shot (break-off) has no special requirements.
  • A legal target ball on a shot is said to be “on”. The first object ball contacted by the cue ball on each shot must be a ball on. A player is said to be “snookered” when the cue ball cannot strike both extreme edges of a ball on by a straight shot. To legally pocket a ball is to “pot” it.
  • When a player has potted a red ball, the next ball must be a color and it must be declared if not obvious by the position. If a color needs to be spotted but its own spot is occupied, it goes to the highest value spot available.
  • Fouls include pocketing the cue ball, failing to hit a ball on, pocketing an unintended ball, sending a ball onto the floor, disturbing a ball, or shooting a jump shot (in which the cue ball passes over an obstructing ball to contact a ball on). Fouls are penalized by awarding four to seven points to the non-fouler depending on the value of the object ball involved in the foul. Additionally, the incoming player may pass the shot back to the fouler, or if snookered may choose any ball (a “free ball”) as the target, or after failing to hit a ball on may have the balls returned to their previous positions and force the fouler to replay the shot.
  • Each frame may end in several ways. If aIl the balls are potted, the player with the higher score wins the frame. If the total possible points remaining on the table is less than the lead, the trailing player may concede.
  • In rare cases, if a player fails to hit a ball on three times from the same (repeated) position with a direct path to a full hit of a ball on, the frame is forfeited. If the score is tied when the table is cleared, the black ball is returned to the table and the first score ends the frame.
  • The first player to win three frames wins the match.


English Billiards is played on a Snooker table, but uses only 3 balls: one red, one yellow and one white. Points are scored by potting balls (3 points when the red ball is struck by the player’s cue ball and enters a pocket, 2 points when the player’s cue ball strikes the other cue ball resulting it going down the pocket) and playing canons (2 points when the cue ball is struck so that it hits the red and other cue ball in any order on the same shot). The winner is the first to achieve the predetermined number of points through alternating shots.

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