Unusual But Brilliant Billiard Variations
Stacy Smith
Apr. 4, 2018

One of the best aspects of owning a Billiards table is that there is no shortage of amazing game variations that can be played on it. Not only will you be able to enjoy playing Billiards for hours at a time and honing your skills, but when you are looking for some variety to shake things up there are more game options that we can possibly count.

 

While popular variations like Bank Pool, nine-ball, straight pool and one-pocket are widely played throughout the world and enjoy the same status as Billiards, there are hundreds of lesser known variants that have been developed through the decades. Despite their more limited popularity, these games are nevertheless fantastic new dynamics that are sure to change things up when playing with friends or practicing your skills on your own.

 

10-2-4

 

“Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4” was Dr. Pepper's slogan back in the 1950s, and it is from that slogan that this highly entertaining variant takes its name. A challenging variation of eight ball, this 2-man game is played with one player designated as the Shooter and the other taking the roll of Blocker, with the roles being determined before the game at the flip of a coin.

 

The Shooter must pocket the 10, 2 & 4 balls, while the blocker must use any strategy possible to stop him. The Shooter has 25 shots at his disposal to pocket all 3 balls; if he fails to accomplish this task the the Blocker will be the winner.

 

In order to stop the Shooter from succeeding, a successful Blocker will line up the cue ball or any of the other balls in a way that blocks or makes any shot to his objectives difficult or impossible. Both players can sink any balls other than 10, 2 and 4 as part of their strategy, but if the Blocker sinks one of the Shooter’s targets, the Shooter is declared an automatic winner.

 

Casino billiards

 

A recently created variation that has been gaining plenty of popularity lately, Casino Billiards brings typical elements and gameplay from some of the world’s most popular table games- including craps and poker - to the billiard table. As you would expect, the combination of gambling and billiards ups the ante to the game and makes for some hugely competitive matches.

 

Casino Billiards is played using three different 6-sided die called “PoolCubes”. Each pool cube features numbers doubling each other on 5 sides and the words “Lose Your Break” on the sixth side. The 3 PoolCubes values are as follows:

 

“Small blind” PoolCube - 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, Lose Your Break.

“Big blind” PoolCube - 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, Lose Your Break.

“Big dog” PoolCube - 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, Lose Your Break.

 

 

At the beginning of each match each player will be given 50 poker chips, representing the amount of points at stake in each match. The objective of the game is to win all 100 poker chips. To do so, players will roll one of the three die to determine how many points they are wagering on each rack. Whoever wins that rack, will win all chips wagered.

 

During each rack, a player can decide to double the amount of points being wagered. The opponent must then decide to either accept the increased number and continue or surrender the rack and award the amount of chips originally wagered.

 

This gambling element adds a whole new dynamic to the game and adds a great deal of excitement as the racks pile up thanks to the increased stakes.

 

Kelly Pool/ Pea Pool

 

Purportedly invented in 1893 by Chicagoan Calistus "Kelly" Mulvaney, Kelly Pool (also known as Pill Pool, Pea Pool and Keeley) is a billiards variation that uses a bottle holding 15 numbered chips. At the beginning of each round, the bottle is to be shaken and each player will draw a pill. The number on this pill will correspond to the ball number that he must put away in order to win the game.

 

However, it is not as easy as it sounds. Before the player can sink his ball, he must first hit the lowest numbered ball on the table as part of each shot. It is important that each player try and keep his ball secret, however, as if an opponent sinks your object ball they will “kill” you and take you out of the game.

 

Oddly enough, due to its association with gambling early on, Pea Pool came to be banned in several states, though that ban has since been repealed virtually everywhere.

 

 

Century

 

Century is a little-known variation of snooker which can be played in a billiards table, coming straight from the Lahore area in Pakistan, where it enjoys vast popularity. A very unique game made for anywhere between 2-8 players, the objective is score exactly 100 points, with the first player to do so being crowned as the winner.

 

Played using only one red ball and six colors, with the colors on their usual positions and the red spotted halfway between blue and pink, Century features several rules that make the game highly entertaining to learn.

 

First, no player can begin racking up points until they become 'open'. To become 'open' each player has to pot the red ball once. Any other ball pocketed before the red one will not count.

Once you are open, pocketing the red ball again has a value of 10 points (or -10 for a missed shot), while pocketing any of the colors has their usual snooker value. If a player has 99 points then the red may be potted for 1 point to take that players total to 100. Every time a ball is pocketed, it will respawn in its original location.

 

Perhaps the most unique rule however is that none of the rests are allowed to be used in this game. Another important variant is that foul points are deducted from the player that committed the foul stroke, and not added to his opponents.