How to Get Started With Billiards or Pool as a Complete Beginner

Pool is a game that most of us have played at some point or another. Head to a pub, sports bar, recreation center, or bowling alley and you’re likely to find one pool table to play on, or even several. It is easy to understand and complete beginners can at least get the hang of hitting the balls in just a few minutes.

It’s much easier than snooker, which requires the player to remember the values and order in which to pot the colored balls, and carom billiards, which uses a table without pockets. Though, playing pool at a higher level still requires a lot of work.

If you’re new to playing but are interested in taking part in pool or billiards competitions or you’d just like to beat your friends the next time you play together, then here are some steps you can take.

Read Billiards and Pool Books

Strategy books and guides are common in most sports, often written by famous and successful players. In poker, many of the best books of the genre were written several decades ago by big-name players like Doyle Brunson, Mike Caro, and David Sklansky. They stand out because they focus on technical elements that can give players an edge, taking them from just good to great. The same is true in golf, with popular titles including the Little Red Book and Unconscious Putting.

Billiards is no different. Of course, there is a lot of information online about the rules of billiards and critical shots that you can learn, but there is often much more value to be found in a book as there is more room for the writer to delve much deeper into the minutiae, which is where you’ll find your edge on a pool table.

Some of the best books for pool and billiards that you can buy are the Standard Book of Pool and Billiards by Robert Byrne, which covers the strategies needed for winning eight and nine-ball pool; Pool & Billiards For Dummies by Nicholas Leider which features many tips and tricks to improve your playing; and Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards by David G. Alciatore, which includes more than 200 full-color illustrations to help you visualize the techniques that it describes.


Once you’ve got a good grasp of the techniques that will help take your playing to another level, you need to put it into practice. There is no substitute for this; you’ll need to spend many hours around a table to improve your technique, build a better understanding of the geometry of shots, and get a feel for the power required in different circumstances.

Unlike some other games, such as chess and poker, there’s no way to replicate the challenge through a computer, so you’ll need to practice on a real pool or billiards table.

Thankfully, it’s usually pretty easy to find a place to play as many sports bars have rooms full of differently-sized tables for playing pool, snooker, and carom billiards on.

It’s best to play with those that are more experienced than you as it will give you an opportunity to watch their technique and then attempt to replicate it yourself.

Find a Coach

After a while, you will likely hit a wall with just practicing on your own. At that point, you may need to get one-on-one advice from a professional to really take your playing to the next level. These are people that are trained to spot the bad habits that can creep into your playing over time and help steer you away from them.

Many of the world’s professional pool, billiards, and snooker players work with coaches to help them gain an edge over their competitors.

You can find them in many places, but the WPBSA, the governing body for pool, billiards and snooker has a directory of qualified coaches that you can use to find ones local to you. Many are professional and former professional players that have a passion for the sport and love helping others share it too.