How we play pool (Etiquette)


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How we play pool (Etiquette)

(A compendium from )

There are many ways to play pool. The suggestions shown below are for new players who would like to know how to act in a pool hall or someone’s room. If you follow these suggestions you will be considered a polite sportsman at the table. Local conditions may vary but behaving as indicated below is accepted in almost any room where players try to be good sports.

The equipment
Treat the table with respect, it is expensive. Do not throw equipment on or around the table.

In general you must keep one foot on the floor for all shots. However, do not sit on the rubber portion of the rail because this may damage the table. Check local conditions, some rooms do not allow anyone to sit on the table in any way.

If smoking is permitted do not bring smoking materials to the table.

Do not set a drink on the edge of the table at any time.

Some racks have metal buttons on the base they are placed there to preserve the cloth. When you rack be sure to keep the button against the table cloth.

The pool balls
If you have to clean a ball with moisture make sure it is completely dry before placing it on the table. Any sort of moisture placed on the balls is very rude.

When racking, check to be sure the rack is straight, even with the foot of the table.

Give your opponent the rack you would want for yourself. Make sure the balls are tightly racked.

The cue stick
Do not unscrew your cue stick until the match is completed. This is considered a forfeit of game.

Do not apply chalk to your cue stick when it is not your turn at the table. In some places this is considered a form of sharking.

Chalk and its use
Do not take the cue chalk away from the table (unless it is your personal chalk that you brought with you)

Do not chalk your cue stick over the table.

When you place the chalk on the table, place the chalk side up (paper side down).

If you use hand chalk, use a minimum. Keep the table as clean as possible. Remove any chalk dust you leave on the table.

During the game

Know the rules or come to an agreement with your opponent before you begin to play.

When your opponent is shooting you should be away from the table or sitting in your chair. In some places it is considered rude to continually stand while your opponent is at the table. Excessive movement such as playing with your cue stick, lighting smoking materials or in other ways doing things that would distract your opponent is not only rude it may be considered intentional sharking.

Be a gracious winner or loser: Do not laugh at your opponent’s mistakes.

Do not display pleasure when your opponent fouls scratches or loses a game.

If you commit a foul call it yourself, even if others do not see it.

In general, if your opponent calls a foul and you do not see it, accept the call.

If there is a possibility of a split hit (you might foul on a shot ask a by-stander to act as referee for that shot.

Do not talk or make comments while your opponent is concentrating on a shot.

Talking and joking between shots is often a part of the game but you should be aware of your opponent’s needs. If your opponent appears to be irritated by conversation between shots then you should sit quietly while your opponent is at the table.

It is old fashioned but polite to tap the butt of your cue on the floor two or three times to indicate that your opponent or any player made an uncommonly good shot.

If you scratch remove the ball from the pocket and place it on the table.

If you foul, touch the cue ball with the cue tip or hand it to your opponent.

Do not coach other players at the table unless there is a special provision for coaches such as during league play.

If you need a break for whatever reason, it is polite to wait until it is your turn at the table and then announce a five minute break.

Do not leave the area during a game without telling your opponent where you are going and when you will be back.

Do not practice on another table while it is your opponent’s turn at your table.

Be aware of the people at tables near by. These players have the same needs for quiet and good conduct.

The game is not over until your opponent has made all possible legal shots or you express a notion of forfeit especially when spoken. When your opponent is on his/her last ball or has not yet shot, statements like "good game" is a forfeit and in some formats or instances an automatic loss of game. If you do not forfeit, then allow your opponent to legally pocket their ball(s) uninterrupted.

When the game is over if you win or lose assist with gathering the balls for the next game.

Remove all balls from the table when you are finished so other will know the table is open for their use.


If you lose when playing for money you should pay up as soon as the game is completed.

In some places it is polite to post all bets on the table lights or some similar place. In other rooms no money should be displayed. Check the local conditions before betting on a game or match.


A shark is a person who uses bad behavior to cause their opponent to miss. In most pool halls a shark is an impolite rude, player who exhibits poor sportsmanship. To call someone a shark is a derogatory term.

A hustler is a person who hides their true ability in order to entice a player to gamble for higher stakes. A hustler is a form of con artist.
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