Straight pool

Straight pool, also called 14.1 continuous or simply 14.1, is a pocket billiards game, and was the common sport of championship competition until overtaken by faster-playing games like nine-ball (and to a lesser extent eight-ball). This is the classic game from the history of pool and most of the greatest players of all time were known to play this game. It is still played, but you are unlikely to see it on TV -- in part because the great players make this game look quite easy.

The game was formerly especially popular in the United States, and immortalized in the 1961 film The Hustler.

In straight pool, the shooter may attempt to any ball on the table. The object is to reach a set number of points determined by agreement before the game. One point is scored for each ball pocketed where no is made. A typical game might require a player to score 100 points, meaning at least 100 balls must be pocketed to win. In professional competition, straight pool is usually played to 150 points. Straight pool is a game, meaning the player must indicate the intended object ball and pocket on every shot. How the ball reaches the pocket is irrelevant, as long as the called ball enters the called pocket.

Straight pool is well known in the United States, Europe, and Japan but the game is more obscure elsewhere, such as the Philippines.

Probably the Greatest All-Time player, Willie Mosconi, had a record High Run. Here is what he said:

"On March 19, in Springfield, Ohio, I ran 526 balls, a record that still stands. I was playing a two-hundred-point match against an amateur by the name of Earl Bruney in the East High Billiard Club. He made three balls off the break, then I ran two hundred and just kept going. The run took two hours and ten minutes, which means that over the span I averaged four balls a minute. I finally missed a difficult cut shot, but by that time I was weary; it was almost a relief to have it come to an end. There were about three hundred people in the audience, and one of them was an attorney who prepared an affidavit attesting to the validity of my claim to a new record. A few days later, the BCA gave its stamp of approval."

The first WPA-sanctioned World Straight Pool Championship was held in 2006. Thorsten Hohmann of Germany was its first winner.

The initial rack

In the initial rack in straight pool, the fifteen are racked in a triangular rack, with the center of the apex ball placed over the . Traditionally, the 1 ball is placed at the rack's right corner, and the 5 ball placed at the rack's left corner. Other balls are placed at random and must touch their neighbors. However, it is considered courtesy by some to place a at the rack's apex.

Unlike in most pool games, where pocketing a ball and spreading the balls is the aim on the break, the object in straight pool's standard initial is to leave the opponent with a . This is because the call-pocket rule includes the break shot.

On the break, either a ball must be pocketed in a designated pocket or the cue ball and at least two additional balls must touch a rail. The failure to accomplish one of these two options results in a foul. Fouling on the initial break results in a special penalty of a loss of 2 points. In addition, the opponent has the choice either of accepting the table in position, or alternatively of having the balls and requiring the offending player to repeat the opening break.

All other fouls during the game result in a one point deduction, including fouling on an intragame rack. However, a third foul in a row at any time in a straight pool game results in a loss of 15 points (for purposes of this rule, a foul on the initial break, though it is a loss of two points, is not counted as two fouls). The 15 point deduction is in addition to the one point loss for each foul. Thus, the first two fouls are a loss of one point each, and the third foul in a row is a loss of 16 points; 1 point for the foul, and 15 points for it being the third contiguous foul.

Intragame racking

Because straight pool is played to a specific number of points normally far in excess of the 15 points available in the initial rack, multiple intragame racks are necessary. Intragame racking employs a separate set of rules from those in place at the game's start.

To reach the point where an intragame rack becomes necessary, the balls are played until only the and one object ball remain on the table's surface. At that time, if neither the cue ball or the fifteenth object ball remains in the rack area (or is interfering with racking in the rack area) the fourteen pocketed object balls are racked with no apex ball, and the rack is placed so that if the apex ball were in the rack, its center would rest directly over the table's foot spot. Play then continues with the cue ball shot from where it rested and the fifteenth, non-racked, object ball from where it rested prior to racking.

The "14.1 continuous" appellation derives from this racking practice, i.e., that fourteen racked object balls and one remaining object ball left in position is presented to the players at the conclusion of each intragame rack. The shooter will then normally try to pocket the unracked fifteenth ball, and at the same time have the cue ball into the fourteen racked balls, spreading them so that subsequent shots are available, and a run may continue.

A number of rules have developed which detail what must be done when one or both of the cue ball and fifteenth object ball are either in the rack area at the time an intragame rack is necessary, or are in such proximity to the intragame racking area, that the physical rack cannot be used without moving the one or the other. The rules also vary depending on whether the cue ball or fifteenth object ball are resting on the table's . Such rules are detailed on the following chart (note therein that the refers to the area behind the table's ).

Straight Pool Intragame Racking Chart
15th ball lies Cue ball lies
In the Rack Not in the Rack and
not on the Head Spot
On The Head Spot
In The Rack 15th ball: foot spot
Cue Ball: in kitchen
15th ball: head spot
Cue Ball: in position
15th ball: center spot
Cue Ball: in position
Pocketed 15th ball: foot spot
Cue Ball: in kitchen
15th ball: foot spot
Cue Ball: in position
15th ball: foot spot
Cue Ball: in position
Behind Head String,
but not on Head Spot
15th ball: in position
Cue Ball: head spot
Not behind Head String,
and not in the Rack
15th ball: in position
Cue Ball: in kitchen
On Head Spot 15th ball: in position
Cue Ball: center spot


* "World Standardized Rules: 14.1 Continuous", World Pool Billiard Association, 2007. Accessed May 16 2008.

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