One-pocket is similar to the game of straight pool in that both games allow players to score points for pocketing balls, each legally pocketed ball earns the shooter another shot, and any object ball is ball to shoot at (a ). The penalties for a are the loss of 1 point, re-spotting a previously pocketed ball if possible, and in the case of a "" the incoming player gets behind the . Unlike in straight pool, but as in the game of nine-ball, three consecutive fouls is a loss of game.
On the other hand, Willie Mosconi – perhaps the greatest pool player ever (with high run of 526 at straight pool) – called one-pocket a gimmick game for gamblers.
The game has even been described as having a beginning, middle, and end game like chess. A player must be careful not to leave the opponent with a good shot, or the opponent may be able to capitalize on a successful shot for successive shots and never let the original player shoot again. A player may even intentionally pocket the opponent's ball, conceding a point in the process, in order to prevent the opponent from being able to pocket that ball and use it to get (ideal position) on a subsequent next shot.
The game is very popular with gamblers, and one-pocket plays a major role in the yearly Derby City Classic which is played in Louisville, Kentucky each January. There are also large-scale one-pocket events such as the World One-Pocket Championship and the Legends of One-Pocket tournament that take place annually.
One of the most famous players of the game is Grady "the Professor" Mathews, who has written articles and published a number of instructional videos on the game. The two main reference works on one-pocket are Winning One-Pocket and One-Pocket Shots, Moves and Strategies, both written by player and gambler Eddie Robins. (The books, now out of print, often sell on the used market for over US$200 each.
Another well-known one-pocket player is world pool champion Efren Reyes. His victories in the game include the US Open One-pocket Championship in 2000 and the Derby City Classic 2004-2007. His mastery of the games of rotation and three-cushion billiards helped to make him a formidable one-pocket player.
One of the most comprehensive listings of one-pocket shots was put together by Willie Jopling in his guidebook.
One-pocket frequently attracts high-stakes gambling. However, it is a skill game involving little luck when played correctly.
One-pocket was the game featured in the 2007 film Turn the River, the story of a female pool hustler who plays high-stakes one-pocket. The film ends with a 9-ball match, with the main character saying that 9-ball "seems like a chumpy game for us."
Handicapping one player by allowing points to be scored on bank and only is a particularly challenging spot, as the free-scoring opponent has a much greater variety of options for both balls to pocket and (defensive positioning of the cueball after a shot) to play against the opponent.