Glossary_of_cue_sports_terms

Glossary of cue sports terms

The following is an encyclopedic glossary of traditional English-language terms used in the three overarching cue sports disciplines: pocket billiards (pool), which denotes a host of games played on a table with six pockets; carom billiards referring to the various carom games played on a table without pockets; and snooker, played on a large pocket table, and which has a sports culture unto itself distinct from pool. There are also hybrid pocket/carom games such as English billiards.

Language
The term "" is sometimes used to refer to all of the cue sports, to a specific class of them, or to specific ones such as English billiards; this article uses the term in its generic sense unless otherwise noted.

The labels "British" or "UK" as applied to entries in this glossary refer to terms originating in the UK and also used in countries that were fairly recently part of the British Empire and/or are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, as opposed to US (and, often, Canadian) terminology. The terms "American" or "US" as applied here refer generally to North American usage. However, due to the predominance of US-originating terminology in most internationally competitive pool (as opposed to snooker), US terms are also common in the pool context in other countries in which English is at least a minority language, and US terms predominate in carom billiards as well. Similarly, British terms predominate in the world of snooker, English billiards and blackball, regardless of the players' nationalities.

The term "blackball" is used in this glossary to refer to both blackball and eight-ball pool as played in the Commonwealth, as a shorthand. Blackball was chosen because it is less ambiguous (eight-ball pool is too easily confused with the related eight-ball), and blackball is globally standardized by an International Olympic Committee-recognized governing body, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA); meanwhile, its ancestor, eight-ball pool, is largely a folk game, like North American , and to the extent that its rules have been codified, they have been done so by competing authorities with different rulesets. (For the same reason, the glossary's information on eight-ball and nine-ball draws principally on the stable WPA rules, because there are many competing amateur and even professional leagues with divergent rules for these games.)

Foreign-language terms are generally not within the scope of this list, unless they have become an integral part of billiards terminology in English (e.g. ), or they are crucial to meaningful discussion of a game not widely known in the English-speaking world.

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1–9

8 (eight) ball

See 8 ball, under "E", for the ball. See eight-ball main article for the game.

9 (nine) ball

See 9 ball, under "N", for the ball. See nine-ball main article for the game.

A

Above

Used in snooker in reference to the position of the cue ball. It is above the object ball if it is off-straight on the baulk cushion side of the imaginary line for a straight pot (e.g. "he'll want to finish above the blue in order to go into the pink and reds"). It is also common to use the term high instead.

Action

  1. Gambling or the potential for gambling (US).
  2. Lively results on a ball, usually the cue ball, from the application of spin.

See also cue action.

Added

Used with an amount to signify to a tournament prize fund in addition to the amount accumulated from entry fees (e.g. "$500 added").

Ahead race

Also ahead session. A match format in which a player has to establish a lead of an agreed number of frames (games) in order to win (e.g. in a ten ahead race a player wins when she/he has won ten more racks than the opponent). See also race.

Aiming line

An imaginary line drawn from the desired path an object ball is to be sent (usually the center of a pocket) and the center of the object ball.

Anchor nurse

A type of nurse used in carom billiards games. With one object ball frozen to a cushion and the second object ball just slightly away from the rail, the cue ball is gently rebounded across the face of both balls, freezing the away ball to the rail and moving the frozen ball away the same distance its partner was previously, resulting in an identical but reversed configuration, in position to be struck again by the cue ball from the opposite side. Compare cradle cannon.

Anchor space

A 7 inch (17.8 cm) square box drawn on a balkline table from the termination of a balkline with the rail, thus defining a restricted space in which only 3 points may be scored before one ball must be driven from the area. It developed to curtail the effectiveness of the chuck nurse, which in turn had been invented to thwart the effectiveness of the Parker's box in stopping long, repetitive runs using the anchor nurse.

Angle of incidence

The angle at which a ball approaches a rail, as measured from the perpendicular to the rail. The phrase has been in use since as early as 1653.

Angle of reflection

The angle from which a ball rebounds from a rail, as measured from the perpendicular to the rail.

Angled ball

In snooker and pool, a ball situated in the jaws of a pocket such that the ball on cannot be struck directly. Compare corner-hooked.

Arc

The arc of the cue ball is the extent to which it curves as a result of a semi-massé or massé shot.

Apex

Also apex ball, apex of the triangle or apex of the rack. The ball placed at the front of a group of racked balls situated over the table's foot spot.

Around the table

In carom games, a shot in which in attempting to score, the cue ball contacts three or more cushions, usually including both short rails.

B

Back

Same as stake.

Back cut

A cut shot in which if a line were drawn from the cue ball to the rail behind the targeted object ball, perpendicular to that rail, the object ball would lie beyond the line with respect to the pocket being targeted.

Backer

Same as stakehorse.

Back spin

Also backspin, back-spin. Same as draw. See illustration at spin. Contrast top spin.

Baize

A coarse woolen cloth used to cover billiard tables, usually green in colour and sometimes called felt based on a similarity in appearance, though very different in makeup.

Balance point

The point, usually around 18 in. from the bottom of a cue, at which the cue will balance when resting on one hand.

Balkline

Also balk line.

  1. A type of carom billiards game created to eliminate very high runs in straight-rail.
  2. A line drawn horizontally from a point on a billiard table's rail to the corresponding point on the opposite rail, thus defining a region of the eponymous balkline table in which only a set number of caroms may be scored before at least one ball must leave the area.

Not to be confused with baulk line.

Ball-in-hand

Also cue ball in-hand. The option of placing the cue ball anywhere on the table prior to shooting. Usually only available to a player when the opposing player has committed some type of foul under a particular game's rules (cf. the free throw in basketball by way of comparison). See also in-hand for the snooker definition. A common variation, used in games such as straight pool and often in bar pool, is ball-in-hand behind the headstring/behind the line/from the kitchen, meaning the ball-in-hand option is resticted to placement anywhere behind the head string—the area of a table known as the kitchen.

Ball-on

Not always hyphenated. Plural: balls-on. Also on[-]ball. Any legally strikable ball on the table in generally British terminology. For example, in blackball, if a player is playing yellows, any yellow ball (or any solid, from 1 to 7, if using a solids-and-stripes ball set) can be the "ball-on" until they are all potted, in which case the 8 ball is the ball-on. In snooker, at the beginning of a player's turn, unless all are already potted, any red ball can be the "ball-on". Compare object ball.

Ball return

A collection bin mounted below the foot end of a table to which balls potted in any pocket will return by means of gravity assisted gutters or troughs running from each pocket opening to the bin. Ball returns have been in use since at least the 1700s. Pockets which simply collect balls are known as drop pockets. A table without a ball return may be called a "drop pocket table", while a table featuring a ball return may be called a "gully table."

Banger

A derogatory term for a recreational or beginning player who "bangs" the balls without any thought for position nor attempt to control the cue ball; also a reference to the predilection of beginners to often hit the cue ball far harder than necessary. See also potter.

Bank

  1. Same as cushion.
  2. Same as bank shot.

Bank shot

Also bank. Shot in which an object ball is driven to one or more rails prior to being pocketed (or in some contexts, prior to reaching its intended target; not necessarily a pocket). Sometimes "bank" is conflated to refer to kick shots as well, and in the UK it is often called a double.

Bank-the-8

A rule variant common in bar pool versions of eight-ball, in which the 8 ball must be pocketed on a bank shot (or sometimes on either a bank shot proper or a kick shot); shooting the 8 straight in is a loss of game. Players may agree before the game begins to invoke this rule, or one player may challenge another player (who might accept or refuse) to conclude the game in this manner after if is already under way. Playing bank-the-8 can be considered rude if many other players are waiting to use the table, since it often makes the game last considerably longer.

Bar player

Also bar league player. A player that predominantly plays in bars/pubs, or is in a bar-based pool league. Often used pejoratively by pool hall players to refer to a perceived lesser skill level of such players. See also bar pool, bar table.

Bar pool

Also bar rules. Pool, almost always a variant of eight-ball, that is played by bar players on a bar table. Bar pool has rules that vary from region to region, sometimes even from venue to venue in the same city, especially in the U.S. It is thus always a good idea to understand/agree to rules before engaging in a money game under bar rules. Typical differences between bar pool and tournament eight-ball are the lack of ball-in-hand after a foul, the elimination of a number of fouls, and (in U.S. bar pool) the requirement that most aspects of a shot (rails and other balls to be contacted) be called, not just the object ball and pocket. Bar pool has evolved into this \"nitpicky\" version principally to make the games last longer, since bar pool is typically played on coin-operated tables that cost money per-game rather than per-hour. Competitive league pool played on bar tables, however, usually uses international, national or local/regional league rules, and is not what is usually meant by \"bar pool\". Depending on local dialect may also be called tavern pool, pub pool, etc. Not to be confused with the game of Bar billiards.

A common protocol for determining the sequence of players for coin-operated bar tables in the United States involves indicating one's desire to play by placing the requisite coins (usually quarters) in some visible spot on or near the table (but not so that they interfere with play). The first person to have his \"quarters up\" will play the winner of the current match.

Bar table

Also bar box. Distinctive pool tables found in bars/taverns. They are almost always coin-operated and smaller than tables found in pool rooms and professional venues. Typical bar boxes are x , though 4x8 and even 3x6 examples can sometimes be found). Most North American brands of bar tables have pocket proportions confusingly opposite those of regular tables—the side pockets are remarkably tight, while the corners are more generous than those of pool hall tables. Because they are coin-operated and capture pocketed balls, they employ one of several mechanisms to return a scratched cue ball. The oversized, and extra-dense cue ball methods are deprecated, because these cue balls do not play correctly (especially with regard to cut and stop/draw shots, respectively; cf. smash-through). Modern bar tables make use of a magnet and a regulation or near-regulation size and weight cue ball with an iron core, to separate the cue ball from the others and return it to the players. Pool hall players complain also that the cloth used on bar tables is often greatly inferior (in particular that it is "slow" and that english does not "take" enough), and often find that the cushions are not as responsive as they are used to.

Baulk

Also baulk area. In snooker, English billiards, and blackball, the area of the of the table that is between the and the , which houses and is somewhat analogous to the in American-style pool.

Baulk colour

In snooker, any of the three colour balls that get spotted on the baulk line: the yellow, green or brown ball.

Baulk cushion

In snooker, the cushion opposite the top cushion and bounded by the yellow and green pockets (i.e. same as .

Baulk line

A straight line drawn 29 inch (73.66 cm) from the face of the on a standard 6 × 12 foot snooker table. Its positioning varies on other sizes of tables. Baulk lines may also be drawn on English billiards tables, and even British-style pool tables. The baulk line is an integral part of . The baulk line's position is always determined by measurement from the baulk cushion, in contrast to the similar but different , the position of which is determined by the . Not to be confused with .

Baulk rail

Same as (UK), (US).

Bed

The playing area of a table, exclusive of the cushions.

Be in stroke

See In stroke.

Below

Used in snooker in reference to the position of the cue ball. It is "below" the object ball if it is off-straight on the top cushion side of the imaginary line for a straight pot (e.g. he'll want to finish below the black in order to go into the reds). This may seem counterintuitive, see above for an explanation.

Big

Also bigs, big balls, big ones. In eight-ball, to be shooting the striped suit (group) of balls (9 through 15); "you're big, remember", "you're big balls" or "I've got the big ones". Compare stripes, yellows, high, overs; contrast little. Not to be confused with the carom billiards concept of a big ball.

Big ball

A carom billiards metaphor, it refers to an object ball positioned and being approached in such a manner that a near miss will rebound off a cushion and still score. It is as if the ball were larger than normal, making it easier to contact. Normally a ball a couple inches from a rail is a big ball, but only if being approached from an angle and if all the prerequisite rails have already been contacted. A ball near a corner can effectively be a foot wide. Not to be confused with the eight-ball term "the big balls". In older British usage the concept was referred to as "large ball". See also "big pocket".

Big pocket

A pocket billiards and occasionally snooker term (inherited from carom billiards by way of "big ball", above), it is a metaphor for a shot that is very difficult to miss pocketing for any of a number of reasons, most commonly either because the object ball is positioned such that a near miss on one side of it will likely cause the cue ball to rebound into the object ball off the rail and pocket it anyway, or another ball is positioned such that if the target ball does not go straight in, it is still likely to go in off the other ball in a kiss. It is as if the pocket, for this one shot, had become larger. The term can also refer to the angle of shot toward a pocket, especially a side pocket; the pocket is said to be "bigger", for example, on a shot that is only a 5-degree angle away from straight on, than on a 45-degree angle shot which is much more likely to hit one of the cushion points and bounce away.

Billiard

Also billiard shot.

  1. Any shot in which the cue ball is caromed off an object ball to strike another object ball (with or without contacting cushions in the interim).
  2. In certain carom billiards games such as three-cushion, a successful attempt at making a scoring billiard shot under the rules for that game (such as contacting three cushions with the cue ball while executing the billiard). A failed attempt at scoring would, in this context, not be called "a billiard" by players of such games even if it satisfied the first, more general definition.

Billiards

  1. In the US, Canada and in many different countries and languages (under various spellings) as well as historically, generally refers to all cue sports;
  2. Sometimes refers to just carom games as opposed to Pocket billiards (especially in the US and Canada);
  3. In British terminology, chiefly refers to the game known in the rest of the world as English Billiards.

Black ball

Also the black.

  1. In snooker, the highest-value colour ball on the table, being worth seven points. In some (especially American) snooker ball sets it is numbered "7" on its surface.
  2. The black ball (usually numbered "8") in the eight-ball variant game blackball (and its variants); also the common British term for the slightly larger but otherwise identical 8 ball in a kelly pool set (a.k.a. American or WPA pool set).. See also 8 ball.

Blood test

Any very difficult shot that must be made under pressure.

Blue ball

  1. In snooker, the colour ball worth 5 points, whose spot is at the center of the table.
  2. Also the blues. In the eight-ball game variant blackball, and sometimes in UK eight-ball more generally, a differently colored but otherwise identical replacement for the red group (i.e., what would be the solids in an American-style pool ball set).

Body english

The useless but common practice of contorting one's body while a shot is in play, as if in the vain hope that this will influence the balls' trajectories; the term is considered humorous.

Bottle

Also shake bottle, pea bottle, pill bottle, kelly bottle, tally bottle. The bottle used in various games to hold numbered peas, it is employed to assign random spots to players in a roster (such as in a tournament), or to assign random balls to players of a game (such as in kelly pool and bottle pool).

Bottom

  1. Chiefly British: The half of the table from which the is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in North America, where this end of the table is called the . Contrast . See also .
  2. Chiefly American: Exactly the opposite of the above – the foot end of the table. No longer in common usage.
  3. Short for , i.e. same as (British), (American).

Bottom cushion

Chiefly British: The on the . Also known as the , especially in snooker. Compare ; contrast .

Bottom rail

Chiefly British: The at the of the table. Traditionally this is the rail on which the table manufacturer's logo appears. Also known as the , especially in snooker. Compare ; contrast .

Bottom spin

Also bottomspin, bottom-spin, bottom. Same as , i.e. (UK), (US).. Contrast top spin. See illustration at spin.

Break

  1. Also break shot or break off, as a noun. Typically describes the first shot in most types of billiards games. In carom games it describes the first point attempt, as shot from an unvarying cue ball and object balls placement; in many pocket billiards (pool) games it describes the first shot, which is used to separate the object balls which have been racked together;
  2. A series of consecutive pots by a player during a single inning. Most often applied in snooker and English billiards, e.g., "The player had a break of 89 points".(chiefly British; compare US run). See also Highest snooker break.

Break and dish

Same as Break and run (chiefly British).

Break and run

Also break and run out. Chiefly American: In pool games, when a player the , at least one ball on the break, and commences to the remaining object balls without the opponent getting a at the table. Hyphenated when used as an adjective or compound noun instead of a verbal phrase. See also .

Break box

In European Pocket Billiard Federation (EPBF) nine-ball, a zone in the "" of the (British: of the table, from which the must be taken with the , not unlike zone used in snooker, English billiards and blackball. The break box consists of the middle 50% of the kitchen area, delimited laterally by the (British: ) and (not the ), and longitudinally by two parallel lines drawn from the head rail that are closest to the , out to the head string (see illustration to the right). This departure from WPA World Standardised Rules defeats the common break-from-the-side-rail technique for pocketing the 9 ball on the break to win the game instantly; while 9 ball breaks are still possible, they are much more difficult under the new rule. This EPBF Euro-Tour requirement was recently added to the Europe vs. US all-star team event, the Mosconi Cup, but has not otherwise been seen much by non-Europeans.

Break down one's cue

To take one's two-piece cue stick apart. When done before a game's conclusion, it often indicates that the game is conceded.

Bridge

Either the player's hand or a mechanical bridge used to support the shaft end of the cue stick during a shot. Also the particular hand formation used for this purpose (there are many).

Bridge hand

The hand used by a player as a bridge during a normal shot that doesn't involve a mechanical bridge. The bridge hand is usually a player's non-dominant hand.

Brown ball

Also brown. In snooker, the highest-value baulk colour, being worth 4 points.

Bumper

The bumper on the bottom of a cue, usually made from rubber, which insulates the butt cap from contact with the floor and greatly reduces noise. The bumper was first patented in 1880.

Burnish

To seal the pores of a wooden cue by rubbing it vigorously with some material, usually leather; also done to the edge of a cue tip to fortify it against mushrooming.

Business, doing

Collusion between matchplay opponents who prearrange who will win a match on which other people's money is wagered, in order to guarantee a payday.

Butt

The bottom portion of a pool cue which is gripped by a player's hand.

Butt cap

A protective cap mounted on the end of the butt of a cue.

Button

A bead on a scoring .

C

Calcutta

A player's auction at a pool tournament. Each player is called and players and spectators bid on the player. The highest bidder(s) pays their bid to the calcutta, and by doing so invest in that player's success. If a player wins or places in the tournament, those who "bought" the player receive a percentage of the total calcutta payout, usually tracking the percentage payout of the tournament prize fund. Typically, players have the option of purchasing half of themselves when the high bid is won by a third party. Like english and scotch doubles, usually not capitalized.

Call

Any instance of a player having to say what they are about to do, or have already done. For example, in eight-ball a player must call the pocket in which a ball is intended to be pocketed. Contrast fish, slop.

Call-shot

Also called-shot; call-pocket or called-pocket; ball-and-pocket. Any game in which during normal play a player must call the ball to be hit and the intended pocket; "eight-ball is a call-shot game." Sometimes referred to as "call[ed]-pocket", "call the ball and pocket", etc., to distinguish it from the common American bar pool practice of requiring every aspect of shots to be called, such as caroms, kick shots, and cushions to be contacted (this is sometimes also ambiguously referred to as "call-shot", or more accurately "call-everything" or "call-it-all"). See also gentlemen's call.

Called ball

The ball designated by a player to be pocketed on a shot.

Called pocket

The pocket designated by a player to which a ball is to be shot.

Cannon

British and sometimes Canadian term for carom.

Card

Short for .

Carom

Carom came into use in the 1860s and is a shortening of carambola, which was earlier used to describe the red object ball used in many billiards games. Carom generally refers to any type of strike and rebound, off a rail or ball, but may also be used as short for a carom shot in which a point is scored in carom billiards games by careening the cue ball into the two object balls. Also called a cannon in British terminology.

Carambole

Also spelled carombola.

  1. The red ball in carom games, derived from an orange-colored, tropical Asian fruit, called a carambola in English, which was a corruption of the original name of the fruit, karambal in the Marathi language of India.
  2. A general purpose term for carom billiards games;
  3. Alternate name for the game of straight rail;
  4. A carom.

Catch a stroke

See Stroke, catch a.

Center spot

Also centre spot, middle spot. The (usually unmarked) spot at the geometric center of the bed of a table. It lies at the intersection of the center string and long string.

Center string

Also centre string. The (usually unmarked) line bisecting the centers of the two side pockets (if any) and the center spot. It runs horizontally (i.e. the short way) across the dead center of the table. Its intersection with the long string defines the position of the center spot.

Centre pocket

In the UK, one of the two pockets one either side of a pool, snooker or English billiards table halfway up the long rails. They are cut shallower than corner pockets because they have a 180 degree aperture, instead of 90 degrees. Also commonly called a middle pocket. These terms are not generally used in the US, where "side pocket" prevails.

Century

Also century break. In snooker and English billiards, a break of 100 points or more, which involves potting at least 25 balls consecutively, in snooker, but can be earned via a combination of scoring techniques in English billiards. See also double century.

Chalk

A powdered substance placed on a cue stick's tip to increase its friction and thereby decrease slippage between the tip and cue ball. See also hand chalk.

Chasing one's money

The inability of some players to stop gambling once they have lost money because they "have" to get their money back.

Cheat the pocket

To aim at an object ball such that it will enter one side or the other, rather than the center, of a pocket. This permits the cue ball to strike the object ball at a different contact point than the most obvious one. Employed for position play and to prevent scratches on dead-straight shots in cases where draw is not desirable (or may not be dependable, e.g. because of smash-through).

Check side

A type of spin imparted to the cue ball to make it rebound from a cushion at a shallower angle than it would if the spin had not been used.

Chinese snooker

A situation where the cue ball is directly in front of another ball in the line of the shot such that the player is hampered by it, having to bridge over it awkwardly. This term is most commonly used in the game of snooker.

Chuck nurse

Known as a rocking cannon in British terminology. A type of nurse used in carom billiards games. With one object ball frozen to a cushion and the second object ball a few inches away from the rail, the cue ball is gently rebounded off the ball not moving it, but with just enough speed to meet the other object ball which rocks in place, but does not change position. Developed to thwart the restrictions emplaced by the Parker's box.

Choke

To commit errors while shooting, especially at the money ball, due to pressure. See also , .

Cinch a ball

To play a shot with the stroke and speed that makes it easiest to pocket the object ball, even at the expense of sacrificing position.

Cinch a pocket

To maneuver a ball on a shot so that it will be favorably positioned for later play into a particular pocket, even at the expense of sacrificing position or the inning to achieve that result.

Cinch position

To play a shot using a more difficult application of stroke and speed to achieve a certain desired position for the next shot, even at the expense of or sharply increasing the likelihood of a miss.

Clean

  1. Chiefly British. Describing a pot that goes straight into the pocket without touching either knuckle.
  2. Chiefly American. Describing a shot in bar pool: the pocketing of an object ball in a manner such that the target object ball does not kiss any other object ball, and is not banked, kicked, caromed, or combo'd in, and without double-kissing, though it may hit the knuckles, and depending upon local bar-rules may be allowed to contact either of the cushions, not just at the knuckle, that run into the target pocket. Usage example: "The 7 in that corner, clean". Usage can be narrower, to indicate clean other than as already specified, e.g. "bank the 7 in that corner, clean".

Clearance

In snooker and British pool, the successful potting of all object balls-on in a single frame. A player is said to have "cleared up" or to have "cleared the table". Also, if a snooker player compiles a break consisting of all 15 reds with colours, then the colours in sequence, this is known as a "total clearance". Compare break and run.

Cling

Phenomenon where two balls, (usually the cue ball and an object ball) have some foreign material, most often residual chalk, between them at the point of contact, which throws the shot offline, causing the object ball to take a straighter angle than normal, and often also affecting the post-impact path of the cue ball. A typical precaution against cling is to ask for the cue ball and/or object ball to be cleaned by the referee in order to remove chalk that is already on the ball prior to the shot. However, no precaution can be made against a kick that occurs as a result of the chalk applied from tip of the cue stick to the cue ball during a shot. Coincidental cling can therefore cause unpredictable play and occasionally lead to simple shots to be missed at even the highest levels of the game. "Cling" (and derived words like "clung", "clinger", "clinging", etc.) may be used as a mass noun, less commonly as a count noun, as a verb, and rarely as an adjective ("cling is annoying", "two clings in one frame", "they clung", "unintentional cling shot", respectively). Also known as skid, or in the UK, kick (sense 2). See also , sense 2.

Closed bridge

A bridge formed by the hand where the index finger is curved over the cue stick and other fingers are spread on the cloth providing solid support for the cue stick's direction.

Cloth

The baize cloth covering the tables playing surface and rails, usually made from wool or a wool-nylon blend. Sometimes cloth is improperly referred to as "felt."

Cluster

Two or more object balls that are touching or are close together.

Cocked-hat double

Also cocked hat double. A term applied especially in snooker for a type of double off three cushions, e.g. around the baulk colours and into a centre pocket. Such a shot is very difficult to make and would not normally be played as anything more than a shot for nothing.

Collision-induced side spin

imparted to an by the friction from the hit of the during a .

Collision-induced throw

Deflection of an object ball's path away from the impact line of a cut shot, caused by sliding friction between the cue ball and the object ball. One of the two types of throw.

Colour ball

Also coloured ball(s), colour(s)

  1. In snooker, any of the object balls that are not reds. A colour ball must be potted after each red in the continuation of a break, and are re-spotted until the reds run out, after which the colours must be potted in their order:

*yellow (2 points);
*green (3 points);
*brown (4 points);
*blue (5 points);
*pink (6 points);
*black (7 points).
Although the full term includes "ball" after the colour, they are most commonly referred to with the omission of "ball", just stating the colour (e.g. "he's taken 5 blacks with reds so far").
2. In blackball, a generic, collective term for the red and yellow groups of object balls, corresponding to the (originally American, but used much more widely today) solids and stripes, respectively.

Combination shot

Also combination, combo. Any shot in which the cue ball contacts an object ball, which in turn hits one or more additional object balls (which in turn may hit yet further object balls) to send the last-hit object ball to an intended place, usually a pocket. In the UK this is often referred to as a plant.

Contact point

The point on each of two balls at which they touch at the moment of impact.

Containing safety

A type of safety shot in the middle of a safety exchange that is not intended to put the opponent in a difficult situation regarding their next safety, but rather played so as to not leave an easy pot on. A typical example in snooker, which sees the most shots of this kind, is a slow roll-up into the pack.

Corner-hooked

When the corner lip of a pocket blocks the path of the cue ball from contacting an intended object ball. Interchangeable with "tittie-hooked".

Corner pocket

Any of the four pockets in each corner of a pool or snooker table. They have a 90 degree aperture and as such are cut deeper than center pockets, which have 180 degree apertures.

Count

A successful shot or score; more common in carom games.

Count, the

The running score during a game inning where multiple successive points have been made.

Cradle cannon

A type of nurse shot used in English billiards in which two coloured balls are positioned on either side of the mouth of a snooker table pocket but not touching and, thus placed, can be successively contacted and scored off over and over by the cue ball without moving them. It first known use was by Walter Lovejoy in 1907. The unofficial record using the shot is held by Tom Reece who in 1907, over the course of a month, scored 499,135 points using the Cradle cannon before stopping without missing. This feat prompted the Billiards Association to outlaw the shot. The official record is held by William Cook with 42,746 points scored. Compare anchor nurse.

Creep

Deviation of a ball from its initial direction of travel. Often the result of a poor-quality table and may be an artifact of the cloth, the bed, a ball with uneven weight distribution, or simply the floor the table stands on being uneven. It should not be confused with the nap of the cloth.

Cribbage

A set of paired balls in the game of cribbage pool that have a number value which combined equal 15. For example, the 8 ball and the 7 ball added together equal 15 and thus constitute one cribbage if pocketed in succession.

Cross

Also cross rake or jigger. A type of rest, with a straight shaft and "x"-shaped head for resting the cue upon.

Cross-corner

A bank shot that rebounds from a cushion into a corner pocket across the table.

Cross double

A British term describing a bank shot in which the cue ball crosses the future path of the object ball. Such shots are usually played into a center pocket because there is the danger of a double-kiss if played to a corner pocket.

Cross-side

A bank shot that rebounds from a cushion and into a side pocket.

Crotch

The corner formed by the rails on a carom billiards table. In modern straight rail rules, only three counts may be made while both object balls are inside the boundaries of the crotch before one ball must be driven away. The boundaries of each of the four crotch areas are measured by drawing a line from the first diamond on the end rail to the second diamond on the long rail.

Crucible Curse

The phenomenon that (as of 2008) no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship, at the Crucible Theatre, has successfully defended the title the following year.

Cue

  1. Noun: Also cue stick. A stick, usually around 55-60" in length with a tip made of a material such as leather on the end and sometimes with a joint in the middle, which is used to propel billiard balls. For more information see the cue stick main article.
  2. Noun: Sometimes "cue" is short for cue ball.
  3. Verb: Same as , definition 1

Cue action

Chiefly British: The posture and timing used by players on their shots, often indicative of how they play in their shot selection. A fast, natural player would tend to be more aggressive whereas a less naturally-gifted player might have a slow action and tend to be more conservative on the table. It is widely thought that better snooker players get lower to the table with their chins on the cue, have a straight back leg, their elbow hinging in line with the shot, and a straight follow-through after the cue ball has been struck.

Cue ball

Also cueball. The ball in nearly any cue sport, typically white in color, that a player strikes with a cue stick. Sometimes referred to as the "white ball", "whitey" or "the rock". For more information, see the billiard ball main article.

Cue ball control

See position play.

Cue power

A British term describing the amount of control a player can retain when playing shots with heavy spin and great pace; "it took tremendous cue power to get onto the 2 ball having been relatively straight on the 1."

Cue stick

Also cuestick. Same as cue.

Cue tip

A material, usually leather, placed on the end of a cue stick which comes in contact with the cue ball.

Curve shot

Same as semi-massé. Compare #Swerve shot.

Cueist

A player of cue sports.

Cushion

The elastic bumpers mounted on all rails of a billiards table, usually made from rubber or synthetic rubber, from which the balls rebound.

Cut shot

Technically, any shot that is not a center-to-center hit, but almost always employed when describing a shot that has more than a slight degree of angle.

D

"D", the

A semicircle with an 1112 inch (291 mm) radius, drawn behind a snooker table's baulk line, centred on the middle of the line, and resembling the upper case letter "D" in shape. The "D" is also used in English billiards and sometimes also in blackball and other pool games played on British-style tables.

Dart stroke

A short and loose stroke performed in a manner similar to the way one throws a dart; usually employed for a jump shot.

Dead

Same as wired.

Dead cushion

Same as dead rail.

Dead ball

  1. Short for dead ball shot.
  2. A ball that has been used for some time, with a dirty surface, as opposed to a slick new (or highly-polished used) ball. A dead ball with transfer more spin to other balls it comes into contact with, and not be as on the cloth. Even angles may be affected because of the or (British: ) effect, and professional players often ask a referee to clean a ball, mid-game. Others may actually be more used to dead balls and prefer them.

Dead ball shot

Same as kill shot.

Dead rail

A cushion that has either lost a degree of elastic resiliency or is not firmly bolted to the frame, in both cases causing balls to rebound with less energy than is normal.

Dead stroke

When a player is playing flawlessly, just "cannot miss" and the game seems effortless.

Deadweight

Describing a pot played at such a pace as to just reach the pocket and drop in without hitting the back.

Deflection

Displacement of the cue ball's path away from the parallel line formed by the cue stick's direction of travel; occurs every time english is employed. The degree of deflection increases as the amount of english applied increases. It is also called squirt, typically in the United States.

Deliberate foul

A shot, especially common in straight pool and in some variants of blackball (but not WEPF/EPA rules), in which a player intentionally commits a foul with the object in mind of either leaving the opponent with little chance of running out or simply to avoid shooting where no good shot is presented and to do anything else would give the opponent an advantage. It is often referred to in straight pool as a "back scratch."

Develop

To move a ball (usually deliberately) from a safe position, e.g. close to the middle of a cushion or in a cluster, so that it becomes pottable.

Diamond

  1. One of a number of identical markings, usually inlaid into the surface above the rail cushions, used as target or reference points. Three equally-spaced diamonds are normally between each pocket on a pool table. On a carom table, the pockets themselves are replaced by additional diamonds. Diamonds get their name from the shape of the markings traditionally used; though many today are round, square, etc., these rail markings are still referred to as "diamonds". (See also .)
  2. A particular shape of ball rack, in the form of a (parallelogram ("diamond shape"), used for games of nine-ball and seven-ball, though hexagonal racks also exist for the latter. (See also .)

Diamond system

Any system for banking or kicking balls multiple rails which uses table diamonds as aiming references.

Discipline

  1. A cue sports game (such as eight-ball, three-cushion billiards, 18.2 balkline, etc.), especially as a professional or serious amateur specialization: "He was a World Champion in three billiards disciplines."
  2. An artistic pool term for a category of trick shots; artistic pool is divided into eight disciplines, and APTSA tournaments present both discipline-specific and all-around awards.

Dish

Same as run out (chiefly British). See also break and dish.

Dog

Also dog it.

  1. A widespread term in US parlance describing missing a relatively easy shot—often in the face of pressure. Can be used in many forms: "I dogged the shot"; "I hope he dogs it"; "I'm such a dog." See also , .
  2. Same as slop shot (chiefly southern US, colloquial).

Dots

In chiefly UK parlance, the non-striped ball group of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 1 through 7 and have a solid color scheme. Compare solids, reds, low, small, little, spots, unders; contrast stripes.

Double

Same as kick shot (chiefly British).

Double century

Also double-century break. In English billiards, a break of 200–299 points (i.e. double a century). Larger multi-centuries are regularly achieved. Rare in amateur play, triple centuries are routine, and quadruples not uncommon at World Professional Billiards Championships; 2007 winner Mike Russell shot four triples in the final round alone, while of sixteen competitors, three shot quadruple centuries (one once, one twice, and Russell three times). Quintuple centuries are rare even at the professional level, with only the 494 shot by nine-time World Champion Russell (who has more such titles than any other player in history as of 2007) coming close in that event. World Champion Geet Sethi holds the world record, at a duodectuple century (and then some) of 1276 consecutive points.

Double cheeseburger, the

Same as hill, hill.

Double-elimination

Also double elimination. A tournament format in which a player must lose two matches in order to be eliminated. Contrast .

Double hit

An illegal shot (foul) in which the cue stick's tip contacts the cue ball twice during a single stroke. Double hits often occur when a player shoots the cue ball when it is very close to an object ball or cushion, because it is difficult to move the cue stick away quickly enough after the cue ball rebounds from the cushion or object ball.

Double kiss

A situation in which a ball strikes another ball which is close to a rail and the struck ball rebounds back into the ball it was hit by; usually but not always unintended.

Double shimmed

A pool table where two shims have been placed on the sides of each pocket (in the jaws beneath the cloth), making the pockets "tighter" (smaller). Such tables are "tougher" than unshimmed or single-shimmed tables.

Double the rail

Sometimes called a snake shot. A carom billiards shot, common in three-cushion billiards, where the cue ball is shot with reverse english at a relatively shallow angle down the rail, and spins backwards off the adjacent rail back into the first rail.

Double the pocket

To intentionally rebound the off both of the to achieve .

Doubles

A form of team play in which two players compete against another team of two players in any given frame or match. In a doubles game, the first player from the breaking team is the only one who shoots during the opening inning, with control of the table passing to a member of the opposing team at the end of that inning, then upon the end of the opponent's inning to the doubles partner of the original player, and next to the second opponent, play proceeding in this doubly-alternating manner until concluded. Contrast Scotch doubles.

Down-trou

Also downtrou.' New Zealand: A traditional informal (pub pool and university student) rule, in blackball and eight-ball is the "down-trou" requirement: One who loses without pocketing any of one's own object balls is expected to honor this humiliation by dropping their pants.

Drag shot

A shot played slowly and with heavy draw and follow-through so that the cue ball can be struck firmly but with a lot of the pace taken out, allowing more control than just a gentle tap that would travel as far.

Draw

Also known as back spin, a type of spin applied to the cue ball by hitting it below its equator, causing it to spin backwards even as it slides forward on the cloth. Back spin slows the cue ball down, reduces its travel, and narrows both the carom angle after contact with an object ball, and angle of reflection off a cushion. There are several variant terms for this, including "bottom" and "bottom spin" in the US and "screw" in the UK. Draw is thought to be the first spin technique understood by billiards players prior to the introduction of leather tips, and was in use by the 1790s. See illustration at spin.

Draw shot

A shot in which the cue ball is struck below its equator with sufficient draw to make it reverse direction at the moment of contact with an object ball because it is still back-spinning. When the object and cue balls are lined up square, the reversal will be directly backwards, while on a cut shot, the effect will alter the carom angle. It can also refer to any shot to which draw is applied, as in "draw it off the foot rail just to the left of the center diamond". See illustration at spin.

Drill

  1. A set practice routine;
  2. To beat badly; "I drilled my opponent."
  3. In British terminology, a bank shot.

Drop pockets

Netted or cupped pockets that do not return the balls to the foot end of the table by means of a gutter system or sloped surface beneath (they must instead be retrieved manually).

Duck

  1. (Noun): Derived from "sitting duck", usually referring to an object ball sitting close to a pocket or so positioned that is virtually impossible to miss. Same as hanger (US, colloquial), sitter (UK).
  2. (Verb): To intentionally play a safety.

Dump

To intentionally lose a game, e.g. to disguise one's actual playing ability. An extreme form of sandbagging. See also hustle. See also Match fixing for the synonym "tank", used in sports more generally.

E

8 ball

Also the 8. The money ball (game ball or frame ball) in a game of eight-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the suit of seven object balls belonging to the player shooting for the 8 (pocketing the 8 ball early is a loss of game—unless done on the break, in most rules variants). It is usually black in colour with the numeral "8" in a white circle. In other games, such as nine-ball and straight pool, the 8 is simply an object ball. Due to its coloring and regular use as a money ball, it is commonly used as a symbol in popular culture.

End rail

Either of the two shorter rails of a billiards or pocket billiards table.

English

Chiefly American: Also known as side spin, english (which is not capitalized) is spin placed on the cue ball when hit with the cue tip to the left or right of the ball's center. English has a marked effect on cue ball rebound angle off cushions (though not off object balls), and is thus crucial for gaining shape; and can be used to "throw" an object ball slightly off its otherwise expected trajectory, to cheat the pocket, and for other effects. "English" is sometimes used more inclusively, to colloquially also refer to follow and draw. The British and Irish do not use this term, instead preferring "side". See illustration at spin.

Equator

The horizontal plane directly in the center of the cue ball, which when hit exactly by the cue tip should impart no follow or draw.

Escape

A successful attempt to get out of a snooker.

Extension

  1. Any mechanical aid that serves to extend the length of the player's cue, normally added to the end of the butt either by clipping around the end or screwing into the base. Though extensions are used for pool, it is more common in snooker because of the significantly larger table size.
  2. In a tournament where players get limited time to make their shots (common in televised matches), an extension is a extra time granted before making a shot; players have a limited number of extensions in each frame.

F

Fast

  1. Describes tightly-woven and well-used (but clean) billiard table (baize), upon which the balls move quickly and roll farther, as they experience less friction than with fuzzy new, or dirty old, cloth. May be used more extendedly, as in "this is a really fast table". Fast cloth makes shots somewhat less effective, as there is less purchase for the 's . By the same token, and are easier on fast cloth because it is so comparatively smooth.
  2. Producing lively action; may be said of the table, , or balls, in addition to the above definition.

Fat

See undercut.

Fault

Same as foul (chiefly British, and declining in usage; even the WPA and WEFP blackball rules use "foul").

Feather shot

Also feather. A very thin cut shot in which the cue ball just brushes the edge of an object ball. "Feather" by itself can be both noun and verb (e.g. "feathering the ball"). See also snick.

Felt

Same as cloth (deprecated; it is factually incorrect).

Ferrule

A sleeve, fitted onto the lathed-down tip end of the cue, made from fiberglass, plastic, melamine, horn, metal, ivory or other material, upon which the cue tip is mounted and which protects the shaft wood from splitting from cue ball impact.

Firewood

Common slang in the US for a cheap, poorly-made cue. Compare wood.

Fish

  1. An easy mark;
  2. A person who loses money gambling and keeps coming back for more;
  3. Sometimes, a poor player;
  4. As a verb, either to hit the balls hard with no intention in mind other than to get lucky, or to shoot hard at the money ball ball with the same intention. Compare slop and fluke; contrast mark (sense 3) and call.

Flagrant foul

A foul where the rules are blatantly, intentionally violated, with a stiffer penalty (e.g., loss of game) than normal.

Flat-back pack

In snooker, a situation during a frame in which the first line of the remaining reds grouped together, where the original pack was, are in a straight horizontal line. This has implications when opening the pack, as a full-ball contact off the top cushion will usually cause the cue-ball to stick to the red and fail to leave a chance.

Fluke

A shot that has a positive outcome for the player, although it was not what the player intended. Examples of flukes include an unexpected pot off several cushions or other balls having missed the pocket aimed for, or perhaps a lucky safety position after having missed a pot. Compare fish and slop; contrast mark (sense 3) and call. It is customary to apologise to one's opponent if one does this.

Follow

The forward rotation of the cue ball that results from a follow shot. Also known as top spin or top, follow is applied to the cue ball by hitting it above its equator, causing it to spin more rapidly in the direction of travel than it would simply by rolling on the cloth from a center-ball hit. Follow speeds the cue ball up, and widens both the carom angle after contact with an object ball, and angle of reflection off a cushion. See illustration at spin.

Follow shot

A shot in which the cue ball is struck above its equator with sufficient top spin to cause the cue ball to travel forward after it contacts an object ball. When a cue ball with follow on it contacts an object ball squarely (a center-to-center hit), the cue ball travels directly forward through the space previously occupied by the object ball (and can sometimes even be used to pocket a second ball). By contrast, on a cut shot, a cue ball with follow on it will first travel on the tangent line after striking the object ball, and then arc forward, widening the carom angle. See illustration at spin.

Follow-through

On a shot, the extension of the cue stick through the position during the end of a player's stroke in the direction originally aimed.

Foot

Chiefly American: The half of the table in which the are (in games in which racked balls are used). This usage is conceptually opposite that in British English, where this end of the table is called the . Contrast .

Foot cushion

Chiefly American: The on the . Compare ; contrast .

Foot rail

Chiefly American: The at the of the table. Frequently used imprecisely, to mean . Compare ; contrast .

Foot spot

The point on the table surface over which the apex ball of a rack is centered (in most games). It is the point half the distance between the s' second diamonds from the end of the racking end of the table. The foot spot is the intersection of the and the , and is typically marked with a cloth or paper decal on pool tables. Contrast .

Foot string

An imaginary line running horizontally across a billiards table from the second diamond (from the foot end of the table) on one long rail to the corresponding second diamond on the other long rail. The foot string intersects the long string at the foot spot. It is rarely drawn on the table.

Forced shot

Same as cheating the pocket. Principally used in snooker.

Force follow

A powerful follow shot with a high degree of top spin on it; usually when the object ball being hit is relatively close to the cue ball and is being hit very full; also known as "prograde top spin" or "prograde follow" (when referring to the action on the shot rather than the shot per se), and as a "jenny" in Australia.

Foul

A violation of a particular game's rules for which a set penalty is imposed. In many pool games the penalty for a foul (scratch) is ball-in-hand anywhere on the table for the opponent. In some games such as straight pool, a foul results in a loss of one or more points. In one-pocket, in which a set number of balls must be made in a specific pocket, upon a foul the player must return a ball to the table. In some games, three successive fouls in a row is a loss of game. In straight pool, a third successive foul results in a loss of 16 points (15 plus one for the foul).

Possible foul situations (nonexclusive)

  • The player shoots the cue ball first into a ball that is not an object ball;
  • The player shoots and after contacting an object ball, no ball is pocketed and neither the cue ball nor a numbered ball contacts a cushion (excepting push out rules);
  • The player pockets the cue ball (see scratch);
  • The player does not have at least one foot on the floor at the moment of shooting;
  • The player shoots the cue ball before all other balls have come to a complete stop;
  • The player hits the cue ball more than once during a shot (a double hit);
  • The player touches the cue ball with something other than the tip of the cue;
  • The player touches any ball other than the cue ball;
  • The player causes a ball to leave the table's playing surface without it returning (e.g., jumping a ball off the table);
  • The player marks the table in any manner to aid in aiming;
  • The player who has ball-in-hand, touches an object ball with the cue ball while attempting to place the cue ball on the table;
  • The player shoots in such a manner that his cue tip stays in contact with the cue ball for more than the momentary time commensurate with a stroked shot (a push shot).

Frame

A term especially used in snooker and blackball but also in the US for each rack from the break off until a clearance, losing foul or concession has been made. A match is made up of several frames. See also game (sense 1), which has a slightly broader meaning.

Frame ball

Same as game ball (chiefly in snooker and blackball).

Free ball

A situation where a player has fouled, leaving the opponent snookered. In UK eight-ball this would normally give the opponent the option of one of two plays: (1) ball-in-hand with two shots; (2) being allowed to contact, or even pot, a ball other than one from his/her set from the snookered position (although the black may not be potted), with the loss of the first shot.

In snooker it allows a player to call any ball as the ball she/he would have wanted to play, potting it for the same number of points, or the opponent can be put back in without the same privilege, having to play the ball snookered on. It should be noted that the definition of snooker on this occasion means the opponent cannot strike both extreme edges of the object ball (or a cluster of touching balls).

Free stroking

  1. Pocketing well and quickly but without much thought for position play.
  2. Playing loose and carefree.
  3. Same as dead stroke.

Freeze up

To dedicate a set amount of money that a gambling match will be played to; no one may quit until one player or the other has won the \"frozen up\" funds.

Frozen

A resting ball that is in actual contact with one or more balls or with a rail is \"frozen\" (or, colloquially, \"froze\") to the touching ball(s) or rail.

Full

Also full-ball. A type of contact between two balls from which no or little angle is created between their paths; the contact required to pot a straight shot. It is commonly used in reference to how much of an object ball a player can see with the cue ball: \"Can you hit that full?\".

Fundamentals

The basic actions necessary to shoot well—stance, grip, stroke, bridge and follow-through.

G

Game

  1. Play, from the opening break shot until one player has won (or the game has been halted for some reason by a referee). Games are the units that make up matches, races (in some senses of that term) and rounds. Essentially the same as frame, except with regards to straight pool, which is a multi-rack game.
  2. An identifiable, codifiable set of rules. pool is not a game, but a class of games. Nine-ball is a game.
  3. Note: There are also slang usages, such as \"to have game\" (to be a good player, as in \"he['s] got game\") and \"to be game\" (to be willing to play or to gamble, as in \"yeah, I'm game, so let's see what you've got\"). But these usages are not particular to cue sports.

Game ball

The ball required to win the rack. In snooker and blackball it is called the frame ball. See also money ball.

Games on the wire

To give a handicap to an opponent where they have to win a specified number less games than the other player in order to triumph in the match.

Gapper

An agreement between two players in a tournament, one of whom will advance to a guaranteed money prize if the match is won, to give a certain percentage of that money to the loser of the match. Also known as a .

Gather shot

In the carom games, any shot where the end result is all the balls near each other; ideally, in position for the start of a nurse on the next stroke.

Gentlemen's call

Also Gentleman's call. Gentlemen's call is an informal approach to the \"call-everything\" variation of call-shot, common in bar pool. Obvious shots, such as a straight-on or near-straight shot for which the shooter is clearly aiming and which could not be mistaken for another shot, need not be called. Bank shots, kicks, caroms and combinations are usually less obvious and generally must be called, though this may depend upon the mutual skill level and shot selection perception of the players. An opponent has the right to ask what the shooter's intention is, if this is unclear.

Ghost ball

A common aiming method in which a phantom ball is imagined frozen to the object ball at the point where an imaginary line drawn between their centers is aimed at the desired target; the cue ball may then be shot at the center of the \"ghost\" ball and, ideally, impact the object ball at the proper aiming contact point. The ghost ball method of aiming results in misses where adjustment is not made for collision induced throw.

Go off

Describes the propensity of a player losing small sums of money at gambling to suddenly sharply increase the stakes; often continuing to lose until broke. Compare Chasing one's money.

Golden break

In nine-ball, especially in the UK, a break shot that pots the 9 ball without fouling, in which case the player wins in one shot. See also on the break/snap.

Goose neck

Also goose neck rest. Same as swan.

Green

  1. Nearly table-length distance between the cue ball and target object ball, or near cue and object balls and target pocket, i.e. a potentially difficult shot (\"you sure left me a lot of green on that one\")
  2. The cloth covering the table (\"oh, man, you just ripped the green\")
  3. The green ball (\"that was a great shot on the green\")
  4. Money (\"I won a lot of green last night from that wannabe hustler\")

Green ball

Also green. In snooker, the colour ball that is worth three points, being the second-least valuable colour behind the yellow. It is one of the baulk colours.

Green pocket

The pocket in snooker that is closest to the green spot.

Grip

  1. The way in which a player holds the butt end of the cue stick.
  2. The wrap of the cuestick where the hand is placed, also known as the \"grip area.\"

Group

Same as suit, predominantly in British terminology, i.e., in eight-ball either of the set of seven balls (reds or yellows) that must be cleared before potting the black. Generally used in the generic, especially in rulesets or articles, rather than colloquially by players.

Gully table

  1. A table with a ball return system, as opposed to a drop pocket table.
  2. Also gutter table. Same as bar table.

H

Half-ball hit

A shot aimed such that the center of the cue ball is in line with the edge of the object ball, eclipsing half of the ball. "Hit it just a little thinner than half ball." Assuming a cling does not occur, the shot will impart post-contact momentum on the object ball in a direction 30° (which is arcsin(1-x), where x is the fraction of object ball eclipsed: ½ in this case) off the direction of the cue-ball's pre-contact momentum. Also notable because the carom angle the cue ball takes is more consistent than at other contact points.

Half-century

In snooker, a break of 50–99 points (100 points or more being called a century), which involves potting at least 12 consecutive balls.

Hand chalk

Powdery white chalk (sometimes talc rather than chalk per se) placed on a player's bridge hand to reduce moisture so that a cue's shaft can slide more easily. It is not provided in many establishments as many recreational players will use far more than is necessary and transfer it all over the table's surface.

Handicapping

Modification of the rules and/or scoring of a game to enable players of variable abilities to compete on a more even playing field. Examples of handicapping include spotting balls and giving games on the wire to an opponent. In league play, other forms of handicapping include awarding compensating points to a lesser-skilled team, or using numerical player ranking systems to adjust final scores between opponents of different skill levels. See Handicapping main article for more general information on sports handicapping.

Hanger

Same as duck. Derives from an easily-shot ball "hanging" in the pocket.

Hanging in the pocket

A ball hanging over the edge of a pocket.

Have the nuts

Be in a game where either because of disparity in skill level, or because of a handicap given, it would be very difficult to lose.

Having the cue ball on a string

Used when describing perfect cue ball position play.

Hazard

  1. Literally, a pocket, but generally used in the phrases losing hazardpotting (pocketing the cue ball off another ball – and winning hazard – using the cue ball to pot another ball – the two types of legal shots that pocket balls in games in which the term is used at all, which is very few today. The term principally survives in English billiards, in which both types of shots are point-scoring. Formerly, a large number of different games made use of the two types of hazards as point scorers or losers in various different ways (thus their suggestive names). The term ultimately derives from holes or pockets in the table to be avoided, in very early forms of billiards.. While the terms are disused in pocket billiards today, their lingering effect is obvious, as the vast bulk of such games focus on making winning hazards and avoiding losing hazards (a notable exception being Russian pyramid in which both are legal shots).
  2. In golf billiards, an area of the table (sometimes marked) that a player will be penalized for entering if their ball does not leave. Derives from the use of the term in the outdoor game of golf.

Head

Chiefly American: The half of the table from which the is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in British English, where this end of the table is called the . Contrast . See also .

Head cushion

Chiefly American: The on the . Compare ; contrast .

Head rail

Chiefly American: The at the of the table. Traditionally this is the rail on which the table manufacturer's logo appears. Compare , ; contrast .

Head spot

The intersection of the and , which is usually not marked on a table with a spot decal, unlike the , though some pool halls mark both spots so that racking can be done at either end of the table, and wear on the cloth from racking and breaking is more evenly distributed.

Head string

A line, sometimes imaginary (especially in American pool), sometimes drawn on the cloth, that runs horizontally across the table from the second (from the ) on one to the corresponding second diamond on the other long rail. In most pool games, the opening break shot must be performed with the center (base) of the cue ball behind the head string (i.e. between the head string and head rail). The head string intersects the at the , and delimits the (and, in European nine-ball, the outer boundary of the ). The head string's position is always determined by the diamonds, in contrast to the similar but different , the position of which is determined by measurement from the ().

Heads up

Same as straight up.

Heart

The strength of a player's will to win; the ability to overcome pressure; "he showed a lot of heart in making that comeback."

High

  1. Also highs, high balls, high ones. In eight-ball and related games, to be shooting the striped suit (group) of balls (9 through 15); "you're high balls" or "I've got the highs" ("you're high" is rare, because of the "intoxication" ambiguity). Compare stripes, yellows, big ones, overs; contrast low.
  2. With follow, as in "I shot that high left", meaning "I shot that with follow and with left english". Derives from the fact that one must aim above the cue ball's equator, i.e. "high" on the ball, to impart follow. "With" is optional (e.g. "I shot that with high left"). Contrast low.
  3. With run, a lengthy run. The exact implication is dependent upon context, e.g. "my high run at three-cushion is 15", "Jones had the highest run of the tournament", "that was a pretty high run you just did", etc.
  4. In snooker, same as "above", as in "she'll want to finish high on the black to allow position on the red".

Hill

See on the hill, hill-hill.

Hill-hill

The point in play where both players (or teams) need only one more victory to win the match or . See also .

Hook

  1. Same as (verb)
  2. Same as .

Hook rest

Also the hook. In snooker, a type of mechanical bridge that has only recently been endorsed by the WPBSA to allow its use in major tournament play. It is a normal rest with the head in line with the shaft, but the last foot or so of the shaft is curved. This allows players to position the curved end around an obstructing ball that would have otherwise left them hampered on the cue ball and in need of a spider or swan with extensions, which would have less control.

House cue

Usually a one-piece cue freely available for use by patrons in bars and pool halls.

House man

A pool room employee who plays with a good degree of skill.

House rack

A pejorative term for an improper rack in which the balls are not properly in contact with their neighbors, often resulting in a poor spread on the break.

House rules

The rules played in a particular venue not necessarily in comportment with official rules, or with common local bar pool custom.

Hug the rail

Describes a ball rolling along a rail in contact or near contact with it, or which makes multiple successive contacts with the rail. See velcro.

Hustle

To play for money and lull a victim into thinking they can win, prompting them to accept higher and higher stakes, until beating them and walking off with more money than they would have been willing to bet had they been beaten soundly in the beginning. The terms hustler, for one who hustles, and hustling, describing the act, are just as common if not more so than this verb form. See also sandbag, on the lemonade, lemonade stroke, shark, dump.

I

Illegal

As in many other sports, "illegal" means causing or likely to cause a foul (the opposite being legal). (See legal for specific examples of usage.)

In-hand

  1. Shortening of ball-in-hand.
  2. In snooker, the ability to place the cue ball anywhere inside the boundaries of the D. This occurs at the start of a frame, and after the cue ball has been potted or forced off the table.

Inning

A player's (or doubles team's) turn at the table, usually ending with a failure to score a point or to pocket a ball, depending on the game, a foul, a safety or with a win. In some games, such as five-pins and killer, a player's inning is always limited to one shot, regardless of the intent and result of the shot. Usually synonymous with visit, except in scotch doubles format. The term is sometimes used to mean both players'/teams' visits combined, e.g. when referring to which inning in which a memorable shot occurred.

In-off

In snooker and British pool, an instance where the cue ball has been potted after contacting an object ball. It is a fault in most games. There is no equivalent (current) American term for this specific means of pocketing the white ball. Compare losing hazard, scratch.

Inside english

placed on a same side of the as the direction in which the is being (left-hand when cutting a ball to the left, and vice versa).

In stroke

Cueing and timing the balls well; in good form, where potting, safety and clarity of thinking seems to come a lot easier. If a player is not doing as well but then suddenly picks up, which happens during the course of most matches, she/he is said to catch a stroke.

Insurance ball

A ball that is easily made from most positions on the table but which is left untouched while the rack is played, so that in the event the player gets out of position, the shooter has an insurance shot. Typically an insurance ball will be in or near the jaws of a pocket.

In the money

In a tournament, to high enough to receive a payout. E.g., in a tournament that pays from 1st down to 5th places, to be at least 5th place is to be in the money.

In turn

When a particular ball is given as a handicap in nine-ball, designating that ball in turn means that it must be made in rotation, when it is the lowest numerical ball remaining on the table, and cannot be made to garner a win earlier in the game by way of a combination, carom or any other shot. For example, if a player is spotted the 8 ball, he only wins by making that ball after balls 1 through 7 have been cleared from the table. The phrase is not common in the U.S.

Irish linen

Linen made from flax and produced in Ireland which is often used to wrap the gripping area of the butt of a cue.

J

Jack up

  1. To elevate the back of the cue on a shot.
  2. In gambling, to "jack up a bet" means to increase the stakes.

Jail

When a player is on the receiving end of a devastating safety where it is very difficult or near impossible to make a legal hit on an object ball.

Jam up

Adjectival expression for a player's deadly game; "watch out, he plays jam up."

Jawed ball

A ball that fails to drop into a pocket after bouncing back and forth between the jaws of a pocket.

Jaws

The inside walls of a pocket billiards table's pockets.

Jenny

Chiefly Australian: Same as a force follow shot.

Jigger

Same as cross.

Joint

The interlocking connection between the butt and shaft ends of a two-piece cue stick.

Joint protectors

Plugs that screw into the joint when a two-piece cue is broken down to keep foreign objects and moisture from contacting the joint mechanism.

Jump cue

A cue dedicated to jumping balls; usually shorter and lighter than a playing cue and having a wider, hard tip. Also referred to as a jump stick.

Jump draw

A rare and very difficult trick that turns into a upon landing. Requires precise application of in addition to the precise application of ball pressure to effectuate the jump. Jump draws are fairly often seen in professional trick shot competition.

Jump massé

A rare and extremely difficult trick that turns into a upon landing. Requires very precise application of in addition to the precise application of ball pressure to effectuate the jump. Turn-of-the-last-century World Balkline Champion Jacob Schaefer Sr. was known to daringly perform jump massés in competition.

Jump shot

Also simply jump. Any shot where the cue ball is intentionally jumped into the air to clear an obstacle (usually an object ball, even in games with non-ball objects, e.g. bottle pool). Jump shots must be performed by hitting the cue ball into the table's surface so that it rebounds from the cloth. Scooping under the cue ball to fling it into the air is deemed a foul by all authoritative rules sources, as the cue ball is technically struck twice, once by the tip, once by the ferrule. A legal jump shot works by compressing the cue ball slightly against the slate under the cloth, causing it to spring upward when the downward pressure of the cue is released. Naturally, non-standard "rock" cue balls (made of ceramic, is much denser than the more typical phenolic resin and other plastics used for billiard balls) are not well-suited to jump shots. Some billiard halls and even entire leagues prohibit all jump (and in those cases usually also massé) shots, out of fears of damage to the equipment, especially the cloth. Specialized jump cues exist to better facilitate jump shots; they are usually shorter and lighter, and with harder tips, than normal cues. Jump shots that go through or into objects rather than over them are common in trick shot competition.

K

Key ball

The object ball involved in a key shot.

Key shot

  1. A shot or ball that allows a player to obtain shape on another ball hard to play position to.
  2. A shot or ball that is the \"key\" to running out.
  3. The 14th object ball in a rack of straight pool that, when proper position is achieved on, allows easy position play, in turn, on the last (15th) object ball for an intergame break shot.

Kick

  1. Short for kick shot. Also used as a verb, \"to kick [at]\" (US).
  2. Same as cling (US) and skid (British). Noun, verb and rare adjective usage as per \"cling\".

Kick shot

A shot in which the cue ball is driven to one or more rails (cushions in British English) before reaching its intended target—usually an object ball. Often shortened to 'kick'.

Kill shot

Also dead ball shot. A shot intended to slow down or \"kill\" the cue ball's speed as much as possible after contact with an object ball; usually a shot with draw, often combined with inside english. It is often shortened to kill.

Kiss

An instance of contact between balls, usually used in the context of describing an object ball contacting another object ball (e.g. \"the two ball kissed off the twelve ball\"). If the player's intention was to cause two object balls to kiss (e.g. to pocket a shot ball after a ricochet off a stationary one), it is often called a kiss shot. Compare double kiss; contrast carom.

Kiss shot

See kiss.

Kitchen

The area on the table behind the head string. The origin of the term has been the subject of some speculation but the best explanation known is that in the 1800s, many homes didn't have room for both a billiard table and a dining room table. The solution was a billiards table that had a cover converting it into a dining table. Kept in the dining room, play on such a table was often restricted by the size of the room, so it would be placed so that the head rail would face the connected kitchen door, thus affording a player room for the backswing without hitting a wall. A player was therefore either half or sometimes fully (literally) \"in the kitchen\" when breaking the balls. See also baulk.

Knuckle

One of two sharp, jutting curves of the cushions either side of a pocket at the points where cushion and pocket meet, forming the jaws of the pockets. Also known as a point, a tittie or a horn.

L

Ladies' aid

Also lady's aid. A denigrating term for the .

Lag

To determine the order of play, players (representing only themselves, or teams) each simultaneously shoot a ball from the kitchen (or in British games, from the baulk line) to the end rail and back toward the bottom rail. Whichever shooter's ball comes to rest closest to the bottom rail gets to choose who breaks the rack. It is permissible but not required for the lagged ball to touch or rebound from the bottom rail, but not to touch the side rails. Lagging is usually a two-party activity, though there are games such as cutthroat in which three players might lag. In the case of a tie, the tying shooters re-lag. The lag is most often used in tournament play or other competitions. In hard-break games like nine-ball and eight-ball the winner of the lag would normally take the break, while in soft-break games like straight pool would likely require the loser of the lag to break, since breaking would be a disadvantage. See also .

Last-pocket

Also last pocket. A common rule in informal bar pool, especially bar/pub eight-ball, in which the money ball must be pocketed (potted) in the same pocket as as the shooter's last object ball (each player may be said to eventually \"own\" a pocket, for the duration of the game, in which their 8 ball shot must be played if they have already run out their ). The variant is not extremely common in the United States or the UK, but is near-universal in much of Latin America (where two cue ball scratches are permitted when attempting the 8 ball shot and count as simple fouls, with only a third scratch constituting a loss of game). Last pocket is also common in North Africa. Last-pocket rules require careful position play, and frequently result in bank and kick shots at the 8 ball.

Leave

The cue ball's position after a shot. \"Good\" or \"bad\" in reference to a leave describe respectively and advantageous or disadvantageous position for the next shot, or to leave an incoming opponent safe. See also position play; compare position, shape.

Legal

As in many other sports, \"legal\" means not causing or likely to cause a foul (the opposite being illegal). A legal hit is one in which the requirements for a non-foul hit are met (e.g., in nine-ball, the lowest-numbered ball on the table was hit by the cue ball first, and at least one object ball was pocketed, or any ball reached a cushion, after the hit on the first object ball.). A legal shot is one in which no foul of any kind was involved (e.g. there was not a double hit by the cue, the player's bridge hand did not move a ball, etc.). A legal stroke is one in which the cue stroke obeyed the rules (e.g. the shooter did not perform an illegal jump shot by scooping under the cue ball with the cue tip). A legal ball is a ball-on, an object ball at which it is permissible for the player to shoot. And so on. The term can be used in many ways consistent with these examples (\"legal pocket\" in one-pocket, \"legal equipment\" under tournament specifications, etc.).

Left

Short for left english (side), i.e. spin imparted to the cue ball by stroking it to the lefthand side of its vertical axis. Contrast right.

Lemonade stroke

An intentionally amateurish stroke to disguise one's ability to play. Compare on the lemonade.

Let out

To allow an opponent to stop playing a set for money in exchange for something. If a player is winning a set by a wide margin, with $100 on the line, the player could say, \"I'll let you out now for $75.\" This is usually meant to save pride.

Little

Also littles, little ones, little balls. In eight-ball, to be shooting the solid suit (group) of balls (1 through 7); \"you're little, remember\", \"you're the little balls\" or \"I've got the littles\". Compare small, solids, reds, low, spots, dots, unders; contrast big.

Lock

A game that basically cannot be lost based on disparity of skill levels; \"this game is a lock for him.\"

Lock artist

Someone talented at making lock games.

Lock up

The act of playing a devastating safety which results in the opponent facing a very difficult or near impossible to make a legal hit on an object ball.

Long bank

A cross-corner bank shot from one end of the table to the other (i.e. across the center string). Long banks are considerably more difficult, because of the smaller margin for error due to distance and angle widening, than cross-side banks and short cross-corner banks from the same end of the table.

Long double

Chiefly British: bank shot played up and down the longer length of the table off a short rail and into a corner pocket, as opposed to the more common bank across the short length into a center pocket or corner.

Long rail

Same as side rail.

Long string

An imaginary line dividing the table into two equal halves lengthwise. It intersects the head string, center string and foot string at the head spot, center spot and foot spot, respectively.

Look back

To enter the loser bracket in a double elimination tournament, or otherwise slip in standing in other tournament formats (i.e., to lose a game/frame/round/match, but still remain in the competition).

Losing hazard

Also loser. (Largely obsolete.) A shot in which the cue ball is potted after caroming off another ball.. In snooker and most pool games doing this would be a fault (foul), but the move will score points in many games in which hazards (as such) apply, such as English billiards. The term derives from this hazard costing the player points in early forms of billiards. Compare in-off, scratch. Contrast winning hazard.

Low

  1. Also lows, low balls, low ones. In eight-ball, to be shooting the solid suit (group) of balls (1 through 7); "you're low, remember", "you're low balls" or "I've got the lows." Compare solids, reds, little, spots, dots, unders; contrast high.
  2. With draw, as in "I shot that low left", meaning "I shot that with draw and with left english". Derives from the fact that one must aim below the cue ball's equator, i.e. "low" on the ball, to impart draw. Contrast high.

M

Mark

  1. The target of a scam or hustle;
  2. A foolish person in a pool room;
  3. To indicate where something is to be done. To "mark the pocket" means to indicate which pocket you intend to sink an object ball. Contrast fish.

Massé

Also massé shot. A steep curve or complete reversal of cue ball direction without the necessity of any rail or object ball being struck, due to extreme imparted to the cue ball by a steeply elevated cue. Compare semi-massé.

Match

  1. The overall competition between two players, two pairs of players or two teams of players, usually consisting of a predetermined number of frames or games (sometimes organized into rounds). There are also specialized match formats where the game number is not predetermined; see race and ahead race for examples.
  2. To agree to rise to a higher wager, as in "$100? Yeah, I'll match that" (i.e., basically equivalent to "call a raise" in poker).

Match ball

Same as game ball (chiefly British).

Maximum break

Also simply maximum. In snooker, the highest break attainable with the balls that are racked; usually 147 points starting by potting fifteen reds, in combination with blacks, and clearing the colours.

Mechanical bridge

Also called a rake. A special stick with a grooved, slotted or otherwise supportive end attachment that helps guide the cue stick – a stand-in for the bridge hand. It is usually used only when the shot cannot be comfortably reached with a hand bridge. Often shortened to bridge or called a bridge stick. An entire class of different mechanical bridges exist for snooker, called rests (see that entry for details), also commonly used in blackball and English billiards. Mechanical bridges have many derogatory nicknames, such as "crutch", "granny stick", and "sissy stick" because of the perception by many amateur players that they are evidence of weak playing skills or technique (the opposite is actually true) or are somehow unmanly. Small mechanical bridges, that stand on the table surface instead of being mounted on sticks, exist for disabled players who do not have or cannot use both hands or arms.

Middle pocket

Same as centre pocket.

Middle spot

Same as center spot; uncommon.

Miscue

A stroke in which the cue's tip glances or slips off the cue ball not effectively transferring the intended force. Usually the result is a bungled shot. Common causes include a lack of chalk on the cue tip, a poorly groomed cue tip and not stroking straight through the cue ball, e.g. because of steering.

Miss

In snooker, a rule (commonly called the miss rule) whereby if a player fouls and leaves it safe, his opponent has the option to make the opponent play exactly the same shot again, or at least as accurately as the referee is able to reproduce the ball positions. A miss usually only applies when the player has been put in by the opponent after a safety. It is a controversial rule that tries to account for deliberate fouls; a frowned-upon practice. A referee will normally call a miss on any failed attempt to get out of a safety—especially snookers. If a player misses a shot three times while not snookered, he forfeits the frame; players will often play an easy hit that is likely to leave a chance for the opponent on the third attempt

Missable

Describing a difficult pot: "the awkward cueing makes this shot missable."

Money added

Also money-added. Said of a tournament in which the of money to pay out to the winner(s) contains sponsor monies in addition to competitor entry fees. Often used as an adjective: "a money-added event". See also .

Money ball

Name for the ball that when pocketed, wins the game, or any ball that when made results in a payday such as a way in the game of Chicago.

Money, in the

See .

Money table

The table reserved for games played for money or the best table in the house. This table is always of better quality and regularly maintained. Money tables are most commonly reserved for big .

Mushroom

Leather of the cue tip overhanging the ferrule because of compression from repeated impacts against the cue ball. It must be trimmed off, or it will cause miscues and inaccuracies, as it is not backed by the solid ferrule and thus will compress much more than the tip should on impact.

N

Nap

A directional pile created by the short fuzzy ends of fibers on the surface of cloth projecting upward from the lie and which create a favorable and unfavorable direction for rolling balls. The convention in most billiards games in which directional nap cloth is used is to brush the cloth along the table in the same direction of the nap, usually from the end that a player breaks. In snooker and UK eight-ball especially, this creates the effect of creep in the direction of the nap, the most-affected shot being a slow roll into a center pocket against the nap. It is commonly referred to in the fuller term "nap of the cloth." When nap is used in relation to woven cloths that have no directional pile, such as those typically used in the U.S. for pool tables, the term simply refers to the fuzziness of the cloth.

Natural

  1. Noun: In pool, a natural is an easy shot requiring no ().
  2. Adjective: In pool, a shot is said to be natural if it does not require adjustments, such as a angle, side spin, or unusual force. A natural , for example, is one in which simply shooting straight into the at medium speed and with no spin will send the object ball directly into the target pocket on the other side of the table.
  3. In three cushion billiards, the most standard shot where the third ball is advantageously placed in a corner.

9 ball

Also the 9. The money ball (game ball or frame ball) in a game of nine-ball. It is the last ball that must be pocketed, after the remaining eight object balls have been pocketed, or may be pocketed early to win the game so long as the lowest-numbered ball on the table is struck before the 9. In other games, such as eight-ball, the 9 is simply one of the regular object balls (a stripe, in particular).

Nip draw

A short, jabbed draw stroke usually employed so as to not commit a foul (i.e. due to following through to a double hit) when the cue ball is very near to the target object ball.

Nit

Someone who wants too high a handicap or refuses to wager any money on a relatively fair match; a general pool room pejorative moniker. Probably derived from "nitwit".

Nurse

Also nurse shot. In carom games such as straight rail, balkline and cushion caroms, where all the balls are kept near each other and a cushion, and with very soft shots, can be "nursed" down a rail on multiple successful shots that effectly replicate the same ball setup so that the nurse shot can be repeated again (and again, etc.). Excessive use of nurse shots by players skilled enough to set them up and pull them off repeatedly at will is what led to the development of the balkline carom billiards game variations, and repetitive shot limitation rules in English billiards. A clear example of why: In 1907, Tom Reece scored a record of 499,135 consecutive over a period of five weeks, without a miss, using the cradle cannon nurse shot.

O

Object ball

Depending on context:

  1. Any ball that may be legally struck by the cue ball (i.e., any ball-on);
  2. Any ball other than the cue ball.

Usage notes: When speaking very generally, e.g. about the proper way to make a kind of shot, any ball other than the cue ball is an object ball. In narrower contexts, this may not be the case. For example when playing eight-ball one might not think of the 8 ball as an object ball unless shooting for the 8.

On a string

Used when describing perfect play; a metaphoric reference to puppetry.

  1. Pool: See Having the cue ball on a string.
  2. Carom billiards: Order may be inverted: "as if the balls had strings on them".

On the hill

Describes a player who needs only one more game win to be victorious in the match. See also hill, hill.

On the lemonade

Also on the lemon Disguising the level of one's ability to play; also known as sandbagging or hustling (though the latter has a broader meaning). Compare lemonade stroke.

On the snap

As a result of the opening break shot (the "snap"), usually said of winning by pocketing the money ball ("won on the snap", "got it on the snap", etc. Employed most commonly in the game of nine-ball where pocketing the 9 ball at any time in the game on a legal stroke garners a win. Sometimes used alone as an exhortatory exclamation, "On the snap!" See also golden break.

One-stroke

To shoot without taking enough warm-up strokes to properly aim and feel out the stroke and speed to be applied. One-stroking is a common symptom of nervousness and a source of missed shots and failed position. See also , .

Open

  1. In eight-ball, when all are for either player. See .
  2. A description of a in which the is spread apart well. See also the requirement in some games' rules, including eight-ball and nine-ball
  3. In carom billiards, descriptive of play in which the balls are not . See .
  4. A description of a layout of balls in a pocket billiards game (of almost any kind) that, because it is so spread out, makes its easy for a good player to and win, due to lack of problematic and balls.

Open break

A requirement under some pocket billiards rulesets that either an object ball be pocketed, or at least four object balls be driven to contact the cushions, on the opening . Contrast .

Open bridge

A bridge formed by the hand where no finger loops over the shaft of the cue. Typically, the cue stick is channeled by a "v"-shaped groove formed by the thumb and the base of the index finger.

Open play

A description of play in carom billiards games in which the balls remain widely separated rather than , requiring much more skill to score and making effectively impossible, and making for a more interesting game for onlookers. Most skilled players try to gather the balls as quickly as possible to increase their chances of continuing to score in a long .

Open table

  1. In eight-ball and related games, describes the situation in which neither player has yet claimed a of balls. Often shortented to simply open: "Is it still an open table?" "Yes, it's open."

Orange crush, the

The 5 out (meaning the player getting the handicap can win by making the 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 balls).

Out

  1. A specific ball number followed by "out" refers to a in nine-ball where the "spot" is all balls from that designated number to the 9 ball. To illustrate, the 6-out would allow the player getting weight to win by pocketing the 6, 7, 8 or 9 balls.
  2. Short for run out, especially as a noun: "That was a nice out."

Outside English

on a on the opposite side of the direction of the angle to be played (right-hand when cutting an to the left, and vice versa).

Overcut

Hitting the with too large of a angle; hitting the object ball too thin. It is a well-known maxim that overcutting is preferable to undercutting. See also professional side of the pocket.

Overs

Same as stripes, in New Zealand. Compare yellows, high, big ones; contrast unders.===

P

Pack

  1. In snooker, the bunch of reds that are typically left below the pink spot in the early stages of a frame, not including those reds that have been released into pottable positions.
  2. A cluster of balls.
  3. Same as package.

Package

Successive games won without the opponent getting to the table; a five-pack would be a package of five games.

Pantsed

Australian: Defeated with all seven of one's object balls (in blackball or eight-ball) remaining on the table. Informal Australian pub play may stipulate that if one loses this badly, one has been "pantsed" and must hobble one full lap around the pool table, with one's pants around one's ankles, or even fully naked. (See also down-trou and seven-balled.)

Paper cut

Same as feather (US) or snick (UK) (US, colloquial).

Parker's box

Named after Chicagoan J. E. Parker, it is a 3½  × 7 inch box drawn on a balkline table from the termination of a balkline with the cushion, thus defining a restricted space in which only a set number of points may be scored before one ball must be driven from the area. Now supplanted by anchor spaces, it was developed to curtail the effectiveness of the anchor nurse, which in turn had been invented to exploit a loophole in balkline rules: so long as both object balls straddled a balkline, there was no restriction on counts, as each ball lay in a separate balk space.

Parking the cue ball

  1. Having the cue ball stop at or near the center of the table on a forceful break shot (the breaking ideal in many games such as nine-ball);
  2. Having the cue ball stop precisely where intended.

Pea

Also pills, tally balls and shake balls. Small, round markers typically numbered 1 through 15 or 16, which are placed in a bottle for various random assignment purposes, such as in a tournament roster, to assign order of play in a multiplayer game, or to assign particular balls to players in games such as kelly pool.

Percentage

See . Used by itself often with "low" and "high": "that's a low-percentage shot for me", "I should really take the high-percentage one".

Pin

  1. Same as skittle.
  2. A flat, thin rectangular object, somewhat like a large domino, approximately 6 in. tall by 3 in. wide, and placed upright like an obelisk on the table, in Australian/New Zealand devil's pool (a form of pin billiards). Depending upon the exact game (victory billiards, etc.) being played, there may be one pin, or several of various colors, and they may be targets or obstacles, most commonly the latter. A black one featured prominently in the highest-stakes games in the sci-fi/pool movie, Hard Knuckle. They are usually made of plastic.

Pink ball

In snooker, the second-highest value colour ball, being worth six points.

Pill

Same as pea.

Piqué

Also piquet. Either a Massé shot with no english, or a shot in which the cue stick is steeply angled, but not held quite as vertical as it is in full massé.

Place

To reach a certain position in a tournament. "I placed 17th." "She will probably place this time."

Plant

Chiefly British. Same as .

Play the percentages

Using knowledge of the game and one's own abilities and limitations to choose the manner of shooting and the particular shot from an array presented, that has a degree of likelihood of success. This often requires a player to forego a shot that if made would be very advantageous but does not have a high likelhood of success, in favor of a safety or less advantageous shot that is more realistically achievable.

Pocket

  1. (noun) An opening in a table, cut partly into the bed and partly into the rails and their cushions, into which balls are shot (pocketed or potted).
  2. (verb) Send a ball into a pocket, usually intentionally.

Pocket speed

Describes the propensity of pockets to more easily accept an imperfectly aimed ball shot at a relatively soft speed, that might not fall if shot with more velocity.

Point

  1. A unit of scoring, in games such as snooker and straight pool with numerical scoring.
  2. A unit of scoring, in team matches in leagues that use numerical scoring instead of simple game/frame win vs. loss ratios.
  3. Another term for knuckle / tittie.

Pointing

A term used to indicate balls that are frozen, or close enough that no matter from which angle they're hit from the combination will send the outer ball the same direction. "Are the 2 and 7 pointing at the corner?? Okay, I'll use that duck to get position way over there."

Pool shark

See shark (in all senses).

Position

The placement of the balls, especially the cue ball, relative to the next planned shot. Also known as shape. See also position play, leave.

Position play

Skilled playing in which knowledge of ball speed, angles, post-impact trajectory, and other factors are used to gain position (i.e. a good leave) after the target ball is struck. The goals of position play are generally to ensure that the next shot is easy or at least makeable, and/or to play a safety in the advent of a miss (intentional or otherwise).

Pot

  1. (verb, chiefly British) To sink a ball into a pocket. See also pocket (verb).
  2. (noun, chiefly British) An instance of potting a ball ("it was a good pot considering the angle and distance of the shot").
  3. (noun) Pooled money being played for in money games or tournaments, as in poker and other gambling activities. This very old term derives from players placing their stakes into a pot or other receptacle before play begins.

Pot and tuck

A tactic employed in UK eight-ball in which a player calls and pots one of the balls in a favorably-lying set, then plays safe, leaving as many of his/her well-placed balls on the table as possible, until the opponents commits a foul or leaves a chance that the player feels warrants an attempt at running out.

Potter

A British term for someone with little experience or understanding of the game, who may be skilled at potting individual balls but does not consider tactics such as position or safety; "he's a potter not a player." See also banger.

Potting angle

The desired angle that must be created between the path of the cue ball and the path of the object ball upon contact to pot the object ball. It is usually measured to the center of the pocket. See also aiming line.

Power draw

Extreme application of draw.

Professional foul

A deliberate foul that leaves the balls in a safe position, reducing the risk of giving a frame-winning chance to the opponent. The miss rule in snooker was implemented primarily because of the professional foul possibility.

Professional side of the pocket

Also pro side of the pocket and missing on the professional (or pro) side of the pocket. Sometimes "of the pocket" is left off the phrase. To err on the side of overcutting a difficult corner pocket cut shot rather than undercutting in nine ball; "missing on the professional side of the pocket." So called because experienced players understand that on a thin cut, overcutting the object ball to a corner pocket will far more often leave the object ball in an unfavorable position for the incoming opponent than will an undercut, which often leaves the object ball sitting in front of or nearby the pocket it had been intended for on a miss. By contrast, in eight-ball, except when both players are shooting at the 8 ball, the incoming player after a miss is shooting for different object balls, so this maxim does not apply, and the opposite may be good strategy as, if the object ball stays near the pocket through an undercut, it is advantageously positioned for a subsequent turn and may block the opponent's use of the pocket.

Program

Also (chiefly British) programme. Short for .

Push

Means either push out or push shot, depending on the context.

Push out

As an adjective or compound noun: push-out. A rule in many games (most notably nine-ball, after and only after the break shot), allowing a player to "push out" the cue ball to a new position without having to contact any ball, much less pocket one or drive it to a cushion, but not counting any pocketed ball as valid (other foul rules apply, such as double hits, scratching the cue ball, etc.), with the caveat that the opponent may shoot from the new cue ball position or give the shot back to the pusher who must shoot from the new position. In nine-ball particularly, and derived games such as seven-ball and ten-ball, pocketing the money ball on a push-out results in that ball being respotted (which can be used to strategic advantage in certain circumstances, such as when the break leaves no shot on the ball-on, and failure to hit it would give the incoming player an instant-win combination shot on the money ball).

Push shot

Any foul shot in which a player's cue tip stays in contact with the cue ball for more than the momentary time commensurate with a stroked shot. In the game of snooker, it is considered a push if the cue strikes the cue ball more than once in a given shot (a double hit) or if the cue stick, cue ball and ball-on are all in contact together during a shot (if the cue ball and object ball are frozen together, special dispensation is given provided the cue ball is struck at a downward or otherwise "off" angle; that is, not directly into the line of the two balls).

Pyramid

The full fifteen ball set of pool or snooker object balls after being racked, before the break shot (i.e., same as rack, definition 2, and triangle, defn. 2). Chiefly British today, but also an American usage ca. World War I.

Pyramid spot

Same as foot spot. Chiefly British today, but also an American usage ca. World War I.

Q

Quadruple century

Also quadruple-century break. See double century.

Quintuple century

Also quintuple-century break. See double century.

R

Race

A predetermined, fixed number of games players must win to win a match; "a race to seven" means whomever wins seven games first wins the match. See also ahead race for a more specialized usage.

Rack (noun)

  1. A geometric form, usually wooden or plastic, used to assist in setting up balls in games like eight-ball, nine-ball, and snooker. The rack allows for more consistently tight grouping of balls, which is necessary for a successful break shot. In most games a triangle-shaped rack capable of holding fifteen balls can be employed, even if the game calls for racking less than a full ball set, such as in the game of nine-ball. For further information, see the Rack (billiards) main article.
  2. Used to refer to a racked group of balls before they have been broken.
  3. In some games, refers to a single frame.
  4. Colloquial shorthand for "a set of balls".

Rack (verb)

The act of setting up the balls for a break shot. In tournament play this will be done by the referee, but in lower-level play, players either rack for themselves or for each other depending on convention.

Rail

The sides of a table's frame upon which the elastic cushions are mounted. May also be used interchangeably with cushion.

Rake

Same as mechanical bridge; so-called because of its typical shape.

Rat in

To pocket a ball by luck; "he ratted in the 9 ball"; usually employed disapprovingly. See also slop.

Red ball

Also red(s), the red(s).

  1. In snooker, any of the 15 balls worth 1 point each that can be potted in any order. During the course of a break a player must first pot a red followed by a colour, and then a red and colour, etc., until the reds run out and then the re-spotted six colours must be cleared in their order. Potting more than one red in a single shot is not a foul – the player simply gets a point for each red potted.
  2. In blackball, one of two groups of seven object balls that must be potted before the black. Reds are spotted before yellows, if balls from both group must be spotted at the same time. Compare stripes; contrast yellow ball.
  3. In carom billiards, the that is neither player's .

Referee

The person in charge of the game whose primary role is to ensure adherence by both players to the appropriate rules of the game being played. Other duties of the referee include racking each frame, re-spotting balls during the course of a game, maintaining the equipment associated with the table (e.g. keeping the balls clean), controlling the crowd and, if necessary, controlling the players. Formerly sometimes referred to as the .

Re-rack

  1. In snooker, the abandonment of a frame upon agreement between the players, so that the balls can be set up again and the frame restarted with no change to the score since the last completed frame. This is the result of situations, such as trading of containing safeties, where there is no foreseeable change to the pattern of shots being played, so the frame could go on indefinitely.
  2. In pool, placing of the object balls back in the rack, after a foul break.

Re-spot

Also respot. Same as spot (verb), sense 1 (pool) and sense 2 (snooker).

Re-spotted black

In snooker, a situation where the scores are tied after all the balls have been potted, and the black ball is re-spotted and the first player to pot it wins. The players toss for the first shot, which must be taken with the cue ball in the D, and a safety battle will ensue until a crucial error or a fluke is made.

Rest

A chiefly British term for a set of mechanical bridges. British-style rests differ from most American-style rake bridges in shape, and take several forms: the cross, the spider and the swan (or goose neck), as well as the rarer and often unsanctioned hook. When used unqualified, the word usually refers to the cross. Rests are used in snooker, English billiards, and blackball.

Reverse english

on the cue ball that causes it to unnaturally roll off a cushion (contacted at an angle) against rather than with the ball's momentum and direction of travel. If angling into a cushion that is on the right, then reverse english would be right english, and vice versa. The angle of deflection will be steeper (narrower) than if no english were applied. The opposite of running english, which has effects other than simply the opposites of those of reverse english.

Right

Short for right english (side), i.e. imparted to the cue ball by stroking it to the right-hand side of its vertical axis. Contrast left.

Ring game

  1. A style of game play in which as many players are allowed to join as the participants choose, and anyone can quit at any time. The term, most often used in the context of gambling, is borrowed from poker. The folk games three-ball and killer are usually played as open ring games, as is Kelly pool.
  2. By extension, a multi-player game that anyone may initially join, but which has a fixed roster of competitors once it begins, is sometimes also called a ring game. Cutthroat is, by its nature, such a game. A famous regular ring game event of this sort is the Grady Mathews-hosted six-player, $3000-buy-in ring ten-ball competition at the annual Derby City Classic.
  3. A nine-ball ring game is played by more than two players and has special rules. Typically, the players choose a random method for setting the order of play, with the winner breaking. Safeties are not allowed and there are two or more – usually the five and nine.

Road map

A pool table spread in which the balls are easily positioned for a run out.

Road player

A highly-skilled hustler making money gambling while traveling. Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler was a road player. One of the most notorious real-life road players is Keith McCready.

Rob

Playing an opponent for money who has no chance of winning based on disparity of skill levels. The term robbed is also sometimes used humorously in exclamations when a shot that looks like it would work did not, as in "Oh! You got robbed on that one!"

Roll

  1. Describes lucky or unlucky "rolls" of the cue ball; "I had good rolls all night; "that was a bad roll. However, when said without an adjective ascribing good or bad characteristics to it, "roll" usually refers to a positive outcome such as in "he got a roll".
  2. The roll: same as the .

Roll-up

A gentle tap of the cue ball with the intention of getting it as tight as possible behind another ball, in the hope of a snooker. It is most common in the game of snooker, and is illegal in many pool games, in which on every shot a ball must either be pocketed, or some ball must contact a cushion after the cue ball has contacted an object ball.

Rotation

  1. Descriptive of any game in which the object balls must be struck in numerical order. Billiard researcher Mike Shamos observes that it would be more intuitive to call such games "'series' or 'sequence'". The term actually derives from the set-up of the game Chicago, in which the balls are not racked, but placed numerically around the table along the cushions (and must to be shot in ascending order). Other common rotation games include pool (obviously), nine-ball, seven-ball, ten-ball
  2. The specific pool game of rotation.

Round

  1. A multi-game division of a match, as used in some league and tournament formats. For example, in a match between 2 teams of 5 players each, a 25-game match might be divided into 5 rounds of 5 games each, in which the roster of one team moves one line down at the beginning of each round, such that by the end of the match every player on team A has played every player on team B in round robin fashion.
  2. A level of competition elimination in a tournament, such as the quarterfinal round, semifinal round and final round.

Round robin

A tournament format in which each contestant plays each of the other contestants at least once.

Round the angles

Describing a shot which requires one or more balls to be played off several cushions, such as an elaborate escape or a positional shot; "he'll have to send the cue ball round the angles to get good position."

Rubber match

The deciding match between two tied opponents. Compare hill, hill.

Ruckus

A British term (especially in snooker) for the splitting of a group of balls when another ball is sent into them, typically with the intent of deliberately moving them with the cue ball to develop them.

Run

The number of balls pocketed in an inning in pool (e.g., a run of five balls), or points scored in a row in carom billiards (e.g., a run of five points). Compare British break (sense 2), which is applied to pool as well as snooker in British English.

Run out

  1. (verb) Make all of the required shots in a game without the opponent ever getting to the table or getting back to the table
  2. (noun; usually run-out, sometimes runout) An instance of running out in a game.

Run the table

Similar to run out (sense 1), but more specific to making all required shots from the start of a rack. See also break and run, break and dish.

Running english

on the cue ball that causes it to roll off a cushion (contacted at an angle) with rather than against the ball's natural momentum and direction of travel. If angling into a rail that is on the right, then running english would be left english, and vice versa. The angle of deflection will be wider than if no english were applied to the cue ball. But more importantly, because the ball is rolling instead of sliding against the rail, the angle will be more consistent. For this reason, running english is routinely used. Also called running side in British terminology. Contrast .

S

Safe

  1. Describing a ball that is in a position that makes it very difficult to pot.
  2. Describing a situation a player has been left in by the opponent, intentionally or otherwise, that makes it difficult to pot any balls-on. See also snooker.

Safety

  1. An intentional defensive shot, the most common goal of which is to leave the opponent either no plausible shot at all, or at least a difficult one.
  2. A shot that is called aloud as part of a game's rules; once invoked, a safety usually allows the player to pocket his or her own object ball without having to shoot again, for strategic purposes. In games such as seven-ball, in which any shot that does not result in a pocketed ball is a foul under some rules, a called safety allows the player to miss without a foul resulting. A well-played safety may result in a snooker.

Safety break

A break shot in which the object is to leave the incoming player with no shot or a very difficult shot, such as is normally employed in the opening break of straight pool. Cf. open break.

Sandbag

To disguise the level of one's ability to play in various ways such as using a lemonade stroke; intentionally missing shots; making an uneven game appear "close"; purposefully losing early, inconsequential games. Sandbagging is a form of hustling, and in handicapped leagues, considered a form of cheating. See also dump and on the lemonade.

Saver

Same as gapper

Scotch doubles

A form of doubles play in which the two team members take turns, playing alternating shots during an inning (i.e. each team's inning consists of two players' alternating visits, each of one shot only, until that team's inning ends, and the next team begins their alternating-shot turn.) Effective scotch doubles play requires close communication between team partners, especially as to desired cue ball position for the incoming player. Like "english", "scotch" is usually not capitalized in this context. The term is also used in bowling, and may have originated there.

Scratch

Pocketing of the cue ball in pocket billiards. In most games, a scratch is a type of foul. "Scratch" is sometimes used to refer to all types of fouls. See, more generally, foul.

Screw

Same as draw (chiefly British).

Seeding

The placement of player(s) automatically in a tournament where some have to qualify, or automatic placement in later rounds.

Sell out

To bungle a shot in a manner that leaves the table in a fortuitous position for the opponent. Contrast sell the farm.

Sell the farm

To bungle a shot in a manner that leaves the table in such a fortuitous position for the opponent that there is a strong likelihood of losing the game or match. Contrast sell out.

Semi-massé

Also semi-massé shot. A moderate curve imparted to the cue ball by an elevated hit with use of english; or a shot using this technique. Also known as a curve (US) or swerve (UK) shot. Compare massé.

Session

  1. Principally US: One or more sets, usually in the context of gambling. See also ahead race (a.k.a. ahead session) for a more specialized usage.
  2. Principally British: Any of a group of pre-determined frames played in a match too long to be completed within a single day's play. A best of 19 frame match, for example, is generally played with two "sessions", the first composed of nine frames, the second of ten. This term is generally used only in the context of professional snooker, as matches at the amateur level are rarely played over more than nine frames. Longer matches can be split into three or four sessions.

Session to spare

Principally British: In snooker, if a player wins a match without the need for the final session to be played (for example, if a player wins a best-of-25-frames match split into three sessions – two sessions of eight frames and one of nine – by a margin of say, 13 frames to 3), then they are said to have won the match "with a session to spare".

Set

A predetermined number of games, usually played for a specified sum of money. Compare race.

Sewer

A pocket; usually used in disgust when describing a scratch (e.g., "the cue ball's gone down the sewer").

Shaft

The upper portion of a cue which slides on a player's bridge hand and upon which the tip of the cue is mounted at its terminus. It also applies to the main, unsegmented body of a mechanical bridge.

Shape

Same as position. "She got good shape for the next shot". See also position play, leave.

Shark

Also pool shark, poolshark (US); sharp, pool sharp (British)

  1. Verb: To perform some act or make some utterance with the intent to distract, irritate or intimidate the opponent so that they do not perform well, miss a shot, etc. Most league and tournament rules forbid blatant sharking, as a form of unsportsmanlike conduct, but it is very common in bar pool.
  2. Noun: Another term for hustler.
  3. Noun: A very good player. This usage is common among non-players who often intend it as a compliment and are not aware of its derogatory senses (above).

Sharp

Chiefly British: Same as shark (senses 1, 2).

Short rack

Any game which uses a rack composed of less than 15 balls.

Short rail

Either of the two shorter on a standard pool, billiards or snooker table. Contrast /.

Shortstop

Also short stop, short-stop.

  1. One of the best players in a region but who is not quite good enough to beat a serious road player or a professional.
  2. A second-tier professional who is not (yet) ready for World Championship competition. The term was borrowed from baseball.

Shot

Verb form: to shoot. The use of the cue to perform or attempt to perform a particular motion of balls on the table, such as to pocket (pot) an object ball, to achieve a successful carom (cannon), or to play a safety.

Shot for nothing

Also shot to nothing. A British term for a shot in which a player attempts a difficult pot but with safety in mind, so that in the event of missing the pot it is likely that the opponent will not make a meaningful contribution, and will probably have to reply with a safety. The meaning refers to lack of risk, i.e. at no cost to the player ("for nothing" or coming "to nothing"). Compare two-way shot.

Shot program

Also (chiefly British) shot programme. The enumerated trick shots that must be performed in the fields of artistic billiards (70 pre-determined shots) and artistic pool (56 tricks in 8 "").

Side

Chiefly British: Short for side spin. In Canadian usage, the term is sometimes used as a verb, "to side".

Side pocket

One of the two pockets one either side of a pool table halfway up the long rails. They are cut shallower than corner pockets because they have a 180 degree aperture, instead of 90 degrees. In the UK the term centre pocket or middle pocket are preferred.

Side rail

Either of the two longer rails of a billiards or pocket billiards table, bisected by a center pocket and bounded at both ends by a corner pocket. Also called a long rail.

Side spin

Also sidespin, side-spin, side. spin placed on the cue ball when hit with the cue tip to the left or right of the ball's center; usually called english in American usage. See english, in its narrower definition, for details on the effects of side spin. See illustration at spin.

Single-elimination

Also single elimination. A tournament format in which a player is out of the tournament after a single loss. Contrast .

Sink

Same as pocket (sense 2).

Sitter

Chiefly British: Same as duck, and stemming from the same obvious etymology.

Skid

'"British: Same as cling, and kick, sense 2. Noun, verb and rare adjective usage as per "cling".

Skittle

An upright pin, which looks like a miniature bowling pin. Skittles, as employed in billiards games, have been so-called since at least 1634. One standardized size, for the largely Italian and South American game five-pins, is 25 mm (1 in.) tall, with 7 mm (0.28 in.) round bases, though larger variants have long existed for other games such as Danish pin billiards. Depending upon the game there may be one skittle, or several, and they may be targets to hit (often via a carom) or obstacles to avoid, usually the former. They are also sometimes called pins, though that term can be ambiguous, and (because of the increasing international popularity of five-pins) sometimes also known even in English by their Italian name, birilli (singular birillo). Skittles are also used as obstacles in some artistic billiards shots.

Skunk

During a set if the opponent does not win a game, they are said to be skunked.

Slate

The heavy, finely-milled rock (slate) that forms the bed of the table, beneath the cloth. Major slate suppliers for the billiards industry are Italy, Brazil and China. Some cheaper tables, and novelty tables designed for outdoor use, do not use genuine slate beds, but artificial materials such as Slatrol.

Slide

Also, sliding ball when used in gerund form. Describes a cue ball sliding on the cloth without any top spin or back spin on it.

Slip stroke

A stroking technique in which a player releases his gripping hand briefly and re-grasps the cue farther back on the butt just before hitting the cue ball. See Cowboy Jimmy Moore; a well known practitioner of the slip stroke.

Slop

  1. Also slop shot. A luck shot. Compare fish and fluke; contrast mark (sense 3) and call.
  2. Also sloppy. Descriptive of any game where the rules have been varied to allow luck shots not normally allowed or where no foul rules apply.

Slop pockets

Pocket openings that are significantly wider than are typical and thus allow shots hit with a poor degree of accuracy to be made that would not be pocketed on a table with more exacting pocket dimensions.

Small

Also smalls, small ones, small balls. In eight-ball, to be shooting the solid suit (group) of balls (1 through 7); "you're the small one" or "I've got the smalls". Compare little, solids, reds, low, spots, dots, unders; contrast big.

Smash-through

The effect of shooting regulation-weight object balls with an old-fashioned over-weight bar table cue ball, such that the cue ball moves forward to occupy (sometimes only temporarily), or go beyond, the original position of the object ball, even on a draw or stop shot, because the mass of the cue ball exceeds that of the object ball. Players who understand smash-through well can use it intentionally for position play, such as to nudge other object balls nearby the target ball. Smash-through also makes it dangerous in bar pool (when equipped with such a cue ball) to pocket straight-on ducks with a stop shot instead of by cheating the pocket because of the likelihood of scratching the cue ball.

Snap

Same as break, sense 1.

Sneaky pete

Any two-piece cue constructed to resemble a house cue.

Snick

A British term for a pot that requires very fine contact between cue ball and object ball. See also feather.

Snooker

  1. (noun) The game of snooker.
  2. (verb) To leave the opponent (accidentally or by means of a safety) so that a certain shot on a preferred object ball cannot be played directly in a straight line by normal cueing. It most commonly means that the object ball cannot be hit, because it is hidden by another ball or, more rarely, the knuckle of a pocket (see corner-hooked). It can also refer to the potting angle or another significant point of contact on the object ball, blocking an otherwise more straightforward shot, even if an edge can be seen. A common related adjective describing a player in this situation is snookered. Also known as "to hook", for which the corresponding adjective "hooked" is also common. See also free ball.
  3. (noun) An instance of this situation (e.g. "she's put him in a difficult snooker"). A player can choose a range of shots to get out of a snooker; usually a kick shot will be implemented but semi-massés are often preferred, and in games where it is not a foul, jump shots may be employed that often yield good results for skilled players. "Snooker" is used loosely (when used at all; "hook" is favored) in the US, but has very specific definitions and subtypes (such as the total snooker) in blackball. See also safe.

Snookers required

A phrase used in snooker to describe the scenario whereby there are not enough available points on the table to level the scores for the frame, therefore the trailing player needs his/her opponent to foul in order to be able to make up the deficit. The name comes from the fact that this would normally have to be achieved by placing the leading player in foul-prone situations such as difficult snookers.

Soft break

A in which the is disturbed as little as possible within the bounds of a shot, in order to force the opponent to have to break it up further. A soft break is desirable in some games, such as straight pool, in which breaking is a disadvantage; and forbidden by the rules of other games such as nine-ball and eight-ball.

Solids

Also solid, solid ones, solid balls. The non-striped ball suit (group) of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 1 through 7 and have a solid color scheme (i.e., not including the 8 ball). As in, "I'm solid", or "you've got the solids". Compare low, small, little, reds, spots, dots, unders; contrast stripes.

Speed

A player's skill level.

Speed control

Use of the correct amount of cue ball speed to achieve proper position for a subsequent shot.

Spider

Also spider rest. A type of rest, similar to a common American-style rake bridge but with longer legs supporting the head so that the cue is higher and can reach over and around an obstructing ball to reach the cue ball. See also swan.

Spin

Rotational motion applied to a ball, especially to the cue ball by the tip of the cue, although if the cue ball is itself rotating it will impart (opposite) spin (in a lesser amount) to a contacted object ball. Types of spin include top spin, bottom or back spin (also known as draw or screw), and left and right side spin, all with widely differing and vital effects. Collectively they are often referred to in American English as "english". See also massé.

Split

  1. Also split shot and split hit. In pool, a type of shot in which two object balls are initially contacted by the cue ball simultaneously or so close to simultaneously as for the difference to be indistinguishable to the eye. In most sets of rules it is a foul if the split is one in which one of the object balls is a (or the only) legal target (ball-on) and the other is not; however, such a split is commonly considered a legal shot in informal bar pool in many areas if it is called as a split and does appear to strike the balls simultaneously).
  2. In pool, the degree to which racked balls move apart upon impact by the cue ball as a result of a break shot.
  3. In snooker, a shot sending the cue ball into the pack of red balls and separating them (after potting the ball-on). At least one split is usually necessary in each frame, since the original triangle of reds does not allow any balls to be potted reliably.

Spot (noun)

  1. In pool games such as nine-ball, a specific handicap given (e.g., "what spot will you give me?").
  2. In snooker, any of the six designated points on the table on which a colour ball is replaced after it has left the playing surface (usually after it has been potted).
  3. An (often unmarked) point on the table, at the intersection of two strings. See also foot spot, head spot, center spot for examples.
  4. In UK eight ball, (when not playing with a reds-and-yellows colour ball set) any of the group of seven balls, other than the 8, that are a solid colour with just a circled number on the surface. In the US, these balls are usually referred to as solids or more colloquially as lows, littles or smalls. Another British term is dots, unders. Contrast stripes.
  5. Alternate name for a table's diamonds.

Spot (verb)

  1. In pool, return an illegally pocketed object ball to the table by placement on the foot spot or as near to it as possible without moving other balls (in ways that may differ from ruleset to ruleset).
  2. In snooker, return a colour ball to its designated spot on the table. Also called re-spot.
  3. In nine-ball, the giving of a handicap to the opponent where they can also win by making a ball or balls other than the 9 ball (e.g. "she spotted me the seven ball").
  4. In eight-ball, one-pocket and straight pool, the giving of a handicap to the opponent where they have to make fewer balls than their opponent does.
  5. In some variants of pool, to place the cue ball on the head spot or as near to it as possible inside the kitchen/baulk, after the opponent has scratched.

Spot shot

The situation arising in many pool games where a ball is spotted to the table's foot spot or some other specific location and the must be shot from the or . There are aiming techniques for pocketing such shots without the cue ball into a pocket.

Spot stroke

Also spot-stroke, spot hazard. A form of in English billiards, in which the , which must be to a specific location after every time it is before another shot is taken, is potted in such as way as to leave the in to repeat the same shot, permitting a skilled player to rack up many in a single (series of shots in one ).

Squeeze shot

Any shot in which the cue ball or an object ball has to squeeze by (just miss with almost no margin for error) another ball or balls in order to reach its intended target.

Squirt

Same as deflection.

Stake

  1. (noun) A player's wager in a money game. Contrast pot, definition 3.
  2. (verb) To provide part or all of a player's stake for a gambling session in which one is not a player. A person who stakes or backs a player is called a stakehorse or backer. \"Stakehorse\" can also be used as a verb. See also back.

Stall

  1. To intentionally hide one's \"speed\"; \"he's on the stall.
  2. To intentionally play slowly so as to irritate one's opponent. This form of sharking has been eliminated from many tournaments with a shot clock, and from many leagues with time-limit rules.

Stance

A shooter's body position and posture during a shot. See also cue action.

Stay shot

In the UK, a long-distance shot played to pot a ball close to a pocket with heavy top spin, so that when the cue ball hits the cushion it bounces off but then stops due to the counteraction of the spin. It is not common in competitive play, being more of an exhibition shot.

Steering

The lamentable practice of not following through with the cue straight, but veering off in the direction of the shot's travel or the side english is applied, away from the proper aiming line; a common source of missed shots.

Stick

Same as cue.

Stop shot

Any shot where the cue ball stops immediately after hitting an object ball. Generally requires a full hit.

Straight eight

Also straight eight-ball. Same as bar pool. Not to be confused with the games of straight pool or straight rail.

Straight up

To play even; without a handicap. Also called heads up.

String

  1. A (usually unmarked) line running across the table between one diamond and its corresponding diamond on the opposite rail. See also head string, foot string, long string for examples.
  2. Same as wire, sense 2. Can be used as a verb, as in \"string that point for me, will you?\"
  3. A successive series of wins, e.g. of games or frames in a match or race.

See also Having the cue ball on a string.

String-off

Also string off. Obsolete: Same as .

Stripes

Also striped ones, striped balls. The ball suit (group) of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 9 through 15 and have a wide colored bar around the middle. Compare bigs, highs, yellows, overs; contrast solids.

Stroke

  1. The motion of the cue stick and the player's arm on a shot;
  2. The strength, fluidity and finesse of a player's shooting technique; \"she has a good stroke.\"
  3. See In stroke: A comination of finesse, good judgement, accuracy and confidence.

Stroke, catch a

To suddenly be in stroke after poor prior play; \"she caught a stroke.\"

Stroke, to be in

See In stroke.

Stun run-through

A shot played with stun, but not quite enough to completely stop the cue ball, allowing for a little follow. It is played so that a follow shot can be controlled more reliably, with a firmer strike than for a slow roll. It is widely considered as one of the most difficult shots in the game to master, but an excellent weapon in a player's armory once it has been.

Stun shot

A shot where the cue ball has no top spin or back spin on it when it impacts an object ball, and \"stuns\" out along the tangent line. Commonly shortened to just \"stun.\"

Sucker shot

A shot that only a novice or fool would take. Usually because it is a guaranteed scratch or because it has a low percentage of being pocketed and is likely to leave the opponent in good position.

Suit

A (principally American) term in eight-ball for either of the set of seven balls (stripes or solids) that must be cleared before sinking the 8 ball. Borrowed from card games. Generally used in the generic, especially in rulesets or articles, rather than colloquially by players. See also group for the British equivalent.

Surgeon

A player skilled at very thin cut shots, and shots in which a ball must pass cleanly through a very narrow space (such as the cue ball between two of the opponent's object balls with barely enough room) to avoid a foul and/or to pocket a ball. Such shots may be referred to as \"surgery\", \"surgical shots\", \"surgical cuts\", etc. (chiefly US, colloquial). See also feather (US) or snick (UK).

Swan

Also swan rest. A type of rest, similar to a spider in that the head is raised by longer supporting legs, but instead of a selection of grooves on the top for the cue to rest in there is only one, on the end of an overhanging neck, so that a player can get to the cue ball more easily if the path is blocked by two or more obstructing balls. Also known as the goose neck

Sweaters

Those who are stakehorsing a match or have side bets on it and are "sweating the action."

Swerve

An unintentional and often barely perceptible curve imparted to the path of the cue ball from the use of english without a level cue. Not to be confused with a swerve shot.

Swerve shot

Same as semi-massé. Compare #Curve shot.

T

Table cloth

Same as cloth.

Table scratch

  1. Failure to hit an object ball at all with the cue ball. In most sets of rules, this is a foul like any other. However, in some variants of bar pool a table scratch while shooting for the 8 ball is a loss of game where other more minor fouls might not be, as is scratching on the 8 ball (neither result in a loss of game in most professional rules).
  2. By way of drift from the above definition, the term is also applied by many league players to the foul in more standardized rules of failing to drive a (any) ball to a cushion, or to pocket a legal object ball, after the cue ball's initial contact with an object ball.
  3. By way of entirely different derivation ("scratch off the table"), it can also mean knocking the cue ball (or more loosely, any ball) completely off the table.

Tangent line

The imaginary line drawn perpendicular to the impact line between the cue ball and an object ball. The cue ball will travel along this line after impact with an object ball if it has no vertical spin on it (is sliding) at the moment of impact on a non-center-to-center collision. See also stun shot.

Taper

The profile of the shaft of the cue as it as it increases in diameter from the tip to the joint. A "fast" or "slow" taper refers to how quickly the diameter increases.

Thin

See overcut.

Three-foul rule

The three-foul rule describes a situation in which a player is assessed a defined penalty after committing a third successive foul. The exact penalty, its prerequisites and whether it is in place at all, vary depending on the games. In nine-ball and straight pool, a player must be the told he is on two fouls in order to transgress the rule, and if violated, results in a loss of game for the former and a special point penalty of a loss of fifteen points (plus one for the foul itself) in the latter together with the ability to require the violator to rerack and rebreak. In Irish standard pool and English billiards, it is a loss of game if a player commits a third foul while shooting at the black.

Throw

The normal phenomenon where the object ball is pushed in a direction very slightly off the pure contact angle between the two balls. Caused by the friction imparted by the first ball sliding past or rotating against the other ball.

Tickie

A shot in which the cue ball is driven first to one or more rails, then hits an object ball and kisses back to the last rail contacted. It is a common shot in carom games, but can be applied to such an instance in any relevant cue sport.

Tied up

Describing a ball that is safe because it is in close proximity to one or more other balls, and would need to be developed before it becomes pottable.

Tight

Describing a situation where a pot is made more difficult, either by a pocket being partially blocked by another ball so that not all of it is available, or the cue ball path to the object ball's potting angle involves going past another ball very closely.

Time shot

Any shot in which the cue ball moves another ball into a different position and then rebounds from one or more rails to contact it again (normally in an attempt to send it into a pocket or make a billiard).

Timing

The ease with which a player is generating cue power, due to well-timed acceleration of the cue at the appropriate point in a shot.

Tip

Same as cue tip.

Tittie

Same as knuckle.

Tittie-hooked

Same as corner-hooked.

Top

  1. Chiefly British: The half of the table in which the are (in games in which racked balls are used). This usage is conceptually opposite that in North America, where this end of the table is called the . In snooker, this is where the reds are racked, nearest the ; this is the area in which most of the game is usually played. Contrast .
  2. Chiefly American: Exactly the opposite of the above – the head end of the table. No longer in common usage.
  3. Short for , i.e. same as .

Top cushion

Chiefly British: The on the . Compare ; contrast .

Top rail

Chiefly British: The at the of the table. Compare ; contrast .

Top spin

Also topspin, top-spin, top. Same as follow. Contrast bottom spin, back spin. See illustration at spin.

Total clearance

A term used in snooker for the potting of all the balls that are racked at the beginning of the frame in a single break. The minimum total clearance affords 72 points. See also maximum.

Total snooker

In blackball, a situation where the player cannot see any of the balls she/he wants to hit due to obstruction by other balls or the knuckle of a pocket. The player must call "total snooker" to the referee, which allows a dispensation to the player from having to hit a cushion after contacting the object ball, which is otherwise a foul.

Touching ball

In snooker, where the cue ball is resting in contact with another ball. If this ball is a ball that may legally be hit, then it is allowable to simply hit away from it and it counts as having hit it in the shot. If the ball moves, then a push shot must have occurred, in which case it is a foul.

Tournament card

Jargon for a tournament chart, showing which players are playing against whom and what the results are. Often shortened to card.

Treble

Same as triple.

Treble century

Same as triple century.

Training template

A thin sheet of rigid material in the size and shape of a physical ball rack (e.g. a for nine-ball), with holes drilled though it, which is used to make permanent in the cloth of the table, one at a time for each ball in the pattern, by placing a ball in one of the holes in the carefully placed template and tapping it sharply from above to create the cloth indentation. The holes are spaced slightly closer than the regulation ball width of 212 inch (57.15 mm) apart, so that when the balls settle partially into their divots, the outer sides of these indentations create ball-on-ball pressure, pushing the balls together tightly. The purpose of the template is to do away with using a physical rack, with racking instead being performed simply by placing the balls into position, and the divots aligning them into the tightest possible formation automatically. This prevents accidental loose racks, and also thwarts the possibility of cheating by carefully manipulating the ball positions while racking. The European Pocket Billiard Federation (EPBF, Europe's WPA affiliate organization) has adopted this racking technique for its professional Euro-Tour event series.

Triangle

1.  A rack in the form of an equilateral triangle. There are different sizes of triangles for different games (which use different ball sizes and numbers of balls), including the fifteen ball racks for snooker and various pool games such as eight-ball and blackball. A larger triangle is used for the twenty-one ball rack for baseball pocket billiards). The smallest triangle rack is employed in three-ball (see illustration at that article) but is not strictly necessary, as the front of a larger rack can be used, or the balls can be arranged by hand. 2.  The object balls in triangular formation, before the break shot, after being racked as above (i.e., same as rack, definition 2). Principally British. (See also pyramid.)

Trick shot

An exhibition shot designed to impress either by a player's skill or knowledge of how to set the balls up and take advantage of the angles of the table; usually a combination of both. A trick shot may involve items otherwise never seen during the course of a game, such as bottles, baskets, etc., and even members of the audience being placed on or around the table.

Triple

Also treble. A British term for a type of bank shot in which the object ball is potted off two cushions, especially by sending it twice across the table and into a side pocket. Also called a two-cushion double.

Triple century

Also treble century, triple-century break, treble-century break. See double century.

Turn

Same as .

Two-cushion double

Same as triple.

Two-shot carry

A rule in blackball whereby after an opponent has faulted and thus yielded two shots, if the incoming shooter pots a ball on the first shot, (s)he is still allowed to miss in a later shot and take a second shot in-hand (from the "D" or from baulk, or if the opponent potted the cue ball, from anywhere)—even on the black, in most variants. Also called the "two visits" rule; i.e., the two penalty shots are considered independent visits to the table, and the limiting variants discussed at two shots below cannot logically apply.

Two shots

In blackball, a penalty conceded by a player after a fault. The incoming opponent is then allowed to miss twice before the faulting player is allowed another visit. Many local rules state the in-hand from the "D" or baulk (or if the opponent potted the cue ball, from anywhere) nature of the second shot is lost if a ball is potted on the first shot, that it is lost if the ball potted in the first shot was that player's last coloured ball (object ball in their group), and/or that there is only ever one shot on the black after a fault. See two-shot carry for more detail on a sub-rule that may apply (and eliminate the variations discussed here).

Two visits

See two-shot carry.

Two-way shot

  1. A shot in which if the target is missed, the opponent is safe or will not have a desirable shot;
  2. A shot in which there are two ways to score;
  3. A shot in which a second ball is targeted to be pocketed, broken out of a cluster, repositioned or some other secondary goal is also intended.

U

Umbrella shot

A three cushion billiards shot in which the cue ball first strikes two cushions before hitting the first object ball then hits a third cushion before hitting the second object ball. So called because the shot opens up like an umbrella after hitting the third rail. Umbrella shots may be classified as inside or outside depending on which side of the first object ball the cue ball contacts.

Umpire

Chiefly American, and largely obsolete: Same as . Derives from the usage in baseball.

Undercut

Hitting the object ball with not enough of a cut angle; hitting the object ball too full or "fat". It is a well-known maxim that overcutting is preferable to undercutting. See also professional side of the pocket.

Unders

Same as solids, in New Zealand. Compare little, small, reds, low, spots, dots; contrast overs.

Unintentional english

Inadvertent english placed on the cueball by a failure to hit it dead center on its horizontal axis. It is both a common source of missed shots and commonly overlooked when attempts are made to determine the reason for a miss.

V

Velcro

A British term describing when a ball is tight on the cushion and a player sends the cue ball to hit both the object ball and the rail at nearly the same time; the object ball, ideally, stays tight to the rail and is thus "velcroed" to the rail. Inside english is often employed to achieve this effect, hitting slightly before the ball. The movement of a ball just next to the rail (but not the shot described to achieve this movement) is called hugging the rail in both the UK and the US.

Visit

One of the alternating turns players (or doubles teams) are allowed at the table, before a shot is played that concedes a visit to his/her opponent (e.g. "he ran out in one visit"). Usually synonymous with inning as applied to a single player/team, except in scotch doubles format.

W

Warrior

A ball positioned near a pocket so that a particularly positioned object ball shot at that pocket will likely go in off it, even if aimed so imperfectly that if the warrior was absent, the shot would likely result in a miss. Usually arises when a ball is being banked to a pocket.

Way

  1. Term for object balls in the game of Chicago that are each assigned as having a set money value; typically the 5, 8, 10, 13 and 15.
  2. In games where multiple balls must be pocketed in succession to score a point, such as cribbage pool or thirty-ball, when the last ball necessary to score has been potted, the points given is referred to as a way.

Weight

To "give someone weight" is to give them a handicap so the game is more even in skill level.

White ball

Also the white.

  1. Alternate name for the .
  2. In carom billiards games, a term for the opponent's , which for the shooting player is another along with .

Whitewash

Principally British: In snooker, if a player wins all of the required frames in a match without conceding a frame to their opponent - for example, if a player wins a best-of-nine-frame match with a score of 5-0 - this is referred to as a "whitewash". This term is based on a similar term used in the card game of "patience" in the UK. However, it is not used in the context of a 1-0 winning scoreline in a match consisting of a single frame.

Whitey

Alternate name for the cue ball.

Wild

When a ball is given as a handicap it often must be called (generally tacit). A wild handicap means the ball can be made in any manner specifically without being called.

Wing ball

Either of the balls on the lateral extremities of the nine-ball diamond rack of balls, when in racked position (i.e. to the left and right of the 9 ball itself). It is seen as a reliable sign of a good break (which is normally taken from close to either cushion in the kitchen) if the opposite wing ball is pocketed. See also break box.

Wing shot

Shooting at an object ball that is already in motion at the moment of shooting and cue ball impact; illegal in most games and usually only seen in exhibition/trick shots.

Winning hazard

Also winner. (Largely obsolete.) A shot in which the cue ball is used to pot another ball.. In snooker and most pool games doing this is known as potting, pocketing or sinking the targeted ball. The term derives from this hazard winning the player points, while losing hazards cost the player points, in early forms of billiards. Whether the ball is an object ball or an opponent's cue ball depends upon the type of game (some have two cue balls). The move will score points in most (but not all) games in which hazards (as such) apply, such as English billiards (in which a "red winner" is the potting of the red ball and a "white winner" the potting of the opponent's cue ball, each worth a different amount of points). Contrast losing hazard.

Wipe its feet

British term referring to the base or metaphorical "feet" of a ball that rattles in the jaws of a pocket before eventually dropping. Usually said of an object ball for which the intention was to pot it.

Wired

When two balls are frozen or nearly frozen and lined up for a pocket such that contact on the first ball, without the necessity of great accuracy, will almost certainly pocket the second ball.

Wire, the

  1. The grapevine in the pool world, carrying news of what action is taking place where in the country.
  2. Actual wire or string with multiple beads strung (like an abacus) used for keeping score. Points "on the wire" are a type of handicap used, where a weaker player will be given a certain number of points before the start of the game.

Wood

A slang term for a cue, usually used with "piece", as in "that's a nice piece of wood". This usage may be decreasingly common, due to the penile connotations of the term in modern slang.

Wrap

Also wrapping. A covering of leather, nylon string, Irish linen or other material around the area of the butt of a cue where the cue is normally gripped.

Y

Yellow ball

Also yellow(s).

  1. In snooker, the lowest-value colour ball on the table, being worth two points. It is one of the baulk colours.
  2. In blackball, one of two groups of seven object balls that must be potted before the eight ball; compare stripes; contrast red ball.

Yellow pocket

In snooker, the pocket nearest the yellow spot.

References

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