Most billiards players take part in one of five varieties of the game: Nine Ball, Eight Ball, One Pocket, Cutthroat or 14.1 Continuous. All are played on a large, carpeted table with four corner and two side pockets, up to 15 numbered and colored billiard balls, a cue stick and a cue ball. The object is to pocket a certain group of balls, sometimes in a particular order.
Eight Ball is played with 15 balls and the cue ball. Winning requires a player to pocket the eight ball after pocketing all seven of either the stripes or the solids. To rack for Eight Ball, place the eight-ball in the center, a stripe ball in one back corner, a solid ball in the other back corner, and the rest of the balls in any order.
Nine Ball uses the first nine numbered balls and the cue ball. The object is to sink the nine-ball. Legal shots will cause the cue ball to contact the lowest-numbered ball on the table first. However, the lowest-numbered ball need not be the one pocketed in order to continue your turn. To rack for Nine Ball, place the balls in a diamond shape at the front of the rack, with the nine-ball in the center and the one-ball in the front.
To win a game of One Pocket, you must pocket eight balls out of 15 into one pocket of the billiard table. Players choose at the beginning of the game which corner pocket they will hit into. If you accidentally pocket a ball into the opponent's pocket, the shot counts for the opponent. Balls pocketed in non-target pockets must be placed back onto the table. Rack the same as for Eight Ball.
You earn points in 14.1 Continuous by calling which ball will fall into which pocket and then making the shot. Give yourself one point for each successful shot. After 14 balls are pocketed, they are returned to the table and racked, but with the front space vacant. The player then continues to try to pocket the 15th ball in such a way that the newly racked balls are not disturbed. First player to 150 points wins. Rack the same as for Eight Ball.
Cutthroat (or Elimination, as it is also known) is a game for three players in which each player tries to win by pocketing the balls of the other two players. The 15 balls are divided into three groups: one through five, six through ten, and 11 through 15. Players can either choose a group of balls before the game starts, or be assigned a group as each begins pocketing balls. If you scratch, one ball of both opponents is returned to the table, even if one of the opponents has had all his balls removed. Your turn continues as long as you pocket a ball. You can even pocket your own ball in order to be able to keep shooting. Rack the same as for Eight Ball.