How to Get Better at One Pocket Pool

One Pocket Pool might be called a thinking man’s game. It’s not a game for beginners as there is definitely more defensive strategy involved here than in many other games of pool.

Often times a shot may be taken, not to sink a ball in the pocket, but rather to block your opponent or maneuver the object balls to a more advantageous position for a future shot. If you’re getting a little bored with 8-ball or 9-ball, try some one pocket for a while and give the mental part of your game some exercise!

The one pocket name refers to the practice of each player or team being assigned one particular pocket to sink all of their balls into. The player who breaks calls one of the two corner pockets nearest to the rack as his object pocket, with the opponent being assigned the other one by default.

Players may sink balls legally only in their assigned pocket and balls sunk in any other hole are taken out and spotted. The first player to legally sink eight balls in his particular pocket is the winner.

One pocket is played with the standard 15 billiard balls, racked in the standard triangle rack, and the cue ball. The winner of the lag or coin toss breaks and must make a ball in his chosen pocket to continue shooting. If he does not do so, his opponent takes over the shot. A player continues to shoot as long as he continues to sink balls in his particular pocket and does not scratch.

Balls that fall into the opponent’s assigned pocket are credited to the opponent, except when there is a scratch on the shot. In that case, the ball is removed and spotted. When a player scratches, he gives up the shot, he is penalized one ball, and, if a ball was made, it is removed and spotted.


  • On the break, make the cue ball hit between the first and second balls of the rack, on the opposite side of the table from your assigned pocket. This will knock the majority of the balls to your side of the table and put them closer to your pocket.
  • Shoot your balls with just enough speed to sink them. It you miss, the ball will remain near your pocket and available for your next attempt.
  • Sometimes, the best safety may involve making one of your opponent’s balls and leaving the cue ball in a bad position, to prevent him from having an easy shot and the chance to start a run and win.
  • When no shot is available, don’t waste your shot – move balls from your opponent’s side of the table to yours for future use.
  • The closer you can leave balls to your pocket, the more difficult it is for your opponent to block you from making them.
  • Play aggressively when you are behind in the score, and conservatively when you have the lead.

General Tips

  • Consider playing safe instead of going for a low percentage shot
  • Choose “Solids” or “Stripes” wisely after the break
  • Pocket balls in groups to avoid having to go up and down the table
  • Think 3 shots ahead, not just 1 or 2
  • Have a plan but re-evaluate after every shot

We have more playing tips on how to better your game.

Need help buying a pool cue or table? There are plenty of options available.