How to Practice Proper Pool Etiquette

It doesn’t matter if you are playing pool or billiards at a bar, in a tournament or at home, proper pool etiquette is something everyone should know and practice.

It may not be something you normally think about when you are playing pool, but it comes in handy nonetheless. Nobody likes to be disturbed or bothered when they are trying to concentrate on a tough pool shot. If we all have a little consideration for our fellow pool players, everyone can enjoy themselves at the pool table.

I have certainly noticed, playing at different bars across the country, that each place has their own set of rules for the way things are done.

Some pool halls use a blackboard to tell whose game is next, some places want you to put your quarter on the table, other establishments may have a certain person who keeps track of things, and sometimes you just shout it out.

Basically, pool etiquette is another way of saying…

Treat others as you would like to be treated

The game rules may vary some also. Some places say you lose if you sink the 8 ball on the break and others say you win. Some places play slop and some play strictly call your shot. A certain player may expect you to play for something like a drink or a few dollars and someone else may not. It all depends on the local customs.

That’s why it always pays to ask your opponent about the ground rules BEFORE the game starts, so there are now arguments or hard feelings later on when a misunderstanding occurs. I learned that lesson the hard way once or twice. Now I always ask a lot of questions ahead of time about exactly how the games are played in whatever place I happen to be in.

Most pool etiquette is simply common sense. Don’t make noise when your opponent is trying to shoot. Move away from the table when you are not shooting so your opponent has plenty of room to walk around and observe the table conditions. Don’t complain to your opponent if he leaves you a lousy shot – he’s supposed to. Be courteous and respectful to other shooters and observers.

If you must get drunk and loud and play pool, play with someone in the same condition. A person who is not drinking may not be amused by your antics.

Pay attention to the game. No one likes to have to chase their opponent down when it is his turn to shoot. If you can’t give your full attention to the game at hand, maybe you should take a break from the table and take care of business. In a busy bar or pool hall, if you don’t watch the table, you may lose your place in line for the next game and end up waiting unnecessarily.

Always respect the facilities wherever you are. Pool tables and accessories cost money, and the owner of any establishment will not tolerate anyone damaging his precious equipment. Drinks, cigarettes, and other such items should never be placed on or close to the pool table. It’s too easy to spill things or burn holes.

Pool tables are not designed to be sat on and may be damaged by doing so. Place unused sticks in the cue racks so they don’t get knocked over and broken or bowed from leaning on the wall. Racks, bridges, chalk, table brushes, and other accessories should be kept in their place to avoid mishaps.

Pool Etiquette Quick Tips

These quick tips normally relate to playing in a pool hall, but they will be just as important if you want to play a serious game at home. Many of these are unwritten rules.

  1. Don’t be distracting when it’s not your shot, even if it’s by accident
  2. Take your time, but not too much time, it can be off-putting
  3. Give your opponent all the space they need, nobody likes being cramped when taking a shot
  4. Don’t put drinks or snacks on the table, that’s just common sense
  5. Always keep at least one foot on the ground, it’s actually a rule but needs to be emphasized as good etiquette
  6. Chalk the right way, don’t twist or spin chalk on your cue (the proper way to chalk your cue is to swipe)
  7. Know the rules, if you are playing in a tournament and don’t know the rules, you shouldn’t be playing, period
  8. Find a seat, if you are playing a tournament, there will more than likely be seats… use them if it’s not your shot
  9. Be a good loser, always shake hands after the game, take the loss gracefully and don’t act like a sore loser
  10. Be a gracious winner, don’t over celebrate a win

Final Thoughts

Pool is a great game that can be a lot of fun for you and your friends. If everyone practices a little courtesy and etiquette, it will stay that way. If you are still learning the game, it pays to practice good pool etiquette or if you want to learn the different parts of a pool cue, here are some articles.