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Rules to play 3 Ball Pool
1. Ball Rack
A 3 ball rack can be set up in either a standard sized triangular rack or in a diamond rack. There are also specially made three ball triangle racks. See the images below for racking rule details. To compile a three ball rack, no special ordering or placement of the balls are necessary. Most three ball rules prohibit players from racking the balls when it is his or her turn to break due to the known advantages of certain placement nuances such as tightness and small shifts of the racks angle. The breaking player reserves the right to request a new rack be built if he or she feels that the initial rack is not formed properly. A standard racking triangle is used to rack the three object balls used to play 3 Ball Billiards. One ball is placed at the head of the triangle, and the other two balls are placed directly behind it.Each game of 3 Ball begins as soon as the cue ball crosses the head string during a break shot. When a foul occurs, one additional shot is assessed to the offending players score.
To break, the cue ball is positioned on the head spot. The break shot counts as a shot in the players points total. The players score is the total number of shots it takes them to pocket all balls. There are no innings, and so a player goes until the table is clean. Once the shooting player has finished, the incoming player breaks and clears all balls. Once all players have done this their scores are compared. The player with the lowest score is the winner. Players need not send any ball to the cushion on the break shot.
2. Foul Rules
There are several 3 ball foul regulations. Fouls cost the shooting player one additional point on top of their initial point for making the stroke. Fouls are assessed in the following situations
Performing a double hit on the cue ball.
Shooting the cue ball off of the billiard table.
Performing a Push Shots.
Moving the cue ball or object balls with the butt of the cue or ones hand.
Illegal jump shots according to the general rules of pocket billiards.
When a player commits a scratch on the cue ball, the next shot must be taken from behind the head string, and shot up table past the head string in that direction. Generally, ball in hand is not allowed according to the 3 ball rules, but some folks do implement this at times. When implementing this type of rule, all participants must agree before play begins. Most experienced 3 ball players frown on the ball in hand implementation, as it effectively punishes the shooting player for the foul, but then rewards them immediately afterward, canceling each other out. When an object ball in struck from the table, it shall be re spotted on the foot spot. No foul is assessed, since this act automatically forces the player to take another shot. Essentially, any act that is self punishing through the requirement of forcing the shooting player to take another stroke, does not count as a three ball foul. Legal shots include caroms, kicks, kisses, combinations, banks, and proper jump shots.
Three ball is commonly played for money, with players typically betting a $1 dollar to $5 dollars ante per game. The game of 3 ball is played frequently in San Fransisco California as a tournament game, but is also popular in other locales.
There isnt much to 3 Ball rules, but it can be a fun game when played with someone of equal skill.
3. Ball Scoring
Three ball scoring is typically tracked on a chalkboard or a white board, or a piece of paper. Players wimply write down the number of points each player has. It has been noted that during play, it is customary to call out the current score in the format of thats three shooting four. It is worth noting that when calling out the score, players dont say thats three shooting for four so as to prevent confusion. In order to prevent disruption to the flow of the game, players call out the score during the course of each players turn at the table, rather than record he score after each stroke. This also prevents cheating on the part of the score keeper. Scores are typically recorded after a player has finished their turn at the table. Some players elect to play a serious requirements variant of 3 ball pool whereby pocketing all three balls on the break shot, or committing any foul will result in the automatic loss of the game. When the automatic loss occurs, the shooting player takes the full score of eight points. It has been noted that since this score can technically be tied, it is not truly an instant loss of game.
Three ball has some fairly crazy terminology when it comes to scoring a tie match. For three ball games played for money, the common all tie or everyone ties, or push are often used. This is where two or more players end up in a tie for the minimum score, and thus, all players return to play again. Note that those players with higher scores also return for the rematch. This is known as if one tie, all tie or if two tie, all tie. As long as the players are willing to ante in to the rematch, they are able to stay in the game. In such situations, however, more tied scores often result, causing the pot of cash to grow even bigger with more ante money.
5. Ball Call Shot
Players can elect, before play begins, to play a called shot and or called pocket version of three ball rules. In the called version of three ball, players call out two ball in this side pocket before taking the stroke. Balls that are pocketed in a manner inconsistent with what was called are spotted, but no foul results. If playing on a coin operated pool table, balls pocketed in a manner inconsistent with the specifics of the call remain pocketed, and a foul is incurred by the shooting player. Players can decide before hand to play call shot, and which version of call shot to be used. For example, players can decide that they must call either the ball, the pocket, or the banks, or a combination of any of those three.
6. Team Play
There are several ways that three ball billiards can be played as a team game. 3 ball scotch doubles can be played with players alternating shots and each team playing only one game per round, just as though there were only two players. Alternatively, players can divide themselves in to equal sized teams where each player on each team plays one complete game per round, and in the end, scores within each team are summed to yield that teams final score.
7. Ball Money Pocket
A money pocket can be elected in a 3 ball game, before play begins, whereby if a ball is pocketed, the shooting player has one point deducted from his or her score. If during the shot, a foul occurred or multiple balls were pocketed in to various pockets, the money pocket benefit is not applied. Of course, in the money pocket variation of three ball rules, the best score possible is zero, versus a best possible score of 1 in normal three ball rules.
There are several other 3 ball rule variations, (that are non standard and must be declared before play commences,) and differences that one may encounter depending on the locale. Some nuances include
If the shooting player neglects to drive at least one ball to the pocket, or fails to contact another object ball followed by another ball contacting any rail, shall be assessed a foul. (This rule, however, is illogical based on 3 ball scoring rules.)
1 point punishment for any jump, masse legal or otherwise. (mainly imposed by some table owners for fear damage to their pool table cloth.
On any given stroke, should a scratch occur, all balls pocketed are to be spotted and a 1 point punishment applied. Of course, if playing 3 ball billiard on a coin operated pool table, this rule is not feasible.
If the shooting player misses the rack on the break shot, the subsequent break attempts must be taken from where the cue ball comes to rest from the previous shot.
3 ball gaming software for online 3 ball has yet to mimic the realistic nature of the game of three ball. This is likely because the investment needed to rewrite the software would outweigh the profits.
9. Ball Technique
Clearly those skilled at kiss shots and carom shots would generally have a slight, but statistically significant advantage over those who do not. Consider that a 50% better score can be attained by those able to pocket two balls in one shot, versus those who can not.
There are several known billiard instructors out there who encourage their trainees to play solo games of 3 ball billiard using the seven, eight, and nine ball as the three balls. We can see how this would be beneficial, psychologically, in preparing players for eight ball or nine ball tournaments. Since the eight and nine ball are common choke points for many players, it can be beneficial to partake in repetitive practice using those exact balls to prepare mentally. Three ball mimics the last three shots in many different pocket billiard games, and thus, can be mentally beneficial. As mentioned before, the final three shots, regardless the game, can be the most difficult three shots, mentally, for any billiard player.
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