General Rules of Pocketless Pool

Just like in billiards, there are general rules that apply to all carom games. These rules form the basis of all carom games. The only time you would deviate from these rules is if the rules of a specific game contradict the general rules.

The Break

To determine who breaks first, it is best to lag for it. If you win the lag, you can either shoot the break shot yourself, or have your opponent do it. If you win the lag you get to choose your cue ball, and the table layout for the break is as follows:

  • The red ball is placed on the foot spot.

  • If you break first, your opponent's cue ball is placed on the head spot.

  • If you break first, your cue ball is placed on the head string within six inches of the center of the head spot.

  • Once the cue balls are assigned, you must always strike your own cue ball. If you strike your opponent's cue ball, it is a foul. Your cue ball must strike the red ball first on the break, in order for the break to be legal.

    You can play with more than two players. If you play with three people, for example, the incoming player will strike the cue ball that was not assigned to the outgoing player (the player whose inning just ended). In other words, you alternate cue balls.


    Like in most billiard games there is a whole host of ways in which you can foul. The penalty for fouls may vary depending on the game, but, generally, a foul results in the end of the inning for the player and a point can't be scored on the stroke that commits the foul. This game is a little different, so you have to learn about some new types of fouls before you can take to the table:

  • Accidental contact with any of the balls (for example, if your cue or your hand slips and you unintentionally knock into an object ball).

  • Playing safety in consecutive innings: There is a limit on safety play. Since playing safe means your opponent will be “playing from safety” when he or she comes back to the table, the game can get pretty dull if you leave the table this way after every inning. If this were allowed, you'd wind up with the world's longest and most boring game.

  • Making an illegal safety shot: A safety is considered legal when an object ball, or a cue ball, contacts a cushion after the cue ball has contacted an object ball.

  • Striking your opponent's cue ball

  • Striking a ball when it's not your turn

  • Push shots: You can't shove the cue ball along with your cue stick. It would be hard to put a time limit on it, but if you have a referee, he or she will spot a push whether it's intentional or otherwise.

  • Striking the cue ball more than once

  • Moving a ball on the table with anything other than the cue stick

  • Making a shot before all balls have stopped moving on the table

  • Not having one foot on the floor at all times

  • Your cue ball jumping off the table

  • Jumping the cue ball (hitting it below the horizontal axis)

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