Playing Spoiler Logo

How To Play Cutthroat Pool – Game Rules

We’re an affiliate

We are a reader-supported website and strive to recommend only the best products. Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate you!

Have you always wanted to play cutthroat pool but don’t know where to start? Well, you might be looking to play in your favorite pub with your friends or at home in your game room. Here are the rules of cutthroat pool to ensure you are playing the game correctly.

If you’re interested in learning how to play 8-Ball, read this article about how to play 8 ball by the rules.

Pool balls lit up on tableBasic Rules

1. Call Shot – Before the game starts, all the players should decide on whether or not they will be playing the call shot. Here, the first shot ensures that the cue ball comes into contact with the opponent’s object ball.

2. Pocketing Balls – You should ensure that you pocket all your opponent’s balls so only yours will remain on the table.

3. Winner – You will be declared a winner if you pocket all your opponent’s balls or have more balls remaining on the table.

4. Shooting – You have the right to continuously shoot the ball and should only stop in the event of a miss, scratch or foul ball.

5. Losers – If your balls are pocketed by the other player, you will be eliminated from the turn. However, if the other player commits a foul, you can join the game again.

Claiming Your Group(s)

Claiming your group is achieved in various ways and players will work hard to preserve their own group by knocking out the rest. If the game is being played by 3 people, the ball groups will be indicated as 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15. If there are 5 players, the ball groups will be 1 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 15.

1. Players can choose to assign groups before the game begins. Players will pick their numbers and play. It’s the least preferable method because most players often sink their balls in the first shot.

2. With the classic way, players can claim a group after pocketing at least 1 ball from the other sets. For instance, if you pocket numbers 3 and 12, you can choose a group.

3. The most popular method of claiming groups in cutthroat is where a player chooses a group once they have pocketed a ball. It’s mostly played in informal settings.

Billiards table, balls, and cueStarting A Game Of Cutthroat

It all comes down to the total number of players involved. Once all the players have chosen a group, the game can start. Each player will be assigned a group (a set of balls). You have to play smart (learn what using chalk does for your shots) to make sure that your balls are the last ones on the table.

How To Rack

The ball rack is triangular in shape to make it easy to rack the balls. For a game with 3 players, you can place the number 1 ball at the foot or head of the rack then place number 6 and 11 balls on the other corner spots. The other balls can now be placed in the other areas of the rack.

NOTE: While cutthroat can be played on a pool/billiards table of any size, it is preferable to play on a regular-sized table (7′, 8′, or 9′). Playing on a smaller pool table (see our reviews of the best pool tables for under 300) is possible, but provides more challenges that aren’t typical on larger models.

For a game with 5 players, you should place the balls randomly throughout the track since there are only 3 corner spots. If you have your balls on the corner rack, you will have some advantage over the rest of the players. However, the placement should always be intentional.

The Fouls And Penalties

1. Illegal Shot – Here, a player pockets their ball before it contacts any of the other player’s balls. If you do this, your ball can be pocketed but you will lose your chance to the next player. You can remain on standby since you might be reinstated at any time.

2. Ball Bouncing Off The Table – It will be considered a foul if the ball that jumped belongs to the opponent. If you bounce off your own ball and get a chance to spot it, there is no offense. However, if the cue ball is bounced, it becomes a scratch.

3. Innings – The innings will be brought to an end once a foul is committed by one of the players. The pocketed balls for the players are placed back on the table. The rule excludes a team whose ball group had not been pocketed and the penalties will not be forwarded for later.

4. Scratch – It happens when you pocket the cue ball or it bounces off the table during a game. Here, the next player will play the cue ball-in-hand behind the head-string. The cue ball will be placed strategically between the invisible line that divides the 2 diamonds between the breaking part of the table and the head cushion of the rack.


Mastering the steps of Cutthroat pool can guarantee an early win. It’s an amazing game that you can play within your social circle effortlessly. Learn the rules and enjoy this amazing game.