Someone forgot to put a hole in my pool table!

Have you ever seen a pool table without pockets and wondered what to do with it? Find out some of the many board games that are played on tables without pockets.

Now I have to admit my ignorance, but I had no idea you could get a pool table without your pockets. The game of billiards (or billiards) is just one of many games in what is known as  queuing . A subcategory of queuing is billiards, also known as carambole billiards or just carambole. These types of games are played on a pocketless pool table of 5 ‘x 10’. Most carom games have three balls: two cue balls (one plain white, the other white spot) and a third ball as the ball is traditionally red. The basic goal of most carom games is to score points by striking back your own cue-ball from your opponent’s cue-ball and the object-ball in one shot. This unusual form of billiards comes from France.

There are a handful of games played on a pocketless pool table, and many others that come from these games. Some of the most common games are:

  • Straight shine
  • Pute caroms
  • Artistic billiards
  • Balkline

Let’s take a closer look at each of these games.

Straight shine

The other name of this game is billiards, although it is also sometimes referred to as straight billiards, the wooden ball game and the carom game. It is believed to have originated in the 18th century by the French, so was originally referred to as French caroms. The goal of this game is quite simple: you score one point when your cue ball comes in contact with both object balls (the opponents’ cue ball and the third ball) on a single stroke. You play to a predetermined number or “count”. As long as you score a number, your turn continues until you miss.

This initially sounded difficult, but it did not take long before players discovered “cheats” that allowed them to score many points in a turn. One was to “step” the two balls in a corner. Caught there, you can hit them both over and over again without knocking them out of the corner. In 1862 it was decided that a player could only score three points by slipping before one of the balls had to be knocked away from the corner of the pool table.

Pute Carom

This game, also known as the indirect game, originated in Britain in the 1820s. It is very similar to a straight rail, but your cue ball must recover from a side rail (or “cushion”) on the pool table after it hits the first ball, but before it hits the second. The score is the same as above, except that you lose a point if you fail to hit any of the bullets. An earlier version of this game was played on a pool table in his pocket and was called the doubles game. A ball had to be knocked off a pillow before it was put in the pocket.

Three-pillow billiards

If knocking off a rail is good, it is better to knock off three rails before hitting the 2nd ball. In a nutshell there are wooden pillows. Of all the pool games played on a pool without pockets, this is the most popular that is played in the United States today.

Artistic billiards

Also known as fantasy billiards, in this game players must perform 76 preset shots. Points are scored based on the perfection of the execution of the shot. Shots vary in value from 4 – 11 points, the total game is worth 500 points. This is a relatively new game with the World Title Competition starting in 1986. Even the simplest shots are difficult, with 427 being the highest score ever achieved in the competition. This game is mostly played in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.


Blakline is also based on a straight rail, and was originally designed to counteract nursing images along the rail (very boring to look at, just hit the two balls a few inches at a time all the way along a rail to collect points). In the beamline, the table is divided into regions called beam spaces. The game is played in the same way as straight rail, but a player can only score a certain number of points in each ball room before the balls must be hit hard enough to hit them in another region. There are many versions of this game based on the placement of the lines and the number of hits allowed in each black room. The different games are numbered. The first number refers to how many inches away from the rail the ball lines are drawn, and the second number indicates how many points are allowed in each room before a ball must leave the region. For example, in 18.2 beam line, the lines are drawn 18 inches parallel to each rail (four lines in total), and that only 2 counts are allowed in each beam area. This game is most enjoyed in Europe and the Far East.

So if you ever come across a pool table that lacks the holes , do not panic! Just take three balls and try one of the games above.

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