Billiards For Bored Players — Reverse Pool

This month’s game for bored players calls upon your carom skills. It’s called Reverse Pool, or if you are less politically correct, it’s also been referred to as Irish Pool or Kentucky Pool.

The rules may vary, and you are certainly welcome to add your own set of rules if you like. Here is how my friends and I play the game:

The object of the game is to be the first to make 8 balls.

To make a shot legally, you shoot the intended ball off of the cue ball and into the pocket you called. Banks, kicks, and other caroms do not matter – all that is required is that you shoot the object ball into the called pocket, and at some point during the shot, it must contact the cue ball.

To be clear, you are hitting the object ball with your cue stick, and making it carom off of the white cue ball before it goes into the pocket. Got that?

Rack up all of the balls like you’re playing 8-ball, with the balls in any order. The 8-ball does not need to be in the center. Replace one of the object balls with the cue ball (You’re going to use the replaced ball – for example, the 1-ball – to break). The cue ball can go anywhere in the rack, and you will want to place it in a spot where you can carom the break ball off it into a called pocket.

Yes, you call your shot even on the break.

I like to place the cue ball on one of the corners of the rack. With a good firm break, I can make my ball in the corner pocket off the cue ball and get a pretty good spread on the rack.

Place the 1-ball (or whatever object ball you chose) behind the head string, and break the rack open. Make sure you call your shot before breaking. If you make it, you continue shooting. If you do not, it’s your opponent’s turn.

Any other balls made on your shot count toward your score, as long as you made the ball you called. If you miss and other balls go in, bring them up and spot them.

A foul gives your opponent cue ball in hand. Fouls include:

  • You do not hit the cue ball and then a rail.
  • The object ball goes into the wrong pocket or the right pocket without hitting the cue ball.
  • The cue ball goes into any pocket.

This is a very fun game, and it helps you with your carom/billiard abilities. Sometimes, playing a different game like this one or Honolulu (see last month’s article) will help you to see the table in a different way, and you may see shots in your regular play that you didn’t consider before!

Here are a couple of variations:

  • Place the cue ball in the center of the rack for the break, and break using the 8-ball. Player gets to shoot after the break always, and any ball made on the break is spotted.
  • Try this game playing 8-ball. You must hit the cue ball before hitting your opponent’s ball; otherwise, it’s a foul.
  • For an added challenge, only balls going into the pocket cleanly off of the cue ball are counted (similar to bank pool rules).


Have you played this game, or something similar? Have a question about the rules, or any other question? Use #AskTheBilliardsProfessor on Twitter (@billiardsprof) or drop me a line at I can also be found hanging out with fellow billiards enthusiasts at Come on by and join the discussion!

Posted in Article, Table Talk, The Break / Rackem / Stroke Magazines