How Many Balls Are Used in Pool, Carom & Snooker?

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There are all kinds of different ways to play pool and, oftentimes, you can use much less than the standard 16 ball set.

This article will focus on how many balls are used in various pool games and briefly describe why the games use them this way. You’ll find out about niche games like cutthroat, straight pool, carom billiards, and snooker too.

Sometimes, you do not have to spend extra money buying a new pool ball if you lose one. All you need to do is pivot to one of the games that require fewer balls that can be just as fun as regular billiards.

How Many Balls Are Used in Pool?

How Many Balls Are Used in Pool?

In standard pool ball sets, there are 16 balls included that are numbered from 1 to 15 and one white cue ball. These balls are further divided into stripes and solids.

Numbers 1 through 8 are colored solid. Meanwhile, numbers 9 through 15 have a colored stripe down the middle of the ball. These distinctions are important in most games but are used differently for different kinds of ways to play.

Here are a few types of common games that many seasoned pool players come to know after playing for a while.

Eight-Ball Pool

This game is played with all 15 balls plus the cue ball for a total of 16 and the object of the game is to make all of your balls first before making the 8-ball last.

Whatever ball a player makes first, a solid or a stripe, that player then has to make the other seven balls in that set before making the 8-ball to win the game.

Nine-Ball Pool

Much like the name suggests, there are 9 balls involved in this game plus the cue ball, for a total of 10 balls needed. After breaking, the player that’s shooting must try to make the lowest numbered ball on the table.

You must rack the nine balls in a diamond shape for the break and once all the lower-numbered balls are made first, whoever sinks the 9-ball is the winner.

Cutthroat Pool

You must use all 15 balls including the cue ball for a total of 16 balls for this variation of pool. This game is meant for three players and each player gets a set of balls – either 1 through 5, 6 through 10, or 11 through 15. The winner of this game is whoever makes all five of their set of balls first.

Whoever makes a ball first gets to choose which set of balls they shoot for. Most times, the player chooses the set of the ball that they made but sometimes it’s a better strategy to choose a set with easier shots available.

Straight Pool

Also called 14.1 straight pool, this type of pool is also played with 16 balls including the cue ball.

This is a point-based game and each legally called shot is worth 1 point. Games can be played to any total score but most professional games are played to 125 or 150.

Once all balls on the table are made, they are re-racked and re-broke until one of the players makes it to the score needed to win.

How Many Balls Are Used in Carom Billiards?

Carom billiards is usually played using three balls. Two of these balls are white and the other one is red. The table does not have any pockets. The object of the game is to shoot one of the cue balls (one of the white-colored balls) into the two other balls. Each successful shot counts as one point.

The cue ball has to fist contact the red ball when breaking. After that, you can choose whether you want to hit the white or red ball first. If the player that is breaking scores on their first shot, they can select either white ball to use as their cue ball for their second shot.

However, that player must continue to use that ball as their cue ball for the rest of the game while their opponent uses the other. Games are typically played to 50 points.

Carambole Billiard Balls

Another variation of this game uses four balls that are typically two red balls, one solid white ball, and another white ball with a dot on it.

This version is played the same way as its three-ball variant except, if your cue ball hits all three other balls on one shot it is worth two points. Some people will set the points for victory higher in this variation but this isn’t a necessary rule change.

How Many Balls Are Used in Snooker?

Snooker is one of the more unique cue sports you can play because it is played using 22 balls.

Among these balls, there are 15 red balls that are worth one point each. The special balls that are all colored differently include one yellow ball worth two points, one green ball worth three points, one brown ball worth four points, one blue ball worth five, one pink worth six, and one black worth seven points.

Finally, you will also need one more solid white ball to be used as the cue ball.

Each colored ball has its own starting position and the 15 red balls are racked normally. In order to score a player must first make a red ball then shoot for one of the colored balls next. If you make a colored ball after a red, that ball’s amount is added to your score and is then colored put back in its starting position.

Once all the red balls are made, each player shoots in the colored balls from lowest to highest value without putting them back on the table. Once the final black ball is made, the game is over and whoever has the most points is the winner.

Snooker Balls


As you can now see, there are all kinds of different ways to play pool with or without the standard set of pool balls.

Some of these games do not even need pockets to be played and so long as you have the right colored balls, you can play any kinds of variations of these fun billiards games with house rules and different point values as well.

Long story short, though, standard pool ball set has 16 balls, a snooker ball set has 22 balls, and a carom billiards set has either three or four balls.