How to Play Bowlliards (Rules, Tips & Tricks)

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If you have a pool table, you are probably familiar with most types and styles of games that can be played on it. However, one really cool game that you may not know is bowlliards. Yes, as the name implies, this game features some aspects of bowling, mainly the scoring system, combined with the gameplay of pocket billiards.

It’s a really interesting game that you might end up loving, so let’s take a closer look at it.

What Equipment Do You Need to Play Bowlliards?

What is nice about the game of bowlliards is that it can be played using the same exact equipment as you need for a normal game of pool. In fact, you don’t even use all of the balls for bowlliards, thus making it a great game to play if you have a pool table but are missing some balls.

All you need to play bowlliards is the pool cue for shooting, a rack, ten object balls, and the cue ball. Rack the balls, filling everything but the base of the triangle, the “five”. In other words, you have the balls set up in a triangle, with the base featuring four balls.

How to Rack Bowlliards

How Many Players Can Play Bowlliards?

Another really cool aspect of bowlliards is that this game can be played by any number of people.

This is a great game for solo practice, as there is a perfect score that can be achieved. Moreover, realistically, you can have any amount of players and/or teams playing against each other, which actually makes it one of the most versatile games that can be played with a billiards table.

How to Play Bowlliards: The Rules

Let’s discuss all of the rules that you need to know about the game of bowlliards, so you can start playing at home.

The Object of Bowlliards

The object of the game is very simple. The point of this game is to get a perfect score of 300 (or at least as high of a score as possible) through 10 sets or turns of play. If you are playing against an opponent or multiple opponents, the aim is for you to get a higher score than any of the other players.

Scoring in Bowlliards

A point is scored by legally pocketing a ball, and each ball sunk into a pocket is worth one point regardless of the number on the ball. What is interesting to note is that the scoring rules are actually the same as in a normal game of bowling and so, you can earn extra points by scoring spares and strikes.

You may also do handicapping in bowlliards, which also works the same way as in regular bowling.

Scoring in Bowlliards

Racking the Balls

As touched on in the opening section, before play can begin, the balls need to be racked. You need 10 balls  and you have to set them up in the billiards rack according to a 1-2-3-4 placement, so four layers of balls with the base layer consisting of four balls, while leaving the very bottom of the rack open (leave out the five bottom balls).

The balls are racked up at the beginning of each player’s turn.

The Opening Break

Just like in regular billiards, in bowlliards, someone has to break.

What is forgiving about bowlliards is that the break is a free one, which means that you don’t have to pocket a ball on the break to take your next shot.


The aim here is for you to get all 10 balls into the pockets before your turn is over. After the initial break, in order to keep shooting, you must pocket the previous ball. If you do not pocket all ten balls on your first try, just like in bowling, you can try one more time.

In case you want to make the rules a bit more difficult, you can also require players to call their shots, which means that they need to designate which ball they are shooting and into which pocket. If the called ball does not get into the called pocket, it’s the end of that turn.

If you pocket all 10 balls on your first try, it counts as a strike, and if it takes you both tries, it is a spare. For a strike, you get 10 points for the turn based on the 10 pocketed balls plus an extra point for each ball you pocket during your next turn. If you happen to hit another strike, the first try of the following turn will count as well.

Theoretically, if you hit ten strikes (i.e. you rack 10 times and pocket all ten balls on the first try during each of those 10 times), you will have achieved a perfect score of 300 points.

For a spare, you get 10 points for 10 pocketed balls plus an extra point for each ball you pocket during the first try of your next turn.

If there are still balls on the table after the second try, the frame is open and the score is however many balls were pocketed through both turns. Keep in mind that if you get a strike in the tenth frame, you rerack and get two extra tries, and if you get a spare, you rerack and get one extra try.

Other Important Rules

While the above summarizes mostly everything you need to know to play the game, here are some more things to keep in mind:

  • If you pocket a ball illegally, it will be spotted.
  • If a ball jumps off the table, it counts as a foul.
  • (Optional) Each foul results in a point being deducted from the offending player’s score.

How to Play Bowlliards

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Lastly, here are some tips to keep in mind to be a better player:

  • Always make sure that you use the right length of pool cue for your size.
  • Using pool cue chalk to ensure that the tip of your cue is up to the task won’t hurt either.
  • It can be bad to score on the break because those balls get spotted and can cause congestion.


As you can see, bowlliards is a really cool game that you can play on a pool table, a really neat combination of pool and bowling. It’s a good game because it can be played with minimal equipment by virtually any number of people, and it’s not very hard either.

It’s the kind of game that beginners and professionals alike can play.