How to Play Snooker: 5 Rules You Need to Know Before You Start

snooker

Do you want to know how to play snooker? The good news is that you don't need a smoking jacket or a brandy to play, although those certainly help you look the part.

Instead, what you need is a firm of understanding of the five main rules of how to play snooker. Because snooker is a gentleman's game, and because gentlemen depend on firm rules of civility, you will need to memorize how to play snooker. But there's more to it than just the game itself.

For example, it would be considered poor form to trash talk your opponent in snooker. Save it for that Colonial 8-ball game. Snooker is a refined man's game, and refined men honor their opponent. Also, rowdiness and drunkenness are frowned upon. Perhaps the table next to you is engaged in a rowdy match of cutthroat pool. Let them have their antics. Football hooligans don't play snooker.

Snooker's Origins


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image source: unsplash.com via Helen Thomas

Billiards evolved from a combination of lawn bowling and bored French aristocrats sometime in the 15th century. Soon after, we see billiard tables, balls, and cues spread to England, which popularized the game.

And it was an English officer who created snooker four centuries later.

Legend has it that British lieutenant Neville Chamberlain (not the Prime-Minister) created snooker in 1875 while stationed in India. The local officer's mess lacked a proper billiard table, so Lt. Chamberlain created one using lunch tables. He didn't have numbered balls, but he was able to obtain a series of colored balls from the local Indian village.

Using red, black, and colored balls, he created a new game. But where does the name "snooker" come from?

Get this.

Officer cadets at the Royal Military Academy were called "Snookers." The colored balls reminded Chamberlain of the cadet's uniforms from his academy days, so in honor of them, he named the game "snooker."

And thus the legend of a British gentleman inventing a gentleman's game in the jewel of the British Empire was born. Huzzah!

How to Play Snooker


Have you ever wondered how to play snooker when all the balls look the same, and there are no numbers on any of them? You're not alone.

But don't worry because snooker is one of the most popular billiard games in the world. In India, China, South Korea, and Japan, people are crazy about snooker. Despite this, all the champions are British. The point is that if a billion people around the world can play snooker, so can you.

To start, understand the main point of the game.

You need to score more points than your opponent. Every ball is assigned a point value, and you need to pocket them in a certain order to score points. Once all the balls are sunk, the person with the most points wins that frame.

That's when it hits you. This is a British game. Of course, there are frames!

A frame is a single game of snooker. To truly beat your opponent, you need to win a "best-of" match. That can be three frames or five frames.

Also, you'll require some equipment. A good snooker cue is a great start. You'll notice that snooker cues are a little bigger, with wider tips than regular pool cues. You can go with something like this BCE HER-300 snooker cue.

1: Know the value

The first rule in how to play snooker is knowing the value of each of the snooker balls.

Namely, you need to know what each color is worth. Every red ball is worth one point. You'll notice that there 15 red balls. Then there are six multicolored balls. In like manner, each of these is worth a certain number of points.

Let's take a look.

  • Yellow - 2 points
  • Green - 3 points
  • Brown/red - 4 points
  • Blue - 5 points
  • Pink - 6 points
  • Black - 7 points

If you remember anything, make it that the black ball is worth 7 points.

2: Setup the table

Next, you'll need to know how to set up the table. Here's the part where snooker starts to get complicated, but don't worry. It will all make sense.

Start with the red balls. They'll get racked in the standard triangle and placed just below the lower dot in the middle of the table.

Next, you'll place the colored balls in a very specific order, starting with the black ball.

Place the black ball a few inches behind the center of the triangle. Next, place the pink ball at the top tip of the triangle.

Then put the blue ball right in the center of the table. We're talking center from top to bottom and side to side. Finally, you'll place the yellow, brown (or red), and green balls across the line where you would normally break from.

The following video summarizes basic information such as equipment, ball points, and best of all, provides a visual guide for ball placement:

3: The break

The third rule you need to know for how to play snooker concerns the break. First, you'll flip a coin to determine who breaks. In true gentleman fashion, the winner can choose to break or give it to their opponent.

Whoever breaks will do so differently than in pool. In snooker, you want to simply dislodge a single red ball from the triangle without hitting any of the colored balls. The reason for this is because if you scatter the red balls all over the table, you'll set your opponent up to run the game.

Remember, a gentleman is conservative in words and action. Break conservatively.

Once one (or more) red ball is dislodged, the game is begun.

4: Sink the balls

Now you're on to the main part of the game. In fact, you'll see that this part is rather easy. Basically, sink the balls.

But wait a moment.

You need to sink the balls in the right order. Uh-oh. Perhaps you weren't expecting that. No worries, because the order you sink them in is easy to remember.

But first, a few things to remember.

  • Red balls stay in the pocket when sunk.
  • Colored balls get returned to their original placement on the table after being sunk.
  • Your turn is over when you miss a shot.
  • If you sink a ball out of order, your turn is over, and you lose the point value of that ball.

Now you can start shooting. Remember to always alternate between a red ball and a colored ball, beginning with a red ball. If you want a good set of snooker balls, check out these Global Sporting Equipments complete snooker ball set.

5: Finish off the colored balls

Finally, you can finish off the colored balls.

Up until this point, you should have been pulling the colored balls back up each time they got sunk. Once there are no more red balls on the table, it's time time to take care of the colored balls.

But get this: They need to be sunk in the proper order. You can't sink the green ball until the yellow gets pocketed first. Here's the order they get sunk in.

  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Brown/red
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Black

And if you pocket a colored ball, you get its point value. So here's your chance to clean up the table!

Once all the of the colored balls are down, the frame is over. Hopefully, you've been keeping score with each ball that gets sunk. That way, you know who is ahead.

Now you know how to play snooker!

Snooker Tips and Tricks


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Image via Pixabay

Want to know a secret?

Okay, here goes. Snooker is a calm, relaxing game. Unlike pool, which can get mighty exciting, snooker is a game of concentration. It's like chess but without supercomputers and Russian champions.

So practice some of these tips, and you'll improve your game.

Be strategic

First, don't just shoot at any ball. Remember that you need to sink a red ball before you can shoot at a high-value colored ball. So that means the red balls are your friends.

Set yourself up for your follow-up shots. When choosing a red ball that you can sink, think about where the white cue ball will end up. Does that leave you with a shot on a colored ball?

Then think about where the cue ball will go after you sink the colored ball. You want to line up another red ball.

Also, what if you miss? You want to make sure your opponent doesn't have an easy shot at a red ball.

So think two or three moves ahead. It pays to be strategic. That's how to play snooker like a pro.

Take your time

Second, take your time when shooting. Plan your shots and aim slowly. Think of yourself as a sniper, taking long, deep breaths and keeping your heart rate steady.

You don't want to get excited when playing snooker because a single mistake can leave the table wide open for your opponent to clean up. Once someone starts a run, they can amass a huge amount of points. If you're hasty in your shots, that probably won't be you.

Shoot smooth

Finally, make your shots smooth and deliberate. Leave the fancy hooks and rebounds for the crass pool players. Snooker players shoot their balls right into the pocket.

Once you can shoot in a straight line, so the cue, the cue ball, and the target ball all travel in the same direction, you know how to play snooker. Sometimes you can edge a ball into a pocket with a glancing blow, but your best chance at success is always to shoot straight.

Use a smooth, confident motion with your cue. Keep your back hand from wobbling about, so the tip of the cue is steady. You can bring your own chalk in a Cuppa Billiards chalk holder, so you know your cue gets quality care.

You Got This!


shot the billiard ball

Image via Pixabay

Now that you know how to play snooker, it's time to get out there and play. The rules aren't difficult. The game is fun.

And always remember to be a gentleman (that goes for ladies as well). You got this!

Do you have any tips for how to play snooker? Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image via Pixabay

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