7 Awesome Two-Player Pool Games You Need To Try Today

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Want to make some new friends and have some fun? Learning how to play two-player pool games is a great way to meet people, laugh, and have a good time. Nobody knows for sure exactly how or when the game of pool first came to America. Some believe that it was brought over by the Spaniards in the late 1500s.

However, the Billiard Congress of America speculates that the game probably came to America by way of Dutch and English settlers. One thing is sure either way; pool remains one of the most popular games played across the USA.

Words You Need to Know

We selected seven two-player pool games to discuss today that you can enjoy while hanging out with friends. But before we discuss that, let's cover a few pool terms you may or may not already know.

Bank shots

To perform a bank shot, players must use the cue ball to hit another ball. Additionally, that ball must hit one or more rails before dropping in a pocket.

Break shot

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A break shot is the first shot of a game of pool, intended to break up the rack. The break shot can make or break a match. Accordingly, some pool players purchase a special cue stick for making this shot.

Call shot game

A call shot game requires players to call each shot. Firstly, a player picks his or her ball. Next, he or she must announce that selection. For example, a player might say: "Five ball in the corner pocket."

Combination

Combination shots require the cue ball to hit an object ball which, in turn, hits one or more other balls. With any luck, the last ball hit drops into the intended pocket.

Fouls

A variety of fouls exist when playing pool, to include knocking the cue ball in a pocket, knocking a ball off the table, or having one foot off the ground while shooting.

Kiss-shot

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To make a kiss shot, a player ricochets an object ball off another ball and into a pocket.

Kick shot

To perform a kick shot, the cue ball must bounce off at least one rail before hitting an object ball.

Object ball

An object ball is any ball other than the cue ball targeted by a player. For instance, if you say "nine ball in the middle pocket," the nine ball would be the object ball for that shot.

7 Awesome Two-Player Pool Games

While we all know and love playing 8-ball and 9-ball, it can become a bit boring if we don't mix things up from time to time. For that reason, we selected seven other versions of two-player pool games for your consideration.

Additionally, please note that all seven of these two-player pool games work great on both a full-sized or a mini pool table. However, make sure you have a good cue stick and chalk on hand!

1. Bank pool

Bank pool is one of the easiest of our two-player pool games. Players must use bank shots to sink balls into a called pocket.

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Object

The first player banking a majority of the balls into a pocket wins the game. You can play bank ball using either 9 balls or a full set of 15 balls. Accordingly, you need to pocket either five balls or eight, depending on how many balls you choose to use.

Setup

There are two possible setups for bank pool. Firstly, you rack the balls in a triangle if using all 15 balls. In the alternative, you rack the balls in a diamond shape if playing with only nine balls.

Play

There are five basic rules for playing bank pool. Firstly, bank shots are the only shots that count, hence the name of this version of two-player pool games. Secondly, during the break shot, at least four balls must hit the rails. Next, the shooter must call both the ball and pocket for any shot to count.

Fourthly, you cannot use any combination shots. Lastly, the object ball cannot touch any of the other balls on the way to the pocket.

2. 15-ball

Created in Manhatten during the late 1830s, 15-ball is the ancestor of many American pool games, including 8-ball.

Object

The player winning the most frames wins the match.

Scoring and frames

To determine points, players add up the number designated for each ball pocketed. For example, if a player pockets the 5, 11, and 15 balls, his or her score would come to 31 points.

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The first player reaching 61 points wins that frame. Additionally, if no player reaches 61, then the player with the most points wins. The number of frames played is up to you. However, tournament play requires winning the best of 21 frames.

Setup

Using a standard triangle rack, the 15-ball is the apex. The other balls are placed in descending order.

Play

The 15-ball game is simple and straightforward. Players take turns shooting, attempting to pocket the balls in no particular order.

Fouls

Players forfeit three points for every foul, and three consecutive fouls cost the player that frame. Additionally, the cue ball must make contact with an object ball in each shot.

3. Honolulu

Honolulu is similar to playing bank pool.

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Object

Players receive one point for each pocketed ball and the first person to score eight points wins the game in Honolulu pool.

Setup

You rack all 15 balls in a random order to get started.

Play

To break, players must either call a ball, and a pocket or at least two balls must touch a rail. Otherwise, this is a foul and the player forfeits one point. Continuing, players cannot call any straight shots. All balls must be pocketed using banks shots, combinations, caroms or kisses, kick shots, or any combination of those shots.

4. One pocket

One pocket pool requires more skill than most of the other two-player pool games we have covered.

Object

The first player to reach eight points wins the game.

Setup

Players rack all 15 balls in a standard triangle rack in random order to play one pocket pool.

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Play

To begin, the player making the break shot calls a corner foot pocket. From that point forward, his or her balls must be dropped in that pocket, and that pocket only. Inversely, the remaining corner foot pocket becomes the target for the second player.

Players score one point for each ball dropped in their assigned pocket. If a ball sinks in a different pocket, the player loses his or her turn. However, if another ball is dropped in the player's designated pocket, he or she can continue shooting.

Likewise, players receive a point if their opponent accidentally pockets a ball in his or her designated corner instead of the intended pocket.

5. Killer

Killer is a variant of straight pool. Unlike the other two-player pool games we've covered, killer can be played with an unlimited number of players.

Object

Before gameplay, players agree to a set number of lives and the last person alive at the end of gameplay is the winner.

Setup

Players rack all 15 balls in a standard triangle rack in random order to play killer pool.

Play

Players take one shot each round, attempting to pocket a ball. If a player fails to pocket a ball, he or she loses a life that round and the other player gets to shoot.

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In addition, there are a couple of optional rules. Failure to pocket a ball on the break shot does not cost a player a life. And pocketing the eight ball or two balls with one shot gains a player an additional life.

6. Straight pool

Straight pool is a common variant in championship competition matches.

Object

The first player to reach a set number of points determined by a pre-game agreement wins the game. There is no set rule for informal play, but professional matches typically require 125 points to win.

Setup

Players rack all 15 balls in a standard triangle rack with the 1 and 5 balls in the bottom corners to play straight pool. The other balls are randomly placed.

Play

The gameplay is simple and straightforward for straight pool. Players receive one point for each ball pocketed. However, players are required to call each ball and pocket to win points.

7. 10-ball

The 10-ball game is a modern pool game that is similar to 9-ball.

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Object

The first player to pocket the 10 ball wins the game.

Setup

Players rack 10 balls, the 1 through 10, in a standard triangle rack. The one ball sits at the apex of the frame and the two and three balls at the bottom corners. Additionally, the 10 ball is placed in the center of the rack.

Play

Most of the rules of 10-ball are the same as those of 9-ball. Notably, there is one key exception: Unlike 9-ball, 10-ball is a call-shot game. The 10 ball can be pocketed for the win at any time. But remember, you must hit the lowest numbered ball first like in nine-ball.

Pick a Partner and Start Playing Two-Player Pool Games Today!

Playing pool is a great American past time. Whether you are in a big city or a small town, you can find pool tables in bars, basements, living rooms. We hope you enjoyed our discussion of seven two-player pool games.

Now, we would love to hear back from you. Let us know what you think about our list of two-player pool games in the comments section below.

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