How to Play Cutthroat Pool? : Tips, Strategies, and Rules for Success

Cutthroat pool is a fun and exciting variation of pool that is perfect for three players. The game is played with a standard set of pool balls, numbered 1 through 15, plus the cue ball. The objective of the game is to be the last player with at least one ball remaining on the table.

In cutthroat pool, each player is assigned a group of balls to protect. The balls are split up into groups of 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15, and each player claims their own group. The game begins with all balls on the table and players taking turns trying to pocket their opponents’ balls while protecting their own.

To win at cutthroat pool, players must use strategy and skill to eliminate their opponents’ balls while keeping their own on the table. It’s a fast-paced game that requires quick thinking and precise shots. If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to enjoy the game of pool, give cutthroat pool a try!

Basic Rules of Cutthroat Pool

As the name suggests, Cutthroat Pool is a game of elimination where players aim to pocket their opponent’s balls while keeping their own on the table. Here are the basic rules to get you started:

  • The game is typically played with three players, but can also be played with two or four players.
  • The balls are divided into three groups of five, with each player assigned a group.
  • The game starts with a break shot, where the player who breaks must hit the head ball from behind the head string and make at least one ball from their group.
  • Players take turns shooting in the order of lowest to highest numbered balls in their group.
  • A player must hit one of their opponent’s balls first before hitting any of their own. If they pocket an opponent’s ball, they continue shooting. If they pocket one of their own balls, they must stop shooting and their turn is over.
  • If a player scratches (pockets the cue ball), they lose their turn and their opponent can place the cue ball anywhere on the table.
  • If a player pockets all of their opponent’s balls, they win the game.
  • If a player pockets the 8-ball before all of their opponent’s balls, they lose the game.

It’s important to note that there are variations to these rules, so make sure to establish the rules before starting the game. With these basic rules in mind, you’re ready to start playing Cutthroat Pool!


To play cutthroat pool, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment. Here is a list of the required equipment:

  • Number of balls: Cutthroat pool requires 16 balls in total. These include 15 numbered balls and one cue ball. The numbered balls are split into three sets, with each set belonging to each of the three players. The first set has balls 1-5, the second set has balls 6-10, and the third set has balls 11-15.
  • Cue sticks: Each player will need their own cue stick to play cutthroat pool. It is essential to choose a cue stick that feels comfortable and suits your playing style. Make sure the cue stick is the correct length and weight for you.
  • Pool table: Cutthroat pool is typically played on a standard pool table, which has six pockets and is usually 8-9 feet in length. It is essential to ensure that the pool table is level and in good condition before starting the game.

Having the correct equipment is crucial for playing cutthroat pool. Ensure that you have all the necessary equipment before starting the game. With the right equipment, you can enjoy a fun and exciting game of cutthroat pool with your friends.

Setting Up

When setting up for a game of Cutthroat pool, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll need a Cutthroat pool rack, which is a triangular rack designed specifically for this game. Next, you’ll need a pool table with a rack and head cushion.

To begin, place the rack at the head of the table and arrange the balls in the following manner:

  • One player gets the 1-5 balls
  • One player gets the 6-10 balls
  • One player gets the 11-15 balls

Once the balls are arranged, players must determine the order in which they will play. This can be done in a number of ways, such as flipping a coin or drawing straws.

Once the order is determined, the first player places the cue ball behind the head string, which is an imaginary line that runs across the table at the head of the table. The head string is located 1 ¾ inches from the head cushion.

It is important to note that in Cutthroat pool, players are not required to call their shots. Instead, they may shoot at any ball on the table, regardless of whether it belongs to them or their opponents.

With these basic rules in mind, you’re ready to start playing Cutthroat pool. Remember to have fun and play fair, and you’re sure to enjoy this exciting and challenging game.


Cutthroat pool is a fun and social billiards game that is perfect for 3 players. The objective of the game is to be the last player with at least one ball on the table. In this section, I will go over the basic gameplay of cutthroat pool.


The numbered balls from 1-15 are used, along with the cue ball. The balls are divided into 3 sets of 5, with each player assigned a set. The sets are determined by a variety of methods, such as pocketing a ball from each set or randomly drawing sets. The player who is assigned the set with the lowest numbered ball will break first.


The game starts with the player who was assigned the lowest numbered ball breaking. The game then proceeds in a clockwise direction, with each player taking turns to shoot. The player must hit their own set of balls first, and then can target any ball on the table. If a player pockets a ball from their own set, they get to continue shooting. If a player pockets a ball from another player’s set, that player is eliminated from the game.

Legal Shots and Fouls

In cutthroat pool, there are certain shots that are considered legal and others that are considered fouls. Legal shots are shots where the player hits their own set of balls first and then hits any other ball on the table. Fouls occur when a player hits the cue ball off the table, scratches, or hits another player’s set of balls first.

Defining “Safety” Shots

A safety shot is a shot where a player intentionally misses their shot in order to leave the cue ball in a difficult position for the next player. This strategy can be useful in protecting your own balls or targeting specific balls of another player.

Overall, cutthroat pool is a fun and social game that is perfect for 3 players. By following the rules and guidelines outlined above, you can enjoy a competitive and enjoyable game of cutthroat pool with your friends.

Winning the Game

To win a game of cutthroat pool, I need to be the last player standing with at least one ball of my group remaining on the table. This means that I need to sink all the object balls of my opponents’ groups and keep at least one of my own group’s balls on the table until the end of the game.

It’s important to note that if multiple players sink their last ball at the same time, the game will continue until there is only one winner left standing. This means that even if I sink my last ball, I still need to make sure that my opponents don’t sink all of my group’s balls before the game ends.

To increase my chances of winning, I need to focus on sinking my own group’s balls as early as possible in the game. This will not only eliminate the possibility of my opponents sinking them, but it will also make it easier for me to sink the remaining object balls of my opponents’ groups.

However, I should also be careful not to sink all of my own group’s balls too quickly, as this could leave me vulnerable to my opponents sinking all of my remaining balls before the end of the game.

In addition, I should also focus on sinking the easy-to-sink balls of my opponents’ groups first. This will not only eliminate them from the game but will also make it more difficult for my opponents to sink the remaining balls of their own group.

Overall, winning a game of cutthroat pool requires a combination of strategy, skill, and luck. By focusing on sinking my own group’s balls early, eliminating my opponents’ easy-to-sink balls, and keeping at least one of my own group’s balls on the table until the end of the game, I can increase my chances of being the last player standing and ultimately winning the game.

Tips and Strategies

When it comes to cutthroat pool, there are a few tips and strategies that can help improve your skills and give you an edge over your opponents.

Defensive Play Tactics

One of the most important things to keep in mind when playing cutthroat pool is that it’s not just about sinking your own balls – it’s also about preventing your opponents from sinking theirs. This means that defensive play tactics are just as important as offensive ones.

One effective defensive strategy is to block off pockets by placing your own balls strategically in front of them. This makes it more difficult for your opponents to sink their balls and can give you more time to sink your own.

Offensive Play Tactics

Of course, offensive play tactics are also important in cutthroat pool. One key strategy is to focus on sinking your own balls as quickly as possible, while also keeping an eye on your opponents’ progress.

Another effective offensive tactic is to try to sink your opponents’ balls whenever possible. This not only prevents them from scoring points, but it can also give you an advantage by reducing the number of balls your opponents have left on the table.

Importance of Positioning

Finally, positioning is crucial in cutthroat pool. It’s important to plan your shots carefully and think ahead to your next move. This means considering the position of your opponents’ balls, as well as your own, and thinking strategically about how to sink your balls while also blocking your opponents’ shots.

By keeping these tips and strategies in mind, you can improve your cutthroat pool skills and increase your chances of coming out on top in your next game.


Cutthroat pool is an excellent way to spend quality time with your friends and family. It’s a great game to add to your social circle, and it’s easy to learn. Experienced players can use essential tricks to gain an early victory, but beginners can still win if they play their cards right. Remember to keep a defensive side and avoid giving your opponents easy access to your balls.

In summary, cutthroat pool is a fun and challenging game that is worth trying out. It’s a great way to improve your pool skills and have a good time with your friends. So, grab your cue stick and start playing!


How do you win in Cutthroat Pool?

You win by sinking all of your opponents’ balls while still having at least one of your own balls remaining on the table.

Can you call which ball and pocket you’re aiming for in Cutthroat Pool?

No, Cutthroat Pool is usually played without the need to call shots, making it more about pocketing balls rather than precision shooting.

What happens if you accidentally pocket your own ball?

If you pocket your own ball, it generally counts against you, and play passes to the next player.

Are there any fouls in Cutthroat Pool?

Yes, standard fouls like scratching (cue ball pocketed), hitting an opponent’s ball first, or not hitting any balls on a shot, apply in Cutthroat Pool.

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