how to place billiard balls correctly

Whether you're playing English billiards, billiards, snooker or European billiards: you'll want to learn the correct placement for the balls before you start.

billiard balls

Each game of English billiards, billiards, snooker and even European billiards starts with the placement of the balls.

But, how do you place the balls correctly? And, why does it matter?

Placing the balls correctly ensures an even distribution, which makes the game fair.

Make sure the balls are touching, especially the ball at the top of the triangle. Space between balls (no matter how small) can ruin your break and hurt your strategy due to weak impact.

HOW TO PLACE THE BALLS FOR ENGLISH BILLIARDS

English billiards is played with a white ball (cue ball), 7 red balls, 7 yellow balls and 1 black ball (the 8).

How should you place them? Follow these steps…

GAME OF EIGHT-BALL

“For a game of eight-ball, you have to place the solid and striped balls in alternation.”

Actually, this is not true. It is a common misconception!

It’s actually very simple…

For a game of eight-ball, you use balls that are numbered from 1 to 15, but only three of these balls have a specific placement in the triangle.

The 8 ball must be at the centre and the two balls in the lower corners of the triangle must be different (one solid and one striped), but it doesn’t matter which one is in which corner.

The other 12 balls must be placed in alternation, including the one at the top corner of the triangle.

Easy, right?

man setting a billiard triangle on the table
balls in a diamond shape

GAME OF NINE-BALL

A game of nine-ball, as the name suggests, is played with balls that are numbered from 1 to 9. Only two of these balls have specific placements for this game.

The balls must be placed in a diamond shape. The 9 ball has to be in the centre, and the 1 ball has to be at the top of the diamond.

As for the other balls? They simply have to be placed in alternation.

GAME OF TEN-BALL

For a game of ten-ball, you play with balls numbered from 1 to 10. Only two of these balls have specific placements for this game.

The 10 ball has to be in the centre and the 1 ball has to be at the top of the triangle.

As for the other balls? They simply have to be placed in alternation.

billiard balls

WHAT ABOUT SNOOKER?

Snooker is different from the other games we’ve mentioned, mostly because of the number of balls used.

Snooker is not played with 16 balls; it is played with 22 balls.

The white ball, 15 red balls and 6 coloured balls: 1 yellow, 1 brown, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 pink and 1 black.

Generally, for snooker, the coloured balls have specific placements.

SO, WHERE SHOULD YOU PLACE THEM?

- All of the red balls must be placed inside the triangle.

- Position the tope of the triangle at the second spot indicated, in the middle of the table (white mark on the diagram).

- The pink ball should be at the tip of the triangle, without touching it.

- The black ball should be many centimetres away from the triangle (in the specified position).

- The yellow ball should be at the right corner of the “D-zone”– from the perspective of the person who is going to break.

- The green ball should be at the left corner of the “D-zone”.

- The brown ball should be in the middle of the “D-zone”.

- The blue ball should be in the middle of the billiards table.

snooker table diagram

HOW TO PLACE BALLS FOR EUROPEAN BILLIARDS

European billiards is played with 3 balls: one red, one white and one orange (the orange ball is often replaced by a white ball marked differently).

The placement of the balls is indicated on the table.

SO, WHERE SHOULD YOU PLACE THEM?

There are three positions aligned on one side:

- The orange ball (or the marked white ball) must be placed in the centre.

- The white ball can be placed to the right or the left. The position of the white ball is not important. It depends on the preference of the person who is starting the game (in our diagram, the ball is placed to the right).

- The red ball must be placed in the fourth position, on the other side of the table (facing the orange ball).

European billiards table diagram

PLACEMENT OF THE TRIANGLE

For European billiards, English billiards and billiards, align the ball at the top of the triangle with the intersection of the two diagonal lines formed between the first four pockets on the table

snooker table diagram