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Cascade Billiard Rules

Cascade Billiards is a pocket billiard game that adds a stragegy and forethough component to typical pocket billiards, and follows the rules of cascade billiards as shows below.

Cascade Billiard Rules

  1. Players break from opposite ends of the table. Two break plays per round. Both ball arrangements in place upon table to begin each round.
  2. Players 'make their own breaks,' - arrange their seven stripes or seven solids in their own break area according to their preference, and distribute their balls with a single break or distributing shot.
  3. The cue ball is the scoring ball to be knocked in or 'scored,' by the action of either stripe or solid-side balls for scoring purposes. Except in opening break plays, the cue ball is never cued directly.
  4. Shots proceed in color rotational order. The closest color up in rotation is determined by proximity to the cue ball. For example, if the 1 is closer to the cue ball than the 9, the 1 takes the lead shot, and the 9 takes the next shot, moving on to the closest blue ball, etc, etc, ..
  5. Home corner pockets = 1 point. Side pockets = 2 points for each player. Opponent corner pockets = 3 points. The opposite is true for the opposing player.After being scored, the cue ball is returned to the table by the scorer. Placed anywhere inside a normal table rack, so long as the center dot, ( made with a chalked cue tip, and directly between the side pockets in the center of the table ) is visible inside the rack when placed on the table and the cueball is inside the rack. The rack and the cue ball inside the rack are not allowed to be touching another ball. The next ball by color rotation and proximity takes the shot to follow. A tape measure, or some form of measuring tool is very important to have on hand when playing Cascade.
  6. The cue ball must be contacted first by the action ball up for each shot, or the ball that took the shot will be removed through penalty.
  7. Sacrifice plays are allowed. Meaning, if an opponent ball is knocked in directly by the action ball being played, both balls will be taken out of play, the action ball through penalty, and the pocketed ball remaining in the pocket.
  8. Three rotations - yellow through brown x 3 are played, to constitute a round of play. Usually two halves are played. Sometimes more than three rotations per half, but generally three is the best number, because sacrifices will be common, and after three rotations the balls remaining to be played will often be limited.
  9. Highest point total after two halves wins match.

General Cascade Billiard Rules

Cascade is played with 7 solid balls playing in one direction and 7 stripe balls playing the other direction. The cue ball is the scoring ball. ( Target ball to be pocketed by both players ) To begin play each player places seven balls into the breaking box; ( The breaking box is in the same position and of the same dimensions as the breaking box used in Matchbox* ) the first player to break places his or her balls into their box in any arrangement they choose; the second player to break places their balls second; the first player then breaks their own arrangement of balls, followed by the second player’s break upon their own ball arrangement.

In Cascade each pair of pockets has a different scoring point value. Home corner pockets are 1 point, side pockets are 2 points for each player, and opposite corner pockets ( opponent side ) are worth 3 points for pocketing the target cue ball. If, for example, Player A racks their balls on the north side of the table, Player A’s 3 point pockets are on the south side of the table and visa versa for Player B.

Normally two halves are played, allowing each player an opportunity to break first and second.

In Cascade each player, after selecting stripes or solids places their own seven balls ( any seven stripes or solids of their choice ) into their breaking area. The breaking area is identical to the position and dimensions used in Matchbox.*

Cascade Pool - Rules of Play

Cascade breaks are generally soft breaks that distribute the balls without pocketing any of them, in which case a player will be at a disadvantage, having less than seven balls remaining for the rest of the round. Each player breaks form behind the head-string/foot-string ( second dot ) with the scoring cue ball. For the break to be legal one ball or more must be moved all the way out of the box. If a ball or more moves out of the box initially and reenters the box, the ball cannot be counted as the one ball counted to satisfy the rule. If this condition is not met, ( one ball out of the box ) a five point penalty is deducted and each player’s balls are re-racked. If the non-guilty player chooses he or she may take the result of the breaks and continue without a five point penalty. If the illegal break occurs on first break the second player to break must still break their own ball out of the break area before declaring the penalty. If both breaks are illegal, balls will be re-racked for a do over unless both players decide to play on without a ‘do over.’

Since the scoring ball is also used to break both opposing ball-sets, it is possible to score on the break. If the cue ball is pocketed into a home corner pocket while breaking it is worth 1 point, 2 points for ending up in a side pocket, and 3 points for ending up in an opponent corner pocket. However, if one ball is not moved out of the box on break, break points will not count and the illegal break penalty will be assessed. It is OK for a first break ball or more to travel across the table and disrupt the alignment of the balls in the second box-rack. However, if a first break ball knocks a ball out of the second box it satisfies the second player’s one-ball-out requirement, which allows the second player a free shot at a 3 point pocket with the cue ball if the second player chooses. For there is not requirement to contact any ball on break if one ball is already out of the box before beginning a break shot when breaking second. Direct scoring attempts in such cases must travel at least halfway across the table, meaning , the side pockets ( 2 point pockets ) are an easy score under such circumstances, ( May be pocketed directly into side pockets ) but to bank back for a 3 point break point attempt, it will be more tricky, considering the amount of traffic that will be present.

A player ( when breaking to a box with a ball already out, may also pocket an opponent ball directly off the cue ball, ( breaking ball ) even if the target ball is on the same side of the head-string from where the cue ball will be cued. Whether to eliminate an opponent ball or go for points in this situation is a matter of strategy. For break points to count, however, the cue ball must travel at least as far as the side pockets,. In the case of the cue ball following an opponent ball into a pocket behind the head string ( or simply going there without hitting another ball, that player will have the privilege of setting the table to begin regular play, much the same as in Counterpoint. So long as the other break rules have been satisfied this sort of pocketing is legal during the break stage.

Special note: if player A knocks one ball out of his or her break area, but player B returns that ball into the same break area through the action of their own break, player A will be guilty osf an illegal break after both breaks are completed; so long, that is, as all seven balls remain in player A’s break area and six or less remain in player B’s break area. Though tricky, such attempts to return single balls back into their home area while also moving one ball out of the opposite area will not be unheard of. For this reason player B in the above example must be legal on their own end by knocking one of their own balls out to satisfy the one out rule; if not, player B will be guilty of an illegal break if player A is legal before player B begins their own break. Therefore the only way player B can force an illegal break upon player A is if player B satisfies the one out rule on their own side while also returning all balls back into player A’s break area.

Cascade Pool Rules - Game Play

In the situation where one player has an illegal break while the other scores points on break, the points will not be counted if the non-guilty player chooses to take the five point penalty and re-rack both ball sets.

In Cascade action balls ( balls which attempt to score the target cue ball ) are selected for each turn based on their order in rotation and by their proximity to the cue ball. The order of rotation is always yellow, blue, red, purple, orange, green, and brown, or whatever colors represent the number sequence of the balls. Colors sequences are easier to remember, since the nine and one, and two and ten, etc, always are played in color order, the closest yellow to the cue ball going first, and the next closest yellow going second, followed by the closest blue, the other blue, etc, etc, and starting again after both browns have gone.

After break play is done the cue ball is played from wherever it ends up after second break, and the yellow ball which is closest to the cue ball goes first to begin regular play. The two blues are then up for a turn, the first to go being the blue ball closest by proximity to the cue ball, followed by the other blue ball. If one of the blue balls is no longer on the table then only one blue ball will play the blue stage and both red balls will await the result of the single blue ball’s play. If neither blue ball is on the table the final yellow ball to take a turn will set up the red stage.

In order for each ball to stay legal during each of its turns, it must first make contact with the cue ball. If the cue ball is not contacted first during any play, the action ball which is up will be removed from the table after the result of its play.

In general there are four types of plays which are used in Cascade. A player may attempt to score the scoring cue ball directly ( off the next action ball up ); a player may attempt to hide the cue ball from the next opponent ball up; a player may play the cue ball to a place on the table beneficial for the next ball in order to shoot from; a player may also play a ‘sacrifice,’ which is a play intended to sink an opponent ball directly, ( opponent ball may not be returned to the table, but if the cue ball is not contacted first, the action ball will be lost in penalty ) in which case, if the action ball sinks the opponent ball it is a one for one tradeoff, the penalty removal ( action ball involved in the sacrifice ) occurring before the start of the next turn. Sacrifices also may move same side balls or opponent balls to good or poor positions on the table; but if the cue ball is not contacted first, however, such plays are considered sacrifices.

The idea of the game is to score as many points as possible in three rotations. A rotation is over when the brown balls, ( last balls in order ) have completed their plays, from which point the yellow balls begin again. After three rotations the balls are re-racked for the second round, etc, ect… Rounds may be played with any number of rotations, but three rotations seem to be the best overall game format, as many of the balls will be pocketed by the start of the fourth rotation. However many rotations are played per round both players should agree on the number of rotations beforehand.

Cascade Pool Rules - Scoring Returns

Cascade scoring returns ( when returning cue ball to the table after a score ) are placed into a standard triangle rack placed so that the center dot of the table ( exact center of playing surface ) is visible within the rack, and the cue ball is also within the rack. This allows that the center of the cue ball cannot be placed more than one inside rack distance from the center dot. As long as the center dot is visible within the rack the rack itself may be placed in any direction and the cue ball may be at any place within the rack. If other balls are sitting very near the center dot they cannot be moved to get maximum distance for the cue ball, but must be accounted for by placing the triangle rack around them. There should always be some way to get the rack down on the table with the center dot within it, and without touching any of the balls with the triangle rack; but racks may vary in wall thickness, and if ever a rack does not fit anywhere between or over balls, the player with the problem must call for a center placement of the cue ball, ( exactly on the center dot ) allowing the balls obstructing the cue ball center placement to be placed anywhere within its home box area. However, it should be verified first that there is no possible way to lay the rack over or between balls first, and not just because a player would like a ball in hand.

Using a normal triangle makes it possible to play Cascade without drawing a center circle, and using a triangle rack in this way is often a considerable exercise when playing with a timer and a lot of balls are crowding the center dot.

The player that scores the cue ball returns it to this circle, which is called: ‘setting the table.’

When returning the cue ball to the table ( setting the table ) keep in mind that the next ball to be up will be the color of ball that is up, and also the closest ball of the two to the cue ball. For example, if the two green balls are up next, both of them about the same distance from the center dot, if the table setter wants his or her ball to go next, the cue ball must be closest to that ball after the table return. The cue ball may be placed and re-placed for measuring, looking at ball alignment, etc, but its outer edge must be no farther out than one inside rack distance ( about 12 inches ) from the center dot after the placement.

Scoring returns cannot be touching another ball after a scoring return even if that ball is in the return area. After break play, if another ball is close enough to the center dot to not allow the cue ball to be returned there, the ball or balls that are in the way are given ball in hand, the closest ball to the center being placed last.

If using a shot clock, the cueball should be in position when the clock expires. It is OK to have the rack on the table when the clock expires, so long as the cue ball is legally set, but the cue ball must deffinately be on the table when the clock expires. If not, or if the cue ball is illegally set, the opposing player will be awarded either the setting privaleges or they may take a one ball penalty ( any ball ) whichever they prefer.

Cascade Pool Rules - Penalties

Anytime a general penalty occurs the action ball which is up is simply removed from the table. ( unlike Matchbox and Counterpoint, both allowing any ball to be removed ) If multiple penalties occur in the same play, the action ball that is up is still the only ball penalized. If an opponent ball is pocketed through a penalized shot, ( not counting sacrifice plays* ) the ball that is pocketed is returned to the table any place that is not in contact with any other ball. Off the table balls are not returned to the penalized player, ( in the case of off the table penalty* ) but off the table balls belonging to the non guilty player may be freely placed back on the table anywhere so long as they are not touching another ball. In the case of double cues any balls that are moved may be placed back in their original position if possible, which does not include the penalized ball, which is removed from the table; or the non-guilty player may choose to take the resulting ball outcome after the penalized ball is removed.

When using a clock, violations should be assessed as general penalties, and the ball that is up for the shot is taken, the cue ball remaining in place. If other balls are disturbed they should be put back into their former position, or the non-guilty player may accept the outcome of the displaced arrangement if they prefer.

Cascade Billiards - Game Format

A series of two rounds ( three rotations each ) should be played to allow each player a chance to break first and last. If the score is tied after two rounds, the final deciding round should carry on for three rotations also, and if still tied, four rotations, etc… Basically in the deciding round, after three rotations, the deciding round should continue until a winner emerges after all of the remaining balls complete each of the next rotations and the score is not tied. A coin flip or lag play, or whatever both players agree to should determine who breaks first and second. In such an overtime-type game the cue ball should be returned exactly to the center of the table after both break shots have been completed; the closest yellow ball then takes first turn, etc, etc, etc.

Cascade Billiards - Strategy

In Cascade a good break design is essential. Normally it is advantageous to come out of the break with the green and brown balls blocking the home pockets and the yellow ball closer to the cue ball’s position after second break than the opposing yellow ball, which may allow for a quick score or chance to hide the cue ball from the opposing yellow ball. Often it is better to block the pockets with balls other than the green and brown balls, because if they are easily comboed or sacrificed there will be nothing left to score or defend with at the end of the final rotation.

Keep aware of the breaking styles that also work well in Counterpoint, as well as the 'Pocket and One' style, which is also somewhat common in Cascade, because losing any of the balls on break will create a gap in the rotation and complicate future sacrifice decisions, being already a ball short.

As normal play proceeds, try to sacrifice opponent balls that have more turns remaining, and not those which have already played the rotation. A good deal of consideration should be placed on setting up your next ball if there is not a good scoring shot available. The next ball in rotation can be set-up by positioning the cue ball from the ‘stalking’ position ( second ball to take a turn in a color group ) in a place that can be easily pocketed by your next ‘lead’ ball, which will hopefully be closer by proximity after the play to begin the next color stage. If shooting for a low value pocket, ( 1 point pocket ) note the position of your opponent’s next ball to take a turn. If it is in a good position to take a scoring shot it may be a good idea to not take the 1 point scoring shot and wait for a more reasonable set-up. When setting the table after a score make sure of the distances from each placement possibility to assure your ball is closer, or farther, from the cue ball, ( depending on whether or not you want your next ball to be a lead or stalking ball ) and confirm the distance with a tape measure or yard stick. Measuring tools are a must for cascade, so somebody present should have something to measure with to avoid any arguments that may otherwise interfere with game flow. When taking a sacrifice consider how the absence of the two balls ( if the sacrifice is successful ) will create gaps in your and your opponent’s rotation. Sacrifices are risky, but sometimes necessary if the cue ball is well hidden by your opponent.

Cascade Billiards - Twin Cascade Billiards

For an interesting addition to Cascade, when two ball-sets are available, Twin Cascade can be played, each player controlling pairs of each of their colors up in the normal Cascade rotation. This means, of course, 29 balls will be present upon the table to begin play. All of the Cascade rules also follow exactly in Twin Cascade. The same one ball out requirement applies to breaks, all fourteen balls on each side fit as desired into each player's normal break area.

Since each color now has a partner ball, the normal three rotation game halves are lengthened to six rotations per half, bringing the total of game rotations to twelve.

In Twin Cascade it is important to remember, however, that only one of each opponent's balls of each color group may be played, and not both of them in a single rotation. If either of them has proximity position over both in the opponent's pair to begin a color stage, the person with a ball closer must cue either of their pair to complete their portion of the color stage before their opponent cues a single ball of their own pair. Penalties and sacrifice plays are ball specific, however, and the particular ball guilty of the penalty or sacrifice is taken. All other rules follow exactly as in normal Cascade.

Each shot in Twin Cascade takes some time to consider, and the amount of balls on the table may be overwhelming to some, especially so when played on a seven-foot table, so a quick shot clock is not recommended. Twin Cascade also takes at least twice as long to play as normal Cascade, requiring more time to be set aside for a good game to unfold. With practice and study, however, Twin Cascade produces interesting scenerios in endless variety, and certainly well worth the time invested.

When it comes to handicaps and handicapping, Cascade billiards is more sensitive to fielded ball differences. A player that plays only one of the seven available balls, expecting to win a Cascade match, will have very little chance. However, a player that plays five of the available seven, or is otherwise handicapped that way, will still have a fighting chance, even against a full set of seven.

Cascade Billiard Rules

If you have any questions about Cascade Billiard Rules, please post them in the pool rules forum.

...or view existing Cascade Billiard Rules questions in the forum.

Cascade Billiard Rules History

Counterpoint billiards is an alternative billiard game developed by Kevin Anglin. Here is his description of the history of the game: Cascade billiards came about one morning when I may have been bored with practicing. I can’t remember for sure what I was practicing at the time, but I had set up for a private game of Matchbox with myself, and decided to play the cue ball from each of the solids and stripes in numerical order, and assigned home and opponent values to the pockets Cascade style. The rest of the game seemed to develop logically from there. I was also pleasantly surprised by the strategic possibilities which appeared in the game, and there in my garage the proper way to play Cascade came into focus, along about January 2007.

The official Cascade Billiard Rules are predominently observed in North America.

How to Play Cascade Billiard

  • Title: Cascade Billiard Rules
  • Author:
  • Published: 4/13/2009 7:27:00 AM
  • Last Updated: 4/18/2009 10:58:00 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

Cascade Billiard Rules

The Cascade Billiard Rules article belongs to the Pocket Billiards Rules category. Pocket billiards is a class of cue sport game commonly referred to as pool.

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