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Corners (One Pocket Variant)

The game of Corners is the long lost sister of one-pocket.

Corners is an old game considered a close cousin to one-pocket. It was played on a special pool table with only two pockets at one end:

Pool table with only two pockets at one end for playing the billiard game of Corners

You can buy carom conversion pocket inserts to temporarily turn your pool table into a two-pocket pool table, since there are almost no true two-pocket pool tables around anymore.

Note: These rules are informal and are written as described by Chris Owen in his article The Game of Corners at onepocket.org.

How to Play the Corners Billiard Game

  • Corners is played with the pockets at the head of the table and the rack at the foot.
  • The winner is the first player to get 8 balls in his pocket.
  • Once a ball is in a pocket, it stays there.
  • There is no penalty for a scratch.
  • On a scratch, you can't shoot at a ball behind the line.

According to Chris, there was one unwritten rule:

You couldn't shoot the cue ball straight into the pocket. If a guy was cutting a ball real thin, then missed the ball and the cue ball went in the pocket, there could be an argument.

Handicapping in Corners

The standard method of handicapping in the game of corners is to spot balls. The one giving the spot breaks and then chooses which balls he wants to spot. He picks them up and puts them in the other guy's pocket. Mr. Owen recalls:

Occasionally, I used to be able to spot 7. Spotting 7 will draw a crowd. Gambling can be done straight out or with selected pay balls. It works good for partners.

The Break Shot

The standard break is to first put the cue ball near the line, about 6" from the rail, on the side of the table that your pocket is on. Hit the corner ball about 1/2. The ball will take a little english off the foot rail and will go towards your pocket. Shoot exactly hard enough to barely make the ball. A few balls will rattle around at the foot of the table. The cue ball should end up about mid-table. If you make it, you'll have another bank shot. If you miss well, your opponent's first shot will be a defensive one - getting that ball away from your pocket. By tradition, since the break is standard, when a man breaks, he automatically picks the pocket on the side that he broke from. He doesn't have to say it.

Offensive Shots

The offensive shots in Corners are wondrous. There may be 10 or more 2, 3, 4, or 5-rail banks in a game. You try to just barely make each shot. The opponent spends all of his time knocking balls away from your hole. Maybe only 15% of all shots are purely offensive or defensive. The rest are a necessary blend. The strategy is simple. Barely make a ball with about a 1/2" leeway, get shape, and don't leave a shot. You do this all at the same time, on about 85% of the shots. The tactics are vast.


If the player has balls near his or her pocket, you should remove them unless you have a cinch or can tie the cue ball up. Many times, you can cross bank a ball on the side rail near the opponent's pocket, and scratch. In Corners, scratching is a friend at certain times. If a ball is wedged against the side of the pocket, about to fall in, don't despair. You can get it out by firing through the space and scratching. The ball takes funny english and sort of backs out. Sometimes, it flies over to the opposite pocket tit and then goes towards your pocket.

Common Banks

One of the neat things about a Corners pool table is those two billiards corners where the foot rail meets the side rails. You can make two-railers by shooting almost directly into these corners. Say a ball is sitting on the head rail, a 1/2", or so, from the opponent's pocket tit. The cue is mid-table, near the opponent's side rail. You hit the ball on the pocket side, hard, and make it go, 2-rails off the foot rail to your pocket. The cue ball should scratch. Try to hit the ball so that it goes cross to almost the opposite foot corner. Going into the foot rail, it has backup english and will go almost straight off the foot rail to your pocket. On a Corners table, you can shoot a ball down the side rail to the foot rail and it will come back up the side rail to your pocket.

The Future of Corners

Here are Chris Owen's thoughts on the future of the game of Corners:

I woke up one day and realized that I may be the foremost authority on the game of Corners. Everybody else is dead or doesn't care. I'm writing a book about Corners and hope to see it played worldwide, during my lifetime. I truly believe that this is the world's best pool game. The only problem is, you need a 2 pocket table. Corners on a 6 pocket table is a much lesser game. You can also switch ends and play an improved form of One-Pocket. I sure wish someone out there would build one of these things and try it out. Corners is One-Pocket for everybody.

Corners (One Pocket Variant)

If you have any questions about Corners (One Pocket Variant), please post them in the pool rules forum.

...or view existing Corners (One Pocket Variant) questions in the forum.

Corners (One Pocket Variant) History

The game of Corners has been around since before 1927 according to Chris Owens.

It was common in the 1920s and you could even buy special two-pocket pool tables for this game from Brunswick and other pool table manufacturers e.g. a 1924 Brunswick Regency two-pocket pool table. Chris Owens recalls of his youth in Nevada, MO:

Nevada, MO, is a rural town of 8,000 located about 60 miles north of Joplin. In 1951, when I started playing Corners, at age 12, Nevada had 3 busy pool halls, all around the town square. The school was only a block from the square and the pool halls were always packed with kids. Corners was the game of choice. In all 3 pool halls, the 1st table (the one with the spectator seats) was a Corners table. One place even had Brunswick, one-piece Willie Hoppe house cues!

In the 1950s it was still common in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri (especially where the four states meet).

According to Owens, The Elks Lodge in Nevada, MO has one of the last known two-pocket pool tables.

The official Corners (One Pocket Variant) are predominently observed in North America, predominantly played in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri (especially where the four states meet)..

How to Play Corners (One Pocket Variant)

  • Title: Corners (One Pocket Variant)
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 10/30/2016 5:20:16 PM
  • Last Updated: 10/30/2016 6:22:55 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Chris Owens Article at onepocket.org

Corners (One Pocket Variant)

The Corners (One Pocket Variant) article belongs to the Pocket Billiards Rules category. Pocket billiards is a class of cue sport game commonly referred to as pool.

Corners (One Pocket Variant) Comments

  1. RedeyeRedeye from Montgomery, AL on 7/24/2019 3:24:50 PM

    I grew up in Pittsburg Kansas and we had 6 or 7 pool halls and the old timers played "one pocket" on these tables. Some of the players could cross bank the opponents balls into their pocket and steal it. Many a game was paid for money.

    The table with the seating was usually the billiard table, but some had the "best" one pocket table. Reserved for the guys who could really play.

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