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Cowboy Billiards Rules

Upon researching various versions of Cowboy Billiards rule sets, it has been found that most billiard clubs suggest consulting the General Rules of Pocket Billiards when playing Cowboy Billiards. Consensus shows that except when clearly contradicted by these additional rules, the General Rules of Pocket Billiards apply when playing Cowboy Billiards.

Cowboy Billiards Rules - How To Play Cowboy Billiards

This page contains references to some material that is copyrighted by the Billiard Congress of America. Any modification or sale of such information herein is strictly prohibited by the laws governing that copyright. Please direct questions regarding interpretation of the following, or information on how to receive the current BCA "Billiards - The Official Rules and Records book" to the Billiard Congress of America.

Billiard Lingo - Cowboy Billiards

If there are any terms throughout the Cowboy Billiards rules that you do not understand, you can search our billiard terms glossary in the search box near the top left of the page, or search the billiard terms glossary directly. I have also included the Billiard Congress of America's reference numbers, so that readers can reference each rule back to the specific rule text on the Billiard Congress of America website.

Cowboy Billiards - Type of Game

Cowboy Billiards is a game that combines pocket billiards skill with carom skill. It is considered a "change of pace game" and employs a very unusual set of regulations. One such rule that may strike you as odd, and that is referenced as a major difference by many billiard authorities, is the rule where the cue ball must be pocketed on a carom of the 1 ball on the last shot.

Cowboy Billiards - Number of Players

In Cowboy Billiards, there can be any number of players.

Cowboy Billiards - Balls Used

In Cowboy Billiards, the object balls numbered one, three, and five are used, as is the cue balls.

Cowboy Billiards - The Rack

In Cowboy Billiards, the triangle is not necessary. The one ball is placed on the head spot, the three ball is placed on the foot spot, and the five ball is placed on the center spot.

Cowboy Billiards - Object of the Game

The first player to reach 101 points claims victory.

Cowboy Billiards Scoring

Exactly the first ninety points may be scored by any of the following means on legal scoring strokes:

  • Pocketing any of the object balls: Points are awarded equal to the ball's numbers;
  • Carom of the cue ball off two of the object balls: One point is awarded;
  • Carom of the cue ball off the three object balls: Two points are awarded;

Exactly points 91 through 100 must, and may only, be scored by execution of carom shots as those in points two and three listed above.

Point 101, the winning point, must be scored by caroming the cue ball off of the one ball and into a called pocket without the cue ball contacting any other object ball. Should a player accomplish more than one scoring possibility as permitted by these rules, they accumulate scores for each. This means that a single shot could result in a total of 11 points scored.

Cowboy Billiards - Opening Break

In Cowboy Billiards, there is no "break shot" as such. The starting player begins with the cue ball in hand behind the head string, and must cause the cue ball to contact the three ball first. If starting player fails to accomplish this, the incoming player has the choice of either requiring the starting player to repeat the opening shot, or executing the opening shot himself or herself.

Cowboy Billiards Rules of Play

  1. A legally executed shot, conforming to the requirements of the "Scoring" regulation, entitles the shooter to continue at the table until he or she fails to legally execute and score on a shot.
  2. On all shots, the player must cause the cue ball to contact an object ball, and then the cue ball or object ball must contact a cushion. Failure to accomplish this is a foul.
  3. At the completion of each shot, any pocketed object balls are spotted on their same positions as at the start of the game. If the appropriate position is occupied, the ball(s) in question remain off the table until the correct position is vacant after a shot. If, however, the one ball would be held out as a player with exactly 100 points is to shoot, the balls are all placed as they were at the start of the game, and the player shoots with cue ball in hand behind the head string.
  4. When a player scores his or her 90th point, the shot must score the number of points exactly needed to reach 90. If the shot producing the 90th point also scores a point(s) in excess of 90 for the player, the shot is considered a foul.
  5. When a player is shooting for points 91 through 100, of which must all be scored on caroms solely, it is a foul to pocket an object ball on a shot.
  6. When a player is playing for his or her 101st point, it is considered a foul if the cue ball fails to contact the one ball, or if the cue ball contacts any other object ball.
  7. When a player pockets the cue ball on an otherwise legal shot, and according to the special requirements given in the "Scoring" regulation for counting the 101st point, pocketing the cue ball on such a shot on the 101st point is not considered a foul.
  8. The player loses the game if he or she fouls in each of three consecutive plays at the table.

Illegally Pocketed Balls

All illegally pocketed balls are spotted per the provisions of the "Rules of Play" regulation #3 (see above), without penalty, except in the special cases covered by the "Rules of Play" regulation, numbers four and five.

Jumped Object Balls

All jumped object balls are spotted, and no penalty is assessed.

Cue ball After Jump or Scratch

After a jump, or a scratch situation, the incoming player has cue ball in hand behind the head string.

Penalty for Fouls

No point deductions are assessed for fouls, but any points scored on previous shots of the inning are not scored, and the player's inning ends. After fouls other than cue ball jump or scratch, the incoming player accepts the cue ball in position.

Cowboy Billiards Rules

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

...or view existing Cowboy Billiards Rules questions in the forum.

Cowboy Billiards Rules History

Cowboy Billiards is born from another game called Thirty Eight, which dates back to the 1800s in England. Thirty Eight was first reported in the New York Times as a "New Game" in the January 21st issue in 1885. It is not known how the the name transitioned from Thirty Eight to Cowboy Billiards. The first recorded mention of Cowboy Pool Rules was in a rule book from 1908. Although there was one small sanctioned Cowboy billiard event in 1914, it remains an amateur game.

The official Cowboy Billiards Rules are predominently observed in North America.

The official governing body for Cowboy Billiards Rules is the Billiard Congress of America.

How to Play Cowboy Billiards

Questions about Cowboy Billiards Rules:

  • Title: Cowboy Billiards Rules
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 1/1/2006 5:42:00 PM
  • Last Updated: 4/13/2009 7:51:00 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Internet

Cowboy Billiards Rules

The Cowboy Billiards 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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