A Pool Player’s Etiquette

A Guide to 8-Ball Pool Etiquette: Discover why there’s more to being a top pool player than first meets the eye.

Pool, Snooker and Billiards are sports that are traditionally associated with Gentlemanly conduct. Players traditionally shook hands both at the beginning and the end of a frame. The initial handshake is to wish one another “The best of luck” and the last one is to “Congratulate each other on a game well played”.

Hopefully, this post will help inject a few more good practices back into the game and help carry on these respectful traditions for years to come. Together we can all continue the sporting legacy of the game. Being the complete pool player is about more than winning. You are about to encounter some of the do’s and don’ts of Pool Playing Etiquette.

How NOT to Conduct yourself whilst Playing Cuesports:

As Pool Players; former wins, losses and other player’s behaviour often get a mention during social events. Below are a few off the top of my head:

  • The pool player that became a sore loser and exited after the conclusion of the frame without shaking hands.
  • The former teammate that cheered on the opponents because he wanted to catch you up in the individual stats.
  • The disrespectful pool player. The veteran that underestimated you because you were much younger. Being far more experienced he challenges you in front of a room full of people, then loses.
  • The rival pool player that turned his cue the wrong way around mid-frame and played a shot with the butt of the cue.
  • The youngster in the snooker hall that missed a shot against you. Then reacted by throwing his chalk in your direction, which hit and subsequently took a chunk out of your cue.

As you can probably tell, a few of the above examples are from many years ago but these disrespectful behaviours live long in the memory. 

We all play to win and there’s no doubting this is often the number 1 priority of the pool player. Subsequently, it’s equally important to be conscious of the sport’s roots. The tradition of all cue sports is for them to be played in a sporting and well-mannered nature. If an opponent plays a nice shot, acknowledge it – tap the table or say “nice shot”. If they get lucky with an outrageous fluke, accept or better still appreciate that it’s a part of the game sometimes.   

Video Credit: David Mayder on YouTube

Classy Pool Players

The Unwritten Pool Player Rules – A lesson in Traditional Cuesport Conduct:

  1. Shake hands with your opponent and wish them the best of luck.  A handshake should always be firm, not too tight or soft (dead fish handshake).
  2. Don’t walk in front of someone’s alignment (eyeline) when they are down on a shot.
  3. Don’t walk around and stand directly in a player’s eyeline during a shot. It is acceptable to be situated in the line of the shot if you are already positioned there and remain still. A safe distance from the table, i.e. not hovering over the pocket. 
  4. Tap the table if your opponent plays a particularly well executed shot. This one isn’t obligatory but is my preference. I only do this following an opponent’s visit. Not during their visit as this could be off-putting.
  5. NEVER try to put an opponent off by your actions. I once played against a team full of intimidating criminals who deployed many underhand tactics to try and gain a victory – again it didn’t pay off.
  6. Raise your hand in a brief gesture of apology directed at your opposition when you have the rub of the green. Once again, this is just common courtesy. Flukes happen but don’t just pretend you meant it and carry on. 
  7. Shake hands at the conclusion of the game to say “Well played”.  

Update as of March 2020. Due to the Corona pandemic it is not advisable at present to shake hands with any opponent and may also not be recommended to do so in the future. The traditions of the game are about being respectful and acting with humility but not at the expense of your own safety and that of your opponents. Safety first at all times.

I’ve always maintained that we are people first and pool players second. So be a respectful, responsible person with good manners, in keeping with the traditions of the sport. There will likely be opponents you face that you don’t see eye to eye with from time to time. In these instances remain classy, respectful and just do your talking on the table. 😉

Be remembered for the amazing shots you make, your style of play and your composure on the pool table, not your questionable actions off it!

TOP TIP: “You’re a Person first and a Player second!” Be polite, respectful, considerate and well-mannered at all times.


Disclaimer: For transparency I’d like to add that I’m not perfect. I too, have made similar mistakes in the past to the ones highlighted here, which is why I am experienced enough to help you avoid them creeping into your game, learn from my lessons. During my early teenage years I used to play every single blackball shot, one-handed. If I went around doing that now I’m certain it wouldn’t be too long before someone took offence, and rightly so! Besides, nowadays I’d probably miss them and make a fool of myself!

Raise Your Game.


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