Bumper pool is a game of the obstacle billiards class, in which players must shoot balls around obstacles to bank them into a pocket. An octagonal bumper pool table is valued in part for its space-saving properties as compared to other types of billiard tables. It is also available as a 3-in-1 model that can be used as a dining or card table as well.
Bumper pool is typically played by either two players or four players playing in teams of two. Each player or team chooses a set of balls, either five whites or five reds. One red ball has a white dot and one white ball has a red dot; these must be pocketed first in the game. One player places two red balls on each side of the white pocket and the marked red ball in front of the white pocket. At the other end of the table, another player places two white balls on each side of the red pocket and the marked white ball in front of the red pocket.
Each player must shoot his ball toward his pocket on the opposite side of the table. To begin the game, both players hit their respective marked balls at the same time, banking them off the side of the table towards their right. Players hit the ball directly in bumper pool, not with a cue ball as in regular pool. The first player to sink his ball in the pocket at the opposite end of the table continues his turn. If no player sinks his ball, both players return their marked balls to the starting point and shoot again. If both players sink balls, they each place one of their remaining balls in front of their pocket and take the second shot the same way. A player's turn continues until he fails to sink a ball.
The first player to pocket all five of her balls wins the game.
If a player accidentally pockets an opponent's ball, that ball remains pocketed. If a player accidentally pockets her own ball in the wrong pocket, or pockets a solid ball before the marked ball, the opponent may remove two of her balls from the table and pocket them. Shooting the last ball into the wrong pocket is an automatic loss. If a player knocks a ball off the table, the opponent may place the ball anywhere on the table. The opponent will often place the ball in the center of the bumpers because it is the most difficult place from which to make a shot.
- billiards image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com