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How to Play Bottle Pool

Bottle pool is a relatively unknown game of pool.
Pool Cues image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com

Bottle pool is an archaic billiards game played at least since the 19th century, according to the New York Times. The game is played using only a cue stick, cue ball and three items: a yellow object ball, a red object ball and a small empty bottle that is 6 3/4 inches tall. According to the New York Times, the game involves familiar elements of billiards and straight pool and a little strategy. It can be played by any number of players or by teams.

Use a bottle-pool bottle (a bottle made especially for this type of game) or a shake bottle. If using a shake bottle, remove the "peas" from the bottle before playing. Shake bottles and bottle-pool bottles are available at billiards most supply stores.

Place the empty bottle upside down (standing on its mouth) at the center of the pool table. Place one object ball on two of the end-diamonds on the back rail (the back rails of most pool tables have three spots or diamonds on them).

Flip a coin to see who goes first. The starting player can place the cue ball anywhere within the space between the “headline” and the back rail of the head of the table. The headline is an imaginary line drawn from the center dots on the rails between the corner and side pockets on the side of the table opposite of the object balls.

Score points. Players must call their shots (explain what shot they intend to hit before they hit it). Points are scored as follows: pocketing an object ball (1 point for red, 2 points for yellow); caroming the cue ball off both object balls (worth 1 point); caroming the cue ball off one or both object balls and then into the bottle (worth 5 points). Play continues until the player misses a shot or fouls.

Deduct 1 point for fouls. Fouls occur if a player does not score a point on a shot or if a player makes a shot he did not call. A foul ends the current player’s turn. Incoming players must keep the table “as is” with the exception of spotting the cue ball for scratches.

Place the bottle upside down on the table in the spot closest to where it fell over if the bottle is struck during a turn. Place pocketed object balls back onto their starting positions when a player shoots them in.

Continue playing until a player reaches an exact desired score. According to the New York Times, games typically are played to 25. Billiardsvillage.com and other sources indicate games are played until 31.

Things You'll Need:

  • Bottle-pool bottle or shake bottle (plastic or leather, available for purchase at billiards supply stores)
  • Red, standard sized billiard ball (Marked as “1”)
  • Yellow, standard sized billiard ball (Marked as “2”)


Add “legs” into your bottle pool game to increase the difficulty of the game. According to the New York Times, one way to play bottle pool is to require players to complete the first “leg” by reaching the desired score (25 or 31) without fouling. The second leg is completed by scoring two points (by pocketing the balls or otherwise). The final leg is completed when a player strikes the yellow object ball and intentionally scratches the cue ball in the same shot.

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