Definition of handicap

A players skill level, ball advantage or match advantage when using a handicapping system.

24 Random Essential Billiards Terms

A directional pile created by the short fuzzy ends of fibers on the surface of cloth projecting upward from the lie and which create a favorable and unfavorable direction for rolling balls. The convention in most billiards games in which directional nap cloth is used is to brush the cloth along the table in the same direction of the nap, usually from the end that a player breaks. In snooker and UK eight-ball especially, this creates the effect of creep in the direction of the nap, the most-affected shot being a slow roll into a center pocket against the nap. It is commonly referred to in the fuller term "nap of the cloth." When nap is used in relation to woven cloths that have no directional pile, such as those typically used in the U.S. for pool tables, the term simply refers to the fuzziness of the cloth.
Chiefly British: The half of the table from which the break shot is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in North America, where this end of the table is called the head.
This term refers to a cue stick that is bent or warped, so that the straightness, or lack thereof, of the cue offers less than ideal play. This can occur from storing the cue in the wrong atmosphere, i.e. too warm or humid, or from the quality of wood used during construction. Some cues are coated with fiberglass, carbon fiber or graphite in order to avoid warping.
Chiefly American: The half of the table from which the break shot is taken. This usage is conceptually opposite that in British English, where this end of the table is called the bottom. Contrast foot. See also kitchen.
A player skilled at very thin cut shots, and shots in which a ball must pass cleanly through a very narrow space (such as the cue ball between two of the opponent's object balls with barely enough room) to avoid a foul and/or to pocket a ball. Such shots may be referred to as "surgery", "surgical shots", "surgical cuts", etc. (chiefly US, colloquial). See also feather (US) or snick (UK).
A predetermined number of games, usually played for a specified sum of money. Contrast race (a predetermined number of wins). Informally, sets may refer to gambling more generally, as in "I've been playing sets all day", even when the format is actually races or single games.
Cueing and timing the balls well; in good form, where pocketing (potting), safety and clarity of thinking seem to come easily.
The ornamentation on a cue is often made by inlaying exotic materials into the wood of the butt portion of the cue. Inlays of ebony and ivory are quite common. The value of a cue is often based on the number inlays.
Play, from the opening break shot until one player has won (or the game has been halted for some reason by a referee). Games are the units that make up matches, races (in some senses of that term) and rounds. Essentially the same as frame, except with regards to straight pool, which is a multi-rack game.
A (principally American) term in eight-ball for either of the set of seven balls (stripes or solids) that must be cleared before sinking the 8 ball. Borrowed from card games. Generally used in the generic, especially in rulesets or articles, rather than colloquially by players. See also group for the British equivalent.
A pool table where two shims have been placed on the sides of each pocket (in the jaws beneath the cloth), making the pockets "tighter" (smaller). Such tables are "tougher" than unshimmed or single-shimmed tables.
A player of cue sports.
This is a tool used to keep your cue tip from mushrooming. This small tool slides over the tip and turns to refine the sides, keeping your tip shaped the way it should be.
In blackball, a situation where the player cannot see any of the balls she/he wants to hit due to obstruction by other balls or the knuckle of a pocket. The player must call "total snooker" to the referee, which allows a dispensation to the player from having to hit a cushion after contacting the object ball, which is otherwise a foul.
A material, usually leather, placed on the end of a cue stick that comes in contact with the cue ball.
In the UK, a long-distance shot played to pot a ball close to a pocket with heavy top spin, so that when the cue ball hits the cushion it bounces off but then stops due to the counteraction of the spin. It is not common in competitive play, being more of an exhibition shot.
When the tip of the cue begins to hang over the sides of the ferrule from constant use. This is the action of mushrooming, and it is important to use a tip tool to reshape the tip to fit the ferrule.
A player's (or doubles team's) turn at the table, usually ending with a failure to score a point or to pocket a ball, depending on the game, a foul, a safety or with a win. In some games, such as five-pins and killer, a player's inning is always limited to one shot, regardless of the intent and result of the shot. Usually synonymous with visit, except in scotch doubles format. The term is sometimes used to mean both players'/teams' visits combined, e.g. when referring to which inning in which a memorable shot occurred.
This is the ball that sits in the front, or apex, position in the rack.
Also spot-stroke, spot hazard. A form of nurse shot in English billiards, in which the red ball, which must be spotted to a specific location after every time it is potted before another shot is taken, is potted in such as way as to leave the cue ball in position to repeat the same shot, permitting a skilled player to rack up many points in a single break (series of shots in one visit).
This is English that turns into reverse English after contact with the object ball. This will close up the angle on a bank.
This is when you strike a cue ball off center to gain control on the movement on the cue ball.
Also called a rake. A special stick with a grooved, slotted or otherwise supportive end attachment that helps guide the cue stick - a stand-in for the bridge hand. It is usually used only when the shot cannot be comfortably reached with a hand bridge. Often shortened to bridge or called a bridge stick. An entire class of different mechanical bridges exist for snooker, called rests (see that entry for details), also commonly used in blackball and English billiards.
As an adjective or compound noun: push-out. A rule in many games (most notably nine-ball, after and only after the break shot), allowing a player to "push out" the cue ball to a new position without having to contact any ball, much less pocket one or drive it to a cushion, but not counting any pocketed ball as valid (other foul rules apply, such as double hits, scratching the cue ball, etc.), with the caveat that the opponent may shoot from the new cue ball position or give the shot back to the pusher who must shoot from the new position. In nine-ball particularly, and derived games such as seven-ball and ten-ball, pocketing the money ball on a push-out results in that ball being respotted (which can be used to strategic advantage in certain circumstances, such as when the break leaves no shot on the ball-on, and failure to hit it would give the incoming player an instant-win combination shot on the money ball).