Definition of insurance ball

A ball that is easily made from many positions on the table but which is left untouched while the rack is played, so that in the event the player gets out of position, the shooter has an insurance shot. Typically an insurance ball will be in or near the jaws of a pocket.
This is a ball that is left in a position that allows an easy shot, while time is spent working with other balls to better your position in the game.

23 Random Essential Billiards Terms

Also dead ball shot. A shot intended to slow down or "kill" the cue ball's speed as much as possible after contact with an object ball; usually a shot with draw, often combined with inside english. It is often shortened to kill.
Usually set-up in non-verb form, sometimes setup in noun form particularly.
1.(Of a player or referee) to place the balls (and other items, if applicable, such as skittles) properly for the beginning of a game: "In eight-ball, properly setting up requires that the rear corners of the rack not have two stripes or two solids but one of each." For most pocket billiards games this is in a racked pattern, but the term is applicable more broadly than "rack", e.g. in carom billiards and in pocket games like bottle pool. Contrast layout.
2.(Of the game equipment) arranged properly for the beginning of a game: "set up and waiting for the break", "an improper set-up"
3.(Of a player, passively and specifically) to have good shape - to be in a favorable position for making a shot or other desired play ("is set-up on the 9", "could be set-up for the corner-pocket after this shot")
4.(Of a player, passively, generally, and chiefly US) to be in a favorable position for, and with a layout conductive to, a long run (UK: break) or complete run-out: "a crucial miss that left his opponent really set-up"; compare (chiefly British) "in the balls"
5.(Of a player, actively) to use position play to move one or more specific balls to specific locations with a specific goal in mind, usually pocketing (potting) a specific ball or getting an easy out, but possibly a safety, nurse or trap shot; in short, to get shape: "She set up on the 9-ball with a careful draw shot." The meaning can be inverted to indicate poor play on the part of the other player: "Oops, I just set you up for an easy win when I missed like that."
6.(Of a table layout) comparatively easy to completely run out, e.g. because of a lack of clusters or blocking balls: "looks like a nice set-up for a quick out", "this table's totally set up for you"
7.(Of cue ball position more specifically): having good shape - comparatively easy to use to some advantage, such as continuing a run (UK: break) or playing safe: "The cue ball's set up for an easy side pocket shot."
8.(Of a shot or strategy) the result of position play (careful or reckless): "Playing the 6 off the 8 was a great set-up to win", "That follow shot was a terrible set-up for the 6-ball."
9.(Of a hustler) to successfully convince a fish that one is not a very skilled player and that gambling on a game will be a good idea: "That guy totally set me up and took me for $200." Such a hustle is a setup or set-up.
A multi-game division of a match, as used in some league and tournament formats. For example, in a match between 2 teams of 5 players each, a 25-game match might be divided into 5 rounds of 5 games each, in which the roster of one team moves one line down at the beginning of each round, such that by the end of the match every player on team A has played every player on team B in round robin fashion.
A level of competition elimination in a tournament, such as the quarterfinal round, semifinal round and final round.
In certain carom billiards games, any shot in which the cue ball is sucessfully caromed off an object ball to strike another object ball (with or without contacting cushions in the interim) is a considered a billiards shot.
"Pocket billiards," or a game in which balls are shot into pockets.
A predetermined, fixed number of games players must win to win a match; "a race to seven" means whomever wins seven games first wins the match.
More commonly known as "straight pool", it was for many years the most popular game in pool and the game on which all World Championships were based.
14.1 is a call-shot game played with all 15 numbered balls and cue ball. Every ball pocketed counts as one point and a game is played to a agreed up score, generally 50, 100, or 150 points.
Traditional straight pool matches are played to 150 points.14.1 is also called "continuous pool" because, after the opening break, play continues until a player reaches the winning score. When only one numbered ball is left on the table, the remaining 14 are racked (with the apex ball missing), and play continues.
A specific way of holding the shaft in your hand. The closed hand bridge is a hand bridge where the index finger wraps over the cue stick for control.
The ball required to guarantee victory in a match. Sometimes used figuratively to mean the last difficult ball required (chiefly British and usually used in multi-frame matches, particularly snooker).
Describing a difficult pot: "the awkward cueing makes this shot missable."
Describing a ball that is safe because it is in close proximity to one or more other balls, and would need to be developed before it becomes pottable.
Also massé shot. A steep curve or complete reversal of cue ball direction without the necessity of any rail or object ball being struck, due to extreme spin imparted to the cue ball by a steeply elevated cue. For Example: shooting with extreme english by holding the cue at a position of 30-90 degrees while applying left or right spin.
This is a player that will regularly loose money to a particular player that is obviously a better player.
Also smalls, small ones, small balls. In eight-ball, to be shooting the solid suit (group) of balls (1 through 7); "you're the small one" or "I've got the smalls". Compare little, solids, reds, low, spots, dots, unders; contrast big.
Also slop shot. A luck shot. Compare fish, fluke and Lorengo; contrast mark and call. Also sloppy. Descriptive of any game where the rules have been varied to allow luck shots not normally allowed or where no foul rules apply.
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.
Failure to hit an object ball at all with the cue ball. In most sets of rules, this is a foul like any other. However, in some variants of bar pool a table scratch while shooting for the 8 ball is a loss of game where other more minor fouls might not be, as is scratching on the 8 ball (neither result in a loss of game in most professional rules).
By way of drift from the above definition, the term is also applied by many league players to the foul in more standardized rules of failing to drive a (any) ball to a cushion, or to pocket a legal object ball, after the cue ball's initial contact with an object ball.
By way of entirely different derivation ("scratch off the table"), it can also mean knocking the cue ball (or more loosely, any ball) completely off the table.
A defensive action taken when a player either has no "makeable" or "high percentage" shot or chooses to leave his opponent in a difficult situation. It is a legal shot and is not considered to be dirty pool. A safety must still conform with the rule concerning hitting the correct ball first and striking a rail afterwards. If a correct ball is accidentally pocketed while playing safe, the shooter must continue to shoot.
This refers to the cluster of balls remaining in a similar position to where they were within the break.
Also nurse shot, nursery shot. In carom games such as straight rail, balkline and cushion caroms, where all the balls are kept near each other and a cushion, and with very soft shots, can be "nursed" down a rail on multiple successful shots that effectively replicate the same ball setup so that the nurse shot can be repeated again (and again, etc.). Excessive use of nurse shots by players skilled enough to set them up and pull them off repeatedly at will is what led to the development of the balkline carom billiards game variations, and repetitive shot limitation rules in English billiards. A clear example of why: In 1907, Tom Reece scored a record break of 499,135 consecutive points over a period of five weeks, without a miss, using the cradle cannon nurse shot.
A gentle tap of the cue ball with the intention of getting it as tight as possible behind another ball, in the hope of a snooker. It is most common in the game of snooker, and is illegal in many pool games, in which on every shot a ball must either be pocketed, or some ball must contact a cushion after the cue ball has contacted an object ball.
A 7 inch (17.8 cm) square box drawn on a balkline table from the termination of a balkline with the rail, thus defining a restricted space in which only 3 points may be scored before one ball must be driven from the area. It developed to curtail the effectiveness of the chuck nurse, which in turn had been invented to thwart the effectiveness of the Parker's box in stopping long, repetitive runs using the anchor nurse.
See overcut.