Letter s Vocabulary

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.
A break shot in which the object is to leave the incoming player with no shot or a very difficult shot, such as is normally employed in the opening break of straight pool. Cf. open break.
To disguise the level of one's ability to play in various ways such as using a lemonade stroke; intentionally missing shots; making an uneven game appear "close"; purposefully losing early, inconsequential games. Sandbagging is a form of hustling, and in handicapped leagues, considered a form of cheating. See also dump and on the lemonade.
Sandbagging, in any handicapped sport, is the unethical practice of deliberately playing below your ability in order to alter your handicap so it does not reflect your true ability.
Same as gapper
A form of doubles play in which the two team members take turns, playing alternating shots during an inning (i.e. each team's inning consists of two players' alternating visits, each of one shot only, until that team's inning ends, and the next team begins their alternating-shot turn.) Effective scotch doubles play requires close communication between team partners, especially as to desired cue ball position for the incoming player. Like "english", "scotch" is usually not capitalized in this context. The term is also used in bowling, and may have originated there.

1- Pocketing of the cue ball in pocket billiards. In most games, a scratch is a type of foul. "Scratch" is sometimes used to refer to all types of fouls.

2- British term/slang for Draw

An abrasive tip tool used as a grinder to roughen the cue tip to better hold chalk after it has become hardened and smooth from repeated impacts with the cue ball. Tappers serve the same purpose, but are used differently. Similar to a shaper, but shallower and less rough.
The placement of player(s) automatically in a tournament where some have to qualify, or automatic placement in later rounds.
To bungle a shot in a manner that leaves the table in a fortuitous position for the opponent. Contrast sell the farm.
To bungle a shot in a manner that leaves the table in such a fortuitous position for the opponent that there is a strong likelihood of losing the game or match. Contrast sell out.
Also semi-massé shot. A moderate curve imparted to the path of the cue ball by an elevated hit with use of english (side); or a shot using this technique. Also known as a curve (US) or swerve (UK) shot. Compare massé.
Principally US: One or more sets, usually in the context of gambling. See also ahead race (a.k.a. ahead session) for a more specialized usage.
Principally British: Any of a group of pre-determined frames played in a match too long to be completed within a single day's play. A best of 19 frame match, for example, is generally played with two "sessions", the first composed of nine frames, the second of ten. This term is generally used only in the context of professional snooker, as matches at the amateur level are rarely played over more than nine frames. Longer matches can be split into three or four sessions.
In the APA League, session refers to the season in which League play took place. There are three sessions in each League Year-Summer Session, Fall Session and Spring Session.
Principally British: In snooker, if a player wins a match without the need for the final session to be played (for example, if a player wins a best-of-25-frames match split into three sessions - two sessions of eight frames and one of nine - by a margin of say, 13 frames to 3), then they are said to have won the match "with a session to spare".
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.
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 pocket; usually used in disgust when describing a scratch (e.g., "the cue ball's gone down the sewer").
The upper portion of a cue which slides on a player's bridge hand and upon which the tip of the cue is mounted at its terminus. It also applies to the main, unsegmented body of a mechanical bridge.
This is a special shaped leather or plastic bottle that is used on the table during play in special pocket games.
Same as position. "She got good shape for the next shot". See also position play, leave.
This is a shot that shows great control and positioning in where the cue will be when all the balls stop rolling.
A highly abrasive tip tool used to shape an unreasonably flat new cue tip, or misshapen old one, into a more usable, consistently curved profile, most commonly the curvature of a nickel or dime (or equivalently sized non-US/Canadian coin) for larger and smaller pool tips, respectively. Similar to a scuffer, but deeper and rougher.

1- Short for "pool shark", poolshark (US); sharp, "pool sharp" (British)

2- Verb: To perform some act or make some utterance with the intent to distract, irritate or intimidate the opponent so that they do not perform well, miss a shot, etc. Most league and tournament rules forbid blatant sharking, as a form of unsportsmanlike conduct, but it is very common in bar pool.
Noun: Another term for hustler.
Noun: A very good player. This usage is common among non-players who often intend it as a compliment and are not aware of its derogatory senses .

Any one of numerous acts which unethical players employ to rattle or upset their opponent. Taking, making noise, and chalking your cue while your opponent is shooting are all considered sharking tactics.
Chiefly British: Same as shark (senses 1, 2). The term appears in lyrics from The Mikado (1884) in relation to billiards, and developed from sharper (in use by at least 1681, but now obsolete) meaning "hustler" but not specific to billiards.
Refers to a person gambling when he has no money. As in, "That jerk can't pay up, he was shooting air barrels the whole time".
This is a term used to refer to all the different aspects involved in setting up a shot, i.e. the stance, grip, bridge, and stoke.
This refers to a shot that travels on a shallower path due to the english placed on it. This is to come up on the near side of a pocket on a bank shot.
This playing to a number less than eight in a game of one pocket.
This is a low bet in a game with action.
Any game which uses a rack composed of less than 15 balls.
Either of the two shorter rails on a standard pool, billiards or snooker table. Contrast side rail/long rail.
Also shortstop, short-stop. This is a player that is excellent at pool, but tends to fall short of number one. A shortstop is the best player relative to a particular scene. A second-tier professional who is not (yet) ready for World Championship competition. It can also be applied by extension to a player who is one of the best in a region but not quite good enough to consistently beat serious road players and tournament pros. The term was borrowed from baseball.
Verb form: to shoot. The use of the cue to perform or attempt to perform a particular motion of balls on the table, such as to pocket (pot) an object ball, to achieve a successful carom (cannon), or to play a safety.
This is a timing device for monitoring and restricting shot times for a player.
Also shot to nothing. A British term for a shot in which a player attempts a difficult pot but with safety in mind, so that in the event of missing the pot it is likely that the opponent will not make a meaningful contribution, and will probably have to reply with a safety. The meaning refers to lack of risk, i.e. at no cost to the player ("for nothing" or coming "to nothing"). Compare two-way shot.
Also (chiefly British) shot programme. The enumerated trick shots that must be performed in the fields of artistic billiards (70 pre-determined shots) and artistic pool (56 tricks in 8 "disciplines").
Chiefly British: Short for side spin. In Canadian usage, the term is sometimes used as a verb, "to side".
One of the two pockets one either side of a pool table halfway up the long rails. They are cut shallower than corner pockets because they have a 180 degree aperture, instead of 90 degrees. In the UK the term centre pocket or middle pocket are preferred.
Either of the two longer rails of a billiards or pocket billiards table, bisected by a center pocket and bounded at both ends by a corner pocket. Also called a long rail.
Also sidespin, side-spin, side. spin placed on the cue ball when hit with the cue tip to the left or right of the ball's center; usually called english in American usage. See english, in its narrower definition, for details on the effects of side spin.
This is a ball that is positioned near your pocket that can be used to kiss off of when sinking another object ball.
A tournament format in which a player is out of the tournament after a single match loss.
When you have completed a shot by pocketing a ball into a pocket.
Any shot that intentionally accounts for the elasticity of the cushions to allow a ball to bank past an otherwise blocking ball. The moving ball will sink in to the cushion very near the blocking ball giving it sufficient space to get past it or kiss off the back side of it.
Chiefly British: Same as duck, and stemming from the same obvious etymology.
British: Same as cling, and kick.
An upright pin, which looks like a miniature bowling pin, cone or obelisk. Skittles, as employed in billiards games, have been so-called since at least 1634. One standardized size, for the largely Italian and South American game five-pins, is 25 mm (1 in.) tall, with 7 mm (0.28 in.) round bases, though larger variants have long existed for other games such as Danish pin billiards. Depending upon the game there may be one skittle, or several, and they may be targets to hit (often via a carom) or obstacles to avoid, usually the former. They are also sometimes called pins, though that term can be ambiguous. Because of the increasing international popularity of the Italian game five-pins), they are sometimes also known even in English by their Italian name, birilli (singular birillo). Skittles are also used as obstacles in some artistic billiards shots. #Flat, thin rectangular skittles, somewhat like large dominoes, approximately 6 in. tall by 3 in. wide, and placed upright like an obelisks on the table in specific spots, are used in the obsolescent and principally Australian games devil's pool and victory billiards. Depending upon the exact game being played, there may be one pin, or several of various colors (e.g. ten white and two black in devil's pool), and they may be targets or obstacles, most commonly the latter. They are usually made of plastic, and are increasingly difficult to obtain, even from Australian billiards suppliers. A black obelisk skittle of this sort features prominently, as a particularly dire hazard, in several scenes of sci-fi/pool film Hard Knuckle (1992, Australia). Skittles as used in billiards games date to ground billiards (13th century or earlier) played with a mace, and hand-thrown games of bowls from at least the same era using the same equipment. Ball games using a recognizable form of skittle are known from as early as ca. 3300 BCE in Ancient Egypt.
During a set if the opponent does not win a single game, they are said to have been skunked.
The heavy, finely milled rock (slate) that forms the bed of the table, beneath the cloth. Major slate suppliers for the billiards industry are Italy, Brazil and China. Some cheaper tables, and novelty tables designed for outdoor use, do not use genuine slate beds, but artificial materials such as Slatrol.
This is missing the fact that you owe a ball in a game of one pocket after a scratch.
Describes a cue ball sliding on the cloth without any top spin or back spin on it.
A stroking technique in which a player releases his gripping hand briefly and re-grasps the cue farther back on the butt just before hitting the cue ball.
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.
Pocket openings that are significantly wider than are typical and thus allow shots hit with a poor degree of accuracy to be made that would not be pocketed on a table with more exacting pocket dimensions.
Exact opposite of fast, all senses.
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.
The effect of shooting regulation-weight object balls with an old-fashioned over-weight bar table cue ball, such that the cue ball moves forward to occupy (sometimes only temporarily), or go beyond, the original position of the object ball, even on a draw or stop shot, because the mass of the cue ball exceeds that of the object ball. Players who understand smash-through well can use it intentionally for position play, such as to nudge other object balls nearby the target ball. Smash-through also makes it dangerous in bar pool (when equipped with such a cue ball) to pocket straight-on ducks with a stop shot instead of by cheating the pocket because of the likelihood of scratching the cue ball.
This is a carom shot that utilizes english and only two rails to achieve three cushion contacts.
Same as break.
A two-piece cue constructed to resemble a house cue, with a near-invisible wood-to-wood joint. The subterfuge often enables a hustler to temporarily fool unsuspecting fish into thinking that he or she is an unskilled banger with no regard for finesse or equipment quality. Many league players also use cheap but solid sneaky petes as their break cues.
A British term for a pot that requires very fine contact between cue ball and object ball. See also feather.
The game of snooker. This is a very demanding game that isn't played as often in the U.S. as it is in other countries. The table needed is slightly larger, and there are 15 red object balls needed in addition to six color balls. After the balls are set up according to the rules, play resumes in turns with points scored as one on each red ball, and as is denoted with each other colored ball sunk. This is a challenging game that demands skill and excellent execution.
To leave the opponent (accidentally or by means of a safety) so that a certain shot on a preferred object ball cannot be played directly in a straight line by normal cueing. It most commonly means that the object ball cannot be hit, because it is hidden by another ball or, more rarely, the knuckle of a pocket (see corner-hooked). It can also refer to the potting angle or another significant point of contact on the object ball, blocking an otherwise more straightforward shot, even if an edge can be seen. A common related adjective describing a player in this situation is snookered. Also known as "to hook", for which the corresponding adjective "hooked" is also common. See also free ball.
An instance of this situation (e.g. "she's put him in a difficult snooker"). A player can choose a range of shots to get out of a snooker; usually a kick shot will be implemented but semi-massés are often preferred, and in games where it is not a foul, jump shots may be employed that often yield good results for skilled players. "Snooker" is used loosely (when used at all; "hook" is favored) in the US, but has very specific definitions and subtypes (such as the total snooker) in blackball.
When the object ball lies behind another ball which makes it impossible to be struck by the cue with a direct hit.
A phrase used in snooker to describe the scenario whereby there are not enough available points on the table to level the scores for the frame, therefore the trailing player needs his/her opponent to foul in order to be able to make up the deficit. The name comes from the fact that this would normally have to be achieved by placing the leading player in foul-prone situations such as difficult snookers.
This is a style of play where the player is required to stay on top of all the scoring practices. Scratches and points will disappear if they are not remembered.
A break shot in which the rack (pack) is disturbed as little as possible within the bounds of a legal shot, in order to force the opponent to have to break it up further. A soft break is desirable in some games, such as straight pool, in which breaking is a disadvantage; and forbidden by the open break rules of other games such as nine-ball and eight-ball.
Also solid, solid ones, solid balls. The non-striped ball suit (group) of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 1 through 7 and have a solid color scheme (i.e., not including the 8 ball). As in, "I'm solid", or "you've got the solids". Compare low, small, little, reds, spots, dots, unders; contrast stripes.
This refers to how a player is playing on a particular occasion (a player's skill level). If their game is good, then they are at a high speed, but if they are not playing up to their potential, then they are playing at a lower speed.
The use of the correct amount of cue ball speed in position play to achieve proper shape for a subsequent shot.
Also spider rest. A type of rest, similar to a common American-style rake bridge but with longer legs supporting the head so that the cue is higher and can reach over and around an obstructing ball to reach the cue ball. See also swan.
Basic cue tip contact points on the cue ball to impart various forms of spin. Top spin is also known as follow, side spin as english, and bottom spin as back spin, draw or screw.Rotational motion applied to a ball, especially to the cue ball by the tip of the cue, although if the cue ball is itself rotating it will impart (opposite) spin (in a lesser amount) to a contacted object ball. Types of spin include top spin, bottom or back spin (also known as draw or screw), and left and right side spin, all with widely differing and vital effects. Collectively they are often referred to in American English as "english". See also massé.
This is what happens when a player sends the cue ball into a cluster of balls that will in turn spread out in an unpredictable fashion.
In pool, the degree to which racked balls move apart upon impact by the cue ball as a result of a break shot.
In snooker, a shot sending the cue ball into the pack of red balls and separating them (after potting the ball-on). At least one split is usually necessary in each frame, since the original triangle of reds does not allow any balls to be potted reliably.
This is a version of double elimination tournament play that splits the field of competitors into two brackets that come together for a single elimination championship game.
Also split shot. In pool, a type of shot in which two object balls are initially contacted by the cue ball simultaneously or so close to simultaneously as for the difference to be indistinguishable to the eye. In most sets of rules it is a foul if the split is one in which one of the object balls is a (or the only) legal target (ball-on) and the other is not; however, such a split is commonly considered a legal shot in informal bar pool in many areas if it is called as a split and does appear to strike the balls simultaneously).

1.In pool games such as nine-ball, a specific handicap given (e.g., "what spot will you give me?").
2.In snooker, any of the six designated points on the table on which a colour ball is replaced after it has left the playing surface (usually after it has been potted).
3.An (often unmarked) point on the table, at the intersection of two strings. See foot spot, head spot, center spot for examples.
4.In UK eight ball, (when not playing with a reds-and-yellows colour ball set) any of the group of seven balls, other than the 8, that are a solid colour with just a circled number on the surface. In the US, these balls are usually referred to as solids or more colloquially as lows, littles or smalls, while British terms include dots and unders. Contrast stripes.
5.Alternate name for a table's diamonds.

1.In pool, return an illegally pocketed object ball to the table by placement on the foot spot or as near to it as possible without moving other balls (in ways that may differ from ruleset to ruleset).
2.In snooker, to return a colour ball to its designated spot on the table. Also called re-spot.
3.In nine-ball, the giving of a handicap to the opponent where they can also win by making a ball or balls other than the 9 ball (e.g. "she spotted me the seven ball").
4.In eight-ball, one-pocket and straight pool, the giving of a handicap to the opponent where they have to make fewer balls than their opponent does.
5.In some variants of pool, to place the cue ball on the head spot or as near to it as possible inside the kitchen/baulk, after the opponent has scratched.

This is the white ball in carom games which is separated from the clear ball by a marking (usually a dot or spot).
The situation arising in many pool games where a ball is spotted to the table's foot spot or some other specific location and the cue ball must be shot from the kitchen or the "D". There are diamond system aiming techniques for pocketing such shots without scratching the cue ball into a pocket.
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).
Any shot in which the cue ball or an object ball has to squeeze by (just miss with almost no margin for error) another ball or balls in order to reach its intended target.
This refers to the distance of deflection that the ball comes off of the cue stick after a hit is applied with side spin on it.
This refers to the cluster of balls remaining in a similar position to where they were within the break

1- Noun: A player's wager in a money game.

2- Verb:To provide part or all of a player's stake for a gambling session in which one is not a player. A person who stakes or backs a player is called a stakehorse or backer. "Stakehorse" can also be used as a verb.

The person who is a provider of all or part of a player's stake (money) for a gambling session in which one is not a player.
To intentionally hide one's "speed"; "he's on the stall."
To intentionally play slowly so as to irritate one's opponent. This form of sharking has been eliminated from many tournaments with a shot clock, and from many leagues with time-limit rules.
A shooter's body position and posture during a shot.
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.
The lamentable practice of not following through with the cue straight, but veering off in the direction of the shot's travel or the side english is applied, away from the proper aiming line; a common source of missed shots.
Same as cue.
This is to execute a shot where the cue ball is controlled perfectly and stops where you want it to exactly.
This is a bank in one pocket pool that is sitting at an angle that makes it unsafe to play.
Any shot where the cue ball stops immediately after hitting an object ball. Generally requires a full hit.
This is a bank shot that goes off of the head rail and then straight to the pocket at the other end of the table.
Also straight eight-ball. Same as bar pool. Not to be confused with the games of straight pool or straight rail.
To play even; without a handicap. Also called heads up.
1.A (usually unmarked) line running across the table between one diamond and its corresponding diamond on the opposite rail. See also head string, foot string, long string for examples.
2.Same as wire, sense 2. Can be used as a verb, as in "string that point for me, will you?"
3.A successive series of wins, e.g. of games or frames in a match or race.
4.Chiefly British; same as lag.
Also string off. Chiefly British; Obsolete: Same as string or lag.
Also striped ones, striped balls. The ball suit (group) of a fifteen ball set that are numbered 9 through 15 and have a wide colored bar around the middle. Compare bigs, highs, yellows, overs; contrast solids.
The motion of the cue stick and the player's arm on a shot;
The strength, fluidity and finesse of a player's shooting technique; "she has a good stroke."
A combination of finesse, good judgement, accuracy and confidence.
This is a player who has the ability to make difficult shots in one pocket, because they are likely proficient at other pool games first.
This describes when a player is trapped behind a ball. (n.) - This is also the amount of money a player is down after betting.
A shot played with stun, but not quite enough to completely stop the cue ball, allowing for a little follow. It is played so that a follow shot can be controlled more reliably, with a firmer strike than for a slow roll. It is widely considered as one of the most difficult shots in the game to master, but an excellent weapon in a player's armory once it has been.
A shot where the cue ball has no top spin or back spin on it when it impacts an object ball, and "stuns" out along the tangent line. Commonly shortened to just "stun."
These are fouls made in one turn and then on the next by the same player each time. Some games have a rule that a player will lose the rack or match with three succesive fouls.
A shot that only a novice or fool would take. Usually because it is a guaranteed scratch or other foul, or because it has a low percentage of being pocketed and is likely to leave the opponent in good position.
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 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).
Also swan rest. A type of rest, similar to a spider in that the head is raised by longer supporting legs, but instead of a selection of grooves on the top for the cue to rest in there is only one, on the end of an overhanging neck, so that a player can get to the cue ball more easily if the path is blocked by two or more obstructing balls. Also known as the goose neck.
This is to watch a match with such intensity that there is worry, usually because of a wager on the game.
This is to watch a match with such intensity that there is worry, usually because of a wager on the game.
An unintentional and often barely perceptible curve imparted to the path of the cue ball from the use of english without a level cue. Not to be confused with a swerve shot.
This is a toned down masse shot. The cue is elevated a little and will curve a little in the direction the spin is applied. This is used to sneak around difficult shots.