Rules of Snooker Explained

English snooker is a popular cue sport played all around the world. The principles originated in the early 1900s from billiards rules.

This section will help beginners learn the basic rules of snooker game. Check out this simple version for all the match scoring tactics and equipment regulations.

Snooker Rules Simplified for Beginners

Officially, the United Kingdom founded the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) in 1970.

As a result, snooker is largely dominated by British players at professional and competition levels.

Even so, there has been a growing popularization of the sport in India and China in recent years.

The WPBSA has been the governing body of snooker rules UK since it revived the original English billiards rules in 1968.

First held in 1927, the Snooker World Championship is arguably the sport’s pinnacle event. Moreover, it has now become one of the biggest sporting events of the href=”/rules/employment/working/time-off/bank-holiday-calendar/”>calendar year.

The fact that snooker rules and regulations are also played in clubs and pubs by amateurs of all levels shows how popular the game has become.



Aim of Snooker Game

There is one simple aim when playing snooker rules. The objective is to score more snooker ball points than your opponent in each frame (an individual game unit).

Players achieve this goal by shooting the white cue ball at the other coloured balls in a set sequence with the aim of potting them in the table pockets.



Snooker Table Regulations

Snooker is a typical cue sport played on a rectangular shaped table. Professional snooker tables measure 12 feet long by six feet wide and almost 3 feet high.

The green baize-covered table is usually made of wood with a slate top. It contains six pockets to pot the balls into.

A table has four pockets located in each corner. There is another pocket situated in the middle of each of the long side cushions.

The baulk end (starting point) has a line across the width of the table twenty nine (29) inches from the baulk cushion.

The D marker gets located in the center of this line. It is an 11.5 inch-radius semi-circle using the baulk line as its diameter.



Equipment Rules for Snooker

There is minimal specialized and regulated equipment needed to play the game. A snooker set includes a cue and twenty two (22) hardened balls made from phenolic resin.


Snooker Ball Values: Colour Values


  • Snooker balls must be of an approved composition and measure 2.07 inches in diameter (52.5mm). A full set consists of 15 reds, six others with different colors, and one white cue ball.
  • The white cue ball is the only one which may get struck legally by the players.
  • The 15 red balls are worth one point each when potted.
  • The coloured balls are worth:
    • 2 points for yellow.
    • 3 for green.
    • 4 for the brown.
    • 5 for the blue ball.
    • 6 for the pink ball.
    • 7 snooker points for potting the black ball.


Rules for Snooker Colour Order


  • The colored balls get placed on their spots accordingly:
    • 15 reds must get placed in a triangle shape with one red at the point behind the pink ball.
    • The green, brown, and yellow (from left to right) go on their baulk line points across the semi-circle.
    • The blue ball goes in the middle of the table.
    • The pink rests midway between there and the top cushion (the opposite end to the baulk cushion).
    • The black must go on its spot in the center (1234 inches away from the top cushion).


Snooker Cues

Snooker cues are most often made of wood cannot be less than 3 feet long. Modern cues follow a traditional and generally accepted shape and form.



Rules of Snooker Players

Snooker is usually played based on one player competing against another (singles). That said, doubles and team games are not uncommon. Players will play to the ‘best of‘ a set number of frames, ranging from three up to 35 (for World Championships).



General Snooker Game Regulations


  • Snooker matches get played over an odd number of frames (e.g. the best of nine or 21 frames).
  • A coin toss decides who will start the first frame and the players take it in turns to make the break afterwards.
  • Players must have at least some part of one foot on the ground when they are playing a shot.
  • The break gets made with the cue-ball from inside the D area and you must strike a red ball from the break.
  • There are 15 reds positioned on the table at the beginning of each frame. The red ball value is one point for potting any of the reds.
  • All balls must be stationary before playing your next shot. The cue ball must strike the nominated ball first (exceptions apply for the red balls).
  • The red balls are not replaced after they get potted. But the coloured balls are re-spotted until all the reds are gone.
  • The spot on which a colour ball would usually get replaced can get taken up by another ball. In this case the colour ball gets placed on the next highest available spot.
  • Sometimes all the spots can get occupied. So, the colour ball gets placed as close to its spot as possible. That is between that spot and the top cushion. But, the ball must not be touching any other balls after placing it on the table.
  • If the cue-ball is touching another ball the referee will call the ruling for ‘touching ball‘. In this case the player must play away from that ball.
  • It is a snooker foul if that ball moves. But, where the player nominates that ball they can play away. It would get classed as already having made contact with that ball.
  • Snooker foul rules (between four and 7 snooker ball points) can get called for:
    • Failing to hit a nominated ball or not hitting any ball whatsoever.
    • Touching any ball with any part of your body or any ball other than the white with your cue.
    • Potting the white ball.
    • Hitting a ball off the table or performing a jump shot (leaves the table and clears another ball).
    • Pushing the cue-ball against another ball (push shot) causing the cue to touch the white more than once.
  • A free ball gets declared if the other player cannot hit the whole of the next legal ball following a foul.
  • The snooker free ball rule means the player may hit any ball of their choice (but they must nominate it). This will score points and act as per the next legal ball.
  • The rules of snooker allow a frame to get restarted. It happens most if both players agree the balls are so placed that the frame could lead to a stalemate.
  • Referees may call a miss if a player fails to strike the correct ball. It happens most if they are judged not to have made a serious attempt to hit it.
  • A ‘miss‘ is worth at least four points for the opponent and they can choose to make the player replay the shot.



Scoring and Potting Order in Snooker Rules


  • Potting a red ball earns one point and then the player must nominate a colour for their next shot. The black ball is the most valuable (decreasing in value to the yellow ball – worth two points).
  • Snooker potting order means that the coloured balls are re-spotted. But the red balls are not. So, the player reverts to a red and alternates red, then colour until all the reds get potted.
  • Afterwards the remaining six colours are then potted in ascending points order (finishing with the black ball).
  • The maximum score any player can achieve from one visit to the table is 147. That is unless a break begins with a free ball.
  • Snooker 147 maximums (15 reds taken with 15 blacks) are only possible if a player successfully pots a black after every red ball.
  • A player continues until he misses a ball or commits a foul, as players alternate turns.
  • Committing snooker fouls means your opponent gets awarded a minimum of four points. Fouling on a colored ball means those higher point values get awarded.
  • A ‘snooker‘ occurs when the balls are so placed that the player cannot directly hit the next legal ball. The hope is to force a foul and earn four points.
  • If a player thinks they cannot win, even by forcing snookers, they concede the frame. This usually happens if a player needs 4 or more snookers (fouls). That would be in addition to all the remaining balls, depending on how many balls remain.



Snooker Referees and Officials

The match referee shall be the sole judge of fair and unfair play. Referees are free to make a decision in the interests of fair play for any situation.

The officials are responsible for the proper conduct of the game. That is according to the codified WPBSA Official Rules Book for snooker.



Winning a Game of Snooker

The winner in a snooker competition is the player who wins more frames than his opponent. Winning a frame means scoring the most points in each particular frame.

A player with a lead of more points than those which are available on the table means the opponent will ‘need snookers‘ to attempt a win.

If a frame gets tied then the players must play a black ball game and whoever pots the black gets declared the winner.



Advanced Snooker Rules

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