How To Play Cutthroat Pool

How To Play Cutthroat Pool In 4 Steps: A Beginner Tutorial

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Are you looking for an exciting and challenging pool game to entertain with your friends? Cutthroat Pool is such a perfect option for people of all skill levels that everyone can play simultaneously. 

Below, our blog post will reveal the basis of how to play cutthroat pool, some cutthroat pool rules, and what fouls you should avoid.  

What Is Cutthroat Pool?

Cutthroat Pool, also known as Three-Player Elimination, is one of the most entertaining variations of billiards. It is widely played with three or five players using a pool stick and a classic billiard set.

A classic billiards set includes 16 balls: a white cue ball and 15 colored balls, each numbered 1 to 15. Each shooter is assigned a group of 5 colored balls to protect (1 to 5, 6 to 10, or 11 to 15). 

Cutthroat Pool

A standard set of billiard balls and a pool stick. Image source: Pinterest.

When choosing a pool stick for a cutthroat pool, consider your skill level and preferences. A good pool cue can help you create great shots and perform better. Anti-slip pool cues or carbon fiber shaft radials are the most reasonable suggestions for beginners.

Objective Of Your Gameplay

The object of the Cutthroat Pool game is straightforward. You take your turn to sink everyone's balls except your own. When the game ends, anyone with at least one ball left on the table is the winner. For example, if assigned 1 to 5, you must pocket the group numbered 6 to 10 and 11 to 15.

4 Simple Steps On How To Play Cutthroat Pool

Steps On How To Play Cutthroat Pool

You can clearly understand how to play cutthroat pool through 4 steps. Image source: AspirantSG.

Step #1: Claiming Your Group Before Playing

You must claim your ball group to start playing the Cutthroat Pool game.

  • If you have three players, you divide the balls into groups 1 to 5, 6 to 10, and 11 to 15.
  • For a five-player match, you divide the balls into five groups: 1 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 9, and so on.

Here are three common ways to decide which group of balls you can play with:

1. Option 1: Traditionally claim your group.

    For example, in a 3-player game, you pocket the 2-ball and 11-ball, and you can claim 6-10.

    2. Option 2: A more comfortable way is to claim your group when you sink a ball.

      For example, if you are the first player to sink a ball on the break, you can claim your group. If the incoming player sinks a ball, they claim their group. And the last group belongs to the third player.

      In case you can not sink any balls first, the next one sinking a ball gets first right on picking a group.

      3. Option 3: Most time-saving: Assign your group before the game starts.

        Just select your group and enjoy your cutthroat pool game!

        Step #2: Racking In Cutthroat Pool

        It’s so easy to set up a rack in your cutthroat pool! Use a standard 8-ball pool triangle to position the 1-ball at the apex. Place the 6-ball and 11-ball on the other two corners. Fill the gaps of the triangle with left-over balls.

        rules for cutthroat pool

        Use a standard 8-ball rack to set up your balls. Image source: Tell Me Best.

        Step #3: Breaking In Cutthroat Pool

        Players often use a lag to determine who breaks in the pool. You and your opponents take turns hitting the cue ball toward the foot rail, which bounces back to the head of the table.

        You are the breaker if your ball is the closest to the head rail. If your ball is farthest from the head rail, you will rack the balls.

        Next is to break to start your game. Drive at least four numbered balls toward the rails to take a legal break. If you fail, it is considered a foul. The next player can either accept the current state and play or request a re-rack and re-break.

        Step #4: Taking Your Shooting Turns In Cutthroat Pool

        After a lucky break in the pool, each player will take their turn to shoot. If you sink a ball, you get one more turn. If you miss or make an illegal action, the turn goes to your opponents.

        Illegal actions include:

        • Pocketing the cue ball (or calling it a scratch).
        • Moving a numbered ball with your hands or your stick.
        • Hitting the cue ball off the table.

        Notably, players with no claimed balls will be out of the game.

        Once the game ends, the player with at least one ball remaining on the table is the winner. 

        3 Cutthroat Pool Rules You Should Know (300w)

        cutthroat pool scratch rules

        To become a good player in the cutthroat pool, you need to get into its rules. Image source: Game Rules.

        Rule #1: Call Your Shots Or Not

        Calling your shots means you declare the ball and the pocket you aim to put the ball in, such as "3-ball in the corner pocket".

        Once you have decided to call your shots, stick to it to count as a score.

        Rule #2: Scratches In Cutthroat Pool

        If you scratch by pocketing the cue ball or shooting it off the table, the next player gets the cue “ball in hand.” This rule allows them to position the cue ball between the head string and the cushion.

        Rule #3: Fouls And Penalties In Cutthroat Pool

        In cutthroat pool rules, there are some noticeable fouls you should know:

        • Sinking your ball or your opponent’s ball with an illegal shot.
        • Knocking any of your opponent’s balls off the table. However, if you hit your ball, you spot it. If you knock the cue ball, you make a scratch.

        The penalty for fouls in this game is that:

        • One of each of your opponent’s pocketed balls is back to play. This penalty means that if someone has gone out, they now have a chance to return.
        • If your opponent's ball has yet to be pocketed before the foul occurs, skip the penalty. The incoming shooter goes next.


        As you can see, there are many things to explore in a Cutthroat Pool. Our four-step guide aims to help beginners understand how to play Cutthroat Pool. We hope you'll feel more confident and play happily with your partners. Additionally, you can read more about the pool game rules we have shared to immerse yourself in this fantastic world.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        How do you rack for a cutthroat pool?

        You should arrange the one ball at the top of your triangle rack and position the 6 and 11 balls in the other two corners. Then, you need to place the remaining 12 balls randomly.

        Who breaks in the cutthroat pool?

        Breaking is the opening shot a player makes to start the game. You can decide who to break by lagging or some other approach.

        What is a legal shot in the cutthroat pool?

        A legal shot is when a player first hits an opponent's ball, followed by at least one ball hitting a rail. This cutthroat pool rule prevents players from trying to put the ball into an awful place for the next one.