Hot Pool Games: 7-Ball

The pool game 7-ball is a fast-paced, fun, and sometimes frantic choice from among all the other variations of pool out there!

of 04

7-Ball Basics For This Most Choice Of Pool Games

red 7-ball on billiards table

carrollphoto/Getty Images

Seven-Ball could become one of the hottest pool games in the world over the next decade. An intermediate player able to run only one or two of every 40 racks of 9-ball played may run out frequently playing 7-ball. There are simply fewer balls on the table that might roll into difficult circumstances.

In particular, 7-ball works great as a training game. The rules included here have been adopted to encourage heightened concentration and planning ahead.

of 04

Rules for 7-Ball

Racked for 7-Ball Billiards

Matt Sherman

Rack the billiards balls numbered one through seven into a circle, with the one to the front and the maroon seven in the center as depicted above.

Begin the game with an open break. The cue ball must hit the 1-ball first during the break. Smash the balls hard and give them a whirl.

Play progresses as in other billiards rotation games such as 9-ball (shoot at the lowest ball and after the hit, if any ball other than the cue ball pockets your turn continues) but with four fascinating additional rules:

1) The 7-ball’s pocket must be a call shot to win (declared before the stroke) as in "7-ball in the lower right corner!"

2) Each player is allotted one (1) called safety (an intentional defensive stroke, a shot played to miss, usually) per game.

3) Safety and a pocket may both be declared on the 7-ball for the same stroke. For example, "7-ball in the right side pocket and safety!" In other words, you may attempt the win but if you miss, you've declared the shot a defensive one in foresight, so that your opponent does not receive ball-in-hand.

4) Any shot not sending a ball into a pocket yields ball-in-hand to the opponent. Any miss is treated as a scratch in 8-ball or 9-ball. A single miss means the incoming player could win instantly. Intense concentration is demanded of you! Most beginners I've taught 7-ball love this training aspect of the game.

7-ball is a fast-paced game. Rule 2 may be altered to handicap play, with one player allotted one safety and their opponent two, three or more safeties. The added defense plays slow the game slightly but allow players of differing skill levels to compete on an equal basis.

of 04

7-Ball Pool Defense

this figure shows pool cool

Matt Sherman

Think through Rule 4 in 7-Ball pool, as a miss could end the game for you promptly. Ball-in-hand on any miss demands solid, not half-hearted, safety play.

Avoid being the first player to use their only safety! Consider the layout in Figure 1.

If the pool game was 9-ball, you could have left the position shown with confidence. One of the best options for your opponent from this position is to give you back some fairly difficult bank shot after they miss the 5-ball. Your next play? A second safety if you are uncomfortable with the new bank angle on the 5-ball.

But in 7-ball, you must pocket the 5-ball (or another ball) or your opponent gets ball-in-hand. They will call safe after you do, and you don't get another safety... if you fail the bank they leave you, they grab the cue ball and win.

Try to save your safety call for the second safe of the game after theirs is gone. Call safe first only when you are sure they will miss their chance to finish the game on their upcoming attempt.

of 04

7-Ball Use of Safety

Figure representing the best of billiards pool

Matt Sherman

In the position of Figure 2, you have kept your one safety shot in billiards pool unused until now, near the end of the game. Per Rule 3 call the 7-ball in the right corner pocket and call a safety also!

Make the shot and win the game—but if you miss the 7-ball, your opponent accepts the incoming position without ​ball-in-hand. This game has been taught many times and beginners always forget to call the safe on the last 7-ball and lose. Instead, they should have been attempting a difficult return shot without the free ball-in-hand.