How to Play Cutthroat Pool? A Guide For Newbie

The cutthroat pool is one of the popular, yet confusing formats of the pool game. Many of the new players get confused with its rules due to lack of proper information. For those who don’t know, cutthroat is a version of a pool that involves the play of more than two players with the available number of balls. As we all know, there are a cue ball and 15 object balls in the game of pool.

A specific figure of object balls is allocated to the individual players in the group. However, the total balls depend on how many players are playing this game. Here, the main motive of a player is to hold the opponent’s balls before they hold theirs. The people of all the levels can play the cutthroat pool as both novice and professionals can enjoy this game.

It is an excellent version to add some creativity to the pool game. On top of that, it can be an exciting option when the number of balls is uneven. In the post, let us explain about the cutthroat pool in detail so you can play this game conveniently.

If you are a newbie in this game you may read this Guide how to aim in pool.

What are some basic details about the cutthroat pool?

We will talk about the important basic information that you should know. We have written them in detail below:

  • The main motive in this game is to target the balls of the opponents in the table.
  • One player will continue shooting until he/she misses or play an illegal shot.
  • A player will get eliminated once their balls get pocketed.
  • The winner will be declared when all the players get eliminated from the game.
  • An eliminated player can re-enter the game of a foul is committed by the other player.

How are groups claimed in the cutthroat pool?

The balls are allocated to the individual players. The main mission of the player is to maintain the safety of the group and eliminate the others. For instance, if there are five players for the game, then the players will be allocated as follows: 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15.

Now, we will tell you about three major methods through which a group can be determined. Let’s talk about each one in detail below:

  • The Classical Method

Here, the player can only claim a cluster once a ball from other collections gets pocketed. For example, if the players are involved in the three player game, then they can claim a cluster once the number 5 and 14 balls get claimed.

  • Simpler Method

It is one of the easiest methods for playing the cutthroat pool. Here, the players can claim a group even after pocketing a single ball. This approach is extremely popular due to the increased relaxation offered to the players. Also, they believe that the field is quite leveled. For example, a ball pocketed by the first player during the break gives a chance to claim a group to them.

If the first player doesn’t succeed in sinking the ball on the first break, then the player that sinks it first will be the one to claim the group. The game goes on in the same way.

  • Assigning Group Method

In this type of approach, the players are assigned in the group even before the game gets started. They need to pick the numbers so that the game can be started. However, there are lots of disadvantages associated with this approach as the players are on the danger to pocket their own balls even on the first shot.

How is the rack set up in the cutthroat pool?

No one can deny that racking is an important task in a pool that needs to be performed in the right way. When it comes to racking in cutthroat play, there is a need to place the 1 number ball at the top of the rack near the foot spot. On the other hand, the other two remaining corner balls should be from the 2nd and 3rd group.

The other corners in the rack are generally 6th and 11th ball, but there are many games where 10th and 15th ball also used for this purpose. However, the only job of numbers is to establish the group for all the players. Other than that, they are almost useless in this game.

How to break in the cutthroat pool?

In this version of pool, the players have to go for the open break. They have to break a minimum of 4 balls from the rack so that the cushion can be touched. It will assist in escaping a protected break. We strongly suggest the players try their best game here so that a break gets escaped.

In case, the breaking player doesn’t be able to complete an open break; then the following player will try it after arranging the rack once again.

How a shot called in the cutthroat pool?

The decision to call shots needs to be made before the beginning of the game. It is an excellent idea to go for if you are playing with the players having professional level skills. Under this, all the players will be designated the ball that needs to be put in a certain pocket prior to a shot.

It doesn’t mean that the players have to call the approach through which the ball will reach the designated pocket. On the other hand, a shot will be considered illegal if the players pocket the opponent‘s ball in an unintended pocket.

Advanced Techniques and Tips

  1. Mastering the art of cue ball control is crucial in cutthroat pool.
  2. Learn various shot techniques, such as bank shots, carom shots, and combination shots, to expand your options during gameplay.
  3. Practice reading the angles and envisioning the ball paths before taking shots.
  4. Work on your shot accuracy and speed control to increase your chances of success.

Practicing and Improving Your Skills

To improve your cutthroat pool skills, dedicate time to practice regularly. Focus on developing your shot accuracy, ball control, and strategic thinking. Additionally, consider joining a local pool league or participating in friendly competitions to gain more experience and learn from other players.

Etiquette and Sportsmanship

As with any competitive activity, practicing good sportsmanship and observing proper etiquette is important in cutthroat pool. Respect your opponents, follow the rules, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the game. Remember, it’s not just about winning but also enjoying the camaraderie and thrill of the game.

Popular Variations of Cutthroat Pool

While the basic rules of cutthroat pool remain the same, there are several variations that add unique twists to the game. Some popular variations include “Last Pocket Cutthroat” and “Alternate Shot Cutthroat.” These variations introduce additional challenges and strategies, making the game even more exciting and engaging.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Neglecting defensive play and solely focusing on pocketing your assigned group can leave you vulnerable to opponents’ strategies.
  2. Taking rushed shots without considering ball positioning and potential future shots may result in missed opportunities.
  3. Underestimating the importance of cue ball control can lead to unfavorable positions for subsequent shots.


No one can deny the fact that cutthroat pool is a very entertaining version of pool that players of all skill level can play. However, it is pretty important that one should have clear information about the rules and ways to win the game. On top of that, this game can be perfect when there are odd numbers of players in the game. If you believe that we have missed something about the cutthroat pool, then please tell us in the comment section. Also, share your experiences about this version of the pool too.

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