Snooker Rules

Snooker Rules

These snooker rules are a standardized rule and regulation set for international snooker or English snooker. This version of snooker is generally played on the larger English billiard tables which are usually 6'X12'. These tables are slightly different from normal pocket billiard tables in that the cushions are generally thiner, and they curve smoothly in to the openings of the pockets. There are some smaller tables available such as the 5'X10' snooker table, which may also be used to play snooker. 6'x12' snooker tables (English billiards) have a playing area within the cushion faces which shall measure 11' 8.5" x 5' 10" with a tolerance on both measurements of +/-0.5". The height of the table is measured from the floor to the top of the cushion rail, and should measure 34" with an acceptable tolerance of +/-0.5".

Snooker Rules

Under standardized snooker rules, the game is to be played between two players, although informal variations do exist. The object of snooker is to amass a greater number of points than the opponent.

Snooker Balls

A set of snooker balls consists of 15 unnumbered, solid, red object balls called reds, 6 unnumbered, solid object balls of varying color called colors, and a cue ball called the white ball. Reds are worth one point, yellow are worth two points, green are worth three points, brown are worth four points, blue are worth five points, pink are worth six points, and black are worth seven points. The general size of the balls used in international snooker is 2-1/16" in diameter; considerably smaller than traditional pocket billiard balls.

Snooker Rules for Racking

The pink ball is to be spotted on the pyramid spot, with the apex ball from the triangle of reds to be racked as close to it as possible without touching it.

Snooker Baulk-Line and Baulk

The baulk-line is to be a straight line drawn 29" from the face of the bottom cushion which runs parallel to it. The area inside the baulk-line is known as the baulk.

Snooker Half Circle

The snooker half circle is a semi-circle located in Baulk. The center of the snooker half circle is at the middle point of the baulk-line and has a radius of 11.5" In snooker rules, if the shooting player has cue ball in hand within the half circle, they can place the base of the cue ball at any location directly on the line or inside of it. To do this, the player can use his or her hand or any part of the cue stick including the cue tip. This must be done in such a way that does not appear to be a stroke.

Snooker Rules Scoring.

Under English snooker rules, points can be scored in two ways. Snooker players are given points for fouls committed by their opponent, and for legally pocketing, or potting, either red or colored object balls. Each snooker reds ball that is legally pocketed, or "potted" has a value of one point, and each colored ball potted has a value corresponding with is numbered value as outlined above. Each frame ends once all balls have been legally potted following the snooker rules of play.

The exception is the situation where only the black ball (seven) remains on the table. In this scenario, under snooker rules, the frame ends with the first score or with the first foul. Should the player's scores be equal after that scoring, the black ball is spotted on it's original position. From there, the players either draw lots, or lag to determine who has choice of playing order to play at the black ball with cue ball in hand from inside the half circle. At this juncture, the first score or foul ends the game.

Snooker Rules for Opening Break

Under snooker rules, players either draw lots or lag for break in the beginning frame. During match play, snooker players alternate performing the break shot in subsequent frames. The player performing the break may start with cue ball in hand from inside the half circle. This player must shoot the cue ball and cause it to contact a red ball. If the player fails to meet this snooker regulation, he or she will be assessed a foul penalty as outlined below. If such a foul is committed, as with all fouls, the incoming player has the choice of whether to accept the table as it is and play their inning, or to require the original breaking player to break again. The breaking player need not send a ball to a rail or a pocket as in some traditional billiard games.

Standardized Snooker Rules of Play

  1. The shooting player continues at the table as a result of a legally potted ball. When he or she fails to legally pot a ball, the inning is terminated.
  2. The shooting player (striker) must comply with all appropriate nuances of rule numbers five and six. They need not drive the cue ball or object ball to a cushion nor in to a pocket after the cue ball contacts a legal object ball. Such legal object balls are referred to as "ball on" by some players. A foul results from failure to contact a legal object ball.
  3. Provided that reds exist on the table, the player taking his or her first stroke of the inning (incoming player) always has a red as his or her legal object ball. (ball on)
  4. Any reds potted during a legal shot are to be considered legally potted balls. In these cases, the shooting player does not need to call any particulars of the shot such as the specific red, the pocket, or any other details of how the shot, and the pot will be played.
  5. When the shooting player has a red ball as their ball on, or legal object ball, they must ensure that the cue ball's first contact is with a red ball. Failure to do so results in the assessment of a penalty.
  6. Once a shooting player has scored a red object ball initially, their next legal object ball is a color. Additionally, if red balls remain on the table, the shooter must alternate play between reds and colors. Within each group, though, the shooting player may shoot at the ball of his or her choice.
  7. When reds remain on the table and a color is his object, the striker must first designate, prior to stroking, which color ball he or she shall soot for. This specific ball becomes that player's ball on. The striker must also ensure that the cue ball's initial contact with an object ball is with that specifically designated ball. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the assessment of a foul.
  8. Should the shooting player pot a ball from the colored group when his or her ball on is a red, they will be assessed a foul.
  9. Should a shooting player pot a red ball when his or her ball on is a color, they will be assessed a foul.
  10. Per international snooker rules, all intentionally caused jump shots will result in a foul. To be specific, this includes any intentional attempt to clear an obstructing ball by causing the cue ball to rise from the bed of a table.
  11. All potted balls from the colors group shall be spotted prior to the next stroke, provided that reds remain on the table during the initial shot. If after a color has been spotted, the striker plays while that ball is incorrectly spotted (and opponent or referee calls it before two such plays have been taken), the shot taken is considered a foul. If the shooter is able to perform two or more consecutive shots after the foul is committed and without it being called out by a referee or by the opponent, the shooting player is cleared of any penalty, and may continue play as normal. It is the shooting player's responsibility to make certain that all ball are spotted properly before shooting. If the shooting player plays whilst a ball or balls that should be on the snooker table is/are not, then a foul may be awarded when the foul is discovered. This can happen at any time during the inning.
  12. When there are no remaining reds on the snooker table, the shooting player's "balls on" become the colors in ascending numerical order. (two, three, four, five, six, seven) When these colors are legally potted they are not respotted, and remain off of the table, with the exception of the black seven ball in the case of a tie. (See above.)

Illegally Potted Balls

When a ball from the reds group is illegally potted there is no spotting and they remain off of the snooker table. Balls which are illegally potted from the colors group are spotted. See below for more details on spotting.

Object Balls Jumped off the Table

Per snooker rules and regulations, any player to cause a ball to leave the snooker table is assessed a foul. Reds that leave the table are not respotted and colors are.

Cue Ball Jumped off the Table

When the cue ball is jumped off the table the incoming player has cue ball in hand from within the half circle. When this shot is set up and with the exception of the opening break, there is no restriction on what balls can be played, based on position of reds and colors. The shooting player may play any ball regardless of where it lies on the snooker table.

Snooker Rules for Spotting Balls

Colors are the only group of balls to ever be spotted per snooker rules. When colors are spotted they are to be placed as they were at the middle of the game. There is a possibility that the color's spot is occupied, which is any scenario where spotting it properly would cause it to touch another ball. If this is the case, the ball to be spotted is to be placed on the spot of the highest value color that is unoccupied. When all spots are occupied, the color is spotted as close to its original spot as possible and in a straight line between its spot and the nearest point on the (top) foot cushion.

Touching A Ball

While balls are in play, the shooting player may not touch any object ball. The shooting player also may not strike the cue ball with anything other than the tip during a legal stroke. If a player commits either of these actions, a foul is assessed.

Snooker Rules for Snookered

The cue ball is considered snookered when a direct stroke in a straight line to any part of every "ball on" is obstructed by either a ball or balls "not on." If there is any ball that is not obstructed in such a manner, the cue ball is not snookered. When playing ball-in-hand from within the half circle, the cue ball is only considered snookered if it is obstructed from all positions on or within the half circle. If the cue ball is obstructed by more than one ball, the one nearest to the cue ball is to be used as the effective snookering ball.


When a direct stroke in a straight line to any part of every "ball on" is obstructed by a corner of the cushion, the cue ball is said to be angled. If there is any "ball on" that is not obstructed, the cue ball is not angled. If the cue ball becomes angled after a foul, the referee or the player will call "angled ball" and the shooting player may either play from that position or play ball-in-hand from within the half circle.


A given spot is considered "occupied" if a ball can not be spotted on it without said ball touching another ball.

Touching Snooker Balls

If the cue ball is in any way touching another ball that is, or could be, "ball on," the referee will call "touching ball." The shooting player must then play away from it. If this is not done, the action is considered a "push stroke" which is a type of foul. If the shooting player does play away from the ball, no foul is assessed if either the ball is not on, if the ball is on, and the shooting player nominates as such, or if the ball is on and the shooting player nominates, and first hits, another ball. The referee also has the option clear a foul if he or she deems the touching ball to have moved through an agent other than the shooting player.

Push Stroke

When the tip of the cue stick remains in contact with a ball for too long, the action is called a "push stroke" and is considered a foul. This can occur when the cue tip is still touching the cue ball when it contact the object ball, and when the cue stick is still contacting the cue ball after the cue ball has began its forward motion. For cases where the cue ball is already touching another ball or almost touching another ball it may be deemed a legal shot if the cue ball hits the finest possible edge of the near object ball.

Snooker Rules for a Miss

The shooting player is obligated to the best of his or her ability to try to hit the ball on. Should the referee feel that this snooker rule has been infringed upon, he or she shall call a foul and a "miss." The incoming player has the choice of whether to play the ball as they are or to request that the balls be respotted to their original positions so that the offending player may shoot again. If the "ball on" can not possibly be hit, the shooting player is deemed to be attempting to hit the ball on automatically.

Snooker Rules for Free Balls

If after a foul has been called the cue ball is snookered, the referee or shooting player shall state "free ball." If the non-offending player decides to take the next stroke, he or she may nominate any ball on. For this stroke, the nominated ball is to be regarded as, and shall acquire the value of, the ball on. If the cue ball fails to contact, or except when only the pink and black remain on the table, be snookered by, the free ball, a fould is called. If the free ball is potted, it is spotted and the point value of the ball on is scored. If the ball on is potted, it stays potted and is scored accordingly. Should the shooting player pot both the free ball and the ball on, only the value of the ball on is to be scored.

Snooker Rules for Fouls

There are several snooker regulations that apply should a foul be committed:

  1. The player who committed the foul accrues the corresponding penalty, and the total is added to the opponent's score. The player who committed the foul also must play again if so requested by the next player. When such a request is made, it can not be withdrawn at any time.
  2. If the shooting player commits more than one foul in the same stroke, only the highest value penalty shall be incurred.
  3. Any ball that is not properly spotted shall remain as-is, except when it has left the table. In such a case, the ball shall be correctly spotted.

Penalties for Snooker Fouls

Each of the following are considered snooker fouls, and carry a value of four points unless otherwise specified:

  1. The value of the ball on...
    1. by striking...
      1. when the balls are still in motion from the previous shot,
      2. the cue ball more than one time in one shot (called a "double hit"),
      3. without leaving at least one foot on the floor,
      4. out of turn,
      5. or improperly from in hand within the half circle.
    2. by causing...
      1. the cue ball to miss all object balls,
      2. the cue ball to enter a pocket,
      3. a snooker with free ball, or,
      4. a jump shot,
  2. Value of the ball on or ball concerned...
    1. by causing...
      1. by striking with a ball not correctly spotted.
      2. a ball not on to enter a pocket.
      3. a push stroke.
      4. the cue ball to first hit a ball not on.
      5. by touching a ball with other than the tip of the cue.

by forcing a ball off the table.

  1. Value of the ball on or higher value of the two balls by...
    1. by causing...
      1. the cue ball to hit simultaneously two balls other than two reds or a "free ball" and the ball on.
  2. Penalty of seven points...
    1. is incurred if...
      1. after potting a red commits a foul before nominating a color.
      2. uses a ball off the table for any purpose.
      3. plays at reds in successive strokes.
      4. uses as the cue ball any ball other than the white one.