What is Snooker in 8 Ball Pool? (Explained in Detail)

Snooker is a billiards game that is similar to pool but has its own rules, ball arrangement, and play style. The term “snooker” is also a slang term used in 8 ball pool to refer to a maneuver where a player is blocked from making the first contact with their color of balls. Under most rules, this results in a foul or loss of frame. 

What is the Purpose of “Snookering”?

Snookered in 8 Ball Pool

Pulling a “snooker” or “snookering” someone in 8 ball pool is usually done as a defensive tactic to keep someone from being able to hit their selected color of ball.

Sometimes this can happen by accident, such as when a ball of the wrong color blocks a viable shot or some of the features on the table prevents a person from making a shot, this being the pockets and the bumpers. 

The pocket is narrow enough that if the cue ball is in the channel of the pocket and next to a ball, almost any shot will result in pocketing the cue ball. Additionally, the bumpers can block a player from making an accurate or easy shot. 

Exceptionally skilled players can make trick shots off the bumper, but in most cases, if the cue is lined next to the bumper, a proper shot is difficult, if not impossible. 

Often times when this happens by accident, it happens in the process of someone taking their natural shots. A ball can be blocked by the pocket or a rail and will result in either a foul (hitting the wrong color ball) or a scratch (pocketing the cue ball), both of which result in the loss of a player’s turn. 

Furthermore, a foul allows the opposing player to freely position the cue ball during their next turn; this lets them be able to line up easy or combination shots and makes pocketing lots of balls possible for your opponent.

Therefore, being snookered can really be a game-ending situation when playing a standard game of 8 ball!

When someone is snookered by another player on purpose, it is generally done by strategically positioning the opposite balls around the cue to hide the balls of the other player. This is generally done when another shot can’t be made to prevent the opponent from having a turn.

Snookering is not a primary means of gameplay when playing 8 ball but is a good defensive technique when no clean shots are possible. 

How Snookering Works During a Game of 8 Ball?

The way the term snooker works in 8 ball, snooker actually refers to the balls that are obscured by the opposing player and not the move itself. For instance, if the cue ball touches the wrong color balls before a shot, any balls of the correct color that are in line for a shot but are blocked by the opponent’s balls are considered “snookered”.

Say you have solids, but the opponent has the cue ball lined up in such a way that it’s touching stripes, you have a line on the solid 2 and a line on the 5 via a bank shot on the bumper.

Since no matter what shot you take, the cue ball will strike a striped ball first, you automatically foul and lose your turn. In this case, you would say that both the 2 ball and the 5 ball are “snookered”.  

The rules in 8 ball allow for a number of different scenarios where a snooker can occur with or without intent.

In some cases, a snooker can come about because the only viable shot requires incredibly tricky shooting, bouncing the ball off of one or more of the bumpers or angled or pocketed shots. In these cases, even with a possible shot, a foul is almost unavoidable.  

Preventing a Possible Snooker in a Game of 8 Ball

Knowing how a snooker works can help you to deal with it if it happens. Still, there’s only so much you can do in a game of pool to prevent a possible snooker from occurring accidentally or by intention.

One of the easiest ways to avoid a snooker is to separate your balls. Because the line of shot is important in order for a snooker to work, having your balls open from multiple lines will help you to prevent from being completely snookered on all your shots.

Lining up your balls for easy multi-pocket shots or trick shots may seem advantageous, but playing defensively can be the smarter move with a tricky opponent. 

Of course, you can always use the break rule and sink the 8 ball during the break shot if you’re that lucky or good; if not, you can combo pocket balls out of sequence to prevent problem shots later as a means of protecting yourself from a snooker. 

Knowing how to control the cue ball is another option for controlling your situation during a game of 8 ball.

As an example, if your cue ball is snookered by the pocket, putting the right amount of backspin on the cue ball can cause it to stop rolling on impact with a ball or bumper surface. Dead stopping the cue ball can be an effective means of controlling your position and preventing a scratch or foul. 

Another trick with the cue ball is using forward spin to keep the ball rolling in the forward direction rather than ricocheting off of a ball after contact; this can keep your ball out of the pocket and in the center of the table, thus keeping you out of danger of scratching yourself or getting snookered by your opponent. 

To Conclude

Now that you know what a “Snooker” is in a game of pool, why it’s done, how it works, and how to protect against it, your game will be on a whole new level the next time you play a game of 8 ball. 

Consider trying some of the techniques described here yourself, either to snooker someone yourself or to protect yourself from getting snookered now that you know how it all works.

Daniel Bouie - SportsDean
Daniel Bouie
Daniel Bouie has been playing and helping others learn the ins and outs of pool for eight years. His profound love for the game inspired him to become a qualified billiard instructor in 2015. He frequently practices in his spare time and teaches private lessons to novice and intermediate players.

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