Billiards - Cutthroat Rules

The other day at work I was playing 8-ball and a third person came in to the break room. We decided we’d play cutthroat the next game. Gee what a surprise to find that we all had different versions of how to play.

We all agree that the primary object is to be the last player with balls on the table. The 15 balls are divided into three groups, 1-5, 6-10, 11-15. Each player is responsible for ‘protecting’ his group of balls by trying to sink his oponents balls. However, this is where the similarities ended.

For example, one of us thought that you chose your object balls by the order in which you shoot (ie person who breaks takes 1-5, next shooter takes 6-10, last shooter takes 11-15). One of us thought that you chose your object balls by sinking a ball on your turn (~me).

Furthermore, one of the guys wanted to allow all slop shots to count. Which is really weird, because in 8-ball he is mr. rules. To me, you call your shot.

So… what do you guys think?

I think I need your company’s address so I can send a resume. :smiley:

Ohhh and sooooo close too. We just hired a Big Joe this morning. We currently have openings for a Medium Joe, a Big Bob, and I think there’s a Tiny Tim opening in the mail room.

Actually I just started working her about four weeks ago. Pretty cool so far.

Here’s how I’ve played it:

  1. Who has which balls is determined in advance, the person who has the 1-5 gets to break.

  2. Slop counts.

  3. A scratch results in both other players pulling one of their pocketed balls and placing them back on the table.

  4. You are allowed to make your own ball if you want (sometimes handy for ball positioning if you’re close to winning).

Those are the rules I’ve played by most of the time, but, as your OP points out, there are many variations. One variation has the balls assigned by dealing 15 cards (5 each). That way you don’t know who you’re attacking - it adds a little wrinkle to it.

Ahh, Cutthroat. Wonderful, friendly game. In addition to the variations of the above rules, it is good to know what happens if one person scratches when it is down to two players. Does the third person get back in the game? Or what happens if there are only two balls on the table, yours and your opponent. What happens if you knock them both in? Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours played, all beget by the simple phrase

“just one game, honest!”

We did all seem to agree that if you were eliminated and someone scratched you would be given new life. And, as far as the quote “Just one game, honest” is this sort of like (cover your eye, children) “Let me put it in for just ONE stroke!”?

This is the way I played in college (haven’t played much since then).

Nope. Slop only counts if you are playing with an 8-year-old (or a woman you hope will put out later in the evening).

When I played this was true even if it was down to just two people. This got the third back in the game.

Once, while a little tipsy, we managed to get together a group of 15-player Cutthroat. Everybody had one ball and if there was a scratch (using very strict definition of scratch, not just a pocketed cue ball) we reracked and started over. One game took about three hours, six pizzas, and untold beers.

This wouldn’t be allowed. It was the only chance for someone who was completely outclassed.

But as everyone has pointed out there isn’t really a “standard” version of Cutthroat. It was probably invented because men tend to travel in odd-numbered packs.

Here’s how we played:

*you lag, whoever shoots closest to the bumper breaks. Then the next closest, etc…

*When a person makes a ball in, he/she chooses which group to take. You call your shots here. You take forever to make a ball and your screwed. But the advantage here is you can pick and choose according to your skill.

*slop counts. It’s like nine-ball. However, it only counts after you choose your group.

*suicide play. This has actually created some arguments, but according to our rules you can hit one of your own in and continue play.

*last one standing doesn’t have to take off any clothing :wink:

That’s how we play it here in the Twin Cities.

Aside: I think you need to get the rules straight with the oponent before you break. You’d be surprised at the amount of goofy rules people come up with. Negotiate and win!!

Enright has it correct. At least that’s the way we also play at work. It must be in the employee handbook somewhere.

My gang plays it by your approach, enright - you have to qualify by sinking a ball in one of the groups. Only after you’ve qualified (the ball you shot come back up) are you allowed to put down other players’ balls. And, if you haven’t qualified yet, and someone else has, you’re not allowed to shoot their balls - only the balls of an unqualified set.

Once you’ve qualified, it’s a scratch if you pocket your own ball.

If you’re down to two players, and one scratches, both the opposing players get a ball back, so you can come back from the dead.

My rules, and we’ll see how they play at the office on Monday.

[li]Who breaks and the order of play is always decided randomly, by a lag, or rock-paper-scissors, or frequently winner of the last game first and the next to on order of arrival. Follow up games generally just go in order of finish of the last cut-throat game.[/li][li]Who shoots what is decided the same way as in 8-ball. After the first player sinks a ball, and finishes his turn he picks a series. Ditto the second player.[/li][li]Depending on how good the players are, we sometimes assign the balls in order or turn, because a good player may run all balls 1-5 and you won’t know who’s out of the game.[/li][li]Slop counts.[/li][li]Pull one ball for each player on a scratch, and a player does get a second chance if he’s out.[/li][li]You can drop your own balls whenever you want, and keep shooting.[/li][/ul]

The rules that my father, brother, and I have been playing are the same as listed above by omniscent, with the exception that whom has what balls is predetermined. player 1 is 1-5, player 2 6-10, player 3 11-15

Unfortunately, the American Poolplayers Association (probably the most authoritative source) does not publish Cutthroat rules on its website. A Google Search turned up these links:

Ultimate Pool User Guide, Chapter 7 (Cutthroat)

Starting player has balls 1-5, second player 6-10, third 11-15. Slop counts. A scratch is the only foul and results in ball in hand behind the head string.

You choose a group of balls when you sink a ball. The General Pocket Billiards Rules apply otherwise.

Cue Talk Magazine

Starting player has balls 1-5, etc. Slop is optional. Foul is scratch or failure to cause a numbered ball to contact the cusion. Foul results in cue ball behind the head string.

Billy Aard’s site

Starting player appears to have balls 1-5 (unclear). Call of ball and pocket (but not intermediate activity) mandatory. Foul is scratch or failure of any ball (numbered or cue) to contact the cushion. Foul results in loss of shooter’s ball or restoration of opponents’ balls. Scratch or jumped ball results in ball in hand behind the head string; for other fouls the cue ball is played from where it comes to rest.

We play pretty much as CnoteChris described, where you don’t know what balls are yours until after you’ve sunk one. You could well be out of the game before you even get a shot, which makes good lagging skills important. Otherwise, you pray for a scratch to bring you back up on the table.

::raising hand:: OOOH OOOH OOH! I don’t use a crutch, but I do have kinda a gimpy foot, if that counts!

God bless us one and all,

–Tim (Tiny)

obfusciatrist – what’s the strict definition of “scratch?” Do you mean “foul” as in not hitting the object ball/slopping/etc? I’m just curious. I always thought a scratch was pocketing the cue.

As for the rules I play by, it’s always been breaker is 1-5, next is 6-10, last is 11-15. Pocketing the cue is the only foul. Slop counts. You are permitted to hit your own ball in. A player that is “out” may reenter the game on a scratch. However, if you hit both yours and an oppenents ball in on the last shot, I haven’t the faintest clue. If the object is to be the last player with balls on the table, then either:

a) no one wins
b) if you sink opponent’s in first, you win; otherwise s/he
wins (kinda shaky grounds for this one)
c) you decide on a mutually agreeable solution beforehand
d) fight to the death

A scratch occurs when the cue ball enters a pocket, a jump occurs when the cue ball or any numbered ball leaves the table. A foul is any illegal shot. Both a scratch and a jump are almost always fouls.

In 8-ball:

These are the rules I’ve always played by, except with a bit of a variation on #2.

Slop counts, BUT you don’t get to shoot again.

THANK you, Feynman! For once, someone actually has the sense to pull out ACTUAL rules in a discussion on pool.

I’ve noticed my entire life that NO one knows the rules to pool, as they believe what their older brother told them 15 years ago to be gospel.

It absolutely amazes me to see people get into heated arguments around a pool table, someone pulls out the rules, and the offender STILL has the gall to say “Yeah, but those rules don’t count!”


I wouldn’t exactly call it “Gall”, Conner. 8-ball, just like cards and a million other games are played in social circles as well as in tournament play. Are you saying that in every type of competition you’ve ever been in, you’ve only played by “tournament rules”? Go into 99% of the bars in America and play 8-ball. If you scratch, the other player will take the cue ball and play it from behind the header line. Even though “by the rules” it should be ball in hand. Rules are more about how you agree to play than there being only ONE way to play.

The old timers at my brothers bar play 7 point* pitch with a cut deck**. You won’t find those rules in any rule book, but if you go to his bar to play Pitch, you’d better be prepared to play with that variation.

*Hi, Lo, 4 Jacks (2jokers) and Game
**3’s, 4’s , and 5’s are culled from the deck.