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A Beginner’s Guide to Pool Betting

Pool may not be as popular as snooker, but it still has a huge fan base. There are a number of different forms of pool and many different tournaments, which means that fans have numerous betting options. If you want to start betting on pool but you are not quite sure how, then you have arrived in the right place. In this game, we will teach you about the different types of pool games, the different types of bets you can place, and how you should research those bets to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Pool Basics 

There are three main forms of pool, nine ball, eight ball, and straight. The games have a great deal in common, but they are distinct and it is important to understand the differences. 

In the United States, 8-ball pool is the most popular form of the game. The basic aim is to pot all of the balls of one group, either the striped or the solids (there are seven of each), followed by the number eight black ball at the end. A player is assigned stripes or solids according to which ball is pocketed first after the break. If the first potted ball is a solid, then the player who pots it must then go on to pot the remaining solids, and the same is tripe of the stripes. If, on the break, a player pots both a stripe and a solid, then the player can choose which group to pursue.  

In Britain, Japan, Australia and Asia, 9-ball pool is the most common form of the game. While in 8-ball pool, there are sixteen balls on the table at the start (including the cue ball), in 9-ball there are six fewer balls. The balls are a straight numerical set from one to nine. The game is a bit more dynamic than 8-ball and the aim is to pot the balls in numerical order, from the first to the ninth. There are more 9-ball pool professional tournaments than any other form of pool. 

The final form of pool is straight pool. It is the oldest form of the game and it was once the most popular professional form. However, as it is slightly slower paced than the other forms, it has become less popular. Straight pool is played with 16 balls on the table at the start (including the cue ball), with each ball worth 1 point. The game lasts until a player has reached the tournament’s set number of points. It is played in a series of turns, and the maximum series length in the history of straight ball is 281 points in a row.  

There are plenty of pool tournaments for fans to bet on, covering all the main forms of the game. There are tournaments such as the World Pool Masters and the Mosconi Cup, which are battled out between the US and Europe, and these take place each year. There is also the annual US Open 9 Ball tournament, which attracts some of the sport’s best players thanks to the huge prize pools. The biggest American pool tournaments are run by the World Pool and Billiards Association (WPA) or other organisations recognised by the body. There also world championships in 9-ball, 8-ball and straight pool. 

Betting on Pool 

Regardless of which form of pool you are betting on, when you look at the betting markets you are going to see a huge amount of choice. There are markets that relate to specific games, as well as markets that cover tournaments as a whole. Here we shall take you through the most popular betting markets to help you get started.  

Money Line (Winner) 

This is the simplest and most popular form of pool betting. It is simply a bet on which of the two players will win the match. As long as your chosen player wins, then you will win the bet.  

Handicap Betting  

If one of the players in a match is the clear favourite to win, then bookmakers offer handicap betting in order to offer more attractive odds on the underdog. The favourite is given a handicap that must be overcome, while the underdog is given an advantage. If you are betting on games, then the handicap will always involve half a game, for example 1.5. In this case, the favourite would be marked as -1.5 and have to win by at least two games for the bet to win. The underdog would be marked as +1.5 and would have to lose by less than two games for that bet to win.  


This is a bet on the total number of games that will be played in a given match. The market presents an option and you simply bet on whether there will be more (over) or less (under) than that number of games. You may see more exotic versions of Over/Under bets, such as on how many balls will be potted over the course of a game or match, and these work in exactly the same way.  

Game Bets 

There are many different types of bets that you may be able to place on individual games within a pool match. These are usually easy to understand. For example, you can bet on the winner of the game, the first player to pot a ball, the first type of ball to be potted, which player will pot the final ball, and so on. These markets will often vary from match to match, depending on the level of betting interest, but it is always worth keeping an eye out for them.  

Match Bets 

Like the markets that relate to specific games in a match, you may also find markets covering the match as a whole. For example, you may be able to place over/under bets on the total number of balls potted, or bet on the first player to win 3 or 4 games, who will be leading after the first four games, and so on. Once again, it is always worth having a close look at these to see what is on offer.  

In-Play Betting 

In-play betting, or live betting, is a fantastic way to make watching pool even more exciting. It gives you the ability to bet on a pool match as it is taking place. You will find many of the same markets described above available and the odds are continually updated to reflect the action. Furthermore, it introduces a category of bets called ‘Next To’, which are simply bets on the next player to do something. For example, you can bet on the next player to pot a bool. By keeping a careful eye on the markets, you may spot some fantastic opportunities.  

Tournament Betting 

As mentioned, you can also bet on an entire tournament. The most basic of these markets is on which player will win. However, you can find many more markets, such as which players will reach the final, and they are always worth exploring. You can place these bets both before and during a tournament, and as a general rule, the earlier you place the bets, the better the odds will be.  

What to Consider When Betting on Pool 

Before betting on pool, you need to carry out as much research as possible. While there is no way to guarantee that you will win your bet, the better quality your research is, the better your chances will be.  

An obvious place to start is with the player rankings and the players’ forms. Look at their recent results, their head-to-head history, and so on. Rankings are not always an accurate reflection of what is going on, but they will still give you a good idea of a player’s overall form.  

If you are betting on a match that is part of a tournament, then you should first carefully examine the format, venue and bracket of the tournament. Some punters will back numerous players to win a tournament when it first starts, and when doing this it is important to analyse the bracket, as the bet will not make sense if the favourites are all on one side.  

The venue is particularly important when betting on Asian pool players. There are many excellent players from Asia, but they seem to perform even better when playing at home with the support of the crowd, and this can make a real difference.  

You can also look to see if any of the players have been in the news recently, and if they have been, what for. It can help to give you an insight into the players’ states of mind, which will of course affect their performances. There is plenty of information to be found online, and while it should not be blindly trusted, it can be a very valuable resource.  

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to watch as much professional pool as possible so that you can get a sense of the different players and their strengths and weaknesses. With a bit of luck, you will soon be on the way to placing many successful bets on pool.  

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