How do you play the pool game cut throat?

Cut throat is a casual pool game played with three people. Each person is assigned five balls to protect (1 through 5, 6 through 10, or 11 through 15). The objective of the game is to pocket your opponents’ balls. The last person with one or more balls remaining on the table wins the game. The ball groups can be assigned before play begins or can be selected by a player after the first inning in which they pocket a ball. Any ball can be pocketed (even one from your group) to continue your inning. If a player scratches, a ball from each opponent’s group is spotted and play continues with the next player with ball-in-hand in the “kitchen” (behind the head string).

Cut-throat is not a good game if any of the players are very good because a good player should be able to run most non-rotation racks a high percentage of the time. A good way to handicap a better player is to require that opponent balls be shot in rotation (always hitting the lowest-numbered ball first), starting with the lowest-numbered non-group ball. Another challenging variation is to disallow the good player from pocketing any ball directly, where every shot must be a kick, bank, combo, carom, or kiss.

Another good variation of cut-throat for better players is to require each person to pocket their own group of balls in rotation (always contacting the lowest numbered-ball first) instead of pocketing the opponents balls in any order. The first person with all five group balls pocketed wins the game. With a scratch, the lowest-numbered ball from the player’s group (instead of from the opponent groups) gets spotted. Other variations can be found in Bob Jewett’s cut-throat article.

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