… definitions for cue sports terms and phrases, including gambling lingo and technical terms
Wikipedia’s Glossary of Cue Sports Terms (including many historical terms)
Billiards Forum Glossary (organized into multiple categories)
onepocket.org Glossary (One Pocket terms)
“The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards” book by Mike Shamos
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1 and 15 in the sides: variation of 8-ball where the 1 and 15 must be pocketed in designated side pockets.
½-ball hit: a shot where the CB center is aimed to pass through the outside edge of the OB, resulting in a cut angle of 30º.
¼-ball hit: a shot where the CB inside edge is aimed to pass through one quarter of the OB, resulting in a cut angle of about 49º.
10-ball: the pool game played with only the first ten balls (1-10), racked in a triangle pattern with the 10-ball in the center. The lowest numbered ball must always be hit first, and all shots must be called (i.e., slop doesn’t count). The person who pockets the 10-ball wins the game.
15-ball: rotation game, usually scored based on the ball numbers pocketed, played with a full 15-ball rack with the 15 ball on the spot. The first player to reach 61 points wins.
1P: acronym for “one-pocket.”
14.1: same as “straight pool.”
14.1 continuous: same as “straight pool.”
3-cushion billiards: see “three-cushion billiards.”
3x rule: principle stating that, with a full hit (greater than a ¾-ball hit), the CB will deflect by about 3-times the cut angle.
¾-ball hit: a shot where the CB inside edge is aimed to pass through three quarters of the OB, resulting in a cut angle of about 15º.
3/8″ rule: when the gap between two OBs is 3/8″ (9.5mm), the 2nd ball heads very straight (i.e., the throw effect cancels the cut effect) over a fairly wide range of 1st-ball angles, regardless of ball conditions.
30° rule: principle stating that a rolling CB’s path deflects by approximately 30° after impact with an OB for a cut shot between a 1/4-ball and 3/4-ball hit.
4-ball: a carom game with two CBs and two OBs, where you must strike your designated CB and make contact with two (1 point) or three (2 points) of the other balls to score.
40% rule: principle used to judge how much tip offset is required to create “gearing outside english” for a given cut angle. The tip must be offset 40% of the distance between the center of the CB and where the “line of centers” intersects the edge of the ghost ball.
45° rule: principle stating that if the CB rolls into the short rail at roughly a 45° angle, it will head fairly close to the center of the table after contacting the long rail.
50 yard line: refers to when a shot is lined up straight into a cushion close to the midpoint between two pockets, where the shot is equally difficult to either pocket.
6 pack: six consecutive racks run during a match.
7 and out: see “give the X and out.”
7-ball: same as “9-ball,” but played with only seven balls.
70% rule: principle stating that, with a thin hit (greater than ¼-ball hit), the CB will deflect by approximately 70% of the angle from the initial direction to the tangent line.
7x rule: principle stating that the CB will roll forward by about 1/7 of the distance the OB rolls forward with a straight-on roll shot.
8 and out: see “eight and out”
8-ball: a pool game, played with all 15 balls racked in a triangle pattern, where the objective is to pocket the 8-ball after pocketing all seven of your designated balls (stripes or solids).
9-ball: the pool game played with only the first nine balls (1-9), racked in a diamond pattern with the 9-ball in the center. The lowest numbered ball must always be hit first. The person who pockets the 9-ball wins the game.
9-ball banks: 9-ball format of bank pool, where every shot must be a bank.
9 footer: regulation size pool table.
90° rule: principle stating that the CB and OB will separate at 90° after impact provided the CB strikes the OB with stun.
90/90: align-and-pivot aiming system developed by Ron Vitello.
“A” player: a good player capable of running most racks and/or playing lock-up safeties.
ace: a very skilled player; or, the one ball.
ACS: American Cue-Sports Alliance pool league and tournament association.
access ball: a ball that enables you to easily get position on another ball that would otherwise be difficult to get shape on.
accuracy: hitting targets exactly with shot making or position play.
Accu-Stats: company that developed the “total performance average” rating system.
ACS: American CueSports Alliance league and tournament organization.
act of God: disturbance of table or balls as a result of something out of a player’s control (e.g., something falling from the ceiling, or an earthquake).
action: term used to refer to money games (i.e., competitive wagering); also, term used to describe the quality of a hit (e.g., the cue has good “action”) or the motion of the CB (e.g., the english created good “action” off the rail).
across the line: a position play in which the CB travels across the short dimension of the position zone, limiting the margin for error with shape (i.e., the CB is not coming into the line of the next shot).
ACUI: Association of College Unions International. They organize the annual collegiate championship tournaments.
added: see “money added.”
address the ball: move and settle into your stance in preparation for a shot.
adjust: to add a “handicap” after playing even, or to modify an existing handicap to new terms.
Advanced Instructor: an instructor who has teaching experience and has passed a course of training and testing from a Master Instructor (e.g., through the PBIA).
after-collision massé: massé shot where the CB curves mostly after contact with the OB (e.g., if the OB is close to the cue to begin with).
ahead session: a match won by being a certain number of games ahead.
aim: determine the line of the cue necessary to send the CB to the desired ghost-ball position to cut the OB the required amount for the shot.
aim and pivot: method (e.g., BHE or FHE) used to compensate aim for squirt. The cue is initially aimed for a center-ball hit and is pivoted to apply the amount of english desired. This is done before the shot.
aiming line: the imaginary line through the CB in the direction of the intended target (e.g., the center of the ghost ball) that results in contact with the OB or a cushion at the desired point.
aiming point: the center of the imaginary ghost ball target resulting in contact with the OB at the desired contact point.
aiming system: a systematic method used to aim shots.
air ball: a shot where the OB is missed entirely.
air barrel: not having the money to pay off a loss when gambling.
air game: same as “air barrel.”
air gun: a gambler with no money who continues to gamble.
Al Bundy: a person who tends to miss and leave easy shots often.
Alabama 8-ball: 8-ball game where the 1 and 15 must be pocketed in designated opposite side pockets.
albino: slang for the CB.
alignment: how you position your body and head to best enable you to place and stroke the cue along the desired line.
Alcatraz: same as “jail.”
all-ball fouls: rules variation where touching any ball (CB or OB) by accident is a foul.
alternating break: tournament format where the players take turns breaking, regardless of who wins the previous game.
American: used to refer to hitting the ball harder than you need to, like a banger (e.g., “Don’t put too much American on the ball”). This is a play on the use of “english” to refer to side spin (e.g., “Don’t put too much english on the ball”).
amateur: a non professional who does not make a living playing pool.
ambidextrous: able to play with both the right and left hand.
ammunition: money for gambling.
amphibian: slang term for a player who is ambidextrous.
angle: same as “cut angle;” or, a gambling approach or advantage (e.g., “He’s got an angle on you.”).
angled: British term for “corner hooked.”
angle in: the angle at which a kicked or banked ball approaches a rail.
angle of incidence: same as “approach angle.”
angle of reflection: same as “rebound angle.”
angle out: the angle at which a kicked or banked ball leaves a rail.
angle shot: same as “cut shot.”
angle to the pocket: the angle of approach of a ball to a pocket measured relative to the pocket centerline. A straight-in shot has a 0° angle to the pocket.
angled: Snooker term for “corner hooked.”
answer: successful reply to good play from the opponent.
APA: American Pool Players Association pool league and tournament organization.
apex: the lead ball of OBs racked in a triangle or diamond shape, usually placed on the foot spot.
appearance money: payment to a high profile player to simply show up and play in a tournament (for promotion), regardless of the player’s performance in the tournament.
applause: clapping of hands to acknowledge and show appreciation for good play.
approach angle: the angle at which a ball approaches a rail (i.e., “angle of incidence”), measured from the rail perpendicular. A ball driven directly into (perpendicular to) a rail has an approach angle of zero. Sometimes the angle is instead measured relative to the rail, where a shallow angle to the rail is a small angle and a steep angle into the rail is a large angle.
apron: decorative panel hanging from a rail used to conceal the table frame.
area position play: playing position for the next shot into an a large “shape zone” instead of attempting or needing to target a specific point.
area shape: CB position play into a large “shape zone” with a guaranteed shot or several options.
army: same as “ammunition.”
around the table: describing a shot traveling off multiple cushions circling the table.
around the world: to win so many games against an opponent that a coin or other marker being used to track the number of wins moves all of the way around the table, where the center diamond on the head rail is the zero position, and every diamond away from that indicates the number of games won.
artificial bridge: same as “mechanical bridge.”
artistic billiards: specialized cue sport discipline featuring creative, fancy, or “trick” shots.
artistic shot: same as “trick shot.”
ASS: Angle-Spin-Speed or Angle-Spot-Speed … the only things we can and control with the cue.
assistance: help or coaching received before a shot.
ATM: a “fish” that dispenses money very willingly (like a bank’s Automated Teller Machine).
automatic ball return: system of gutters returning pocketed balls to a collection area.
average: rating assigned to a player (e.g., for handicapping purposes), sometimes based on the number of points scored (or balls pocketed) in an inning.
avoidance shot: a shot where the CB path is controlled to avoid hitting surrounding balls.
AZBilliards: popular pool and billiards website and online discussion forum.
AZB: short for AZBilliards.
“B” player: a decent player capable of running racks and playing effective safeties periodically.
back: to provide part or all of a player’s stake for a gambling match (e.g., as a “stake horse”).
back bank: same as an “outside cut” bank.
back cut: a cut shot where the CB is shot well away from the target pocket (e.g., when the CB is much closer to the target pocket rail than the OB). In other words, the butt of the cue passes over one of the cushions adjacent to the target pocket. The more perpendicular the cue is to that cushion, the greater the back cut. In other words, a shot into a “blind pocket.”
back-hand english (BHE): method used to compensate one’s aim for squirt. You aim the shot assuming a center-ball hit on the CB (i.e., no english). Then you pivot the stick with your back (grip) hand, keeping your bridge hand firmly planted, until the desired amount of cue tip offset is reached. For a certain bridge length, the pivot angle will exactly cancel the squirt angle, and the CB will head in the original aiming line direction.
backer: person with money willing to provide a bankroll for gambling and take a stake of the winnings in return.
backing: gambling money or support provided by a “backer.”
backspin: same as “bottom spin.”
back swing: portion of the stroke where the cue is pulled back in preparation for the forward stroke into the CB.
bad break: an unlucky chain of events (e.g., where your opponent gets a “lucky roll”).
bad hit: not hitting an OB first, resulting in a foul; also, a shot exhibiting “cling.”
bad roll: unfortunate roll of the ball (e.g., bad position due to roll-off); or, just bad luck.
bag: same as “cue bag.”
bagel: same as “donut.”
baize: traditional term for weaved, woolen table cloth, a term used mostly in Snooker and for gaming-table cloth.
Balabushka: a cue made by legendary cue maker George Balabushka, who died in 1975. A Balabushka is likened to a violin made by Stradivarius.
balance: how the weight of the cue feels in your grip, based on the location of the “balance point.”
balance point: the center of gravity of the cue.
balk: same as “baulk.”
Balkline: a carom game where the table is subdivided into regions (e.g., 9) separated by straight lines. There are restrictions on the number of points can be scored (e.g., 2) when both OBs stay within the same region after a carom.
balk line: same as “baulk line.”
ball: solid sphere used in billiard games.
ball and pocket: shorthand phrase implying both the ball to be pocketed and the target pocket must be called before a shot.
ball banger: see “banger.”
ball cleaner: mechanical device used to clean and polish balls; or, a liquid with a solvent and/or fine-abrasive used to clean and polish balls.
ball grouping: two or more balls of the same type (“stripes” or “solid”) in the same general area of the table.
ball holder: a rack or tray for holding or storing balls when not being used.
ball in hand: same as “cue ball in hand.”
ball in motion: any ball still moving or spinning in place (e.g., you are not allowed to shot the next shot with any balls still in motion).
ball rack: a rack, usually wall mounted, for holding or storing balls.
ball return: mechanism on a table to automatically collect pocketed balls in a bin via gravity-assisted troughs running from each pocket to the bin (e.g., “bar boxes” usually have automatic ball return).
ball turn: very slight curve of the path of a ball with sidespin, caused by cloth friction.
ball-compression deflection angle: slight change in the OB’s direction due to the slight amount of compression of the CB and OB during impact.
ball-hit fraction: for a cut shot, the fraction of the OB covered by the projected CB. For a square hit (0º cut angle), the ball-hit fraction is 1. For a half-ball hit, the ball-hit fraction is 1/2. For a glancing hit (close to a 90º cut angle), the ball fraction is close to 0.
banana shot: follow shot off a ball close to a cushion where the CB hits the ball fairly full, then hits the cushion at an angle, and then curves back toward the cushion (with a shot path in the shape of a banana).
band: the white stripe on balls 9 through 15.
banger: derogatory term for a novice or unskilled player who hits the balls harder than necessary and doesn’t try to play for position.
bank: same as “bank shot.”
bank is open: saying used when one is to expect to make bank shots (e.g., the “bank” is always open with this guy).
bank pool: game where points are scored for pocketing bank shots only.
bank shot: a shot in which the OB is bounced off one or more rails before being pocketed.
bank the nine: a handicapped version of 9-ball requiring the better player to bank the 9 for the win.
banking lane: areas along the long rail for straight back banks and along the end rail for cross-corner banks (e.g., “that ball close to the rail blocks the banking lane”).
bankroll: total money you have available for gambling.
banks: same as “bank pool.”
bar box: small (3 1/2′ by 7′) coin-operated tables often found in bars.
bar player: one who plays in bars or pubs, usually in a bar-based league.
bar pool: pool (usually 8-ball) played on “bar boxes,” either socially (under “bar rules”) or part of a local league or tournament.
bar rules: sometimes arbitrary and often different rules by which novices play pool in bars.
bar table: same as “bar box.”
bark: same as “woof.”
barrels: number of payoff units available in your bankroll or in a ring game.
base: the portion of a table supporting the slate “bed.”
base frame: the structural members supporting the slate.
base of the ball: the bottom or resting point of the ball in contact with the playing surface.
basket: the mesh or container that captures a pocketed ball.
baulk: the area of the table behind the head string (i.e., the “kitchen”).
baulk line: same as “head string.”
BB: bar box.
BCA: Billiard Congress of America pool trade association and tournament.
BCAPL: BCA Pool League system and tournament organization.
BD: Billiards Digest.
BDC: brain dead commentator on an online stream or video.
bead: an object (usually a plastic puck or ball) used to count a point on a scoring “string” or “wire.”
bear down: really focus and give it your all.
beat: out play and win.
beat to the shot: come out of a safety exchange with the first reasonable offensive shot.
bed: the slate cloth-covered flat playing surface of the table.
BEF: Billiard Education Foundation, an organization supporting junior players.
beggar: a player who won’t gamble without more handicap than is appropriate.
behind the back: playing a difficult to reach shot by shooting with the cue behind one’s back.
behind the eight-ball: in a difficult situation or tough spot; or, literally snookered behind the 8.
behind the baulk line: same as “in baulk” or “in the kitchen.”
behind the head string: same as “in the kitchen,” where the CB must be placed in the upper portion of the table between the “head cushion” and “head string.”
belly up to the table like a man: quit “woofing” and play for “action” without expecting an unjustified “handicap” or “spot.”
bend a ball: same as “bend a shot.”
bend a bank: cause a bank shot to curve short after rebound.
bend a shot: use massé spin to curve a ball’s trajectory (e.g., with a massé shot or with an angled kick shot with draw or follow).
best of X: method for deciding the winner of a match based on who wins more than half of an indicated number of games X (e.g., the winner of a “best of 5” match is the first to reach 3 games won, which is the same as a “race to 3”).
betting: placing gambling wagers on a match.
BHE: back-hand english.
big: a “stripe.”
big ball: an oversized CB (e.g., used in some older bar boxes); or an obstacle ball close to a rail or other balls blocking shot paths; or an OB close to a rail that is easy to hit with a kick shot.
big balls: same as “stripes.”
big fish: a “fish” with lots of money.
big pocket: larger than normal pocket that is very accepting of a ball; or, a pocket with a wide margin for error for a specific shot (e.g., if the OB is very close to the pocket and/or if there are nearby balls that provide ample carom opportunities).
bigs: same as “stripes.”
billiard: same as “billiard shot.”
billiard parlor: a fancy “billiard room.”
billiard player: one who plays carom games as opposed to a pool player who plays pocket billiards.
billiard room: an establishment or location (even a room in a house) where billiards is played.
billiard shot: a shot (also called a “billiard”) where the CB is kissed or caromed off an OB (e.g., to pocket another OB).
billiard stick: same as “cue stick;” or a cue stick used specifically in carom or three-cushion billiards.
billiard supply store: commercial establishment that sells billiard equipment and accessories along with other home rec-room items.
billiard table: a table on which a billiard game is played; also, can refer to table with no pockets (e.g., for 3-cushion billiards).
Billiard University (BU): online organization offering instruction, assessment tools, a rating system, and learning resources to support pool instructors and players. The BU officially acknowledges excellence through the awarding of diplomas (Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate of pool).
billiards: term for all cue games including pool (pocket billiards), snooker, and carom games; also, can refer to pocket-less billiards (e.g., 3-cushion billiards).
billiards glasses: prescription eyeglasses specially made for cue sports (originally in snooker), with tall and high lenses that provide good visibility (with the eyes looking through the lenses instead of over them) even with a low stance.
bird dog: a person who arranges gambling matches for a cut of the action.
bite artist: same as “moocher.”
Black Ball: British version of 8-ball, usually played on small pub tables, where the stripes and solids are replaced by sets of yellow and red balls, and the 8-ball is replaced by a black ball; or, another name for the 8.
blank: a dull or unsuspecting player or gambler; or a rectangular wood block not yet turned on a lathe to create part of a cue (usually the butt); or an unsuccessful inning at the table.
blind draw: random placement of players in a tournament “bracket.”
blind pocket: a target pocket for a cut shot with a line of aim away from the pocket (i.e., you are not looking toward the pocket).
blocker: obstacle ball that blocks the desired path of the CB.
blood test: situation involving a “tester” that is a good measure of one’s composure.
body english: contorting your body in a feeble attempt to change the path of balls in motion.
Bonus Ball: a game played with nine balls involving a combination of snooker, 8-ball, 9-ball, one-pocket, and straight pool elements.
bookie: a person who takes bets and collects a “vig” for the service.
bottle: container used to shake small numbered balls (called “pills” or “peas”) used in some games.
bottom: below-center hit on the CB.
bottom cushion: the cushion on the “bottom rail.”
bottom rail: the “end rail” at the bottom of the table, closest to the foot spot.
bottom spin: reverse rotation of the CB (i.e., “backspin”) resulting from a below-center hit on the CB (see draw shot).
bounce: rebound off a cushion or the table surface.
bowlliards: pool game or drill played with ten balls. Bowling-like scoring is used. After the break, you get ball in hand. If you pocket all ten balls without a miss, you get a “strike.” After the first miss, if you pocket the remaining balls without a miss, you get a “spare.”
box: a rectangular area on a pool table (e.g., a break box); or, the container a new set of balls comes in; or a table (e.g., a “bar box”).
bracket: same as “tournament chart.”
Brazilian nuts: same as “stone cold nuts.”
break: the first shot of a pool game where the CB is hit from behind the head string (i.e., in the “kitchen”) into the racked balls; or, in snooker, a series of pots in a single inning.
break and run: a victory where you pocket a ball on the break and clear the remaining balls without giving your opponent an inning at the table.
break ball: the last OB remaining on the table in straight pool allowing for a break shot to continue an inning.
break box: square 2-diamond-by-2-diamond area in the “kitchen” centered between the side rails between the head string and head rail. Some tournaments require breaking from within this area to prevent an often easier and more effective side-rail break (e.g., in 9-ball).
break cloth: piece of cloth used under the CB during breaks to prevent damage to the table cloth.
break cue: a cue stick used for a power break shot, usually with sturdier construction and a hard tip.
break down: take apart a 2-piece cue by unscrewing the joint.
break down cue: take a 2-piece cue apart by unscrewing the joint.
break dry: make no balls on the break.
break of serve: losing a game as the breaker in an alternating-break match (analogous to losing a service game in a tennis match).
break off: British or snooker term for the first shot of the game (i.e., the “break shot”).
break pad: same as “break cloth.”
break serve: to get a “break of serve.”
break shot: the “break”; or in “straight pool,” the shot at the last OB, with the other 14 balls racked.
break-out shot: a shot where the CB is directed, after striking an OB, to strike a ball cluster to scatter the balls into more favorable positions.
break-up shot: same as “break-out shot.”
breaker: the person executing the “break shot.”
breaking violation: failure to satisfy a rule dealing with the opening break shot, usually resulting in your opponent having the option to re-break.
bridge: the support for the shaft end of the cue during a shot stroke, either the left hand (for a right-handed player) or an implement (see “mechanical bridge”).
bridge distance: same as “bridge length.”
bridge hand: the hand placed on the table to support the cue during a stroke.
bridge head: the portion of a “mechanical bridge” that rests on the table and supports the cue during the stroke.
bridge hook: the device for hanging a “mechanical bridge” under the table for easy access.
bridge length: the distance between the bridge and the CB.
bridge stick: same as “mechanical bridge.”
broken down: mentally defeated before the end of a match; or a cue after breaking it down.
brother-in-law: one of two players who hustler a third player in a 3-player game.
brush: implement used to clean chalk and lint from the top surface of the cloth.
BU: Billiard University.
buckets: big pockets.
bullet: same as “barrel.”
bump a ball: have the CB run into a ball during a shot to help hold the CB, to improve the ball position for you, or to worsen the ball position for your opponent.
bumper: rubber cushion on the end of the butt of a cue.
bumper pool: game on a small table with two opposing pockets and multiple obstacle bumper pegs off which balls can be rebounded. The goal is for each player to make all of their balls into their designated (opposite) pocket with the fewest number of strokes.
bumps: same as “bank pool.”
bunch: a cluster or rack of balls.
bunker ball: the obstacle ball placed on the foot spot in “golf.”
burn mark: discoloration of the cloth (usually white) caused by friction between the ball and cloth during fast speed and/or strong impact shots (e.g., break, jump, or power shots).
burnish: to vigorously rub the cue (e.g., with leather) to seal the pores and smooth the surface; or to rub the sides of the tip with a rigid tool to make it flush with the ferrule and to harden it to help prevent mushrooming.
business: see “doing business.”
bust: break or cluster break-out shot; or to become or cause someone to become “busted.”
busted: refers to a gambler who has lost all of his or her money.
butt: the handle or grip end of the cue.
butt cap: protective cap (usually rubber) mounted on the end of the butt of a cue.
button: same as “bead.”
buy back: pay an additional fee to re-enter a tournament after getting knocked out in an early round.
buy-in position: an empty spot in a tournament bracket where a “buy back” player can re-enter.
by the game: gambling approach where a the same wager is set on each game, with payment made after each game or at the end of a scored set.
bye: a tournament term used to designate when a player has no opponent and automatically advances to the next round.
“C” player: an average player who doesn’t run racks very often and doesn’t have much of a safety game.
C note: $100 (see also: dime, fin, nickel, Sawbuck).
Calcutta: a tournament gambling arrangement where spectators bid on the player they think will win the tournament. The winning bidder(s) get a percentage of the betting pool.
call: designate a “called shot.”
call 8: a handicapped version of 9-ball where the weaker player wins at any time by pocketing the 9 in any pocket or the 8 in a called pocket.
call shot game: a pool game where the intended ball and pocket must be declared before each shot.
called ball: the ball designated to be pocketed.
called pocket: the designated target for a called ball.
called shot: a shot for which you specify the intended ball and pocket (e.g., “9-ball in the corner pocket”).
cannon: snooker or British term for a “carom.”
carabao: a term used mostly in reference to Philippine players in the past to refer to a “swoop” stroke.
card: same as “tournament chart.”
carom: CB deflection off one OB into another.
carom shot: a shot where the CB is deflected off one OB and into another to pocket the second ball (i.e., a “billiard” or “CB kiss shot”).
carombole: a game based on carom shots (e.g., three-cushion billiards).
case: same as “cue case.”
case ball: last ball needed to win a game or match (e.g., the winning ball in a game of “One Pocket”).
case game: the deciding (final) game of a match (e.g., when a match is “hill-hill”). The last game before the cue goes back in the “case.”
case money: reserve cash kept in the cue “case” used only in times of desperation (e.g., to continue gambling).
catch a gear: start playing really well during a match and keep it going (as if a “gear” were shifted).
catch a stroke: same as “get in stroke.”
catcher: person who wins a “set up” hustle or gambling match, where the other player (the “pitcher”) is purposely dumping, and where both players might be in on the action and sharing the proceeds.
CB: cue ball.
CCB: “Cue Chalk Board” online discussion forum maintained on Billiards Digest’s website.
center ball: when aim at the dead center of the CB.
center line: same as “center string.”
center of percussion (COP): technical term used to describe the “natural roll impact height.”
center pocket: British or snooker term for “side pocket;” or, the location in the exact middle of a pocket opening.
center spot: the exact center of the table playing surface.
center string: imaginary line through the “center spot” and the side pockets across the width of the table.
center table: the area between the head and foot strings.
center-to-edge: see “CTE.”
century: a score of 100+ in a single inning.
century break: a score of 100+ in a single inning of snooker.
Certified Instructor: an instructor who has passed a course of training and testing (e.g., from a current PBIA Advanced or Master Instructor).
chalk: the dry, abrasive substance applied to the cue tip to help prevent slipping by increasing friction between the tip and the CB; or a misnomer for “talc.”
chalk holder: cup or fixture for holding a piece of chalk, so it can be readily available (e.g., attached to one’s pocket or belt).
chalk up: prepare for play by chalking the tip.
challenge: to contest a titleholder or a position holder in a challenge-league bracket.
challenge match: competition between two top players (e.g., the current world champion and another top player) for a money prize or for bragging rights for being the best.
championship: a sponsored tournament (usually sanctioned by a billiards organization) with a title to win.
chart: same as “tournament chart.”
chasing one’s money: inability to stop gambling once one has lost money because of a strong urge to get their money back.
cheat the pocket: aim an OB away from the center of a pocket to alter the path of the CB.
cheating: unfair or illegal play, or “dirty pool.”
check english: same as “reverse english.”
check side: same as “reverse english.”
cheese: money ball (e.g., the 9 in 9-ball); or, the money being played for in a gambling or tournament match.
cheese whiz: CB speed (e.g., “he put too much cheese whiz on that shot”).
cherry: same as “hanger.”
Chicago: a rotation game where all 15 balls are placed frozen to the cushion at all diamonds on the long rails and the foot rail in numerical order counterclockwise starting with the 1, 2, and 3 on the foot rail. Points are scored with any ball pocketed, where the number of points is the numerical value of the ball.
chicken bone: a “choke.”
Chinese Pool: any game where instead of stroking the cue into the CB, the CB is rolled down the groove formed by two cues held by the player (like large chopsticks).
Chinese puzzle: situation (e.g., ball layout) very difficult to solve, with no obvious approach to win the game.
Chinese snooker: situation where the CB is directly in front of a ball in the line of the shot such that the player must bridge awkwardly over the ball to shoot.
choice of group: the assignment of “stripes” or “solids” in the game of 8-ball, based on who legally pockets a called shot.
choke: miss a shot due to nervousness under pressure; also, same as “shorten.”
choke up: move the grip hand up on the cue.
chop the pot: the two players in a tournament finals match splitting the total winnings regardless of the outcome of the final match.
chopped up: scammed out of your money by a third party (e.g., when a backer stakes a player, and the player, in partnership with a third party, throws the game, the backer loses his money).
Chopsticks Pool: same as “Chinese Pool.”
church: a pool hall on a Sunday.
cinch: an easy shot.
cinch a shot: just focus on pocketing a ball without worrying about CB position after the shot.
circular draw shot: a cut shot with draw close to a rail, where the CB comes off the rail before most of the draw action occurs, causing the CB to curve around an obstacle ball.
circus shot: a spectacular or fancy, but low-percentage, shot that can be a real crowd pleaser.
CIE: cut-induced english.
CIS: cut-induced spin.
CIT: cut-induced throw.
civilian: non gambler or non hustler.
clean: when a ball is pocketed without touching any other balls or the points or facings of the pocket.
clean bank: a bank shot that does not touch any other OBs (as is required in “bank pool”).
clean the table: same as “clear the table.”
clear: remove balls from the table or a drop pocket.
clear the table: pocket all remaining balls on the table.
clearance: the act of clearing the table, or knocking balls away from a pocket (e.g., in One Pocket).
cliffhanger: a “hanger” that is on the verge of falling into the pocket.
cling: excessive friction and throw caused by non-ideal surface conditions at the point of contact between two balls (e.g., a chalk smudge).
clip: to hit a ball really thinly; or fast speed of play (e.g., “he’s playing at a good clip”).
clock system: a system that uses hour positions on an analog clock to understand the effects of different tip positions on the CB.
clocking: judging a player’s “speed.”
close the angle: same as “shorten the angle.”
close to your work: a phrase used to indicate that the CB is too close to the target OB, making a cut shot more difficult.
closed bridge: hand bridge where the index finger is curved over the cue providing solid support.
cloth: wool or wool-nylon blend material (sometimes called “felt”) covering the table’s playing surface.
cluster: two or more balls close together or touching.
clutch: to choke.
coefficient of friction (COF): technical term used to describe how much tangential friction force is generated between sliding surfaces (e.g., a ball sliding on the table cloth, or two balls colliding with spin or a cut angle), as a percentage of the normal force between the surfaces.
coefficient of restitution (COR): technical term used to quantify the “rail rebound efficiency” or the impact efficiency between two balls.
COF: “coefficient of friction.”
coin-operated table: a table requiring payment into slots with coins to begin a game (e.g., a typical “bar box”).
cold: not warmed up or in stroke yet; or nearly “frozen.”
collar: protective component on the joint end of the shaft or butt.
collision-induced english: same as “cut-induced spin.”
collision-induced spin: same as “cut-induced spin.”
collision-induced throw: same as “cut-induced throw.”
Color of Money, The: popular 1986 pool movie (a sequel to “The Hustler”) starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman.
combination on: same as “dead combination.”
combination shot: a shot where the CB hits an OB into another to pocket the second ball.
combo: same as a “combination shot.”
come into the line of a shot: have the CB approach the OB along the aiming line, offering the largest margin for error with position.
come up dry: fail to pocket a ball on a break (analogous to coming up dry in an exploratory oil well).
come with a shot: successfully execute a challenging shot.
commercial table: a pool table (usually very rugged and durable) meant for installation in a pool hall (as opposed to a “home table”).
companion ball: the other half of a Cribbage pair resulting in a total number of 15 (e.g., the 13 is the companion ball for the 2).
company: spectators or “rail birds.”
concede: acknowledge victory of an opponent without requiring the completion of a game or match (e.g., as a gentlemanly gesture if a loss is imminent).
conical taper: a shaft taper where the diameter increases linearly from tip to joint like a cone.
connect the dots: a “road map” layout; or the run-out of a “road map” pattern.
connecting ball: an OB that enables easy shape to the next ball or shot sequence.
consecutive fouls: more than one foul made in successive turns at the table.
contact: collision with a ball or cushion.
contact point: the point at which the surfaces of two balls meet at impact.
contact time: the duration of a collision between the cue tip and CB or between the CB and OB.
containing safety: a simple, straightforward, non-aggressive “safety” with little risk of “selling out.”
COP: “center of percussion.”
COR: “coefficient of restitution.”
Coriolis: famous French mathematician and physicist who wrote a book on billiards physics.
corner ball: one of two balls at the bottom or non-apex corners of a rack of 15 balls.
Corner-5 System: a formula-based diamond system for aiming three-rail kick shots.
corner hooked: when the CB is left in the jaws of a pocket with the path to an OB blocked by one of the pocket points.
corner man: a friend or audience member to whom a player talks or complains between games or shots (often to vent, and sometimes for encouragement or advice).
corner pocket: pocket at a corner of the table between a short rail and long rail.
corporation: two or more people who pool their money together in betting on a person in a match or Calcutta.
cosmo: a “road map” layout.
count: the number of balls pocketed during a player’s inning at the table, or the current score in a set.
counter: a device for keeping score.
counter man: pool-hall worker who rents tables and sometimes serves as a “middle man” to set up gambling matches.
counting string: same as “string” or “wire.”
cover: ball or balls acting as blockers limiting access for the opponent.
Cowboy Pool: a game played with the 1 on the head spot, the 3 on the foot spot, and the 5 on the center spot. Pocketing a ball scores its numerical value, caroming off two balls scores a point, and caroming off all three balls scores two points.
crawfish: To back away or backtrack quickly when approached or revealed, like a crayfish when startled (e.g., when a “nit” backs away from a bet after his wager gets called; or when a person tries to quickly “fill a hole” he has already “dug” for himself).
Crazy Eight: 8-ball with very relaxed rules (e.g., using the 8 in any combos).
creep: drift of a ball from its initial direction of travel caused by a non-level table, ball unbalance, or imperfections or dirt on the cloth.
Cribbage: 15-ball pool game where a point is scored when the numerical total of two consecutive pocketed balls is 15. Pocketing the 15 after all cribbage pairs are gone also scores a point.
cross: mechanical bridge with an “X” shaped head common in snooker.
cross corner: a bank shot off a long rail into a corner pocket, where the CB crosses the line of the shot.
cross over: a bank shot where the OB crosses paths with the CB on the way to the pocket, possibly resulting in a kiss.
cross side: a bank shot off a long rail into a side pocket, where the CB crosses the line of the shot.
cross rest: same as “cross.”
crossover player: a player who is skillful and successful in more than one billiards discipline (e.g., snooker and pool).
cross-roader: a “road player.”
crown: the rounded part of a cue tip that contacts the CB; or a championship title; or the decorative shape formed by multiple prongs on the butt of a cue.
crush: slang term for the break.
crutch: slang term for “mechanical bridge.”
CSI: CueSports International (BCAPL, USAPL, tournaments).
CTE: center-to-edge, referring to the line of aim going through the center of the CB and the edge of the OB, which creates a ½-ball hit. This line of aim is used as a reference or point-of-departure in some aiming and alignment systems.
cue: the implement used to strike the CB.
cue bag: same as “cue case.”
cue ball: the white ball struck by the cue.
cue ball angle error: the angle between the actual CB aiming line and the desired aiming line.
cue ball control: ability to leave the cue where you want after each shot.
cue ball deflection: same as “squirt;” also sometimes used to describe the net effect of squirt and swerve (i.e., “squerve” or “effective squirt” or “net CB deflection”).
cue ball foul: a foul specific to the CB (for example, touching a ball with the CB during ball in hand, double-hitting the CB, or accidentally touching the CB).
cue ball fouls only: rules variation where only touching the CB (and not an OB) by accident is a foul.
cue ball in hand: when the CB can be placed anywhere you want on the table (e.g., after an opponent foul).
cue ball in hand behind the headstring: when the CB can be placed anywhere you want in the “kitchen” (e.g., after an opponent scratch on the break in 8-ball).
cue ball on a string: same as “on a string.”
cue cabinet: a piece of furniture for storing or displaying multiple cues.
cue case: protective container for holding one or more sets of cue butts and shafts, along with accessories (e.g., for travel).
cue efficiency: a percentage measure of how much energy is retained (not lost) during cue impact with the CB.
cue elevation: the angle above level or horizontal that the butt of the cue is held higher than the tip.
cue holder: portable personal device (usually weighted with semicircular indentations and placed on the edge of a counter or non-playing table) for holding cues upright for convenient access.
cue man: employee at a pool hall in charge of maintaining the cues.
cue rack: wall-mounted device for storing cues vertically for easy access.
cue rest: same as “mechanical bridge.”
cue sport: any billiards-related sport (e.g., pool, billiards, carom, snooker).
cue stand: piece of stand-alone furniture use to store cues and accessories (bridge, balls, chalk, etc.) when not in use.
cue stick: same as “cue.”
cue tip: the shaped, component (usually leather) on the end of the cue that comes in contact with the CB.
cue the ball: hit the CB with a legal stroke.
cueist: a player of cue sports.
curfew: the time a pool hall is required to close (e.g., by law).
curve shot: a shot using a slightly elevated cue and bottom-side english to create massé (swerve) action to curve the CB a small amount around an obstacle ball.
cushion: the cloth covered triangular-cross-section strip of rubber bordering the playing surface, off which the balls rebound.
cushion compression shot: a shot where the CB or OB is driven into a cushion with enough force to deform the cushion enough to create clearance past on obstacle ball or into a pocket.
cushion face: the playing surface of the rail cushion.
cushion-induced spin: sidespin imparted to a ball as a result of collision with a cushion at an angle.
cushion nose: same as “nose.”
cushion-first: same as “rail-first.”
custom cue: a cue made special by order for an individual customer.
customer: one’s own private “mark” who will often lose and keep coming back.
cut: a “cut shot;” or a share of the winnings.
cut angle: the angle between the CB aiming line and the OB impact line for a cut shot; also the horizontal angle of the pocket opening facings (as opposed to the vertical pocket facing angle).
cut break: a break shot where you hit the 1 at a slight angle (off square slightly) on the outside (usually to help pocket the “wing ball” in 9-ball).
cut up: to scam a third party via a hustle or colluding tactics.
cut shot: a shot where the CB impacts the OB at an angle to the impact line (i.e., the shot is not “straight-in”).
cut-induced english (CIE): sidespin picked up by the CB during a cut shot, caused by sliding friction between the CB and the OB.
cut-induced spin (CIS): sidespin imparted to the OB during a cut shot, caused by sliding friction between the CB and the OB.
cut-induced throw (CIT): throw caused by sliding friction between the CB and the OB as a result of a cut angle.
Cut-Throat: 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.
D: in Snooker, the semicircular area serving as the “kitchen.”
“D” player: a novice player who makes many mistakes, can’t run even an easy rack, and never even considers playing safe.
DAM: “Dave’s Aiming Method.” Dr. Dave’s “aiming system.”
dart stroke: a stroke, similar to the throwing motion for a dart, used to execute a jump shot, usually with a shorter, lighter cue.
daylight: small space or clearance allowing for a ball to be pocketed.
DCC: Derby City Classic.
dead: term used to indicate that a carom or combination shot is lined up perfectly (i.e., you can’t miss).
dead ball: no sidespin (e.g., a “dead ball” kick shot).
dead ball shot: same as “kill shot.”
dead bank: a bank shot where the CB is on the natural aiming line to shoot for a square hit on the OB.
dead combination: a combination shot where the balls are lined up straight to a pocket offering an easy shot.
dead cushion: a cushion that has lost its resiliency and rebound capabilities (i.e., it has a very low COR).
dead money: gambling wager one is likely to lose; or the tournament entry fee of a player with no chance of cashing; or somebody who doesn’t gamble.
dead nuts: even more of a sure thing than the “nuts.”
dead punch: same as “dead stroke.”
dead rail: a unlively rail caused by poor mounting or a “dead cushion.”
dead straight: when the CB, OB and pocket center are in a perfect line.
dead stroke: when you are in a state (“in the zone”) where you can make no mistake and your play seems effortless, automatic, and confident.
default: same as “forfeit.”
defensive shot: a shot where you try to pocket a ball; but if you the shot, you try to leave the CB or OB in a difficult position for your opponent.
deflection: short for “squirt” or “cue-ball deflection.”
delay: undue and inappropriate suspension of play.
deliberate foul: same as “intentional foul.”
Derby City Classic: annual, popular, all-discipline pool tournament.
designate: same as “call.”
detective: someone who knows everything about local players and can give advice to a “road player” looking for “action,” sometimes for a percentage of the winnings.
deuce: gambling term for $2 (e.g., a deuce a ball); or the 2 ball.
develop balls: break out a cluster or move balls that present problems.
diamond: inlay “spot” or marking adjacent to the table cushions (on the top surface of a table rail) used as a target or reference point. There are three diamonds equally spaced between each pair of pockets.
Diamond: popular brand of pool table.
diamond rack: a diamond-shaped frame for racking in 9-ball.
diamond system: a kick and bank shot aiming method that uses the diamonds as aiming targets.
dime: $1000 (see also: C note, fin, nickel, Sawbuck).
ding: a nick or dent in the shaft of a cue.
dirt pile: loose cluster of balls left behind after the break of a “slug rack” (e.g., He left a real “dirt pile” to clean up after that break.)
dirty pool: unsportsmanlike conduct or play.
discipline: a particular cue sport game, category, or specialization.
disqualification: removal from a game, match, or tournament due to repeated and deliberate rules or conduct violations.
distance: shot length, particularly after a safety where you leave your opponent with as long a shot as possible.
disturbed ball: an OB accidentally touched or moved by a player during a shot with the cue or a part of their body.
divot: indentation in the cloth (e.g., at the foot spot) usually resulting from tapping or repeated breaking.
dodge: play a safety.
dog a shot: miss a shot badly due to pressure, or miss an easy shot due to loss of concentration or focus.
dog it: same as “dog a shot,” or applied to a match (e.g., he dogged the match).
dog the X: to “dog it” on a shot at a key ball (e.g., he “dogged the 9” in the case game).
doing business: making a shady deal with a player to “dump” a match for a gambling advantage and a cut of the winnings.
dominant eye: An eye (left or right) that helps provide stronger visual perception for things like aiming.
donut: a shutout, where your opponents wins zero (the shape of a donut) games in a match. Also, same as “little white donut.”
dots: alternative term for “solids” or “diamonds.”
double: snooker or British term for a kick or bank shot.
double bank: a bank shot off two cushions across the table.
double cheese: same as “hill-hill.”
double cheeseburger: same as “hill-hill.”
double dip: beat a player twice in a row (e.g., in a double-elimination tournament, where the loser’s bracket winner beats the undefeated player twice in the finals for victory).
double draw shot: a good-action draw shot where the CB draws back to a nearby cushion and retains enough backspin after rebound to draw back toward the cushion again.
double elimination: a tournament in which a player must lose twice to be eliminated.
double hit: an illegal shot where the cue hits the CB twice during a stroke (e.g., when the CB bounces back from a nearby OB during the stroke).
double kiss: double hit of the CB and OB during a bank shot of an OB frozen or close to a rail.
double or nothing: to wager the entire balance currently owed, giving the down player a chance to break even.
double round-robin: round-robin format where each player plays every other player twice.
double shimmed: pockets with two sets of shims in the pockets to make them tighter (i.e., smaller pocket opening) and tougher.
double steer: “steer” a gambler into a game while actually being in with the other player, usually for a cut of the winnings.
double-the-distance aiming method: aiming system where the aim point is twice as far from the OB center as the desired contact point.
double the pocket: intentionally rebound the CB off both pocket points for position or to avoid a bank double kiss.
double the rail: use reverse english at a shallow angle to a rail to cause the CB to return to the same rail after hitting the adjacent rail.
doubles: game, league, or tournament format where two players on a team alternate from one inning to the next.
down: behind in score.
down table: towards the foot rail.
downtown: same as “down table.”
drag draw: a drag shot where the CB only has a small amount of backspin remaining at OB impact, resulting in only a small amount of draw.
drag follow: a drag shot where the CB has developed roll before OB impact, resulting in a follow shot.
drag shot: shot where bottom spin is used to slow the CB on the way to the OB, resulting in the desired amount of draw, stun, or follow at the OB. Because the CB is moving faster (before slowing), table roll-off will be less of an issue. When sidespin is used, the drag action intensifies the effect of the sidespin.
draw: bottom spin (backspin) put on the CB by a draw shot; or method to place players on a “tournament bracket” (e.g., a random draw).
draw shot: a shot in which the CB is struck below center to impart bottom spin to the CB, causing the CB to pull back from the OB, after impact, farther than it would otherwise.
dress: trim and prepare a cue tip for play.
dress code: regulations concerning the style of clothing required during tournament play.
drift: same as “table roll.”
drill: a designed shot or routine used for practice; or to hit a shot really hard (e.g., “he really drilled that shot”).
drive: send a ball to a cushion (e.g., “for a legal shot, a ball must be driven to a rail”).
drive-through shot: a “carom shot” where you clear and follow past blockers to hit another ball into a pocket.
drop: to pocket a ball; also, an 8-ball handicap where a player or opponent is allowed to remove a given number of balls from the table after the break.
drop pockets: type of table pockets with no automatic ball return. The balls must be retrieved manually from each pocket.
dry break: a break where no ball is pocketed.
duck: slang term for a ball sitting close to a pocket that is virtually impossible to miss (i.e., a “sitting duck”); or to play safe, usually by hiding the CB behind an obstacle ball.
duck behind a ball: play a safety by snookering your opponent.
duck soup: situation where everything is very easy (e.g., with a lock of “ducks” hanging in the pockets with easy shape from one ball to the next).
ducking: playing a safety.
dump: to intentionally lose a game or match to help another player or as part of a scam (e.g., to cheat a “backer” or “stake horse”). Also, a bet where both players dump out all the money they have with the stake being the smaller of the two stacks.
Dutch doubles: same as “mixed doubles.”
Dutch Scotch doubles: same as “mixed Scotch doubles.”
effective end-mass: same as “end mass.”
effective pivot point: the cue “pivot point” that provides BHE/FHE compensation for both squirt and swerve. The effective pivot length can be different for every shot based on shot speed and distance, table conditions, and cue elevation.
effective pocket center: the target line to a pocket that has the same margin of error on both sides. For a straight-on shot, the effective pocket center goes through the center of the pocket opening.
effective pocket size: the total margin of error left and right of the pocket center that still results in pocketing a ball.
effective squirt: same as squerve or “net CB deflection.”
effective tip offset: the distance between the center of the CB and a line through the contact point on the CB that is parallel to the direction of CB motion. This is different than the actual “tip offset” due to squirt and/or swoop.
egg: slang for CB.
eight-ball: see “8-ball.”
eight and out: run 8 balls in your pocket in a single inning for a one-pocket victory.
EIT: english-induced throw (same as “spin-induced throw”).
elbow drop: the result of a non-pendulum stroke (e.g., with a “piston stroke” follow-through).
electric chair: the proverbial chair you are sitting in when your opponent continues to run multiple racks.
elevation: the angle of the cue above horizontal.
elevated bridge: a hand V-bridge where the heel (base) of the hand is lifted off the table to raise the cue (e.g., to clear an obstacle ball close to the CB).
elevated cue: when the butt of the cue is held higher than the tip (as with most shots). The higher the butt is raised, the more the cue is elevated (e.g., with a jump or massé shot).
elimination: same as “Cut Throat.”
end mass: the amount of mass in the tip end of the cue shaft that contributes to squirt. A low-squirt cue has a small effective end-mass. For a stiffer shaft, more length (measured from the tip) will contribute to the effective end-mass.
end rail: a short rail between two corner pockets.
end cushion: the cushion on an “end rail.”
English: alternative form of “english.”
english: term usually used to refer to sidespin applied to the CB, but can also be used to refer to any type of spin applied to the CB (e.g., with draw and follow shots).
English Billiards: game played with three balls (a CB for each player and a shared OB) on a table with pockets. Points are awarded for a cannon (caroming the CB off one ball into another), a winning hazard (pocketing a ball with the CB), or a losing hazard (pocketing the CB with a carom off another ball).
english-induced throw: same as “spin-induced throw.”
english transfer: same as “spin transfer.”
entry fee: cost to enter a tournament.
Equal Offense: variation of straight pool which can be played solo (e.g., for practice) or against an opponent. Each person gets a certain number innings (e.g., 10) at the table, starting with a new rack each inning. After the break, the player gets ball in hand with the goal of running as many balls as possible, usually up to a limit (e.g., 20). The total score is the sum of the scores for each inning.
Equalizer: the handicapping system used by the APA.
equator: the horizontal diameter of the CB.
equipment: everything used to play billiards (cues, balls, table, chalk, etc.).
ERO: eight-ball (or earned) run out, where the table is run starting with all 15 balls on the table (i.e., a “break and run”, or a “table run” after a dry break).
escape: successful reply to a safety or snooker.
European taper: a straight conical taper of a shaft’s diameter.
even: matching up with no “handicap” or “weight.”
even up: same as “even;” or, to pay what is owed up to that point in the gambling session.
even money: a level match-up with a 50-50 chance of winning.
exhibition: a performance staged to demonstrate a player’s skill and showmanship.
extension: a device used to add length to the butt of a cue for shots requiring longer reach; or a request for extra time in a match with a “shot clock.”
eye pattern: how you move your eyes before and during a shot (e.g., consistently look at CB during the forward warm-up strokes, and at the OB during the backstrokes).
face: same as “cushion face.”
facing: same as “pocket facings.”
facing angle: vertical angle of pocket facing (as opposed to the pocket “cut angle”).
fair stroke: same as “legal stroke.”
fall: to enter a pocket.
fan: same as “feather;” or a spectator who loves the sport.
fan it in: pocket a very thin cut shot.
fancy shot: a trick shot requiring props or unusual skill.
FAQ: frequently asked question.
Fargo: a practice and rating drill developed by Mike Page (of Fargo, ND) using a combination of straight pool and rotation.
FargoRate: a player rating and handicapping system developed by Mike Page (of Fargo, ND).
fast cloth: cloth with very low rolling resistance (i.e., the CB travels far before slowing).
fast taper: a shaft taper in which the diameter changes quickly between the tip and joint.
fat: when a ball is undercut, it is hit too “fat.”
feather: to cut an OB so thinly, it barely moves.
felt: the cloth that covers the table surface.
ferrule: the sleeve, usually plastic, on the end of the cue shaft to which the cue tip is attached (with adhesive).
FHE: front-hand english.
fiddle: to move the cue stick back and forth or make slight adjustments in preparation for a shot.
field goal: a shot where the OB goes between two adjacent balls (like football goal posts) on the way to a pocket.
fifteen-ball: see “15-ball.”
file: tool used to shape and scuff/roughen a cue tip.
Filipino: a player from the Philippines.
fin or finski: $5 (see also: C note, dime, nickel, Sawbuck).
find gravity: enter a pocket (e.g., the CB “found gravity” in the side off the break).
fine: a monetary penalty imposed on a player for violating a tournament or organization regulation.
finger bridge: same as “hand bridge.”
finger pool: a game or trick shot where you use your fingers, and not the cue, to propel the CB. Large amounts of spin can be imparted with a snapping action of the fingers (e.g., with the CB held between the thumb and middle finger).
fingertip bridge: a hand bridge with just the finger tips touching the table to achieve an elevated bridge over an obstacle ball.
finish: “follow through” and “freeze.”
firewood: slang for a cheaply-made or poor quality cue.
fish: a player who is not very good and is willing to wager with people of better skill.
flag: shark move where the sitting player waves a handkerchief or clothing in the line of sight of a shooting opponent as a distraction.
flagrant foul: foul where the rules are blatantly and intentionally violated, which can result in an “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty.
flash: show a potential “mark” you money roll seemingly unintentionally.
flat-spot: the extremely small circular contact patch that forms between two balls when they collide, and compress slightly, at the point of contact.
flat-spot squeeze: same as “ball-compression deflection-angle.”
flight: a sub grouping or sub bracket of players in a tournament (e.g., separated according to seeding).
flip: toss a coin to determine who breaks first.
float: same as “drift.”
float follow: same as “run through.”
flow chart: same as “tournament chart.”
fluke: a lucky shot with an unplanned positive outcome.
flush: having a lot of money (e.g., for gambling; or as a result of gambling).
flyer: a difficult and low-percentage shot.
follow: topspin put on the CB by a follow shot.
follow shot: a shot in which the CB is struck above center to impart topspin to the CB, causing the CB to roll forward, after impact, more than it would otherwise.
follow-through: the movement of the cue through the CB position during the end of your stroke in the direction of the aiming line, after making contact with the CB.
foot: the half of the table containing the racking area.
foot cushion: the cushion on the “foot rail.”
foot foul: a foul resulting from not having at least part of one foot on the floor during a shot.
foot rail: the “short rail” at the bottom of the table where the balls are racked.
foot spot: the point on the table surface over which the lead ball of a rack is centered. It lies at the intersection of “center line” and “foot string.”
foot string: the imaginary line passing through the second diamonds closest to the bottom end of the long rails.
for the time: betting arrangement where the loser pays for the table rental.
force: the amount of stroke strength used.
force follow: maximum topspin follow shot hit with speed. This term is used mostly when referring to a firm, nearly straight-in (small cut angle) follow shot.
forced error: a shot miss or mistake after your opponent left you with a tough shot or safety.
forfeit: to lose a game or match by giving up, not showing up, refusing to play, or not following rules and regulations.
fork and knife: same as “knife and fork.”
forward spin: same “as topspin.”
fouetté shot (pronounced “fwet-TAY”): a shot that uses tip offset (i.e., english) and cue deflection to avoid a double-hit when there is a small gap between the CB and OB. A fast, full stroke is used so the cue deflects away while the CB clears.
foul: a violation of the rules of the game.
foul stroke: a stroke during which a foul is committed.
fractional-ball aiming: using ball-hit fraction as a method to gage the required amount of cut angle required.
fram it: smack it or hit it hard (e.g., “fram the ball into the pocket”).
fram the rack: one-pocket term referring to a shot that scatters the rack, intentionally or not.
frame: snooker term for an entire game.
free ball: in Snooker, when the CB is snookered after a foul, the shooter may nominate and shoot at any ball, with that ball assuming the value of the current ball on.
free break: an opening break shot in which there is no risk in scattering the balls wide and open (e.g., when you are allowed to shoot after the break, whether you pocket a ball or not).
free play: the use of a pool hall table without pay.
free shot: a shot that doesn’t hurt a player if missed (e.g., a “two-way shot”).
free stroking: same as “freewheeling.”
free table: same as “open table.”
freeze: the practice of staying down and not moving anything after following through on a shot; or, two balls that come to rest touching.
freeze out: same as “freeze up.”
freeze up: agree to a set amount of money a gambling match will be played to, not quitting until the “frozen up” amount has been won; or, an “ahead session.”
freewheel: to play freely, instinctively, and at a fast and consistent pace, not over-thinking or second-guessing oneself.
frogskins: slang for paper money.
front-hand english (FHE): same as back-hand english (BHE), except the front (bridge) hand is moved to pivot the stick. FHE is more appropriate for low-squirt cues, where the amount of squirt and required pivoting can be small. BHE would require too large of a bridge length.
front runner: the favorite to win (e.g., in a tournament); or, somebody ahead in games in a race match.
frozen: in contact with (e.g., frozen to a ball, or frozen to a cushion).
frozen ball: a ball in contact with (touching) another ball or a cushion.
frozen CB shot: a shot where the CB is frozen to a legal OB, where the CB can be struck at any angle (even toward the OB) with a legal stroke.
full: describing a centered or square hit.
full hit: same as “thick hit.”
full rack: a rack of 15 balls.
full-ball hit: a direct hit with no cut angle.
fundamentals: the basic or essentials skills (e.g., good stance, grip, bridge, and stroke) required to be a good player.
funnel: same as “shape zone.”
furniture: slang term for the balls on the table (e.g., “He really rearranged the furniture with that wild shot”).
furniture-style billiard table: a billiard table designed to look really nice in a fine-decor home setting.
gaff shot: a trick shot involving props or an illegal substance (e.g., chalk or saliva on a ball).
gallery: crowd of spectators watching a match.
gambling: wagering money or an item of value on the outcome of a match.
game: unit of play, from break to a win or loss, that makes up a match.
game ball: ball required to win a particular game (e.g., the 8-ball in the game of eight-ball).
game clock: clock used to track total time played, with the match ending after a pre-designated amount of time.
game making: getting “action” and a favorable wager.
games on the wire: “spot” or “handicap” where a players is given a number of free games in a “race” to a certain number of games.
gap: small distance between two balls or between a ball and rail.
gangster: a player who hangs out at a poolroom and has no job or apparent means of support.
gapper: agreement between two players in a tournament, one of whom will advance to a guaranteed money prize if the match is won, to give a certain percentage of that money to the loser of the match.
garbage shot: a “slop shot” made by luck rather than skill.
gas: slang for adequate ball speed (e.g., the ball doesn’t have enough “gas to get to the pocket).
gate: amount received from spectator admission fees at an exhibition or tournament.
gather: to send balls together into an area advantageous to you or disadvantageous to your opponent (e.g., in “One Pocket,” toward your pocket or blocking “banking lanes”).
gather shot: in carom games, a shot where the balls end up close together after the shot, providing an easy opportunity for another scoring shot (e.g., with a “nurse” shot).
GB: ghost ball.
GC: “Gold Crown” … a popular pool table model made by Brunswick.
gear: see “catch a gear.”
gearing outside english: the amount of outside english that results in no sliding between the CB and OB during contact. Instead, during contact, the CB rolls on the OB like two meshing gears. The result is no throw.
gearing spin: CB and OB sidespin in opposite directions during contact with no relative sliding motion between the ball surfaces (like two meshing gears).
gentleman’s call: alternative to “call everything” where only banks, kicks, caroms and combinations must be called. There is no need to call obvious shots.
George: name for a good, cool or trustworthy guy or situation (e.g., he is “George”). Not a “Tom.”
get a rail: have a ball make contact with a cushion.
get an angle: same as “leave an angle.”
get back in line: go from being “out of line” to back “in line.”
get in gear: same as “catch a gear.”
get in stroke: get “in stroke” through practice.
get down: agree to a big money match.
get on: obtain CB position (e.g., he needs just the right speed to “get on” the next ball).
get out: run out the game from the current position.
get pumped up: grow your gambling winnings (i.e., become “flush”).
get your nose open: same as “go off.”
ghost: your opponent in “playing the ghost” drills.
ghost ball: imaginary aiming target where the CB needs to impact the OB so the line through their centers (the impact line) is in the direction of the desired OB path.
give a ball: in “One Pocket,” to make a ball intentionally in your opponent’s pocket because it is the best choice in a difficult situation; or a “One Pocket” handicap where a stronger player offers the weaker player a one ball adjustment in the score.
give the X: When playing 9-ball, if you “give” your opponent the X-ball (e.g., the 7-ball), then the opponent wins by pocketing the X-ball (e.g., the 7-ball) or the 9-ball. This is a form of “weight.”
give the X and out: When playing 9-ball, if you “give” your opponent the X-ball (e.g., the 7-ball), then the opponent wins by pocketing the X-ball or any higher-number ball (e.g., the 7-ball, 8-ball, or 9-ball). This is a form of “weight.”
give-up shot: a desperation low-percentage shot played by somebody expecting to win the game or match.
glove: slick fabric covering the hand, or a portion of the hand, to allow the cue to slide more easily and consistently in the bridge hand.
go: to decide to shoot a potentially-risky offensive shot because it offers the best chance to win.
go around the angles: send the CB around the table off multiple cushions for position.
go off: to lose lots or all of one’s money gambling.
goalie: a player that never scores, but does whatever he or she can to prevent others from scoring.
GOE: gearing outside english.
golden break: 9-ball break where the 9-ball is pocketed (on the “snap”) for the win.
Golf: pool game or drill where the goal is to pocket a single OB (always spotted on the center spot) in each pocket with the fewest number of “strokes” starting with the CB on the head spot.
good angle: a cut angle that allows easy position to the next shot.
good hit: a legal shot where the CB hits the OB first.
good spot: a place where you are likely to make money gambling.
goose egg: slang for zero (e.g., when no games are won against an opponent in a match).
governor called: you’ve been saved from an inevitable loss (i.e., the “electric chair” on death row), usually by an unexpected opponent mistake.
grade “A” shot: a high-percentage shot you expect to make with a good chance it will lead to a win.
grade “B” shot: a shot you expect to make at least 50% of the time without too much risk.
grade “C” shot: a shot that is very miss-able and at risk of leaving your opponent with a good reply.
grain: wood fiber patterns in a cue or on a rail.
granny: slang for “mechanical bridge.”
grapefruit: slang term for an oversized or heavy CB found in older bar boxes (to enable separation in the auto ball return mechanism).
grease: slang for lots of spin (e.g., he put lots of “grease” on that one).
green: the table cloth; or distance (e.g., there is a lot of green on that shot); or money.
grip: the clutch of the right hand (for a right-handed player) on the butt of the cue, used to support and impart force to the cue during a stroke.
grip hand: the hand that holds the butt of the cue during a stroke.
group: set of seven balls (stripes or solids) one must pocket first in a game of eight-ball.
grinder: a deliberate, straightforward, uncreative, but dedicated player.
gulley table: a table with an automatic ball-return system, where all pocketed balls end up in a collection bin at the foot of the table.
gum: slang for rubber “cushion.”
gutter: same as “rail groove;” or the ball troughs under a table allowing for automatic ball return.
gutter ball: slang for “scratch” inspired by bowling.
half-ball hit: see “½-ball hit.”
half safety: a defensive shot where you leave your opponent with a look at a ball but no offensive shot.
Hall of Fame: BCA list of people acknowledged and honored for significant contributions to billiards through either meritorious service or champion playing performance.
halves: European term for “stripes.” See also: “wholes.”
HAMB: “Hit a Million Balls,” referring to what some people think is required to get good at aiming (i.e., “HAMB” is the only reliable “aiming system”).
hand bridge: the sliding support created with your hand or fingers to guide the cue (as opposed to a “mechanical bridge”).
hand chalk: talc powder used to reduce friction between the cue and hand bridge.
hand pool: same as “finger pool.”
handcuff artist: same as “locksmith.”
handle: same as “butt.”
handicap: modified rules or scoring or wagering designed to allow players of different skill levels to compete more equally in a league, tournament, or gambling match.
hang: to sit in the jaws or hanging over the lip of a pocket.
hanger: an OB sitting close to, in the jaws of, or hanging over the lip of a pocket.
HAPS: “How to Aim Pool Shots.” A three-disc instructional video series created by Dr. Dave and Bob Jewett.
has all the moves: plays well, is creative, and knows a lot of uncommon or tricky shots (e.g., “He has all the moves at One Pocket”).
hazard: a pocket when the CB is at risk of scratching.
head: the half of the table containing the “kitchen;” or the functioning end of a mechanical bridge.
head ball: same as “apex ball.”
head cushion: the cushion on the “head rail.”
head knocker: a bank shot that results in a double kiss.
head pocket: a corner pocket at the head of the table.
head rail: the short rail at the end of the table from where you break.
head spot: the spot (sometimes marked) in the middle of the head string.
head string: the imaginary line at the head of the table, behind which you must break.
head up: “settle up” before continuing to the next gambling round or game.
heads up: same as “straight up.”
heap: a large cluster of balls (e.g., after a soft break).
heart: will to win, mental toughness, and ability to overcome pressure.
heart of the pocket: dead center of the pocket.
heat: competitive pressure.
help: an unintentional kiss or roll-off needed to pocket a ball (e.g., I got a little “help” on that shot).
helping english: same as “outside english” since it reduces throw away from the pocket (and can even throw the ball toward the pocket). The phrase “helping english” is also sometimes used to refer to CB english that transfers sidespin to the OB in an attempt to help the ball enter a pocket off a point or wall (e.g., using right english to transfer left sidespin to an OB so it will be more like to go in when it hits the right point or wall of a pocket).
herd: in “One Pocket,” moving balls toward one’s pocket.
hide: same as “snooker.”
high: same as “stripe;” or follow-shot hit.
high balls: same as “stripes.”
high end gambler: same as “high roller.”
high percentage shot: a shot with a high probability or likelihood of success.
high roller: a gambler who likes to play for large “stakes.”
high run: the highest number of consecutive balls made by a player in a game of straight pool.
high stakes gambler: same as “high roller.”
high-speed video (HSV): video clip shot with a special high-frame-rate video camera that can be played back in super slow motion, supporting the book “The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards.”
highs: same as “stripes.”
hill: term used to indicate that a player is one game away from winning a match.
hill-hill: when both players in a match only need to win one game to win the match.
hit: the action of one ball contacting another (usually the CB into an OB).
hit some: play for practice (as opposed to “play some”).
ho: same as “whoa.”
hold shot: cut shot where you use SIT and/or draw to limit CB motion.
hold-up english: same as “reverse english.”
hold your man: when a player in a ring game misses and leaves no shot for the next player.
hole: slang for “pocket” (e.g., “Put the ball in the hole”).
home table: a pool table (usually more decorative and less rugged) meant for installation in a private home (as opposed to a commercial table).
home team: the host for a given week in a “traveling league” that has the privilege of shooting first.
honest effort: try your best to make a shot (e.g., in Cut Throat, where you could instead just leave the next player safe).
hook: hide a ball behind another ball or point of a pocket. or same as “fish.”
hooked: same as “snookered.”
Hopkins Q Skills: a practice and rating drill developed by Allen Hopkins using a combination of straight pool and rotation.
horizontal plane: the imaginary plane parallel to the table surface passing through the CB. Adjusting the cue position left and right of the CB center, in the horizontal plane, creates sidespin.
horse: player on which a person has money betted (e.g., by mutual agreement or through a Calcutta).
horn: same as “point” or “knuckle” of a pocket.
hot seat: position at the end of the winner bracket in a double-elimination tournament, waiting to face the winner of the loser’s bracket in the finals.
hot seat match: the match in which the winner goes to the “hot seat” and the loser goes to the finals of the loser’s bracket.
house cue: a cue (often of poor quality and in bad condition) available for play at a bar or pool hall.
house man: pool room employee who plays with a lot of skill.
house pro: designated top player (usually a professional) who gives lessons and/or runs tournaments at a pool hall.
house rack: same as “slug rack.”
house rules: set of rules at a particular establishment by which you are expected to play.
house win: when two gamblers break even, and the only money paid out is for the table time.
HSV: see “high-speed video.”
hug the rail: when a ball rolls along a rail cushion.
hustle: con an opponent into to gambling on a losing proposition.
hustler: a pool player who deceives potential suckers into gambling and losing money (i.e., one who hustles). The deception usually involves concealing one’s true ability.
Hustler, The: popular 1961 pool movie starring Gorge C. Scott, Jackie Gleason, and Paul Newman.
IBSF: International Billiards and Snooker Federation.
IE: inside english.
iggy: an ignorant gambler.
illegal: involving a “foul.”
illegal marking: using chalk, powder, moisture, or any other means to mark a spot on the table cloth or rails as an aiming aid. This is not allowed.
immediate roll impact height: same as “natural roll impact height.”
impact height: the height of the part of the rail cushion that contacts a rebounding ball.
impact line: the imaginary line through the CB and OB centers at impact (i.e., the line through the centers of the ghost-ball and OB). The OB moves along this line after impact (unless there is throw).
impact point: the point of contact between the CB and OB during impact.
imposter: someone who looks, acts, and dresses like a player but can’t really play very well.
in Alcatraz: same as “in jail.”
in and safe: a special safety shot in the game of 8-ball, where you declare “safety” before the shot, and you return control of the table to your opponent after your shot, even if you legally pocket one of your OBs. The purpose is to leave the CB in a difficult position for your opponent.
in baulk: same as “behind the baulk line.”
in control: at the table, with your opponent sitting.
in hand: same as “cue ball in hand.”
in jail: see “jail.”
in line: not “out of line.”
in off: pocket a ball off another (i.e., a kiss or carom shot).
in play: referring to a ball that is reachable or makable in its current position.
in stroke: in the zone, or in good form, playing successfully with little apparent effort.
in the drink: same as “in the pocket;” or, in case of the CB, a scratch (e.g., “That ball is wired to go in the drink.”).
in the kitchen: same as “behind the head string.”
in the money: placing high enough in a tournament to receive a payout.
in the rack: in Straight Pool, a ball in the rack area that would interfere with racking.
in the zone: playing a peak level with little apparent effort and no or few mistakes.
incidental contact: contact with an adjacent cushion as a ball approaches a pocket (which does not count as a bank, and need not be “called”).
infraction: same as “foul.”
inlay: decorative inset in the butt of the cue.
inning: a player’s turn at the table, which ends with a miss, foul, or win.
inside cut: term used to describe a bank shot where the CB hits the OB on the side toward the bank direction, relative to the aiming line. The CB imparts natural (running) cut-induced spin to the OB.
inside english (IE): sidespin created by hitting the CB on the side towards the direction of the shot (i.e., on the “inside” of the CB). For example, when the CB strikes an OB on the left side, creating a cut shot to the right, right sidespin would be called “inside english.”
insurance ball: An easily pocketed ball (e.g., a ball in the jaws of a pocket) that you leave untouched until you need it to get out of trouble (e.g., when you create poor position after a shot, or when hitting a break-out shot).
installer: a person who assembles and sets up a pool table.
instant replay: use of video to review the previous shot to determine if a call (foul vs. legal shot) was correct or not.
intentional foul: a deliberate foul used to give you a strategic advantage.
interference: any outside action that inappropriately affects or disrupts a player or the balls on the table before or during a shot.
intermission: temporary suspension of play for a player and spectator break.
IPT: International Pool Tour.
Irish linen: fiber made from flax and produced in Ireland, used to wrap the gripping area of a cue’s butt.
iron: metal rim that attaches a pocket to a rail.
ivory: elephant tusks, used to make billiard balls in the past.
“J” stroke: pendulum (pinned elbow) motion before CB contact, elbow-drop piston (straight-line) motion after CB contact. If you trace the path of the grip hand, it looks like a “J” turned sideways. The curved part is from the pendulum motion, and the flat part is from the straight follow-through.
jab stroke: a short punch-like stroke.
jack up: elevate the butt end of the cue.
jacked up: slang phrase referring to having the cue elevated.
Jackson: double sawbuck ($20).
jagged edge: an easy-to-hit ball sticking out from a large cluster of balls.
jail: “in jail” is being surrounded by opponent balls after an effective safety, with little hope of getting a legal hit.
jam the ball: to trap the CB between the cue tip and table during an elevated shot (e.g., a massé or jump shot) aimed too close to the CB center.
jam up: when a player is shooting very well.
jar up: throw an opponent off his game (e.g., by giving him a “mickey”).
jaw a ball: miss by rattling the ball in the jaws of the a pocket.
jaws: the inside walls of a pocket.
jelly roll: a very favorable roll of the CB (e.g., when it “rolls off” or takes an extra fraction of a roll at the end of travel) to create perfect position for the next shot. Also, payment to somebody who helps you win money (e.g., in a gambling set-up, or in arranging a match).
Johnson City: an Illinois town that hosted a popular annual pool tournament (and lots of gambling action) in the 1960s and 1970s.
joint: the mechanical connection (usually threaded) between the butt and shaft ends of a two-piece cue.
joint protector: plug that screws into the shaft or butt end of a joint to keep the joint mechanism (e.g., threads) protected and clean when the cue is broken down (not being used).
Judy: slang for “cue ball.”
juice: slang for lots of speed or spin (e.g., I really “juiced” that one up with spin); or a payment (e.g., to a backer) for “vig” or interest on borrowed money.
jump: hop over a ball.
jump cue: shorter, lighter cue with a hard tip designed to make jump shots easier.
jump draw: a jump shot with bottom spin causing the CB to draw off the OB.
jump massé: a jump shot hit off center causing the CB to curve after landing.
jump shot: a shot in which the CB is bounced off the table surface, with a downward stroke, to jump over an obstacle ball.
jump stick: same as “jump cue.”
jumped ball: a ball that has gone airborne and remained off the playing surface.
jumping up: the opposite of “staying down.”
Katy bar the door: old-fashioned phrase indicating there is trouble ahead.
key ball: the ball before the final or critical ball of the game, used to get position on the final or critical shot.
key shot: a shot that moves balls or creates good position for clearing the remainder of the balls.
kick: CB rebound off a cushion. It is also a snooker or British term used to describe “cling” or “skid,” and sometimes CB hop.
kick shot: a shot in which the CB bounces off one or more rails before contacting the OB.
kill shot: a shot where you use draw or reverse english to limit the CB’s motion after OB or rail contact. (See also: “hold shot”)
kiss: contact between balls.
KISS: keep it simple, stupid (i.e., don’t try to be fancy, and just “take what is offered”).
kiss shot (or “OB kiss shot”): a shot where an OB is deflected off another and then into a pocket.
kiss-back shot: a shot using a “double kiss” to bounce the CB straight back from an OB close or frozen to a rail, leaving the OB close to its original positions (e.g., for a safety).
kitchen: slang term for the area behind the head string from where the CB is shot during a break.
knife and fork: a gambler’s or hustler’s eating and sleeping money.
knock: when a player declines a money game because a 3rd party convinces the player he or she can’t win.
knocker: a person who warns players about the “speed” of a gambler so the players won’t enter money games, which they would probably lose.
know the angles: understand how the CB travels around the table off cushions.
knuckle: the tip of a rail cushion bordering a pocket opening (i.e., pocket “point”).
lady’s (or ladie’s) aide: old disparaging phrase for a “mechanical bridge.”
ladder: a ranking system where players are listed in playing-ability order that changes when a person challenges and beats a player in the next higher rung.
lag: to play a “lag shot.”
lag shot: a skill shot used where each player must shoot a ball from behind the head string and return it as close as possible to the head rail after bouncing off the foot rail.
lag for break: use a “lag shot” to determine who breaks first.
lamb: same as “fish.”
lamb killer: a gambler known for beating less skillful players for money.
large: gambling term for $1,000 (e.g., 5 large = $5,000).
last-pocket 8-ball: a variation of 8-ball where you are required to pocket the 8-ball in the same pocket as the last ball in your group.
last two: a 9-ball spot where the opponent wins if he pockets the ball before the nine ball (which might not be the 8, if it is pocketed early).
lay: ball positions (e.g., the “lay” of the table is difficult).
lay-off: reduce one’s risk on a wager by sharing the action with other players.
layered tip: cue tip punched from a stack of many thin sheets of leather glued and pressed together.
laying down: when a player appears to throw a game or match on purpose, usually when it benefits the player financially (e.g., through some hustle or behind-the-scenes betting arrangement).
league: organized and regular competition among a group of teams.
league play: competition format where balls pocketed or points per game are totaled (as opposed to “tournament play” where players “race” to a given number of games won).
league rules: the set of rules governing play for a specific league, usually based on the World Standardized Rules.
leaner: same as “hanger.”
leather: material used to make tips; or, same as “tip.”
leave: the position of the balls after a player’s shot. A “good” leave is one in which the ball positions for the next shot are desirable.
leave an angle: control CB position after a shot so there is a cut angle on the next OB, creating more opportunities for controlling CB position for the next shot.
leave distance: a safety tactic where you leave your opponent with as long a shot as possible, preferable with the CB and/or OB touching a cushion.
leave the table: referring to a ball that loses contact with the playing surface or a player who leaves the playing area during an inning.
left: short for “left sidespin.”
left english: same as “left sidespin.”
left sidespin: clockwise sidespin imparted to the CB by striking it to the left of center.
left spin: same as “left sidespin.”
leg: part of table in contact with the floor, providing support for the table base.
legs: slang for ball rolling speed (e.g., does that ball have enough “legs” to get to the pocket?).
legal: not involving a “foul.”
legal shot: shot in which there is no foul and the CB strikes a legal OB first and either an OB is pocketed or some ball hits a rail after contact with the OB.
legal stroke: a forward motion of the cue causing the tip (and only the tip) to hit the CB with a non-prolonged contact.
lemon: a player hiding their “speed” to con a weaker player into believing that he or she might have an edge, in an attempt to attract more gambling action.
lemonading: conning a gambling opponent by not playing to your ability.
lengthen: use slow speed or running sidespin to increase the rebound angle of a bank or kick shot.
let out: allow a gambling opponent to stop playing a set for money in exchange for something else, often a lower amount than the wager (e.g., if a player is ahead by a wide margin and wants to save time or an opponent’s pride).
let up: stop playing as well as one is able.
level: table quality allowing balls to roll straight in all directions without “roll off.”
lie: arrangement of balls on the table (e.g., “the lie of the balls is good for a run out”).
lie down: see “laying down.”
life line: an opportunity given (usually by accident) to an opponent who is down.
light hit: same as “thin hit.”
lighting: table illumination.
lights out: phrase use to describe someone playing at the top of his or her game.
liking it: to believe that one still has a good chance to win, even after losing (e.g., “Even though Dave beat Bob out of $500, Bob was liking it so much he wanted to play Dave some more”).
line: a report on how well a stranger plays.
line of action: same as the “impact line.”
line of aim: same as “aiming line.”
line blocker: same as “row blocker.”
line of centers: the imaginary line through the centers of the ghost-ball and the OB (i.e., the “impact line”).
line score: record of results from each inning at the table.
lip: the edge of the pocket hole.
little: a “solid.”
little balls: same as “solids.”
little white donut: a self-adhesive reinforcement label used to mark a ball’s position on the cloth.
live ball: a ball that is not “dead” (e.g., because it is still moving or spinning in place).
LOA: “line of aim.”
local rules: same as “house rules.”
lock: same as “nuts.”
lock artist: same as “locksmith.”
lock up: play a really effective safety.
locked shoulder: used to describe a stroke with no “elbow drop” (e.g., a “pendulum stroke”).
locksmith: a player known for gambling only when he or she is the clear favorite.
lockup: same as “lock.”
long: when a ball rolls too far, or when a shot misses beyond the target.
long bank: a bank shot off a short rail to the opposite end of the table.
long bridge: a bridge with a “bridge length” longer than normal (e.g., to reach a distant CB).
long cushion: the “cushion” on a “long rail.”
long rail: same as “side rail.”
long string: imaginary lengthwise line through the center of the table through “head spot,” “center spot,” and “foot spot.”
loop bridge: same as “closed bridge.”
Loop: “pool” spelled backwards, referring to a drill/game where the goal is to hit OBs off the CB into pockets to score.
loose pocket: same as “big pocket.”
loser breaks: match format where the person who loses one game breaks in the next rack.
loser’s bracket: the portion of the chart or bracket you go to when you lose a match in a double-elimination tournament.
losing hazard: English billiards terms for pocketing the CB by caroming off another ball.
loss of game: severe penalty for certain fouls (e.g., pocketing the 8 in the wrong pocket in 8-ball) or unsportsmanlike conduct, where the player loses the current game.
loss of turn: when a player commits a foul and turns over play to the opponent.
lot: non-skill procedure (e.g., coin flip or number draw) used to determine starting player and/or playing order.
low: same as “solid.”
low balls: same as “solids.”
LD: low-deflection (e.g., a LD shaft).
lengthen the angle: use slow speed roll or running english to increase the rebound angle of a bank or kick shot, so the ball goes “longer” than normal.
look back: to enter the loser bracket in a double elimination tournament.
low deflection cue: same as “low-squirt cue.”
low deflection shaft: same as “low-squirt shaft.”
low percentage shot: a shot with a low probability or likelihood of success.
low squirt cue: a cue with a low-squirt shaft.
low squirt shaft: a shaft that causes less squirt than typical shafts.
luck: good fortune, usually having little to do with skill.
lucky roll: situation where a ball rolls just the right amount or in just the right direction to get perfect position, usually when not planned (e.g., where “table roll off” makes a ball curve just the right amount to a player’s advantage).
mace: forerunner to the cue (similar to a croquet mallet) used in early billiard games.
machine-gun shot: a trick shot where the CB tickies off a line of balls close to a cushion to a pocket hanger.
Mae West break: a break with good spread but no balls pocketed (i.e., all bust, no balls).
magic wand: slang for “jump cue.”
Magician, The: Efren Reyes’ nickname due to his creativity and amazing ability to execute off almost-ridiculous shots.
magnetic cue ball: a CB containing iron particles, allowing a magnetic auto ball-return mechanism to separate it from OBs.
makable region: same as “shape zone.”
make a game: get “action” and a favorable wager.
manager: a person who runs a pool hall or oversees a player’s career.
manufacture: to create an situation or opportunity which wasn’t available before (e.g., he just manufactured an easy break-out shot by moving that ball close to the cluster).
margin: amount by which an ahead player’s score exceeds an opponent’s score.
margin for error: same as “margin of error.”
margin of error: a measure of how much angle, tip position, or speed error you can have, while still pocketing the OB and getting position for the next shot.
mark: a hustler’s victim.
married: same as “frozen” (e.g., he got married to a ball).
marshmallow break: slang for “soft break.”
massé (pronounced mah-SAY): significant CB curve caused by a downward off-center hit with an elevated cue.
massé cue: shorter, heavier, and stiffer cue some people use for massé shots.
massé shot: a shot where the CB’s path curves significantly (see “massé”).
massé, after-collision: see “after-collision massé.”
massé spin: spin about an axis in the direction of a ball’s motion (e.g., like the body-roll of an airplane or an Eskimo-roll of a kayak). This type of spin causes the ball’s path to curve (e.g., with a massé shot).
Master Academy: an pool instruction business accredited by the PBIA to certify instructors.
Master Instructor: an instructor who has extensive experience and a solid reputation as a top instructor (e.g., as designated by an existing Master Instructor of the PBIA).
match: set of games (e.g., against an opponent in a tournament).
match ball: the last ball required to win a match.
match play: competition format where opponents “race” to a given number of games won (as opposed to typical “league play” where balls pocketed or points per game are totaled).
match up: negotiate before a money game.
maximum break: snooker term for the maximum possible score (147) in a frame.
measles ball: Aramith red-dot CB that helps you see the spin on the ball.
mechanic: same as “table mechanic.”
mechanical bridge: a special stick with an end attachment that helps guide the cue, in place of a hand bridge. A mechanical bridge is used when the CB cannot be reached comfortably with a hand bridge.
merry widow: slang for a cue that doesn’t have decorative “points” or “prongs” on the butt.
Mexican Rotation: same as the game “Chicago.”
mickey: a drink with a drug surreptitiously added to it to throw an opponent off his game.
middle: snooker or British term for a “side pocket.”
middle pocket: same as “side pocket.”
milk dud tip: cue tip made by soaking a “solid tip” in milk then compressing it to a desired hardness.
Minnie: slang for a very easy and difficult-to-miss shot.
miscue: a stroke in which the cue tip does not establish good contact with the CB, resulting in poor transmission of force and an unpredictable CB path.
Misery: same as the game “Missouri.”
misrack: failure to position the balls properly in a rack (e.g., with the 1, 8, or 9 in the wrong spots, with gaps, or pattern racked).
miss: failure to pocket the intended ball.
miss-able: describing a difficult shot that can easily be missed.
miss on the pro side: Novice players often hit cut shots too full and hit bank shots too short. When you hit a cut shot too thin or bank a ball long (which many would bank short), you are said to have missed on the “pro” side because a professional player tries to compensate for effects a novice player might not know about. See also: “pro side of the pocket.”
Missouri: variation of 8-ball where the 1 and 15 must be pocketed in the sides.
mixed doubles: game, league, or tournament format where a male and female team of two alternate from one inning to the next (same as “Dutch doubles”).
mixed Scotch doubles: game, league, or tournament format where a male and female team of two alternate shots during each inning (same as “Dutch Scotch doubles”).
MOFUDAT: the “MOst Famous and Useful Drill of All Time” involving shooting the CB straight up and down the table to verify center-ball alignment, accurate aim, and a consistent stroke.
money added: a tournament where the host or a sponsor contributes money to the entry-fee prize pool (e.g., “A $1000-added tournament”).
money ball: a ball, which when legally pocketed, results in victory.
money game: a game played for money.
money in the rack: money put out or posted before a match to make sure both players have the cash to cover a loss.
money match: a match played for money.
money shot: a key shot in a game that, if pocketed, will usually result in a victory.
money table: table at a pool hall reserved for serious gamblers and usually kept in good condition.
monster: very strong player that everybody is afraid to play or gamble with.
moocher: a person who relies on others for hand outs (money, food, or a handicap).
Mosconi Cup: annual international pool competition between selected teams of pros from Europe and the United States.
mouth: the entrance to a pocket.
mover: player with a lot of experience, creativity (especially with safety play), and CB control.
moves good: is clever at game making (getting “action” and a favorable wager), or someone who plays a smart game (e.g., “He moves good”).
mud ball: heavy composition CB used in an old “bar box.”
mud rack: a bad rack of balls that does not disperse very well.
mushroomed tip: a cue tip smashed out on the sides.
nail: to hit a shot really confidently and hard (e.g., “he really nailed that shot”).
nameplate: label on the center of the foot rail indicating the manufacturer of the table.
nap: cloth fibers and fuzz that rise above the playing surface and have directional properties.
napped cloth: an old-style, thick, and fuzzy table cloth that often has directional properties.
natural: a shot easy to execute with a normal stroke, requiring no english.
natural angle: the CB direction predicted by the 30º rule; also, bank shot requiring no cut angle (i.e., it is “lined up” perfectly).
natural bank: easy bank shot not requiring a cut angle or spin.
natural english: same as “running english;” or, the amount of running english that results in no change in spin, and no lengthening or shortening of the angle, after rebound off a cushion.
natural outside english: same as “gearing outside english.”
natural pivot length: the distance from the CB to the bridge that will result in squirt canceling the cue pivot angle (e.g., when using back-hand english). If your bridge is at the “natural pivot point” of the cue and you are lined up for a center ball hit, the CB will still go straight even if you pivot the cue to apply sidespin (intentionally or unintentionally).
natural pivot point: same as “pivot point.”
natural position: “shape” that results from a slow, natural roll shot with no sidespin.
natural roll: rolling motion of a ball where there is no sliding between the ball and the table cloth.
natural roll impact height: the height at which you can strike the CB so it rolls without slipping (i.e., it has natural roll) immediately (i.e., “center of percussion” or “immediate roll impact height”). This height is at 7/10 of the CB’s diameter above the table surface.
near point: the pocket rail cushion point closest to the OB.
near rail: the rail cushion adjacent to a pocket along which the OB is approaching.
net: same as “pocket net.”
neutral ball: in standard-rules 8-ball, the 8 is neutral after the break since it can be struck first to pocket a solid or stripe.
net CB deflection: the net effect of “squirt” and “swerve” (i.e., “squerve” or the CB deflection off the aiming line at OB impact).
nickel: $500 (see also: C note, dime, fin, Sawbuck).
nickname: informal, descriptive, and often “colorful” name given to a player out of tradition, especially in the gambling world.
night manager: pool room employee in charge of and responsible for the busy night shift.
nil: zero score.
nip draw: short, jabbed draw stroke used to avoid a double-hit of the CB when the OB is close.
nip stroke: a stroke with little or no follow through.
nine-ball: see “9-ball.”
nit: a cheap person who wants too much of a handicap, or complains about the fairness of a wager. A nit is usually a better “talker” than a “player” and usually doesn’t gamble unless they think they are a lock to win.
no hit: same as “bad hit.”
no rail: a foul where no OB or the CB touches a cushion.
NOE: natural outside english.
nominate: same as “call.”
noncontinuous: unlike “Straight Pool,” a pool game broken up into individual racks or frames.
nonplayer interference: interference caused by a non player (e.g., a spectator), after which the ball positions are restored.
nonstop play: a challenge or exhibition where a player plays without a break in play for a long time (e.g., to pocket as many balls as possible within a given time period).
normal roll: same as “natural roll.”
normal video (NV): video clip shot with a digital video camera played back at regular speed, supporting the book “The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards.”
nose: the protruding part of a rail cushion.
NPL: natural pivot length.
NPR: non-pool related, used to label online discussion forums on pool websites covering non-pool topics.
nudge: a hit of the CB by accident (e.g., during a warm-up stroke), often resulting in a foul.
numbered ball: same as “object ball” (although, is some cue sports, the OBs are not numbered).
nurse: a delicate shot where the balls are hit and kept close to a cushion.
nuts: game or situation where you have no chance of losing.
nut hunter: same as “locksmith.”
nut artist: same as “locksmith.”
NV: see “normal video.”
OB: object ball.
object ball: the ball to be legally struck by the CB, or the ball to be pocketed.
object ball angle error: the angle between the actual OB impact line (path) and the desired target line direction.
object ball swerve: very slight change in OB angle caused by massé spin transferred from the CB in a draw or follow shot.
object balls: the balls other than the CB.
obstruction: an obstacle ball that blocks or partially blocks access to an OB or a pocket.
odds: gambling arrangement where a better wins more betting on a player as compared to betting on the opponent based on the probability of victory.
OE: outside english.
off: not “in stroke;” or a shot that is not lined up well (e.g., that combo is “off” because it is not “wired”).
off and on: a request to a counterman to stop a table rental clock (e.g., to settle up table-time cost with a leaving opponent), and then restart a new bill to continue using the table.
off the rack: same as “off the wall.”
off the wall: referring to a “house cue.”
offending player: person who committed a foul or broke a rule.
offense: play geared toward scoring points or making shots, as opposed to defensive safety play.
offset: same as “pocket center offset.”
oil: slang for extreme english (e.g., hit put lots of “oil” on that one).
old man’s aide: disparaging term for the “mechanical bridge.”
on: referring to a shot that lies naturally for pocketing and CB control; or “in stroke.”
on a string: having complete control over CB position after each shot, as if you were moving the CB around by hanging it from a string.
on serve: in an alternating break format, when a player’s score is equal to the number of times the player has broken (as with service games in a tennis match).
on the cuff: money won but not paid yet.
on the fifty yard-line: a phrase used to indicate that the CB is in an awkward position, where it is equally difficult to pocket the OB in either a corner or side (or other corner) pocket (i.e., the CB isn’t in good position for either pocket).
on the hill: when you need to win only one more game to win a match.
on the lemon: not showing your true “speed.”
on the side: a bet made by a bystander on a player in a match.
on the snap: making the winning ball on the break shot.
on the square: playing honestly with no devious advantage (i.e., not “hustling” or “sharking”).
on the wire: already scored or awarded as a handicap (e.g., by sliding beads on the “wire”).
on tilt: being upset and maybe using bad judgment due to a previous loss.
on two fouls: declaration required to indicate to a player that he or she has had two consecutive fouls and a foul on the upcoming shot will result in loss of game (when playing under the three-consecutive-foul rule).
one ball hell: situation in 8-ball where you only have one ball remaining and your opponent has many, making it very easy for your opponent to run out and/or play easy safeties against you until he or she is able to run out.
One Hole: slang for “One Pocket.”
one on one: competition between individual players, as opposed to team play.
One Pocket: a pool game where each player has a designated pocket in which he or she must pocket more than half of the balls to win.
one stroke: stroke the cue only once, without warm-up strokes, often because of nerves or over-confidence.
one-handed play: holding and stroking the cue with the butt hand only, with no bridge support.
one-piece cue: cue formed with one piece of wood with no joint.
open: same as “open table;” or a ball layout that is not clustered (e.g., after the break); or a league or tournament format where anybody at any playing level can enter (e.g., the US Open).
open break: a break shot where four or more OBs must be driven to a cushion for the break to be legal, and any ball pocketed counts (e.g., as in 8-ball).
open bridge: a hand bridge that has no finger over the top of the cue. The cue glides on a V-shape formed by the thumb and the base of the index finger.
open shot: situation where there is a direct shot to a pocket, with no obstacles, not requiring a kick or bank.
open table: the condition in 8-ball (e.g., after the break), where no player has pocketed a called shot yet and “stripes” and “solids” are not yet assigned.
open the angle: same as “lengthen the angle.”
open your nose: to continue to gamble while continuing to lose.
opening break: the first break of a match after the lag.
OPM: other people’s money.
opposite-handed: to play with one’s non-dominant hand (e.g., a right-hander playing left-handed).
orange crush: a gambling handicap (“weight”) where you give your opponent the break and the 5 (see “give the X”), or the break and the 5-and-out (see “give the X and out”), in every game.
out: there is no doubt you will run the remaining balls (e.g., “you are out”); or a good option out of a safety (e.g., “you have an out”); or a run out (e.g., “nice out”); or a gambling spot (e.g., “the 6 and out”) where any ball at or higher than the designated number (e.g., 6, 7, 8, 9 in 9-ball) results in a win.
out of line: poor CB location resulting from poor position play on the previous shot.
out of play: referring to balls that are no longer on the table or cannot be pocketed.
out of stroke: when a player is off their game, not playing very well.
out shot: a shot that, if made, should result in a victory.
outside: on the side of a ball away from the target pocket cushion.
outside cut: term used to describe a bank shot where the CB hits the OB on the side away from the bank direction, relative to the aiming line. The CB imparts reverse cut-induced spin on the OB.
outside english (OE): sidespin created by hitting the CB on the side away from the direction of the shot (i.e., on the “outside” of the CB). For example, when the CB strikes an OB on the left side, creating a cut shot to the right, left sidespin would be called “outside english.”
over cut: hitting the OB with too large of a cut angle, hitting the ball too thinly.
over-spin: topspin more than the natural roll amount, causing the CB to accelerate forward.
over-sized ball: a CB slightly larger than the OB, used in older “bar boxes,” enabling the automatic ball-return mechanism to separate the CB from the OBs.
overdrive follow: a force follow shot that plows through and breaks up a large cluster of balls.
overs: same as “stripes.”
own a player: to consistently dominate and win against a particular opponent.
own a shot: be confident and successful at making a particular shot or type of shot.
pace: speed of a stroke or of a moving ball; or, speed of play.
pack: a large group of balls close together and/or touching; or a collection of successive games won (e.g., he ran a “six pack”).
package: same as “pack” (e.g., a “six pack” is a “package” of six games).
PAF: “pocket angle factor.”
parallel english: aiming technique when using sidespin where the cue is placed parallel to the line of aim for a center-ball hit (with no sidespin) resulting in no compensation for CB deflection (e.g., for shots where swerve is expected to cancel the effects of squirt and throw, resulting in no net CB deflection, or where the amount of resulting pocket cheat is acceptable).
park the CB: have the CB stop near the center of the table after a break shot.
parlor: same as “billiard parlor.”
partners: same as “doubles.”
pause: the period of time when the cue is held motionless between the final back swing and final forward swing of a stroke, used to prevent a rushed or jerky transition.
pattern: arrangement of balls on the table; or, a chose sequence of balls to pocket.
pattern play: strategically playing the balls in a certain order based on position and groupings.
pattern racking: the illegal practice of purposefully racking the balls in strategic positions to take advantage of where those balls typically head.
pay ball: same as “money ball.”
PBIA: Professional Billiard Instructors Association.
pea: same as “pill.”
pedestal: portion of a table leg that supports the table frame.
penalty: consequence of fouling or violating a rule.
percentage: probability or likelihood of success (e.g., “that’s a low percentage shot”); or a cut of winnings.
pendulum stroke: stroke where the elbow does not drop, resulting in a pendulum-like motion of the forearm.
pendulum swing: same as “pendulum stroke.”
percentage english: a measure for specifying how much english is being used. It is relative to the maximum allowed amount of english. At tip offsets larger than this limit (about the half ball radius point), a miscue results. 100% english is at the miscue limit, 50% is half that amount of tip offset, etc.
Perfect Aim: method of “sighting” recommended by Gene Albrecht.
petit massé: a massé shot executed with the bridge hand supported on the table.
PhD: Pool Hall Degree; Piled Higher and Deeper; Doctorate of Philosophy.
phenolic tip: hard, synthetic cue tip used on jump cues.
pigeon: a “fish” that continues to play and lose to an opponent of known “speed.”
pile: large cluster of balls (e.g., after a soft break).
pill: small numbered ball drawn from a shaken bottle in some games.
pill pool: a 15-ball game played with three or more players. Each player draws a small bead (“pill”) numbered 1 through 15 from a bottle. The drawn numbers are kept secret. If you pocket your numbered ball before an opponent does, you win. As with 9-ball, the lowest numbered ball must be hit first and you remain at the table as long as you pocket balls.
pin: threaded-bolt protrusion inside the joint of the cue, usually protruding from the butt and screwing into the shaft rather than vice versa.
pin-ball: to achieve position, pocket a ball, or break out a cluster by caroming the ball (CB or OB) off more than one ball in a back and forth action in pin-ball-machine fashion.
pinch shot: a soft draw shot to try to “hold” the CB when there is a small cut angle; or a bank shot where sidespin is used to change the OB angle.
pinch the pocket: cheat the pocket.
pinky: slang for a male player’s wife or girlfriend.
pinned elbow: used to describe a stroke with no elbow drop (e.g., a “pendulum stroke”).
Pinoy: same as Filipino.
pinpoint position: leaving the CB in the exact desired (or required) spot for the next shot instead of playing for “area shape.”
piqué shot (pronounced pee-KAY): a highly elevated draw shot (i.e., a massé shot with no sidespin).
piston stroke: stroke where the elbow drops, allowing for the cue to remain along the same line during the entire stroke.
pit: small dent or depression in the cloth caused by a ball being driven down into the table.
pitcher: person who dumps a “set up” hustle or gambling match, where both players (including the “catcher”) might be in on the action and sharing the proceeds.
pivot length: same as “natural pivot length.”
pivot point: the point on the cue where, if you bridge there and use back-hand or front-hand english, squirt will be cancelled by the stick pivoting motion. See “natural pivot length.”
place: reach a certain position in a tournament (e.g., “he placed 3rd in the tournament”).
Plan B: a backup plan used if your original plan fails.
plant: snooker or British term for a kiss shot (usually with the OBs frozen). See also: “set.”
play: to engage in a game of pool.
play away: to hit the CB away from an OB that it is frozen too (e.g., as a requirement in snooker).
play position: to leave good CB position after the current shot to make the next shot easier.
play safe: to play a defensive safety shot instead of an offensive shot.
play some: play for money (as opposed to “hit some”).
play the percentages: choose the best shot possible in a given situation based on your capabilities and realistic likelihood of success.
player: a billiard game participant; or, a person with good skills and a good game.
player rating: letter (A-D) or number (e.g., FargoRate) assigned to a player to indicate their level of ability.
playing area: area on the table on which balls move, bordered by the cushion noses.
playing cue: cue used for most shots (as opposed to a special-purpose break cue, jump cue, or massé cue).
playing surface: same as “playing area.”
playing the ghost: phrase used to describe rating drills where your opponent is a “ghost” that doesn’t miss. If you run the rack, you win. If you miss, the rack is over and you lose that game. Alternatively, your score for the rack is based on how many balls you make before you miss. Multiple racks of 9-ball, with ball-in-hand after each break, is a common format to use.
playoff: an additional game or set that decides the outcome of a tied match.
PLF: “pocket shelf factor.”
Plus Two System: same as “Plus System.”
Plus System: a diamond system for aiming multiple-rail kick shots where a short rail is hit first.
po: slang for “position.”
pocket: opening in the corners and sides of a pool table serving as targets for the OBs.
pocket a ball: cause an OB to go into a pocket.
pocket angle: the angle (usually 12°) at which the slate is cut relative to the vertical at the lip of a pocket.
pocket angle factor (PAF): percentage measure of a pocket’s wall angles relative to a standard pocket. It is used in the calculation of the “table difficulty factor.”
pocket billiards: same as “pool.”
pocket center offset: the distance between the effective pocket center and the actual pocket center.
pocket centerline: the imaginary line through the center of the pocket in the straight-in direction.
pocket facings: the angled walls (cushion ends) bordering a pocket opening.
pocket iron: metal piece used to attach a pocket to a rail.
pocket line: imaginary line from the OB to the center of the target pocket.
pocket mouth: the opening between the cushion points of a pocket.
pocket net: mesh basket used to collect balls that fall into a pocket.
pocket shelf: the drop-off into the pocket cut out of the table slate.
pocket shelf factor (PLF): percentage measure of a pocket’s “shelf depth” relative to a standard pocket. It is used in the calculation of the “table difficulty factor.”
pocket shim: see “shim.”
pocket size factor (PSF): percentage measure of a pocket’s point-to-point mouth size relative to a standard pocket. It is used in the calculation of the “table difficulty factor.”
pocket speed: the slowest you can hit a shot and still pocket an OB. The OB is given just enough speed to reach and drop into the pocket.
pocket template: rigid, flat piece of material (usually plastic) that outlines the specified or desired geometry of a pocket opening.
pocket walls: the “jaws” or “facings” of a pocket.
pocketed ball: a ball that enters and remains in a pocket after a legal stroke.
point: same as “knuckle”; or, the value for a successful shot, contributing to a score; or, the same as “prong.”
point of aim: point on an OB, rail, or the cloth at which one must aim to send the CB in the necessary direction for a given shot.
point of contact: point at which balls make contact during impact.
points on the wire: same as “games on the wire.”
poke: to jab at the CB with a short stroke with no or little follow-through.
polish: substance used to clean and shine pool balls.
pool: billiard game that use a table with pockets (i.e., “pocket billiards”).
pool cue: same as “cue.”
pool glasses: same as “billiards glasses.”
pool glove: same as “glove.”
pool gods: mythical forces that control the outcomes of shot, games, or matches.
pool hall: same as “pool room.”
pool player: one who plays pocket billiards as opposed to a billiard player who plays carom games.
pool room: commercial establishment where pool or billiard games are played.
pool room detective: same as “detective.”
pool shark: same as “shark.”
pool table: same as “table.”
poolroom: same as “pool room.”
position: the placement of the balls (especially the CB) relative to the next planned shot (i.e., “shape”).
position control: controlled and effective “position play.”
position play: using controlled CB speed and english to achieve good CB position for subsequent shots.
position zone: same as “shape zone.”
post up: give wagers to a third party to hold before starting a gambling match to prevent an “air barrel” (e.g., when the players don’t know or trust each other).
pot: snooker or British term used for pocketing a ball.
pound a shot: to hit a shot with a lot of speed.
powder: talc or other fine particle substance used to reduce friction between a hand bridge and the cue.
power break: a break shot, hit with a lot of force, resulting in active scatter of the racked balls.
power draw: a draw shot where significant ball speed and spin are required (e.g., when the CB and OB are separated a long distance, and you want to draw the CB back a long distance).
power follow: same as “force follow.”
power through: use “force follow” to send the CB beyond one or more interfering OBs.
practice: to prepare oneself for a match or tournament with drills or play.
practice room: separate area set aside for players to practice before or between matches.
pre-shot routine: sequence of steps you go through in preparation to aim and shoot a shot.
pre-stance routine: sequence of steps you go through in to get down into your shooting stance.
precision: accuracy and consistency (repeatability) with shot making or position play.
pro side of the pocket: the side of the pocket to miss (by under-cutting or over-cutting the shot); so if you do miss, you leave the ball in a favorable position for you (or an unfavorable position for your opponent). See also: “miss on the pro side.”
pro taper: a shaft taper with a long constant-diameter portion close to the tip (making bridging more consistent) before widening to the joint.
problem ball: a ball that is difficult or impossible to pocket unless it or some other ball is moved first.
professional: top tournament player who plays for a living.
progressive practice: an approach to drills where the difficulty level matches the players ability and increases in difficulty with skill level.
prong: decorative, pointy triangle of wood in the butt of a cue.
proposition bet: a wager based on a “proposition shot” or some unusual terms or conditions that might seem favorable to a “mark.”
proposition shot: an unusual or difficult shot that a “mark” might think is unlikely to be made.
protest: an official complaint or report to a tournament director concerning a rule violation or referee ruling.
PSF: “pocket size factor.”
PSR: pre-shot routine.
psych: use psychological tactics to distract or unsettle an opponent.
pump stroke: stroke style where the grip hand and elbow are moved up and down a lot during the warm-up strokes.
pumped up: same as “flush.”
punch: to jab at the CB with a short stroke with no or little follow-through.
purse: total cash amount (including entry fees, added money, and gate) available to pay out at a tournament.
push: “push out” or “push shot.”
push out: a special shot allowed after the break in 9-ball where you can hit the CB anywhere on the table and your opponent has the option to shoot the next shot or have you shoot instead.
push shot: a shot in which the cue tip remains in contact with the CB longer than is appropriate for a normal stroke and legal shot.
put on the heat: to apply pressure by beginning to beat your opponent badly.
put on the torch: same as “put on the heat.”
put up money: place a wager in an openly visible spot (typically up on the hanging light fixture above the table); or to stake a particular amount; or, on a coin-operated bar table, to place one or more coins on the rail to mark one’s place in line to play.
put your money where your mouth is: place a wager on a game instead just talking.
pyramid: same as “rack” or “triangle” or any triangular formation of racked balls.
Pyramid of Progress: the term Dr. Dave uses to describe the pool-skills-development pyramid used to illustrate the successive levels of competencies required to become a good pool player.
pyramid spot: same as “foot spot.”
Q Skills: see “Hopkins Q skills.”
quarters table: same as “coin-operated table.”
quarter-ball hit: see “¼-ball hit.”
quick draw: cut shot draw action where the CB draws back from the tangent line as soon as possible. This is achieved with a high spin-to-speed ratio created by hitting the CB as low as possible with moderate speed.
quiet eyes: focusing on a target with still eyes for a period of time (e.g., to get a visual lock on your aim and/or tip position).
race to X: a match decided by who reaches a given number of games or points (X) first.
rack: triangle or diamond-shaped device used to position the balls prior to a break; or the group of balls after they have been racked; or the process (e.g., “rack the balls”).
rack ’em up: slang for rack the balls and play pool.
rack and run: rack the balls for your opponent and then “run out” after a “dry break.”
racking template: a thin sheet of material (usually plastic) with holes used to get a “tight rack.” The balls are placed on the template and rest in the holes which are spaced slightly closer together than the balls to help ensure they all touch. The template is removed from the table after the break.
rack of skills: the term Dr. Dave uses to refer to the pool skills rack-of-balls illustration corresponding to the “Pyramid of Progress.”
rail bird: a person who likes to watch pool matches (especially when gambling is involved).
rail bolt: a bolt used to attach a rail to the bed of the table.
rail bridge: a hand bridge where the cue slides on the top of the rail, with fingers used to support the stick sideways.
rail cut shot: a cut shot where the OB is frozen or close to the rail cushion along which the ball is cut.
rail dribble: CB stall close to a rail caused by over-spin resulting from a firm, small-cut-angle follow shot close to a cushion.
rail impact height: the height at which the rail cushion makes contact with a rebounding ball. This height is usually slightly lower than the “natural roll impact height.”
rail-induced english: sidespin imparted to a ball by a rail when the ball approaches and rebounds off the rail at an angle.
rail rebound efficiency: the ability of the rail cushion to spring back and preserve a banked ball’s speed.
rail-first: a shot where the CB is kicked off a rail in close proximity to the OB instead of hitting the OB directly.
rail groove: an imaginary line parallel to the rail where the base of a ball sits when it is frozen to the cushion. It is sometimes visible on a worn table.
rail shot: same as “rail cut-shot;” or a shot where the CB is frozen to, or close to, the cushion.
rail throwback: reduction in bank rebound angle due to sideways compression of the rail, especially evident at high speed.
rail track: same as “rail groove.”
rails: the sides of the table’s upper frame (usually decorative wood) that support the cushions that border the playing surface. The term “rail” is also used to refer to the cushion off which the balls rebound.
rainbow crush: 9-ball gambling handicap or “weight” where your opponent gets to break and wins by pocketing any ball.
rake: slang term for “mechanical bridge.”
ranking: a numbered list of players from best to worst based on ability or past performance.
rapid-fire tournament: tournament designed to complete quickly with handicapped race matches.
rat in: to pocket a ball by luck or “slop” (e.g., “he ratted in the 9”).
rating: same as “player rating.”
rattle: the multiple rail cushion collisions that can occur against the inner walls of a pocket that can prevent an OB from being pocketed. It occurs when the OB glances the near rail or rail point bordering the pocket. Or, to unnerve your opponent with good play or mind games.
re-rack: same as “rerack.”
re-spot: to place an OB back on the table (e.g., after it is jumped off the table or illegally pocketed, in some games), usually on the foot spot (or directly behind balls already in the foot spot area).
read the stack: check the “stack” carefully (e.g., in “straight pool”) to look for “wired” combos or kisses.
read the table: analyze the table layout to develop a strategy.
rearrange the furniture: move many balls on the table, usually with a fast-speed “break-out shot” where you are trying to improve the layout of groups of balls that are clustered or in bad positions.
rebound angle: the angle at which a ball rebounds from a rail, measured from the perpendicular to the rail (i.e., “angle of reflection”). A ball heading straight away from a rail has a rebound angle of zero.
recess: same as “intermission.”
Recognized Instructor: an entry-level instructor (e.g., through the PBIA) who has passed a course of training and testing, but has no teaching experience.
record: recorded feat (e.g. most tournament wins, highest straight pool run, most consecutive break & runs) that is best to date.
referee: person in charge of enforcing the rules and making judgment calls during a match.
regulation table: a standard 4 1/2′ by 9′ tournament pool table.
replace a ball: same as “restore a ball.”
replay: same as “instant replay;” or, to repeat a game (e.g., due to a referee error or unrecoverable interference).
rerack: rack the balls again due to gaps in the rack, due to a breaking foul (i.e., an illegal break), or by choice in 8-ball if the 8-ball is sunk on the break.
rest: snooker and British term for the “mechanical bridge.”
restore a ball: return a ball to its previous position (e.g., if it is moved by mistake or through interference).
return: same as “ball return.”
reverse bank: same as an “outside cut” bank.
reverse english (AKA “hold-up” or “check” english): sidespin where the CB slows and has a smaller rebound angle after hitting a rail (i.e., the opposite of “natural” or “running” english). The spin is in the direction opposite from the “rolling” direction along the rail during contact.
ride the cash: same as “ride the cheese.”
ride the cheese: try to pocket the money ball early in a game (e.g., with a combo or carom) or with a desperate shot.
right: short for right sidespin.
right english: same as “right sidespin.”
right sidespin: counterclockwise sidespin imparted to the CB by striking it to the right of center.
right spin: same as “right sidespin.”
ring balls: same as the “stripes.”
ring game: a money or point game played with more than two players who alternate innings at the table.
road agent: a “road player” who might work for someone who sets up his matches and action.
road man: same as “road player.”
road player: a hustler or player who travels around playing pool for money.
road warrior: a strong road player who openly challenges the best players and doesn’t resort to hustling.
roadmap: a table layout with well-placed balls, making for an easy-to-visualize and easy-to-execute run-out.
rob: play an opponent for money who has a very little chance of winning.
robbed: missed a shot or position after a good and skillful attempt (e.g., “he got robbed on that shot”).
rock: slang for CB.
roll: same as “natural roll” or “bad roll” or “rolls” or rolled-up cash often held together by a rubber band in a gambler’s pocket.
roll off: change in course of a slow moving ball caused by a non-level or irregular playing surface.
roll the cheese: same as “ride the cheese.”
roll through: same as “run through.”
rolls: good and bad “breaks” in a game.
room: same as “pool room” or “billiard room.”
rotation: a game where the balls (e.g., all 15 balls) must be played in numerical order.
rotation banks: bank pool where the balls must be played in numerical order.
rotation 8-ball: 8-ball where the group balls must be played in numerical order.
round: a level of competition in a tournament after which some players are eliminated.
round the angles: a shot which requires a ball to be played off several cushions (e.g., “he’ll need to go round the angles to get position on that shot”).
round-robin: a tournament or bracket in which every player plays every other player.
row blocker: an obstacle ball that blocks a pocket from several other balls along lines to the pocket.
RSB: rec.sport.billiard online discussion group, which was one of the first online pool forums.
rubber: slang for cushion; or, the material cushions are made from.
rubber match: the deciding match between two tied opponents.
rubberize: to drive a ball into a rail cushion instead of a pocket (e.g., He really “rubberized” that shot).
rules: guidelines, requirements, regulations, specifications, and procedures for how a specific game is played.
run: a series of balls pocketed in succession during one turn.
run out: make the remaining balls on the table in succession to win a game.
run the rack: same as “run the table.”
run the table: same as “break and run.”
run through: a small amount of follow created by a medium-to-fast-speed near-stun shot with slight topspin roll at OB impact.
running english: sidespin that causes the CB to speed up after bouncing off a rail, also resulting in a wider (longer) rebound angle. The spin is in the direction that results in “rolling” along the rail during contact.
safe: describing a ball in a position difficult to pocket; or describing a situation a player has been left in by the opponent, intentionally or otherwise, that makes it difficult to pocket a ball (e.g., snookered).
safety: defensive position play shot where you leave your opponent in a difficult situation.
safety area: same as “safety zone.”
safety break: a defensive break where you try to leave your opponent without a shot (e.g., in straight pool).
safety play: defensive strategy and shots.
safety zone: an area on the table from where your opponent cannot easily pocket a ball or get a legal hit.
SAM: “Supplemental Aiming Method.” An aiming method based of several fixed points of aim, recommended by many PBIA instructors.
sanctioned: referring to a tournament authorized and supported by a governing body or organization.
sandbag: to unethically disguise one’s level of ability, or intentionally miss shots, to help improve one’s handicap.
saver: same as “gapper.”
Sawbuck: $10 (see also: C note, dime, fin, nickel).
SAWS: System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS), and instructional video by Dr. Dave.
scatter shot: shot that sloppily breaks up a cluster with little regard for where balls head.
scoop shot: an illegal jump shot executed by hitting very low on the CB.
score: the current games-won or balls-pocketed count in a game or match; or to win a lot of money.
score sheet: a document used to record match stats and results.
scoreboard: device (often wall mounted) for keeping score (e.g., with sliding pointers) during a game or match.
scorekeeper: person who keeps score while others play.
scorer: “scorekeeper” or “scoreboard.”
scoring rack: same as “scoreboard.”
scoring string: same as “wire.”
scoring wheels: rotating wheels mounted into a rail of a pool table used for scoring points or games in a race.
scoring wire: same as “wire.”
Scotch doubles: game, league, or tournament format where two players on a team alternate shots during each inning.
scramble: a “rapid-fire” handicapped tournament with players of a variety of skill levels.
scratch: pocketing the CB by accident during a shot; or, in carom games, to score a point largely by accident due to an unanticipated kiss or unplanned timing shot.
scratch shot: a shot where a scratch is likely or unavoidable.
screw: snooker or British term used for a draw shot or bottom spin.
screw-back: same as “screw.”
Screw Your Buddy: slang for “Cut-Throat.”
scuffer: tool used to roughen the tip.
scuffler: a not-so-successful hustler, or a gambler who hangs around bars or pool rooms looking for “suckers.”
seam: the line where two pieces of table slate meet.
security ball: same as “insurance ball.”
security valve: same as “insurance ball.”
see: have a clear path past obstacles to a pocket or OB (e.g., “I’m snookered because I can’t see a stripe”).
seed or seeding: a player’s preliminary ranking and/or placement in a tournament.
sell out: to leave an easy shot and win for your opponent; or, a bad shot that results in loss of a game or match.
sell the farm: same as “sell out.”
semi-massé: small curve or swerve shot.
semi-pro: solid player with enough ability to compete and do well in large tournaments.
service break: see “break of serve.”
session: collection of games or matches, usually for money.
set: a collection of games; or a snooker or British term (see also “plant”) for a combination shot (often frozen); or, refers to the stroke-preparation position where the cue is held still, close to the CB, to verify aim and the desired cue-ball contact point.
set a ball: knock down on a ball (e.g., with another ball) to create a mark and indentation in the cloth to make it easier for the ball to stay in place and be re-spotted in the same position later.
set up: place balls in preparation for a shot (e.g., “the balls are really set up nice” or “this trick shot requires careful ball set up”); or to trap an unsuspecting “fish” (e.g., “that guy really set me up”).
settle: ball movement well after balls have come to rest after a shot.
settle up: pay the amount currently owed as a result of gambling.
seven-ball: see “7-ball.”
sewer: the pocket (usually used in disgust when scratching).
shaft: the bridge end of the cue, to which the ferrule and tip are attached.
shaft pad: mildly abrasive material (e.g., a Brillo Pad or Magic Eraser) used to clean or smooth a cue’s shaft.
shaft paper: fine-grit sandpaper or other mildly abrasive material used to clean and smooth a cue’s shaft.
shaft stiffness: a measure of how rigid a shaft is. The stiffer it is, the more force it takes to deflect the shaft at its tip.
shape: same as “position.”
shape area: same as “shape zone.”
shape zone: the area within which you can leave the CB after the current shot to be able to pocket the next target ball.
shaper: an abrasive tool used to grind down the tip to a desired radius.
shark: an unscrupulous player that disguises his or her ability with the goal of making money from an unsuspecting gambler; or, the practice of distracting your opponent while he or she is shooting; or the practice of irritating your opponents (e.g., by playing slow); or, a very good player.
shelf depth: the distance from the point-to-point mouth of a pocket to the rim of the pocket opening.
shim: thin slice of material added under the cloth of the walls of a pocket to make the pocket opening smaller for more challenging conditions; or, a thin piece of wood or other material used to level a table.
shimmed pockets: pockets with the openings made smaller with shims for tougher playing conditions.
shoot: to make a stroke or shot; or, to play a game (e.g., do you want to “shoot?”).
shooter: the player currently at the table.
shooting the lights out: playing extremely well.
short: when a ball doesn’t roll enough, or when a shot misses on the close side of the target.
short bank: a cross-side or cross-corner bank across the short dimension of a table.
short bridge: a hand bridge with very little distance to the CB.
short cushion: the “cushion” on a “short rail.”
short money: low gambling stakes.
short rack: a rack of less than 15 balls (e.g., used in the games of 9-ball and 10-ball).
short rail: same as “end rail.”
short side shape: position to shoot a ball, usually close to a rail, into a more-distant pocket (i.e., not to the natural or closest pocket).
shorten: use fast speed or reverse sidespin to reduce the rebound angle of a bank or kick shot.
shortstop: a solid player who can be beaten only by top players.
shorty: slang for “jump cue.”
shot: outcome of a stroke into the CB.
shot clock: a timer used to limit how much time a player can use before shooting.
shot diagram: a graphical representation of a shot showing the ball layout and ball paths.
shot line: same as “aiming line.”
shot sequence: the order in which a grouping of balls is pocketed.
shot to nothing: same as a “two-way shot.”
shotmaker: a person good at pocketing difficult shots.
shut out or shutout: to win a match without losing any games or points to your opponent.
side: snooker or British term used for english (sidespin); or short for “side pocket.”
side action: gambling amongst spectators.
side pocket: a pocket in the middle of the long rail.
side cushion: the cushion on a side rail.
side rail: a long rail having a side pocket between two corner pockets.
sidearm stroke: a stroke where the arm and elbow are held out to the side (instead of over the grip hand), usually learned by players who start young when they are not tall enough to clear the rails with a standard stroke.
sideboard: a ball close to a pocket that can be used to kiss a ball in.
sidespin: clockwise or counterclockwise horizontal plane rotation of a ball.
sight: to align and focus on the line of a shot; or same as “diamond.”
sighting: eye alignment and line of focus used to best visualize and achieve the desired aiming line.
Simonis: common brand of high-quality table cloth.
simultaneous hit: same as “split hit.”
single-elimination: a tournament in which a player is eliminated after a single loss.
sink: same as “pocket” a ball.
sink in shot: same as “cushion compression shot.”
SIS: spin-induced spin.
SIT: spin-induced throw.
sissy stick: disparaging term for the “mechanical bridge.”
sitter: same as “hanger;” or the player not at the table.
six pack: six games run in a row.
skid: term used to describe the sliding motion of an OB due to throw or cling.
skid shot: same as “drag shot.”
skill shot: a difficult shot requiring more ability than a typical shot.
skim a ball: thinly cut an OB, usually for a safety.
skirt: same as “apron.”
skittles: easy “road map” layout of balls (as if the balls were tasty candy waiting to be eaten).
skunk: same as “shut out.”
skrew: same as “screw.”
slate: the material (usually milled metamorphic rock slate) beneath the table cloth providing the base for the playing surface.
slice: same as “thin hit.”
slick: a good player who likes to bet on his game.
slick cloth: cloth with low sliding friction (i.e., the CB can slide longer before developing roll).
slide: to move across the cloth without natural roll (i.e., with partial roll, stun, or backspin), resulting in friction; or, lengthening action of new cloth.
sliding: relative motion between the bottom of a moving ball and the cloth resulting in friction. Sliding occurs any time the ball is not rolling naturally.
slip: motion between the base of the ball and the cloth (creating sliding friction).
slip stroke: the practice of sliding the grip hand along the cue during the stroke.
slop: balls made by accident.
slop pockets: pocket that are significantly wider than usual, making ball pocketing much easier (without need for expected accuracy).
slop shot: a shot with no clear objective, usually hit hard in the hopes that something might go in.
slough off: purposely lose some money to get a better (more lucrative) game.
slow cloth: cloth with lots of rolling resistance (i.e., the CB doesn’t travel very far before slowing).
slow table: a table with slow cloth and unlively cushions.
slow taper: a shaft taper in which the diameter changes gradually between the tip and joint.
slow-roll shot: a shot hit very softly, where the CB rolls almost immediately, regardless of cue tip offset. Table roll-off can be more of an issue with these shots.
slug rack: racked balls that are loose or with gaps resulting in a terrible break.
small: a “solid.”
smalls: same as “solids.”
small balls: same as “solids.”
smash through: the effect of shooting at a regulation-weight OB with an overweight CB (e.g., in older “bar boxes”), such that the CB moves farther forward than it would normally (with equal weight balls).
snake shot: a force follow or massé shot where the CB makes multiple contacts with the same cushion.
snap: same as “break” (e.g., he made the 9 on the “snap”).
Sneaky Pete: a high-quality cue made to look like a house cue, potentially used to hustle.
Snooker: the billiards game played with 21 OBs (14 reds and 7 colors) on a 12′ table. The balls are smaller and the pockets are also smaller with a rounded opening. Or a shot that snookers or hooks an opponent.
snookered: the condition when the CB is positioned behind an obstacle ball (i.e., “hooked”), usually creating the need for a kick or jump shot.
snow: the CB.
soft break: A 9-ball break where you use soft speed to pocket a ball (usually the 1-ball in the side pocket) and control CB position.
soft safety: same as “half safety.”
sold the farm: left an easy run-out for your opponents.
solids: balls numbered 1 through 7 that have no stripe.
solid tip: cue tip punched from a single piece of leather.
Solids and Stripes: same as “8-ball.”
span rest: a tall mechanical bridge used to reach far over obstacle balls, common in Snooker.
spear the ball: hit the ball accurately with force, often referring to the strike required for a long draw shot.
spectators: crowd of people watching a match.
spectrum: a wide range (e.g., a spectrum of speeds).
speed: slang for a player’s ability; or the rate of cue or ball motion.
speed control: using the correct amount of CB speed to achieve good position for the next shot.
Speed Pool: a game where the object is to pocket a rack of balls as fast as possible.
spider: a mechanical bridge with long legs for extra height.
SPF: “Set, Pause, Finish.” A stroke mantra recommended by many PBIA instructors. In the “set” position, the cue should be still, close to the desired contact point on the CB. At this point, you should confident and comfortable with the shot you are about to execute. You should “pause” during the transition between the final back swing and the final forward stroke. Finally, you should follow through and freeze after the stroke is complete (i.e., “finish” the stroke).
SPFF: same as “SPF” with “freeze” added.
spin: ball rotation. It can refer to sidespin, top or bottom spin, or any combination of these.
spin-induced spin (SIS): OB spin created by spin on the CB (e.g., right english on the CB induces a small amount of left spin on the OB).
spin-induced throw (SIT): deflection of the OB path away from the impact line resulting from CB sidespin. It is caused by sliding friction between the CB and the OB.
spin-rate factor (SRF): the spin rate of a ball expressed as a percentage of the natural roll rate.
spin/speed ratio: like spin-rate factor, it is a measure of the amount of spin in proportion to a ball’s forward speed.
spin transfer: the imparting of a small amount of spin from the CB to the OB due to friction between the ball surfaces during contact. For example, left english on the CB will transfer a small amount of right spin to the OB.
spin the rock: apply english to the CB.
spine: stiff wood-grain direction in a shaft.
spit shot: a trick or proposition shot where saliva placed at a ball contact point is a key element.
splash: the result of sending into a cluster with significant speed, often with unpredictable ball motion.
splice: a strong wood joint bonded with glue.
split double elimination: a modified version of a “double elimination” tournament where the winner of the losers bracket needs to defeat the winner of the winners bracket only once.
split hit: a shot where the CB contacts two OBs at or very close to the same time. If it is too close to tell the difference, the shot is considered legal because a foul is not obvious.
split the pocket: have an OB enter the exact center of the pocket (i.e., hit the shot perfectly).
split the pot: an agreement made between two players before the final match of a tournament to split the 1st and 2nd place winnings equally regardless of who wins the match.
split the time: share the cost of a table rental.
sportsmanship: honorable behavior not specifically required by rules but expected of a gentleman.
spot: handicap given in a wagered game; or, the foot spot on a table.
spot a ball: place an illegally sunk OB on the foot spot. If there is no room to spot the ball directly on the foot spot without moving an obstacle ball, it is spotted as close a possible behind the foot spot on a line through the foot spot and perpendicular to the end rail.
spot shot: shot from the kitchen after a ball is spotted on the foot spot (e.g., after a scratch when playing certain games or bar rules).
spot the break: let the opponent break as a handicap.
spots: alternative term for “diamonds” or “solids.”
squat the rock: have the CB stop in the center of the table after a break shot.
squeeze: British term for “throw.”
squeeze shot: a shot where a ball needs to pass through a small gap or narrowly miss an obstacle ball.
squerve: the combined effect of “squirt” and “swerve.”
squirt: angular displacement of the CB’s path away from the cue stroking direction caused by the use of sidespin.
SRF: spin-rate factor.
stack: the rack of balls (e.g., in “straight pool,” the CB is sent into the stack on a break shot).
stake: money wagered on a game or match; or put up money for a player to gamble.
stakehorse: same as backer.
stalemated game: a game that is restarted after there is no meaningful change in ball positions after three consecutive turns at the table by each player.
stall: intentionally play slowly (e.g., to shark an opponent) or poorly (e.g., to hide one’s “speed”).
stall artist: someone who frequently “stalls” as a “shark” move.
stand-up: referring to a gambler playing at his true speed and not attempting to conceal his ability.
stance: the body position and posture during a shot.
standard table: same as “regulation table.”
staying down: keeping your head and body still and down after a shot (i.e., resisting the urge to lift up prematurely during or after the final forward stroke).
staying in line: leaving desirable cut angles during a sequence of shots, making it easier to move the CB from one desired position to the next.
steal: same as “nuts” or “lock.”
steam roll: beat convincingly (e.g., by a large margin).
steer: give advice to a gambler concerning places or people to play, along with information concerning the “speed” of possible opponents.
steer man: someone who steers a gambler, usually for a percentage of the winnings.
steering: term used to describe a non straight follow-through where the cue is pivoted toward the OB or target pocket away from the aiming line. Obviously, this is a bad technique – you should follow through straight.
stick: same as “cue.”
sticky cloth: cloth with significant sliding friction (i.e., the CB cannot slide very far before developing roll).
stick it: hit a perfect stop shot.
stiff: same as “shorten;” or, a bad leave.
stiffen: same as “shorten.”
stiffness: see “shaft stiffness.”
stitched: same as “hooked” or “snookered.”
stone: slang for CB.
stone cold nuts: an absolute sure thing.
stop on a dime: hit a perfect stop shot where the CB stops dead in place.
stop shot: a shot where the CB stops immediately after hitting the OB. It results from a straight-on stun shot.
stop shot at an angle: same as “stun shot.”
stopper: a ball that stops the motion of the CB for position for the next shot.
straight back: a bank shot with little cut angle off a short rail into a corner pocket.
Straight Eight: 8-ball played under “bar rules.”
Straight Pool: a pool game in which any OB can be pocketed at any time (i.e., 14.1 or 14.1 continuous). A point is scored for each pocketed ball.
straight taper: same as “conical taper.”
straight-up: to play even, with no handicap.
straight-in shot: a shot in which the CB is directly in-line with the OB and the intended pocket (i.e., a shot where the cut angle is zero).
strategy: plan and approach for running racks and playing defense.
strike: same as “hit.”
striker: the player shooting.
string: an imaginary line across the table (e.g., the “head string”); or a succession of wins; or “scoring string.”
stripes: balls numbered 9 through 15 that have a stripe through the number.
Stripes and Solids: same as “8-ball.”
stroke: the cue-stick and arm motion required to execute a shot.
stroke shot: an impressive shot requiring a powerful stroke.
stroke steer: same as “steering.”
stroking plane: the imaginary vertical plane containing the cue, dominant eye, CB contact point, aiming line, and ghost ball target.
stuck behind the eight-ball: see “behind the eight-ball.”
stun: lack or topspin or bottom spin.
stun back: a small amount of draw created by a near stun shot with slight bottom spin at OB impact.
stun forward: same as “run through.”
stun line: the direction the CB heads after contact with OB with a “stun shot” (i.e., the “tangent line” direction).
stun run through: same as “run through.”
stun shot: a shot where the CB has no top or bottom spin (i.e., it is purely sliding) when hits the OB. A stun shot is also called a “stop shot at an angle.”
stun through: same as “run through.”
successive foul: same as “consecutive foul.”
sucker: a hustler’s victim, who always seems to find a way to lose his money.
sucker shot: a shot only a novice or fool would take (e.g., because it will result in a scratch or eventual loss of the game).
sudden death: playoff format where the first person who wins a game wins the match.
suit: same as “group” in 8-ball (stripes or solids).
surgeon: a player skilled at “thin cuts” or “squeeze shots.”
surgical precision: extreme accuracy in pocketing balls or playing position.
suspension: temporary removal of a player’s right to play in a league or tournament.
sweat a match: be a “sweater.”
sweater or sweator: a “rail bird” or a person watching a pool match, sometimes nervously, if one is at risk of loosing money.
sweat the action: be a “sweater.”
sweep: to win all games in a match or all matches in a tournament.
swerve: curve of the CB’s path while sliding due to cue elevation and sidespin.
swing: motion of the arm during a stroke.
swoop: sideways motion of the tip, used by some to add spin during a stroke. A swoop stroke is a form of “back-hand english.”
system: method for aiming a particular type of shot.
system shot: a shot aimed with a “system.”
table: the flat frame-supported and cloth-covered surface surrounded by cushioned rail on which pool is played.
table cloth: same as “cloth.”
table cover: a plastic, leather, or cloth blanket used to protect a pool table and keep it clean when it is not being used.
table difficulty factor (TDF): a percentage measure of how difficult or easy a particular table plays based on table size, pocket size, pocket wall angle, and pocket shelf depth.
table in position: used to indicate that the OBs remain unmoved in their current positions after a shot.
table installer: same as “installer.”
table layout: the arrangement of balls on the table.
table lengths: a measure of a shot’s speed (e.g., “two table lengths” implies the CB would travel up and down the table, covering the length of the table twice, if it were sent straight up the table and didn’t hit any balls).
table mechanic: person who works on, modifies, or maintains pool tables.
table roll: same as “roll-off.”
table run: where the non-breaking player clears the table on their first inning.
table scratch: failure to hit an OB or a rail after OB contact, which is a foul.
table size factor (TSF): percentage measure of table size relative to a standard 9′ foot table. It is used in the calculation of the “table difficulty factor.”
table speed: subjective measure of how “slow” or “fast” a table plays.
take the rack apart: run out by solving problems and playing good position in clockwork fashion.
table time: clock time and fee associated with renting a table.
take what is offered: don’t try a complicated shot to get perfect shape when a simple shot with less-than-perfect (but acceptable) shape is available.
take what you make: 8-ball rules variation where you are required to shoot at the balls (stripes or solids) you make the most of on the break.
takedown: amount won by a player in a gambling match.
talc: powder used on the bridge hand to reduce friction on the cue.
talcum powder: same as “talc.”
tangent line: the imaginary line through the center of the “ghost ball” perpendicular to (90º away from) the “line of centers.” For a stun shot, the CB moves along this line after OB impact (i.e., along the “stun line”). All CB paths, even with follow and draw shots, are tangent to the tangent line. “Tangent line” can also refer to a line tangent or perpendicular to the CB and OB surfaces at the moment of impact. This line is parallel to and a half-ball width away from the “stun line” interpretation of “tangent line.”
TAP: The “Association of Pool” or “Pool Amateur Tour” league and tournament organization.
Tap. Tap. Tap.: Phrase used to indicate approval or congratulations. A player’s act of tapping the butt of their cut on the floor several times non-verbally congratulates an opponent or team member for making a difficult or impressive shot.
taper: the profile of a shaft’s diameter (i.e., how it changes) from the tip to the joint.
tapper: a tip tool with fine, sharp points used to roughen the cue tip to better hold chalk (e.g., after it has become hardened and smooth from repeated impacts with the CB).
target pool: various types of position control drills where the goal is to have the CB end up on or close to a target placed on the table.
target size: same as “effective pocket size.”
target center: same as “effective pocket center.”
target pocket: the called or intended pocket for an OB.
TDF: “table difficulty factor.”
team play: competition between teams of players instead of individuals (e.g., as is common in league play).
technical proof (TP): an analytically derivation of a principle using mathematics and physics, supporting the book “The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards.”
template: see “racking template.”
tempo: consistent rate of play.
ten-ball: see “10-ball.”
tenon: cylindrical turned-down portion of the tip end of the shaft to which the ferrule is attached.
tester: a difficult shot that puts one’s skills to the test.
Texas Express: version of 9-ball with ball in hand (anywhere on the table) after a scratch on the break.
thick: same as “full.”
thick cut: same as “thick hit.”
thick hit: a near full-ball hit (i.e., a cut shot with a small cut angle).
thin: opposite of “full.”
thin cut: same as “thin hit.”
thin hit: a shot requiring a large cut angle, where the CB hits the extreme outer portion of the OB.
three-cushion billiards: billiard game played on a table with three balls and no pockets. To score a point, the CB must contact three rails before contacting the second OB. The first OB can be contacted by the CB at any time during the shot.
three-foul rule: a rule, usually in 9-ball, awarding you a victory if your opponent commits a foul on three successive shots.
three-quarter-ball hit: see “¾-ball hit.”
throat: a narrowest span at the back of the pocket mouth.
through traffic: a ball passing between or around several obstacle balls.
throw: OB motion away from the impact line (line of centers) due to relative sideways sliding motion between the CB and OB caused by sidespin or a cut angle.
throw shot: a shot in which sidespin is used to alter the path of the OB.
throwback: see “rail throwback.”
ticky or tickie: a rail-first carom or kiss shot where the CB or an OB is deflected off a rail and then a near-by OB before heading to its final target.
tie: equal final score.
tied up: used to describe a ball snookered (hidden) by other balls (e.g., after a safety).
tight: describing a situation where it is difficult to pocket a ball either because the pocket is partially blocked or the CB must barely avoid an obstacle ball.
tight pockets: pockets with narrower openings than normal (e.g., “shimmed pockets”).
tight rack: a rack of balls, with all balls touching, resulting in a good spread with a solid break.
tilt: see “on tilt.”
time: short for “time-out;” or, “table time;” or time of day.
time limit: duration of time allowed by a “shot clock.”
time shot or timed shot: same as “timing shot.”
time-out: a requested delay in play.
timing: appropriate cadence and smooth acceleration of the cue at the right moment for an effective delivery with good speed control.
timing shot: a shot where the ball to be pocketed hits another moving ball and is redirected to the desired pocket (or to score in a carom game).
tip offset: the distance between the center of the CB and a line through the contact point on the CB that is parallel to the cue direction at contact.
TIPOPAB: the book “The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards” by Dr. Dave Alciatore.
tip: same as “cue tip.”
tip the hat: blow your cover (i.e., show your true speed) when gambling or hustling.
tip tool: device used to shape, scuff, or prick the cue tip to improve how it plays.
tips of english: measure used to indicate how far off center the cue tip contacts the CB. “One tip of english” means the cue is offset one tip width (i.e., one shaft diameter) from the center.
tit or tittie or titty: slang for pocket “knuckle” or “point.”
to the wire: coming down to the very last “hill-hill” game.
TOI: touch of inside english.
Tom: name for a bad, uncool, or untrustworthy guy or situation (e.g., he is “Tom”). Not a “George.”
Tom Cruise run-out: a “road map” run-out like those set up for Tom Cruise in the movie “The Color of Money,” where the remaining balls can be easily pocketed with simple and natural shots requiring very little skill.
tool: slang for “cue stick.”
top: above-center hit on the CB; or the half of the table including the head string.
top cushion: the cushion on the “top rail.”
top rail: the “end rail” at the top of the table, closest to the “head string.”
topspin: forward rotation of the CB resulting from an above-center hit on the CB (see follow shot).
Tortola: a modified double-elimination tournament format developed for FargoRate events.
total performance average: stats-based 9-ball player performance rating developed by Accu-Stats.
touch: speed control and finesse.
touched ball: an OB accidentally touched or moved by a player.
tough action: a hard-to-beat player, or a difficult place to make money.
tough pockets: same as “tight pockets.”
tournament: organized event involving a large number of players competing for money prizes.
tournament bracket: same as “tournament chart.”
tournament card: same as “tournament chart.”
tournament chart: diagram showing how players in a tournament are paired (e.g., after a “seed” or “draw”) along with match results.
tournament tough: having enough ability and long-term focus to last and place well in tournaments.
tout: a person claiming to be able to predict winning players for a gambler, expecting a percentage of the winnings for his services.
toy: a “fish” who keeps coming back to play to lose some more.
TP: see “technical proof.”
TR: “table run” or “trick racker.”
track: ball path predicted by a “diamond system.”
traffic: collection of obstacle balls that leave little room for the CB to pass.
trail: to be behind in score.
train a table: to make indentations in the cloth (e.g. by “setting” a ball) at each racked-ball position to help hold the balls in place and touching when racked.
training template: a thin sheet of rigid material with holes in it used to train a table.
transfer of english: same as “spin transfer.”
transferred spin: ball spin resulting from “spin transfer.”
transmitted spin: ball spin resulting from “spin transfer.”
trap: situation where you are expected to lose a game (e.g., his opponent set a trap).
trapped: caught in a losing game.
trash: slang term used to describe balls pocketed by accident.
trash talk: insults used to intimidate the opposition, sometimes used in humor (e.g., “my grandma could have run that rack”).
traveling league: league where teams play at at the home team location each week.
tree-topped: same as “Chinese snooker.”
triangle: device used to rack all 15 balls into a triangle shape (e.g., for a game of 8-ball or straight pool).
trick shot: a set-up shot used to demonstrate creativity or skill at the table (e.g., in an exhibition), where a key to making the shot can be knowing exactly how to set up the balls.
tripod bridge: hand bridge supported by only three fingers in the table.
trisect system: method used to predict CB direction with a draw shot.
trough: same as “gutter.”
true: having the proper shape or levelness.
TSF: “table size factor.”
TTTC: temper tantrum throwing chalk.
tuna: a large “fish.”
turn: a player’s stay (“inning”) at the table, which continues as long as the player continues to legally pocket OBs; also, same as “twist.”
turn on the heat: same as “put on the heat.”
turn on the torch: same as “put on the heat.”
tush hog: a bodyguard for a hustler or serious gambler (to watch his back, or to go after an opponent for not paying up).
tweener: same as a shot “on the fifty yard line.”
twice: same as “two-rail” (e.g., twice cross-side).
twist: use spin to alter a shot (e.g., use spin-transfer to “twist” a bank in, or use SIT to “twist” a shot in).
two-piece cue: a typical playing cue with a joint in the middle allowing it to be “broken down” for easy transportation.
two-rails: bank shot hitting two opposite rails.
two times: same as “twice.”
two-way shot: a shot where you attempt to pocket a ball and, at the same time, play for a safety in case you miss the shot.
umbrella shot: a three-cushion billiards shot in which the CB first strikes two cushions (with the 1st being on a long rail) before hitting the first OB, and then hits a third cushion before hitting the second OB. The shot “opens up like an umbrella” after hitting the third cushion.
under cut: hitting the OB with too small of a cut angle, hitting the ball too fully.
unders: same as “solids.”
unforced error: a mistake a player would not usually make (i.e., there is no legitimate excuse). Examples include missing an easy cut shot, playing a poor safety, or leaving bad position due to poor CB control.
unintentional english: same as “unintentional sidespin.”
unintentional sidespin: inadvertent sidespin caused by not hitting the CB on the vertical centerline.
unscrew: disconnect the shaft and butt of a two-piece cue.
unsportsmanlike conduct: a penalized action of a player not in accordance with generally expected and respectful behavior.
untrue: not “true.”
up: ahead in score.
up and down: long bank shot off a short rail into a corner pocket, traveling almost the full length of the table twice.
up table: towards the head rail.
upscale room: expensive pool hall with fancy and fashionable amenities and services.
uptown: same as “up table.”
UPA: United States Professional Poolplayers Association.
U.S. Open: popular annual 9-ball tournament that attracts the top players in the world.
USAPL: USA Pool League system and tournament organization.
V-bridge: same as “open bridge.”
vacuum cleaner: device for cleaning dirt and chalk dust from the table cloth.
VEEB: “Video Encyclopedia of Eight Ball.” A five-disc instructional video series created by Dr. Dave and Bob Jewett.
VENT: “Video Encyclopedia of Nine-ball and Ten-ball.” A five-disc instructional video series created by Dr. Dave and Bob Jewett.
VEPP: “Video Encyclopedia of Pool Practice.” A five-disc instructional video series created by Dr. Dave and Bob Jewett.
VEPS: “Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots.” A five-disc instructional video series created by Dr. Dave and Tom Ross.
vertical centerline: used to indicate when you aim at the vertical line passing through the center of the CB (i.e., with no sidespin).
vertical plane: the imaginary plane perpendicular to the table surface passing through the CB. Adjusting the cue height above and below the CB center, in the vertical plane, creates follow (topspin) or draw (bottom spin).
vertical throw: upward or downward motion (and hop) of the CB and/or OB resulting from throw and a fairly full hit with follow or draw. The effect is more dramatic with “cling.”
vig: difference between what is wagered and what is won (e.g., paid to a “backer” or a “bookie”).
vision center: the head and eye alignment, relative to the cue, that allows you to see a center-ball, straight-in shot as straight, with the tip appearing to be at the center of the CB.
visit: same as “inning.”
VNEA: Valley National Eight-ball Association pool league and tournament organization.
wad: same as “bankroll.”
wagon wheel drill: position control drill where you try to send the CB in a wide range of directions off the same shot (like spokes radiating out from the hub of a wheel).
walk through the park: situation where everything is easy with very little effort in shot making or position control.
walking stick: a handout to a gambling opponent that has been busted (e.g., so they can walk their injured self home).
wall: see “pocket walls.”
wall rack: wall-mounted accessory use to store cues when they are not being used.
wand: slang for “cue stick.”
warm-up: practice just before a match.
warm-up strokes: back and forth motion of the cue used to prepare for the final forward stroke.
wastebasket: same as “bucket.”
WCBS: World Confederation of Billiard Sports.
weapon: slang for “cue stick.”
weight: a handicap one player gives another in a money game; or, the heaviness of a cue.
weight bolt: a threaded weight inserted into the butt of a cue (behind the end cap) to change the cue weight and balance.
weld: freeze together (e.g., the CB welded itslef to the blocker ball).
went off X: lost X amount during gambling (often as a “pigeon”).
western side of the bracket: the “loser’s bracket” (on the left side of the chart).
wet table: a table in humid conditions, making the cloth play slower and cushions bank shorter.
whale: a really big “fish.”
wheel man: same as “steer man.”
whiff: to completely miss hitting the CB or the OB.
whip shot: same as “fouetté shot.”
whippy: describes a shaft that is slender and not very stiff.
whistle blower: a person that alerts the locals that a good player or hustler is in town looking for action.
white ball: same as “CB.”
white donut: same as “little white donut.”
whitewash: to “skunk” or “shut out.”
whitey: slang term for “CB.”
who shot John: slang for an unverified or bull-shit story (e.g., Don’t give me a “who shot John” story, just be honest and tell me the way it was).
whoa: utterance used when too much speed is used and you wish the CB would slow down.
wholes: European term for “solids.” See also: “halves.”
wild ball: an additional “money ball” given as “weight” to a player in a gambling match (e.g., if you give your opponent the 8 in a game of 9 ball, your opponent wins if he or she pockets either the 8 or 9).
wild X: a ball allowed or pocketed without calling it (e.g., the game of 9-ball allows a “wild 9”).
wing balls: the two balls adjacent to the 9-ball (towards the side rails) in a 9-ball rack.
wing shot: a “trick” shot where you roll the OB and hit it into a pocket while it is moving (“on the fly”).
window: gap between two obstacle balls just large enough for the CB to pass.
winner: player who wins a match; or, a good shot leading to victory.
winner breaks: tournament format where the player that wins a game breaks in the next game.
winner’s bracket: the portion of the chart or bracket you stay in as long as you don’t lose any matches in a double-elimination tournament.
winning hazard: English billiards terms for pocketing a ball with the CB.
wiped its feet: when an OB does not go into a pocket cleanly and brushes against the jaws of a pocket on its way in (e.g., “that ball wiped its feet going into the pocket”).
wire: string or metal wire above the table with sliding beads or buttons for keeping score.
wired: same as “dead.”
wood: slang for “cue.”
woof: banter at or challenge a player to gamble, often as a “nit.”
World Standardized Rules: The worldwide official rules of pocket billiards games, developed and maintained by the WPA.
WPA: World Pool-Billiards Association.
WPBA: Women’s Professional Billiards Association.
wrap: a covering on part of the butt to make the grip more comfortable or effective.
WSR: World Standardized Rules.
X and out: see “give the X and out.”
X and the break: a gambling handicap (“weight”) where you give your opponent the break and a ball (see “give the X”).
X pack: X consecutive racks run during a match (e.g., “He ran a six pack”).
yips: jerkiness or technique flaws, usually caused by nervous tension.
Z shot: a kick, bank, or position shot that goes back and forth across the table in a “Z” shape.
zone: state in which a player is not distracted by anything and plays top-level pool (e.g., “He’s in the zone.”).
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