Bumper pool is a billiards-style game first popularized in Europe. Unlike the typical 8-ball and 9-ball games, however, bumper pool is decided by just two pockets that rest at either end of the table rather than the corners and sides. This article details the rules, penalties and strategies of bumper pool to aid players of varying levels.
A regulation-sized bumper pool table is 48 inches long, 32 inches wide and usually has a green felt surface.
The pockets are situated in the center of the railing at either end of the table. There is one bumper on each side of the pocket for a total of four. These bumpers are red on one end of the table and white on the other end.
The center of the table is crowded with eight additional bumpers: four more red and four more white.
As with the color of the bumpers, balls are red and white. Players using red balls must start the game behind the pocket with white bumpers and vice versa, to sink the balls in the corresponding pocket at the opposite end.
Setting up the table requires each player to place two balls on either side of the pocket. A fifth ball, known as "marked" due to a spot on its surface, is placed directly in front of the pocket.
Now, you are ready to begin playing bumper pool. With a marked ball in front of each pocket, both players simultaneously shoot it toward the right side cushion. The player who sinks the marked ball or comes closest on the shot will take the next shot. If both players sink the marked ball to start the game, one of the remaining four balls is placed in front of the pocket and acts as the marked ball. If all balls are sunk in this fashion with no misses by either player, the game ends in a draw.
The marked ball must be scored in the correct pocket before that player may continue with the remaining balls. If a player shoots another ball before the marked one is sunk, all affected balls on the table must be returned to their original positions. If a player sinks his marked ball, he may disturb his opponent's balls with another shot even if the opponent has not yet made his marked ball.
For each ball sunk properly in the corresponding pocket, the scoring player receives another shot on a ball still on the table.
The first player to sink all five balls wins the game. Similar to the 8 ball in billiards, a player on the brink of winning will lose if his final ball falls into his opponent's pocket.
Rules and Penalties
The following is a list of penalties that will be administered in certain cases if a player breaks the rules in bumper pool.
The biggest rule in bumper pool is that no player may jump her ball over bumpers and other balls on the table. Doing so results in that ball being placed in the middle of the table with the bumpers and the opponent automatically drops two balls in his scoring pocket.
Similar to jumping, players may not shoot balls off the table. If a player shoots her own ball off the table, it is placed in the center and her turn is relinquished. If she shoots his opponent's ball off the table, the penalty is the same for jumping.
If a player shoots his own ball into an opponent's pocket, the opponent pockets two balls without penalty. The same penalty occurs if a player merely shoots his opponent's ball rather than his own.
Bumper Pool Strategy
Once you have gotten used to the layout and overall game play of bumper pool, you can start focusing on techniques to maximize your success. This is achieved with a good defensive strategy, because many players will be accustomed to the angles needed for scoring.
Once you have scored your marked ball, wait for your opponent to shoot into your zone. In a best case scenario, he will miss and allow you to displace his ball with your shot. The toughest place to take shots from is the center of the table, where the eight bumpers are. Attempt to squeeze your opponent's ball in that space with one of two results: a) the contact of the balls sends his to the center and yours to the outer edge for a possible shot at the pocket or b) your opponent's ball goes to the center, while yours comes to rest in front of your opponent's pocket to block him from scoring. Be careful with this second choice, because sinking your own ball in your opponent's pocket results in a penalty.
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