Bottle pool

Bottle pool

Bottle pool, also known as bottle-billiards and bottle pocket billiards, is a hybrid billiards game combining aspects of both carom billiards and pocket billiards. Played on a standard pool table, the game uses just two Cuegloss|Object ball|object balls, a cue ball, and a 6¾ inch tall, narrow-necked bottle called a Cuegloss|Bottle|shake bottle or tally bottle, traditionally made from leather, that is placed on the table and used as a target for Cuegloss|Carom|caroms. Those unfamiliar with the game sometimes mistakenly use its name as a synonym for the very different game of kelly pool.New York Times Company (January 11, 1894). [ Bottle-Billiards Tournament] . Retrieved March 1, 2007.] cite book | last = Hoyle | first = Edmond | year = 1907 | title = Hoyle's Games - Autograph Edition | publisher = A. L. Burt Company | location = New York | pages = Page 297-8] cite book | last = Shamos | first = Michael Ian | year = 1993 | title = The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards | publisher = Lyons & Burford | location = New York, NY | pages = Page 30 | id = ISBN 1-55821-219-1 ] [Ozone Billiards, Inc. (2001-2006). [ Advertisement for "tally bottles"] , confusing bottle pool with kelly pool. Retrieved March 1, 2007.] The Michigan Daily (2007). [ Pool hall gives students a chance to play with history] by Cortney Dueweke. Retrieved March 1, 2007.] Bottle pool has been described as combining "elements of billiards, straight pool and chess under a set of rules that lavishly rewards strategic shot making and punishes mistakes with Sisyphean point reversals."New York Times Company (August 21, 2006). [ Billiards With a Bottle. And This Game Is Dying?] by Harry Hurt III. Retrieved March 1, 2007.]

Although bottle pool's origins remain obscure, tournament records and newspaper articles confirm that the game has been played since at least the late 1800s. A mention appears in an 1894 New York Times newspaper article announcing a 64 player tournament to be played at a certain Hanover Clubhouse in Brooklyn, New York. The game was more well known in the early to mid 20th century, during which references to it appear in numerous books and publications including Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street". It is also known to have been played by some notable individuals, such as world renowned quantum chemist and biochemist Linus Pauling. [Google (2007). [ Google book search for "Bottle pool."] . Shows numerous mentions of bottle pool during the early to mid 1900s, but few mentions later in the century. Retrieved March 1, 2007.] [cite book | author= Sinclair Lewis | title = | publisher = Grosset & Dunlap | location = New York | pages = Page 349 | date = October, 1920] [Oregon State University (2007). [ Special Collections: Linus Pauling The Nature of the Chemical Bond, A documentary History] . Retrieved March 1, 2007.]

Over time bottle pool developed an elitist image, its active play more commonly the province of gentlemen's clubs and select groups than patrons of billiard parlors. For instance, bottle pool is known to have had a dedicated following with faculty at the University of Michigan from 1911 until approximately 1999 , and was the billiards game of choice at exclusive New York City enclaves such the Racquet Club, the Manhattan Athletic Club and the Union Club, the last being the oldest gentlemen's club in the United States. [New York Times Company (February 11, 2007). [ Inside the Union Club, Jaws Drop] by Christopher Gray. Retrieved March 1, 2007.] [The Regents of the University of Michigan (February 22, 1999). Article in "The University Record": [ Calling all bottle pool players] by Joanne Nesbit. Retrieved March 1, 2007.] [Billiards Room (2006). [ Michigan Union Billiards & Game Room: Fun Facts] . Retrieved March 1, 2007.]

Despite being one of a short group of non-championship games still detailed in the Official Rules and Records Book of the Billiard Congress of America, as of 2006, bottle pool was known only to be the billiard sport of general choice at a few New York City social clubs such as the two mentioned previously. A veteran member of both those clubs opined in 2006 that there were then fewer than 1,000 dedicated bottle pool players nationwide.cite book | author= BCA Rules Committee | title = Billiards - The Official Rules and Record Book | publisher = Billiard Congress of America | location = Iowa City, Iowa | pages = Pages 111-112 | date = November, 1992 | id = ISBN 1-87849-302-7]

General rules (Billiard Congress of America)

et up

At the start of bottle pool, the shake bottle is placed inverted (neck down) on the Cuegloss|Center spot|center spot at the geographic center of the Cuegloss|Bed|bed of a pool table. The two object balls used are the 1 ball and the 2 ball. Viewed from the racker's vantage point, the 1 ball is Cuegloss|Frozen|frozen to the Cuegloss|Diamond|diamond on the Cuegloss|Foot rail|foot rail immediately adjacent to the right corner pocket, and the 2 ball to the diamond on the foot rail immediately adjacent to the left corner pocket.

The player breaking starts with Cuegloss|Ball-in-hand|cue ball in hand from the Cuegloss|Kitchen|kitchen (behind the Cuegloss|Head string|head string) and must contact either of the two object balls in order to complete a legal break. The object of the game is to score "exactly" 31 points before any opponents, with a draconian penalty for overshooting that benchmark.


Points are scored in bottle pool in the following ways:
#Cuegloss|Pocket|Pocketing the 1 ball scores 1 point;
# Pocketing the 2 ball scores 2 points;
#Cuegloss|Carom|Caroming the cue ball off both object balls scores 1 point;
#Caroming the cue ball off one or both object balls and then into the bottle knocking it onto its side scores 5 points;
#Caroming the cue ball off one or both object balls and then into the bottle knocking onto its "base" results in an automatic win.

All of the above scoring possibilities can be combined, meaning the maximum number of points available on a single stroke is nine, accomplished by caroming into and pocketing both object balls combined with knocking over the bottle with the cue ball. The winning shot in the game (other than one which rights the shake bottle) must bring a player's score to exactly 31. If a player overshoots that benchmark, known as a "burst" in the game's terminology, the amount of points 31 is overshot by becomes the player's new score. This means, for example, that if a player has 30 points and then scores 5 points (instead of the requisite 1 point) by caroming the cue ball off an object ball and into the bottle knocking it on its side, the player's score resets to four points.

When a player reaches exactly 31 points, he must announce this feat to all participants before the next player shoots a shot in order to be victorious. If this is not done, the player may not again invoke his winning score until his turn comes up again in rotation. If another player in the interim successfully scores exactly 31, and properly announces it, that player wins the game. [cite book | author= BCA Rules Committee | title = Official Rule Book For All Pocket and Carom Billiard Games| publisher = Billiard Congress of America | location = Chicago, Illinois | pages = Pages 53-54 | date = 1970 | id = ISBN B000JWEG18]

Illegal shots and fouls

Any legally made scoring shot entitles a player to continue shooting. The penalty for a Cuegloss|Foul|foul in the game is a loss of turn, any point scoring acts made on the same stroke are not counted, and 1 point is deducted from the player's total score. The incoming player after a foul accepts the table in position except if the cue ball is jumped off the table or a Cuegloss|Scratch|scratch occurs, in which case the incoming player has Cuegloss|Ball-in-hand|ball-in-hand from the Cuegloss|Kitchen|kitchen. Three consecutive fouls in bottle pool results in a loss of game.

In addition to standard fouls defined in the [ General Rules for Pocket Billiards] , such as scratches, Cuegloss|Push shot|push shots, Cuegloss|Double hit|double hits and others, the following are specifically defined fouls peculiar to bottle pool: the cue ball fails to touch an object ball; the cue ball touches the bottle before contacting an object ball; the bottle is knocked over by an object ball; and an object ball is pocketed on the same stroke as an illegal shot. Illegal shots which are "not fouls" unless a ball is pocketed on the same stroke (thus resulting in a loss of turn, no score, but "not a loss of points"), include: causing an Cuegloss|Object ball|object ball to touch the bottle at all before the cue ball touches it (without knocking it over); and causing the bottle to go into a pocket or off the table as a result of action by the cue ball, after it has caromed off an object ball.

Bottle and ball spotting rules

Whenever the shake bottle is knocked over it is immediately stood up open end down as close as possible to the position on the table at which it came to rest after being upset, as judged from the mouth of the bottle. When the shake bottle is knocked into a pocket, off the table, or where the open end of the bottle intrudes over a pocket opening such that it is impossible to replace it to its upset resting position, the shake bottle is replaced to the table's center spot. If the center spot is occupied by any ball, then it is placed on the Cuegloss|Head spot|head spot. If both the center and head spots are occupied, then it is placed on the Cuegloss|Foot spot|foot spot. If none of the listed spots are available then it remains off the table until such time as the center spot becomes unobstructed.

As in the games of snooker, English billiards, cowboy pool and others, pocketed balls are immediately respotted to their starting position. Where the second object ball, the cue ball or the bottle makes Cuegloss|Spot (verb)|spotting the ball there impossible, it is spotted to the center spot. If the center spot is occupied, the ball is spotted to the head spot. Where both object balls have been Cuegloss|Potted|potted on a shot, they are spotted with the same dictates for just one ball, first spotting the 1 ball, followed by the 2 ball. Thus, if the starting positions for the two object balls are each occupied, respectively by the cue ball and shake bottle, the 1 ball would be placed on the center spot and the 2 ball on the head spot.


The game has been sometimes played with the larger and heavier, unnumbered carom billiard balls in lieu of pocket billiard balls. Such was the case at Michigan State University's billiard room where the faculty devoted their time to bottle pool. Not incidentally, in that room three-cushion billiards which uses these larger balls was also a mainstay, and was where touring three-cushion professional, Carl Conlon was a fixture until his death in 1997. In this variation, a solid-yellow (or dotted) second cue ball is used in place of the 1 ball, and the red ball, known traditionally as the Cuegloss|Carambole|carombola, is used in place of the 2 ball. The use of such balls makes the game more difficult as the larger balls must still be made in the same-sized pool pockets.

The rules promulgated by the Manhattan Athletic Club in the 1890s diverge in a number of ways from the modern rules published by the BCA (though they do use the numbered 1 and 2 balls, rather than carom billiards balls). Those Cuegloss|House rules|house rules provide that when a player bursts, his score is set to zero rather than to the number of points 31 is overshot; pocketed object balls are replaced on the "red-ball spot" (the foot spot), or if occupied, frozen to the foot rail in the original position of the 1 ball and if occupied, of the 2 ball; and no foul rules whatever are proferred.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • bottle pool — noun : pool played with a cue ball, two object balls, and a leather bottle placed upside down, points being scored for caroming, pocketing an object ball, or overturning the bottle after hitting an object ball; broadly : any pool game in which a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • pool bottle — noun : the leather bottle from which small numbered balls are distributed to the players in some games of pool (as to determine the order of playing) …   Useful english dictionary

  • bottle spring — noun Etymology: so called from the fact that fresh water may be secured by submerging a stopped bottle directly over the spring and then removing the stopper : a freshwater spring issuing through the floor of a saline lake or pool …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cowboy pool — Cowboy pool, sometimes just called cowboy, is a hybrid pool game combining elements of English billiards through an intermediary game, with more standard pocket billiards characteristics. [1] The game employs only four balls, the cue ball and… …   Wikipedia

  • Cribbage (pool) — For the card game of the same name, see Cribbage. Setting up a game of cribbage with the triangle rack. Cribbage, sometimes called cribbage pocket billiards, cribbage pool, fifteen points and pair pool, is a two player pocket billiards game that …   Wikipedia

  • Dave Pearson (pool player) — Dave Pearson is a British professional pool player. Pearson was the runner up in the International Speed Pool Challenge four years in a row, losing to Luc Salvas in the 2006 and 2009 finals, and to Bobby McGrath in the 2007 2008 finals.[1][2][3]… …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago (pool) — This article is about the pool game. For other uses, see Chicago (disambiguation). Chicago is a money ball pool gambling game. It was a popular game in New York City pool rooms during the 1960s and 1970. Rules The game of Chicago is played in a… …   Wikipedia

  • Cutthroat (pool) — Cutthroat is a three player pocket billiards game, played on a pool table using cue sticks. Each player is assigned a set of numbered balls. The object is to be the last player with at least one ball still on the table. Subtle differences in game …   Wikipedia

  • Kelly pool — (also known as pea pool, pill pool, keeley, the keilley game, and killy) is a pocket billiards game with numerous variations, played on a standard pool table using fifteen numbered markers, and a standard set of sixteen pool balls. An early… …   Wikipedia

  • The Man in the Bottle — The Twilight Zone episode Luther Adler and Vivi Janiss in The Man in the Bottle …   Wikipedia