Snooker for Dummies: A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide

In this article, we will dive into the exciting world of snooker. We’ll explore the origins of the game, how it evolved from a pastime to a competitive sport, and the skills needed to become a proficient player.

Get ready to learn about the rules of the game, the equipment used, and some strategies that can help you understand this beautiful sport.


  1. Introduction to Snooker
  2. Object of the Game
  3. Equipment for Snooker
  4. Scoring System
  5. Rules in Snooker
  6. Winning the Game
  7. Conclusion & FAQs

Introduction to Snooker

Snooker is a cue sport that is played on a rectangular table with six pockets. The game is known for its complex set of rules and strategies, which makes it a challenging and exciting sport to play and watch.

One of the most important aspects of the game is the object of the game, which is to score more “frames” than your opponent.

The sport has grown in popularity worldwide, particularly in India and China. However, it is still largely dominated by British players at the highest level.

The Snooker World Championship is considered one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but the game is also enjoyed by amateurs of all levels in clubs and pubs throughout the UK.


Snooker originated from billiards, another cue sport that dates back to the 16th century. It was in the late 19th century that snooker was developed by British Army soldiers stationed in India. They created the game by adding new rules and challenges to the existing game of billiards.


The first official snooker tournament was held in 1916, and the first World Championship was established in 1927. Since then, the popularity of the game has fluctuated over time.

The 1970s and 1980s are widely considered to be the “golden age of snooker”, with the sport gaining a massive following among fans and players alike.

Rules of the Game

Snooker is played on a rectangular table with six pockets, and the aim of the game is to score more points than your opponent by potting the balls in a specific order.

Each game is played over a series of frames, with the winner being the player who wins the most frames.

The game is known for its complex set of rules and strategies, which makes it a challenging and exciting sport to play and watch.

Professional Players

The world’s top professional snooker players come from a variety of countries, but the sport is still dominated by players from the UK, particularly England.

Some of the most well-known players in the game include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, and Steve Davis, all of whom have won multiple world championships.

The players compete in tournaments and earn world ranking points, and the fan experience is usually high due to the well-informed audience.

Amateur Snooker

Snooker is also a popular game among amateurs of all levels, with many playing in clubs and pubs throughout the UK.

The sport provides a fun and social activity for people of all ages and backgrounds, and there are numerous amateur leagues and tournaments held throughout the country.

Recommended article: 20 marketing ideas for snooker clubs

Object of the Game

The main objective of snooker is to use the white cue ball to pot the other balls in the correct sequence and ultimately score more points than your opponent in order to win the frame.

The game is played using 21 colored balls, including 15 red balls worth one point each and six other balls worth varying amounts of points.

Potting the Balls

To start a game of snooker, the red balls are set up in a triangular formation at the beginning of the table, with the other colored balls positioned in specific locations.

The white cue ball is used to hit the red balls and pot them into the pockets, earning one point for each successful pot.

After all the red balls have been potted, the other colored balls are then potted in a specific order, each color having its own value, until all balls have been cleared from the table.

Winning the Frame

The game is played over a series of frames, with the winner being the player who wins the most frames. A frame is won by scoring more points than your opponent, and a game of snooker can be won by winning a predetermined number of frames.

For professional players, the game is typically played as a best-of-19 or best-of-35 frames, while amateur games can be shorter or longer depending on the tournament or league rules.


Snooker is a game that requires both physical and mental skills. Players need to have good hand-eye coordination, precision, and control over the cue ball to successfully pot the other balls.

Players also need to be strategic in their play, planning several shots ahead and utilizing various techniques such as spin, power, and finesse to gain an advantage over their opponent.

Equipment for Snooker

Snooker is a cue sport that requires specific equipment to be played, including a rectangular table, a set of balls, and a cue stick.

The size and specifications of the equipment are regulated to ensure fair play and consistency across all levels of the game.


The snooker table is rectangular, measuring 12ft x 6ft and just under 3ft in height. The table is usually made of wood with a slate top covered in green baize, which provides a smooth and consistent playing surface.

The table has six pockets into which the balls are potted, one in each corner and two in the middle of the long sides, or cushions.

The end from which the game starts is called the baulk end and has a line across the width of the table 29 inches from the baulk cushion. In the centre of this is the D, an 11.5 inch-radius semi-circle with the baulk line as its diameter.


The snooker balls are made from phenolic resin and are approximately 2.7 inches in diameter (given in metric units of 52.5mm).

There are 15 red balls and one each of black, pink, blue, brown, green, and yellow, as well as a white cue ball which is the only one struck by the players.

The colors go on their spots, the green, brown, and yellow from left to right on the baulk line across the semi-circle. The blue goes in the middle of the table, the pink midway between there and the top cushion (the opposite end to the baulk cushion) with the black in the centre, 12¾ inches off the top cushion.

The 15 reds are placed in a triangle with one red at the point behind the pink.


The players use a cue stick to strike the white ball, which is the only ball they can directly hit.

The cue is usually made of wood and must be “not less than 3ft in length and shall show no substantial departure from the traditionally and generally accepted shape and form”.

Scoring System in Snooker

In snooker, points are earned by potting balls in the correct sequence. The aim is to score more points than the opponent to win a frame, which is the basic unit of the game.

Point System

The game starts with a player attempting to pot one of the 15 red balls, which are worth one point each. Once a red ball is potted, the player must nominate a “colored ball” (all other balls but red), and then pot it.

The value of balls in snooker:

  • Black ball = 7 points
  • Pink ball = 6 points
  • Blue ball = 5 points
  • Brown ball = 4 points
  • Green ball = 3 points
  • Yellow ball = 2 points
  • Red ball = 1 point

After a player has potted a colored ball, it is re-spotted, while the red balls remain off the table. The player then continues to pot the remaining red balls, alternating with a color after each pot.

Once all the red balls have been potted, the six colors must be potted in ascending order of their value, with the black ball being the final ball.

Maximum Break

The highest score possible in a single visit to the table is a 147 break, which involves potting all 15 reds with 15 blacks, followed by all six colors.

Fouls and Penalties

If a player fails to pot a ball or commits a foul, the opponent receives the chance to take their turn. Foul shots include potting the cue ball, failing to hit a ball, hitting the wrong ball, or striking the cue ball more than once

If a foul is committed, the opponent receives four penalty points, unless the foul occurred while playing the blue, pink, or black ball or if one of these balls was hit first, in which case the penalty is equal to the value of the ball in question.

Rules in Snooker

To start a game of snooker, one player strikes a red ball from a certain area on the table called the D, using the white ball. The other player then takes their turn.

If the balls are placed in a way that makes the game difficult or could lead to a stalemate, both players can agree to start over.

It’s important to hit the correct ball with the cue ball, and only with one clean strike. If a player fails to do so, or touches any ball with their body or their cue except the white ball, it’s considered a foul. The referee may call a miss if a player doesn’t make a serious attempt to hit the correct ball, and the other player can ask for a retake.

Before taking a shot, all balls must be still. The player must hit the nominated ball first, or any red ball if it’s the first shot. Failing to do so, not hitting any ball, or potting a non-nominated ball is a foul.

If a ball is knocked off the table, it’s also considered a foul. While red balls aren’t replaced, colored balls are placed back on their designated spot. If a ball covers the spot where a colored ball would usually be replaced, the colored ball is placed on the next available spot.

When the cue ball is touching another ball, the referee announces “touching ball,” and the player must play away from that ball. If the touching ball moves, it’s a foul.

If a player fouls and the other player can’t hit the next legal ball, a free ball is declared. The player can then hit any ball of their choice and score as if it were the next legal ball.

Players must have at least one foot on the ground while taking a shot. Potting the white ball or making a jump shot is a foul.


Players can commit fouls in snooker if they break any of the rules. Here are some of the most common fouls in the game:

  • Failing to hit the ball: If a player fails to hit any ball with the white ball, their turn is over, and their opponent is awarded points.
  • Hitting the wrong ball: If a player hits any ball other than the one they were aiming for, it’s considered a foul, and their opponent is awarded points.
  • Potting the cue ball: If a player pots the white ball, it’s considered a foul, and their opponent is awarded points.
  • Not hitting a cushion: After hitting a ball, the cue ball must hit a cushion, or else it’s considered a foul.

Free Ball

If a player commits a foul, their opponent may be awarded a free ball. A free ball means that the opponent can nominate any ball on the table as the ball they’re aiming for instead of the ball that was fouled.

If the free ball is potted, it’s counted as the value of the original ball.

Miss Rule

If a player fails to hit a ball on three consecutive occasions, it’s called a “miss.”

If the referee believes that the player didn’t make a genuine effort to hit the ball, they can award penalty points to the opponent or ask them to take the shot again.


If the balls become positioned in such a way that it’s impossible to continue playing, the referee may call for a re-rack.

In a re-rack, the balls are placed back in their original starting position.

Winning the Game in Snooker

In snooker, the ultimate goal is to win the game by scoring more frames than the opponent. To achieve this, the player needs to score more points than the opponent in each frame.

A frame is complete when all the balls have been potted, and the winner is the one who has scored the most points in that frame.

When a player is ahead by more points than the remaining balls on the table, their opponent needs “snookers” to win the frame.

A snooker is a situation where a player is unable to directly hit the next legal ball. The hope is to force a foul from the opponent and earn four points.

Conceding the Frame

If a player believes that they cannot win, even by forcing snookers, they may concede the frame. This usually occurs when the opponent is significantly ahead in points and the remaining balls on the table would require four or more “snookers” (fouls) to be played in addition to all the remaining balls, depending on the number of balls left.

Best of Frames

A match in snooker is usually played as “best of” a set number of frames.

The number of frames required to win a match varies depending on the level of competition. For example, a match may be best of three frames, five frames, or even as many as 35 frames for modern World Championship finals.

In the “best of” format, the player who reaches an unassailable lead first wins the match.

Conclusion & FAQs

What does it mean to be “snookered?”

In snooker, the cue ball is said to be “snookered” when it’s blocked by another ball or balls, making it impossible to hit any ball directly. If there’s at least one ball that can be hit directly without any obstruction, then the cue ball is not snookered.

Is snooker only played in the UK?

No, snooker is played all over the world, with a particularly strong following in Asia, including China and India. The game has also gained popularity in other European countries, as well as in Australia and Canada.

What is the maximum score a player can achieve in snooker?

The maximum score a player can achieve in snooker is 147, also known as a “maximum break”. This is achieved by potting all 15 reds with a black after each one, followed by potting all six colours in order.

How long does a snooker match typically last?

The length of a snooker match can vary depending on the format and level of the game. Professional matches can last several hours or even multiple days, while amateur matches and casual games can be completed within an hour or two.

What happens if a ball is accidentally moved during a shot?

If a ball is accidentally moved during a shot, the player is typically penalized by being awarded a foul. The ball is then replaced to its original position by the referee or opponent, and the opposing player is awarded the opportunity to take their shot.

Can a player refuse to take a shot?

No, a player cannot refuse to take a shot once it is their turn to play. However, they can choose to play a safety shot, which is a shot that aims to leave the opponent in a difficult position rather than attempt to pot a ball.