Three Cushion Billiards Rules

Three cushion billiards is played on a five by ten foot table with no pockets. There are two cue balls, a white and a yellow, and one red ball. Players score one point for billiard made. First player to reach the point goal wins. This is a great game. If you are not familiar with Billiards you might want to try One Cushion Billiards first. Three Cushion is very difficult.


The red ball on the foot spot, one cue ball on the head spot and the shooters cue ball on the headstring within six inches of the head spot.


The red ball must be struck first by the shooters cue ball.

Valid Shot

Must make a three cushion billiard to continue at the table. A three cushion billiard can be made by:

  • striking the red or the opponents cue ball, striking three or more cushions with the cue ball before striking the other ball-in-hand

  • the cue ball strikes three or more cushions, then strikes the other two balls

  • the cue ball strikes a cushion, then the red or opponents cue ball, then strikes two or more cushions before striking the other ball

  • the cue ball strikes two or more cushions, then the red or opponents cue ball, then strikes one or more cushions before striking the other ball


Each three cushion billiard is worth 1 point.

Spotting Balls

All balls knocked off the table must be spotted.

Penalty for Fouls

None, players inning ends.


For a safe play where you don’t leave an easy shot if you fail to score, try to leave your opponent's cue ball at one end of the table and the other two balls at the other end. Usually this means hitting the opponent's cue ball first, driving it away from red, and then getting the three or more rails and approaching red fairly slowly. If the shot must be played off red first, play with a little extra speed so your cue ball will not be left near your opponent's ball.

For offense, concentrate first on the shots that need about a half-ball hit on the first ball and running follow. This is the easiest type of shot to execute if the balls are in the right places. Always use running English unless you have a good reason not to. If the second object ball is close to a corner -- best is about a ball from each cushion -- it is a very large target. Learn to see 'two-way' shots that have a chance to score after five rails if they don't score on three. For position play, try to leave 1-ball 'large' in a corner. Leave your cue ball near at least one of the other balls – at least the first hit will be easy to control. Do not leave a ball in the middle of the end rail, as that seems to be the hardest place to get to after three cushions.

Learn 'specialty' shots, such as the 'ticky': rail, ball, same rail, rail, ball, all in one corner; the 'reverse the corner' shot: ball, side rail, end rail, same side rail, ball; the 'swing' shot: ball, side rail, side rail, side rail, second ball; and of course the many 'bank' shots in which you contact all of the cushions before going towards the two balls which are usually close together.