How to play Bumper Pool (Rules and Playing Guide)

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, if you’re looking for a billiard that levels the ground for all pool enthusiasts, you’ve stumbled across the right game!

Bumper Pool, the pool game with lesser balls and lesser pockets and one single objective, is a game for all likes. More popularly known as the Great American Bumper, Bumper Pool is hardly found in variations in other regions of the world. 

Considering its ancient origins and despite not being a sanctioned game by the World Pool Association, the bumper pool is ironically a top contemporary choice among beginners, casual pool players, and right about any billiard enthusiast.

How do you exactly go about playing bumper pool, and what equipment do you need before getting started? Get all your answers in this simple guide!

What Is Bumper Pool?

Bumper Pool Game Info image

A fresh variation from most pool games, bumper pool is a form of pocket billiards that gets rid of hurdles in the form of complicated gameplay and instills physical hurdles instead, thereby earning its name. Bumper pool rules are what make it a favorite because there are hardly any.

Number Of Players: 2

Ages: 18 years and above

Difficulty: Medium

Main Objective: Sinking all the balls from the designated set in the pocket at the opposite end.

Why We Love It: With no complicated rules to adhere to and guidelines to follow, this game makes for the perfect relaxed bar night pool game. It’s simple, fun, with soft bumpers creating obstacles enough not to make this too easy.

Brief History Of Bumper Pool

Bumper pool is one of the most ancient and primitive versions of pool, and the simplicity of rules and set-up demonstrates the fact. Originated in the 1500s in Europe from ancient pocket billiards, this cue game is believed to be a table version of croquet owing to its similarities with the game.

Although it is not one of the games hosted in international billiards tournaments, it enjoys a history of popularity in bars and among casual get-togethers.

What You Need To Get Started

Bumper pool is drastically different from your regular pool games, not only in terms of rules and gameplay but also in the equipment used. Here is all you will need to get ready to set and shoot!

Bumper Pool Table

Now, the equipment list might seem a tad bit lengthy here. However, that’s because this one isn’t a traditional pool game. Instead, it offers something extra, as we will see below. 

  • Pool tables used for Bumper pool are unlike any traditional pool games and relatively shorter in dimensions — about 3-4 feet in length.
  • 2 pockets, instead of 6, are placed on the shorter rails at the opposite ends.
  • Generally, 12 cushioned bumpers are placed strategically to give the bumper pool its characteristic significance. 
  • 2 bumpers flank the sides of each pocket, and the rest 8 are arranged in the form of a cross at the center, leaving only enough space for a single ball to pass through.
  • Some tables consist of 14 or 16 bumpers that further crowd the center and leave lesser room for the balls. 
  • When choosing a bumper pool table, make sure to for one that is sturdy and well-cushioned at the bumpers like this one by Playcraft Hartford.
Playcraft Hartford Slate Black Bumper Pool Table
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  • Bumper Pool is played with ten balls divided into two sets — red and white.
  • Among the five balls from each set, one is marked with a contrasting colored spot. 
  • Each set is arranged at the edge of the table on the designated five spots
  • The marked ball is placed directly in front of the pocket.
  • There is no cue ball involved; the cue stick directly hits the object balls.

Cue Stick

  • To accommodate a shorter pool table, bumper pool cue sticks are relatively shorter in length and can range anywhere between 42-48 inches.
  • An ideal cue stick is made of good quality wood, has a sturdy, steel tip, and is lightweight like the one produced by Iszy Billiards.
Iszy Billiards BND-02-42-17 Short 42" 2Piece Hardwood Maple Pool Cue Billiard Stick 17 Oz, Brown
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10/05/2023 02:07 am GMT

Bumper Pool Rules And Guidelines 

It’s one of the simpler games in the family of billiards. Several factors like the lack of cue ball, no more than two pockets, and the objective of simply pocketing all balls contribute to this bumper pool’s ‘easy’ reputation. 

Let’s quickly have a look at how the game goes about.

Starting The Game

Since there is no racking in this game, there is no break shot. The game begins with both players shooting their shot simultaneously. The marked or spotted ball is to be shot first to sink in the pocket at the opposite end. However, there’s a catch for continuing the game.

In most variations, a player can shoot the marked ball, and regardless of whether it was successfully pocketed, the player can shoot other balls from the set without sinking them. In contrast, some variations of the bumper pool don’t allow players to shoot other balls unless the marked ball is sunk, and shooting them can be considered as a foul.

The Continuous Draw

With the marked ball sunk, the players are required to shoot shots with the single objective of pocketing all balls from their set

However, in some rare instances, a situation may arise when during the first shot, the players simultaneously pocket their marked balls. In this case, since any player who pockets a ball gets to play another shot in the same turn, both players get to shoot another shot simultaneously. 

If this combination of extreme co-incidence and master play continues, both players shoot 5 shots for pocketing 5 balls simultaneously, thereby finishing the game together. Such a tie is called the continuous draw and has no defined rules to break it.

Winning The Game

The player who manages to sink all the balls from the assigned set wins the game. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Bumper Pool

Are Jump Shots Permitted In Bumper Pool?

A jump shot is a technique that makes the cue ball jump in the air to clear the obstacle. This method is practiced in different cue games. However, it contradicts the purpose of bumpers and is not permitted according to the Bumper pool rules.

How Is Octagon Bumper Pool Different From Regular One?

An Octagon Bumper Pool table is smaller than the regular pool table. The Bumper pool rules remain similar for both shapes of tables. An octagonal table provides greater space surrounding the centers to shoot shots and is ideal for players who are just starting off. 

What Are The Rules For Bumper Pool With A Third Hole In The Middle?

The basic rules for the game are similar to the other pool games you’ve played. 

For one, each player starts the game by shooting their assigned set of colored balls in the opposite direction.

As a player, you need to look to make the ‘last ball’ or the marked ball enter the third hole in the middle of the table. It’s how you can win the game. 

Alternative Games to Bumper Pool 

Although bumper pool can get quite addictive, for when you’ll need refreshments from the casual play, here are some more game suggestions that you might enjoy exploring.

If you’re still in the mood for some pool games, you can try out the Ten-ball pool game with a completely fresh set of rules and a fresh pool set too. Otherwise Cutthroat pool and Bagatelle game are other great options. 

A game that has a similar object to that of a bumper pool — shooting an object in the opposite rail’s pocket — but with a whole world of difference, Air hockey is your game to maintain a consistent mood. 

If you’re looking to create a mix of casual and competitive games, you might want to add Cricket darts to the shuffle.

In the end, what matters is that you cherish each game, learn and explore new ones, and be prepared for your next fun game to play. Till then, we’ll have you covered with all of the above!

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