Hot Pool Games: 7-Ball

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7-Ball Basics For This Most Choice Of Pool Games

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Pool Games Fun Galore With "Seven Ball". Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2007, licensed to, Inc.

Seven Ball could become one of the hottest pool games in the world over the next decade. An intermediate player able to run only one or two of every 40 racks of 9-ball played may run out frequently playing 7-ball. There are simply fewer balls on the table that might roll into difficult circumstances.

I like 7-ball as a training game, including the rules I’ve adopted for you, encouraging heightened concentration and planning ahead. 7-ball is a fast paced, fun and sometimes frantic choice from among all the pool games out there!

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Rules for 7-Ball

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Racked for 7-Ball Billiards. Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2007, licensed to, Inc.

Rack the billiards balls numbered one through seven into a circle, with the one to the front and the maroon seven in the center as depicted above.

Begin the game with an open break. The cue ball must hit the 1-ball first during the break. Smash the balls hard and give them a whirl.

Play progresses as in other billiards rotation games such as Nine Ball (shoot at the lowest ball and after the hit, if any ball besides the cue ball pockets your turn continues) but with four fascinating additional rules:

1) The 7-ball’s pocket must be a call shot to win (declared before the stroke) as in "7-ball in the lower right corner!"

2) Each player is allotted one (1) called safety (an intentional defensive stroke, a shot played to miss, usually) per game.

3) Safety and a pocket may both be declared on the 7-ball for the same stroke. For example, "7-ball in the right side pocket and safety!" In other words, you may attempt the win but if you miss, you've declared the shot a defensive one in foresight, so that your opponent does not receive ball-in-hand.

4) Any shot not sending a ball into a pocket yields ball-in-hand to the opponent. Any miss is treated like a scratch in 8-ball or 9-ball. A single miss means the incoming player could win instantly. Intense concentration is demanded of you! Most beginners I've taught 7-ball love this training aspect of the game.

7-ball is a fast paced game. Rule 2 may be altered to handicap play, with one player allotted one safety and their opponent two, three or more safeties. The added defense plays slow the game slightly but allow players of differing skill levels to compete on an equal basis.

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7-Ball Pool Defense

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Figure 1 Shows Pool Cool. Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2007, licensed to, Inc.

Think through Rule 4 in 7-Ball pool, as a miss could end the game for you promptly. Ball-in-hand on any miss demands solid, not half-hearted, safety play.

Avoid being the first player to use their only safety! Consider the layout in Figure 1.

If the pool game was 9-ball, you could have left the position shown with confidence. One of the best options for your opponent from this position is to give you back some fairly difficult bank shot after they miss the 5-ball. Your next play? A second safety if you are uncomfortable with the new bank angle on the 5-ball.

But in 7-ball, you must pocket the 5-ball (or another ball) or your opponent gets ball-in-hand. They will call safe after you do, and you don't get another safety... if you fail the bank they leave you, they grab the cue ball and win.

Try to save your safety call for the second safe of the game after theirs is gone. Call safe first only when you are sure they will miss their chance to finish the game on their upcoming try.

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7-Ball Use of Safety

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Figure 2 Represents The Best Of Billiards Pool. Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2007, licensed to, Inc.

In the position of Figure 2, you have kept your one safety shot in billiards pool unused until now, near the end of the game. Per Rule 3 call aloud the 7-ball in the right corner pocket and a safety also!

Make the shot and win the game—but if you miss the 7-ball, your opponent accepts the incoming position without ​ball-in-hand. I've taught this game many times and beginners always forget somewhere to call the safe on the last 7-ball and lose, when I should have been attempting a difficult return shot without the free ball-in-hand.