Glossary of One Pocket terms

Besides standard pool terminology, the rich strategy of One Pocket has spawned — or borrowed – quite a few terms that are specific to the One Pocket game.   Since most players who are taking up One Pocket already are familiar with pool’s general terms, and since other pool resources cover them as well, most generic pool terms will be skipped here. However, since language facilitates thought process, and One Pocket especially rewards good thought process, here are some terms that should enrich both your One Pocket thinking and your ability to communicate with others about the game.

Note that every time a word appears within a definition in single quotation marks ‘like this’, that word or phrase can also be found elsewhere in this glossary of One Pocket terms.

Alphabetized List


Action – Gambling activity.

Adjust – To ‘adjust’ means either to create a ‘handicap’ when players have been playing ‘even’, or to modify an existing handicap to new terms, generally by altering the required winning scores for one or both players.

Ahead – A variation on the simple ‘by the game’ method of gambling, where instead of paying after each game, and instead of a ‘race’ to a given number of wins, the players compete until one player has gone ‘ahead’ by a certain margin of games, such as five ‘ahead’, at which point the losing player would be expected to pay off the wager.

Answer – A successful inning in quick response to your opponent’s successful inning.

Apex ball – the ball placed at the top of the racking triangle for the opening break – the ‘head ball’.  


Back — To ‘back’ a player means to put up the money for the player in a gambling math-up.

Back scratch – Another term for ‘intentional foul’.

Backer – Someone that puts up the money (or a portion of the money) for one of the players in a gambling match-up. Typically, backers cover all of the losses, and split the winnings with the player they are backing.

Banking lane – The route that a banked ball would need to have for a clear path to the pocket; especially the area along the side rail within a few inches of the side rail that would block most ‘straight back’ banks.

Beating (your opponent) to the shot – Refers to coming out of an exchange of safeties with the first legitimate chance to score.

Big ball position – When a ball lies very near a cushion, but just off it, such that the cushion adds a larger margin of error to a shot, because such a ball can then be made either by hitting directly with the cue ball, or by going ‘rail first’ — or even by simultaneously hitting the rail and ball. Also, defensively, when an object ball lies anything less than a full ball’s width off the cushion, thus creating a larger target to hide the cue ball behind.

Blocker or Blockers – A ball or balls that lie between an otherwise playable ball and a potential scoring pocket, or between the cue ball and the playable ball such that a direct shot to the pocket is blocked, turning the shot into at best a challenging combination.

Blood test – A long shot intentionally left by an opponent as a challenge for you to execute or decline; often left as the lesser of evils when a more definite safety is not readily available.

Break serve – To win a game on your opponent’s break.

Business – Unsavory collusion between opponents to prearrange who wins a match on which other people’s money is wagered. See ‘dump’.

By the game – The simplest gambling method whereby a wager is set on each game, and either the losing player is expected to pay after every game, or it is agreed to keep score ‘on the wire’ for settling up later.


Chicago – To cluster all the remaining balls on the far end of the table for a long ‘uptable’ game (see ‘wedge’).

Cod lock – An especially nasty trap from which it appears the opponent threatens to win the game.

Come (with a shot) – To successfully execute a challenging shot.

Corner ball – Either of the two balls racked at the bottom corner of the triangle which, after a typical break, the one nearest the breaker’s pocket often comes out towards their pocket (and occasionally goes in!), and the other of which generally comes out along the foot rail near the returning player’s pocket.

Corner hook – Placement of the cue ball sufficiently deep inside a pocket such that the point of the cushion blocks a direct shot to a ball or balls.

Corners – A regional game related to One Pocket that dates at least back to the 1920’s, played on special tables with only two pockets which are located at the head end of the table. The balls are racked on the foot end of the table, which being pocketless, permits banking directly into the corners (like on a standard billiard table). Like One Pocket, all fifteen balls are used and shot in no particular order, with the first player to reach a count of eight winning.

Count – The score.

Cover – As a noun, ‘cover’ means a ball or balls that lie in such a way that they naturally lend themselves to act as good ‘blockers’ to ‘protect’ an advantage on your side, or to ‘trap’ your opponent behind. As a verb, to ‘cover’ a ball or balls means the same as to ‘protect’ or to block them from your opponent’s direct access.

Cross corner bank – A one-rail bank off the side rail.

Cross-over bank – A bank where the path of the object ball on the way to the pocket after it banks, crosses paths with the cue ball, thus sometimes offering the possibility of a ‘kiss’.

Cub – Freddy Bentivegna’s term for a cluster of two or more problem balls that although they are on your side of the table, they are bunched together in such a way that none of them go cleanly into your pocket.


Dead – When two or more balls lie sufficiently close to each other that they create either a combination or a carom that directs a ball quite reliably toward a player’s pocket, when hit reasonably properly. Generally a ‘dead’ ball doesn’t require as accurate a hit with the cue ball than what would be required for a normal shot.

Distance – A safety tactic of leaving your opponent as long a shot as possible, preferably with the cue ball frozen to the far rail.

Double hit – An illegal extra contact between the cue ball and the tip of the shooter’s cue that can sometimes occur on a shot in close quarters. Because it is often controversial to detect, it is wise for the non-shooting player to call over someone to act as a referee when they see the shooter approaching such a shot.

Double kiss – To get a quick extra contact between the cue ball and object ball, generally when playing a bank shot where the object ball is frozen to, or very close to the cushion.

Double or nothing – When gambling, to wager the entire balance owed at a given point – so that if the player who is currently ahead wins, they would be due two times the balance wagered, whereas if the player who is behind wins, they would break even.

Double up – To take advantage of two or more object balls that line up towards your opponent’s pocket to play safe by leaving the cue ball in roughly the same line at the far end of the table, such that neither object ball offers a clear shot to the pocket. ‘Doubling up’ only works as a defensive move when the balls are not lined up well enough for a reasonable combination shot.

Down table – The playing zone down on the racking end of the table, including both players’ pockets and up to the side pocket area. A ‘down table’ game would be a game in which the balls stay pretty much in the racking end of the table, never really getting pushed significantly ‘out of play’ or ‘up table’.  Note, many old time players also refer to the upper end of the table (the opposite end from the scoring pockets) as ‘down table’, apparently using the term ‘down table’ interchangeably simply to refer to the other end of the table regardless of which end they are referencing from.

Duck – 1. As a noun, of course ‘duck’ refers to an easy shot.
2. As a verb to ‘duck’ means to play safe – often at the same time you shoot towards your pocket.

Dump – The strongly frowned upon practice of arranging to intentionally lose a match on which other people’s money is riding, for a prearranged share of the winnings. Sometimes only one player is involved; or both players could be involved, with one ‘pitching’ (the player that agrees to lose), and one ‘catching’ (the player that agrees to win).


Eight and out – A single inning run out of all eight balls needed to win a game of One Pocket.

Escape – To safely get out of a ‘trap’.

Even – Matching up with no handicap, both players needing the same number of balls to win.

Even money – Refers to a 50-50 chance of success; of course players prefer situations that give them a better than ‘even money’ chance to win.


Fan – To ‘play the cue ball’ by barely skimming it off an object ball with a very thin hit on the object ball while rolling the cue ball to a desired location.

Feather – Another word for barely skimming the cue ball off an object ball or balls.

Flyer – A very low percentage shot.

Foot rail – The short rail down at the racking end of the table, between the two player’s scoring pockets.

Foot spot – The spot on the racking end of the table on which the balls are initially racked, and on which balls are spotted as necessary over the course of a game.

Fram – A desperation type shot when a player finds themselves in trouble with several balls around their opponent’s pocket and no apparent reliable safety available, and they resort to driving the cue ball hard into the balls with the intention of knocking as many away as possible. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t, but occasionally you might even make a ball in your own pocket – at least that is the wishful thinking.

Free – A ‘free’ shot would be one that can be played such that there is very little chance of your opponent having a return scoring chance; in other words a very safe shot.

Frozen – A ball is said to be ‘frozen’ when it is in actual contact with either a rail or another ball, and special legal shot rules apply.


Gather – To bring randomly spread balls together into a specific desirable area – either near your pocket, or out of play at the far end of the table, or perhaps into a cluster intended to block ‘banking lanes’.

Get out – To pocket sufficient balls to win the game.

Ghost – An imaginary opponent for the purpose of challenging yourself in a practice session where you play against the ‘ghost’. Generally, you win if you run out all the designated balls, and the ‘ghost’ wins if you fail to run out. Besides being a motivational tool for stimulating your practice sessions, playing the ‘ghost’ offers a framework for tracking your improvement as well, if you wish to keep records. You can play a race to a certain number of wins, or do the exercise until you have beaten the ‘ghost’ a certain number of times.

Ghost ball – Refers to the ‘ghost ball’ aiming system; the ‘ghost ball’ being the imaginary ball location representing exactly where your cue ball would be at the moment it contacts the object ball in perfect alignment to make your shot. Also, when two object balls happen to be lying close together and located just right for one ball to perfectly carom the cue ball into the second ball to send it towards your pocket. When the first ball is lying right up against the imaginary ‘ghost ball’, these shots are nearly ‘dead’.

Give a ball – 1. To make a ball intentionally in your opponent’s pocket, either because it is not safe to ‘take out’ in a controlled fashion, or it is the best route to putting your opponent in a ‘trap’, or it is simply the best choice of safety in a difficult situation. 2. As a handicap, when the stronger player offers the weaker player a one ball adjustment in the score.

Give-up shot – A desperation style, low percentage shot that gives the impression that the shooter has resigned to losing that particular game.

Go – To make the decision to shoot a potentially risky offensive shot because it offers the best chance to win, or at least a chance to significantly score.
Grade A shot – A high percentage scoring chance, a shot that you can comfortably shoot regardless of threats near your opponent’s pocket, since you nearly always make such a shot.

Grade B shot – A shot that you expect to make at least 50% of the time or better, and could nearly always leave near your pocket if you happen to miss.

Grade C shot – A shot that you are capable of making, yet is difficult enough that more often than not you miss. When you do miss, the object ball will not necessarily come to rest near your pocket.


Half-ball hit – A contact angle between two balls equivalent to aiming the center of the cue ball directly towards the extreme edge of the object ball. When a ball is traveling with natural forward roll, such a ‘half-ball hit’ ultimately settles into a carom angle of just over 30°. It is a very useful target reference for caroms because it offers such a large margin of error without much deviation in the resultant carom angle even when the contact is either a little more or less than half a ball.

Handicap – To alter the standard even balance of a game so that one player has an advantage over another – generally to help equalize a ‘match up’ between players of significant different skill levels.  The most common handicaps involve ‘adjusting’ the score required to win for one or both players.

Head ball – The ‘apex ball’ racked at the very top of the triangle, which would be placed on the ‘foot spot’ when racking in the standard location.

Head rail – The short rail at the opposite end of the table from where the balls are racked.

Heap – The ‘heap’ is another name for the ‘stack’, or the ‘pile’.

Helping English – English that transfers to the object ball as ‘running English’, which would tend to open up or ‘lengthen’ a banking angle; the opposite of ‘hold-up English’.

High karate – Danny diLiberto’s term for strong forward spin on the cue ball, when it briefly becomes reverse spin after rebounding from a direct hit to a cushion. It can be used intentionally to hold position near a rail after a firm shot, and can also come in to play accidentally when using top spin on shots with the object ball near the cushion.

Hit and the pick – A One Pocket handicap that means to give up the break, plus the breaking player gets to pick one ball of their choosing off the table and deposit it in their own pocket. Thus it is a spot of both the break and a ball, but even stronger than the standard 8-7 spot because the breaking player gets to choose the ball to be removed – thus increasing the value of the opening break.

Hold-up English – English that would transfer to the object ball as ‘reverse English’, which would tend to close up, or ‘shorten’ a banking angle.

Hole – Your pocket in One Pocket.


In-off – A shot where an object ball caroms or glances off another ball (or balls) which redirect its path toward the pocket; often played intentionally when a direct route to the pocket is blocked, or when the desired cue ball position is more naturally achieved by aiming for the ‘in-off’, rather than the direct shot.

In play – Balls that are out in the open enough such that they are make-able from a generous range of cue ball positions, as opposed to ‘out of play’.

In the one hole – Having scored enough balls so that only one more ball is needed for the win. Of course if handicaps were in use, the actual count of balls at that point would vary depending on the handicap.

Insurance ball – When running balls into your pocket, a ball left intentionally playable, while playing position or breaking up other balls that do not so readily guarantee another make-able shot.

Intentional foul – To scratch the cue ball on purpose; or to play a safety without regard for whether the cue ball is hit firmly enough, or in a direction so that a legal ball and/or rail contact occurs, resulting in a foul penalty. A common One Pocket strategy move when a player is in a very difficult situation, or when it is the safest (or perhaps only) way to get the cue ball to an ideal safety location, or to preserve a significant table advantage when any other shot would give your opponent a chance to get out of a ‘trap’. Also used to prevent a hanging ball from being scored for your opponent, by intentionally making the ball in your opponent’s pocket, but then either following the hanging ball into the pocket with the cue ball, or by jumping the cue ball off the table, so that the hanging ball is spotted instead of scored.


Jail – To put your opponent in ‘jail’ means to leave the cue ball locked up in a particularly confining trap.


Kick – A shot or safety where rather than shooting directly at your desired target, you shoot first into one or more rails, with the intent of rebounding into your target ball or balls. Similar to ‘rail first’, except that ‘kick’ generally implies either a longer path or a multiple rail path between cushion contact and target, or to go to a cushion first to enable striking an object ball from behind, whereas in a ‘rail first’ shot the initial object ball contact would still be from the front, off a very near adjacent cushion.

Kill – To ‘kill’ the cue ball means to use the right combination of cue ball speed, english and fullness of contact such that the cue ball abruptly loses momentum after contact with a ball and/or cushions.

Kiss – A second contact between the cue ball and an object ball after either or both balls rebound off a bank; also called a double kiss. A bad ‘kiss’ often results in a ‘sell out’, whereas a good ‘kiss’ might either be lucky, or even be played intentionally as part of a shot or safety.

Kiss-back bank – A bank shot in which the shooter intentionally uses a ‘double kiss’ off the cue ball to redirect the object ball towards their pocket.


Leave – The lie of the balls that a player faces at any given turn at the table.

Lemon – To ‘stall’. A player ‘on the lemon’ is intentionally playing below their top ‘speed’.

Lengthen a bank – To use soft speed, or running English to gain a more open rebound angle on a bank shot.

Lie (of the balls) – The arrangement of the balls on the table once they have come to rest after any shot; especially anything unique or significant which might effect the incoming player’s shot.

Lock – As a noun, a ‘lock’ would be a gambling ‘match up’ where one player has a distinct advantage over the other – also known as having the ‘nuts’.

Locksmith – A gambler that is known for making games where they have the ‘nuts’.

Long – On bank shots, to come up ‘long’ means to miss towards the far side of the pocket, in the direction that too much ‘running English’ would tend to send the object ball. Also a table could be said to be playing ‘long’, when it appears to have a tendency towards longer, more open rebound angles.

Long bank – Another term for a ‘straight back’ bank; a bank off the head cushion.

Long count – Playing to a score greater than the standard eight necessary to win a game.

Long rail – Either of the long side cushions.


Make a game – To negotiate terms of a game or ‘session’, including terms for whatever wager is on the outcome.

Match up – To ‘make a game’ with an opponent.

Money – Such as in the phrase, he shot for his money, to mean he shot for the win, or he shot for the cash.

Move – As a noun, a demonstration of noteworthy skill, strategy and savvy in a shot – particularly with the cue ball, and especially associated with safety play; as a verb, to execute such a shot.

Mover – A player with a lot of One Pocket experience who demonstrates exceptional skills at safety play and maneuvering the cue ball and object balls – but who may or may not have strong shot-making and ball-running skills. Of course the strongest One Pocket players are both excellent ‘movers’ and great shooters!


New cloth slide – See ‘slide’.

Nit – A timid bettor who wants to bet only a little.

Nut – The basic cost of living. A player on the road must earn at least the daily ‘nut’ just to break even after food, gas and other expenses.

Nuts – As in player A has the ‘nuts’ over player B, meaning a distinct advantage in their ‘match up’.  Player A might be the stronger player, or could even be the weaker player in a situation where player B gave up too much ‘weight’.


On – A shot is said to be ‘on’ when everything about the shot lies naturally to control both the object ball and the cue ball.

On the hill – Needing to win only one more game to win a ‘set’, or needing to score one more ball to win a game. In One Pocket, you can come ‘off the hill’ by scratching – thus needing two balls to win instead of just one.

On the lemon – ‘Stalling’.

On the wire – Literally, to keep track of games won by using the scoring beads traditionally hung on a wire above the table, but could also mean keeping a running score on the table’s counters, or by placing a coin under the edge of the table cushion (with each diamond representing a game won). If the match or set were a race, then each player would have a separate score. However, if the players are gambling ‘by the game’, or in a race to a certain number of games ‘ahead’, then only one score is generally kept, with the player who is behind in games removing a bead (or backing up the scoring coin) when they win, and the player ahead in games adding a bead (or advancing the coin) when they win.

One Hole –Yet another name for One Pocket. Also, to be in the ‘one hole’ refers to needing just one more ball to win a game.

OPM – Other people’s money.

Out ball – Any object ball that if pocketed without scratching would represent the last ball you would need to reach a winning score; your game-winning ball when you are ‘in the one hole’.

Out of play – Balls that are not readily accessible for making in either player’s scoring pocket; perhaps because they lie above the head string, or partially in one of the four non-scoring pockets, or because they are tied up in a cluster – preferably still behind the head string. Obviously there are degrees of ‘out of play’, and with a big lead in ‘the count’, the more ‘out of play’ the better.

Out of the break – The turning point in the ‘early game’ when the break returning player has equalized or neutralized the breaker’s initial advantage.

Owe a ball – A player is said to ‘owe a ball’ or balls when they scratch or foul but do not at the time have a ball available to be spotted. Typically players mark such ‘owed’ balls by placing one coin on the rail near their pocket for each ball owed.


Pay – To ‘pay’ a ball or to ‘pay’ a scratch would mean to spot up a ball either as a result of a foul, or as part of a handicap, thus removing one of the coin markers used to indicate an owed ball.

Pile – As the game progresses, the cluster of balls that remain from the original rack after breaking; also referred to as the ‘stack’, or the ‘heap’.

Pin-ball – To achieve position by caroming off more than one ball in a back and forth action by the cue ball as it caroms between balls, or to pocket a ball by sending the object ball on the same path, in ‘pin-ball’ fashion.

Play the cue ball – In playing a shot, to ‘play the cue ball’ means to put your priority on achieving the best possible cue ball position — ‘taking care of whitey’ — with secondary focus on your object ball goals, generally because making the shot is less likely than the need for a good safety.

Playing the ghost – See ‘Ghost’.

Playing the score – In One Pocket ‘playing the score’ means to adjust your shot selection based on what the ‘count’ in balls is — generally by playing more conservatively with a lead, and more aggressively when behind.

Pocket Apiece – Another name for One Pocket

Pocket shelf – the narrow area of remaining flat slate surface between the points of a pocket and the actual cut edge that drops into the pocket. Some tables have deeper ‘pocket shelves’, which make it harder to ‘take out’ an opponent’s hanging ball, but at the same time they offer more room to leave your opponent ‘corner hooked’.

Pocket speed – Striking a shot with just enough speed for the object ball to reach the pocket, but ideally not so hard that a miss would cause sufficient rebound to leave your opponent a return bank.

Pockets – Yet another name for One Pocket

Post up – When betting on a match, the act of each player (or their ‘backer’) producing the actual wager amount for a given set, mainly to assure each participant that the money will actually be available to the winner. The money is generally either held by a trusted third party, or placed in a safe place, such as on top of the table light, or in a neutral pocket.

Power shot — A ‘power shot’ is any herding kind of shot intended to move multiple balls over to your side of the table on a single stroke.

Power-thru – Using force follow to send the cue ball through an interfering object ball or balls and on to its designated task or desired safety location.

Protect – To ‘protect’ a ball or balls would be to block your opponent’s easy access to remove threats you have established near your pocket. To ‘protect’ a lead would be to ‘play the score’ by effectively making it difficult for your opponent to score enough to get back in the game. To ‘protect’ a layout advantage would be to prevent your opponent from neutralizing a table layout that favors you.


Race – In tournament, gambling or casual play, a predetermined number of games needed to win a match or ‘set’.

Rail first – Similar to ‘kick’, except ‘rail first’ implies to lightly glance the cue ball off the adjacent rail that runs most parallel to your shot, while still striking the object ball generally from the front; often used to achieve different position than what would be available by shooting directly at the object ball, or to avoid an inevitable ‘kiss’ or pocket scratch if the object ball was hit directly.

Reading the stack – Looking over the stack carefully to pick out any dead balls or other hidden opportunities in the lie of the balls in or around the edges of the stack.

Rearrange the furniture – To disturb balls that favor your opponent sufficiently to rearrange the layout of balls so that they might end up favoring you.

Removal shot – A shot that clears out a threatening cluster of balls from near your opponent’s pocket.

Return – A player’s attempt to respond successfully to their opponent’s shot; such as to ‘return’ the break.

Reverse English – Spin on a ball in the opposite direction of that which naturally occurs as a result of an object ball striking a cushion at an angle; the opposite of ‘running English’. ‘Reverse English’ tends to ‘kill’ the speed of a ball as it strikes a rail. It is especially useful in One Pocket for controlling the ‘rock’ in safety play.

Rock — Another word for the cue ball; also known as ‘whitey’.

Running English – The direction of spin on a ball that naturally occurs as a result of an object ball striking a cushion at an angle – whether applied by the shooter, or picked up naturally by contact with one or more rails; the opposite of ‘reverse English’. ‘Running English’ tends to help a ball maintain speed after contacting a rail.


Sandbagging – When a player ‘stalls’ early in a handicapped event to obtain a lower rating, so that late in the event they can win more easily by benefiting from the erroneous handicap.

Sell out – A grave error that leaves your opponent with a high percentage shot that could cost you the game; typically as the result of missing a shot you expected to make, or by misplaying a safety, or by having a ‘kiss’ or some other unintended consequence disrupt your shot.

Session – An extended series of games or sets of games between players. One Pocket is known to attract certain players into extra long match-ups – sometimes going all night!

Set – In gambling, tournament or casual play, a ‘set’ of games is either a ‘race’ to a predetermined number of games won, or in non-tournament play, a more open-ended race until one player reaches a certain number of games ‘ahead’. In a gambling situation, the losing player would be expected to pay up at the end of each ‘set’ unless it was agreed to play an immediate ‘double or nothing’ rematch, in which case the losing player is generally expected to ‘post up’ the additional wager. The score in ‘sets’ could also be recorded ‘on the wire’ or by moving coins under the cushions.

Short — On bank shots, to come up ‘short’ means to miss towards the near side of the pocket, in the direction that too much ‘hold-up English’ would tend to send the object ball. Also a table could be said to be playing ‘short’, when it appears to have a tendency towards shorter, more perpendicular rebound angles.

Short bank – A one-rail bank off the side cushion, when both the cue ball and the object ball lie in the lower end of table (below the side pocket).

Short count – Playing to a score less than the standard eight needed to win.

Short money – Low stakes in a gambling match up.

Shorten a bank – To use harder speed, or ‘hold-up’ English, or both, to obtain a more closed rebound angle on a bank shot.

Shortstop – A top local player, just under the professional level.

Sideboards – When a ball or balls lie very near your pocket, but not blocking your pocket, such that a slight miss on another object ball shot towards the pocket has a good chance of kissing into your pocket off the near balls.

Sleep a scratch – When a player who ‘owes’ a ball from an earlier scratch fails to remember to spot the ball or balls owed once they legitimately score balls that could be spotted.

Slide – Especially on new cloth, the tendency for balls that strike a cushion to open up and ‘lengthen’ on their rebound angle on tables with brand new cloth.   Apparently over time, chalk and grit collects on the cushion cloth, so balls tend to grip a tiny bit more on older cloth than they do on new.

Snooker – To leave the cue ball behind blocking balls so direct access is denied to your object balls of choice.

Snooze you lose – An unforgiving style of scoring whereby if a player’s owed scratch penalty is forgotten at the time that player makes a legitimate ball, the scratch penalty is voided; or on a table with ball returns, a ball or more that goes legally in one player’s pocket, but that player forgets to remove them from the gully tray and place them in their particular score keeping area, so that they might become confused with balls the next player scores, thus giving the second player credit for extra balls. Not really a gentleman’s style of play, and a good illustration of the need to clarify rules before starting a game with an unfamiliar opponent.

Speed – Besides the obvious velocity of a shot, ‘speed’ can also refer to the skill level of a player, such as when a hustler might not show his true ‘speed’ for small stakes.

Splash – The resulting action of sending either the cue ball or an object ball hard into a cluster, such that the final spread of the balls would not be entirely predictable; perhaps as a last resort in response to an overwhelmingly strong grouping of balls near your opponent’s pocket.

Split shot – When two balls, just over a ball’s width apart, line up approximately towards your pocket, with the cue ball off to the side, lending the opportunity to shoot first into the further-most ball, then immediately caroming into the ball nearer your pocket, sending that second ball to your pocket. The cue ball generally passes through the two balls in ‘pin-ball’ fashion.

Spot – 1. As a noun, short for the foot spot; as a verb, to place an owed ball on the ‘foot spot’.
2. As a noun, a ‘spot’ means a handicap; as a verb, to ‘spot’ means to give a handicap.
3. A place to play pool that is known for ‘action’.

Stack – As the game progresses, the cluster of balls that remain from the original rack after breaking; also referred to as the ‘pile’.

Stall – To intentionally play below your actual skill level, so you appear to be a weaker player, generally as part of a hustle, or to obtain a lower league or tournament ranking in handicapped events.

Stick your rock – To exercise near perfect cue ball control, especially in terms of safe position.

Stiff – A bank sitting at an angle that cannot be safely played is sometimes called a ‘stiff’.

Straight back – A one-rail bank off the head rail and ‘straight back’ towards your pocket (as opposed to two or more cushions).

Straight back twice – A two-rail bank up and back the length of the table.

Strong to the pocket – Describing a good shooter, such as a good nine-ball player making the conversion to the One Pocket game. When facing such a player, you would want to be extra careful about tempting them with difficult or long shots, as they might be a favorite to make them!

Stuck – 1. To be trapped in a difficult situation.

  1. Also in gambling slang, how much a player has lost at any given point.

Sweat – To watch a match with great interest in the outcome, particularly because a wager is involved.
Sweater – A spectator.


Table roll – When a ball fails to roll true as a result of some debris on the cloth or defect in the felt or slate. Experienced One Pocket players are very tuned in to the particular rolls of a familiar table, and they chose their pocket and adjust their play accordingly.

Take care of whitey – To control the cue ball.

Take out – To remove an object ball that is very nearly in your opponent’s pocket, by striking it hard into the pocket facing or into the point of the pocket, with the intention of forcing the ball away, rather than giving it to your opponent.

Take a scratch – To intentionally foul, generally by very lightly touching the cue ball with the cue stick – if you are trying to leave the ball right where it is – or by rolling or nudging it to a more desirable location, but without regard for legally striking a ball and/or a cushion, thus accepting a foul penalty. See ‘intentional foul’.

The Count – The score.

The Score – In a given game, the number of balls each player has made. The score can also be expressed as the number of balls each player needs to win the game.

Threat – A ball or balls in scoring position on your side of the table. Obviously the degree of ‘threat’ can vary greatly depending on the number of balls and their location, as well as the ‘score’.

Throw – To take advantage of the subtle friction between balls to obtain an actual shot angle that is a little to one side or the other of what looks like the natural shot angle.

Ticky – A ‘ticky’ occurs when an object ball lies about a ball’s width (or a little more) off a cushion, and the cue ball goes ‘rail first’ into the object ball, between the rail and the ball, such that the cue almost immediately glances off the same rail a second time on it’s way down along the same rail.

Transferred english – Refers to the small amount of english that can be put on an object ball as a result of contact with the cue ball.

Trap – 1. As a verb, to ‘trap’ your opponent would mean to leave them faced with a particularly difficult or confining situation, where it is tough for them to find an easy or safe return shot, and the player so trapped might even have to resort to ‘taking a scratch’. As a noun a ‘trap’ would describe such a situation. It should be noted that it is quite possible to accidentally ‘trap’ yourself by leaving just such a situation after making a ball in your own pocket!
2. Scheme to set up an advantagious gambling match-up.

Twice – To describe a two-rail bank that goes back and forth beteen opposite cushions on its way to the pocket; such as ‘twice across’, or ‘straight back twice’.

Two-way shot – A shot that is both offensive and defensive at the same.


Under the break – That part of the early game, where the non-breaking player is still under a distinct disadvantage in table layout as a continuation of the breaker’s initial advantage. You are ‘under the break’ until you are able to get ‘out of the break’, by turning the breaker’s advantage around or at least by neutralizing their advantage.

Up table — The general playing zone from above the side pockets up to the head rail; the opposite end of the table from the two player’s scoring pockets. An ‘up table’ game would be a game in which the majority of balls have been pushed significantly out of play ‘up table’.


Weak to the pocket – Describing a player whose shot-making skills are not known to be especially strong, particularly on long shots, but who still might be a good ‘mover’. When facing such a player, you might want to take advantage of ‘distance’ more often, either by leaving more ‘up table’ safeties, or by challenging them with more ‘blood test’ situations.

Wedge – The ultimate up table, out of play game conditions where all the remaining balls on the table are gathered in a cluster or ‘wedge’ next to one of the upper corner pockets; Nick Varner demonstrates special talent for achieving such a layout in several Accu-Stats matches.

Weight – Another term for a ‘handicap’.

Wet table – In humid conditions, when it is observed that a table is playing with the characteristics that dampness typically brings; slower rolling balls, balls that seem to stick together more, and cushions that seem to play ‘shorter’.

Whitey – Another word for the cue ball; also known as ‘the rock’.


Z-Bank – Two-rail banks that take a back and forth ‘Z’ pattern across the table.