How Is The Game Of Carom Different From Pool?

Have you ever wondered how the game of carom differs from pool? While both games involve cue sticks and balls, they are actually quite distinct. In carom, the objective is to use your cue stick to strike the balls and make them ricochet off the cushions, aiming to pocket your opponent’s balls before they pocket yours. On the other hand, in pool, players use their cue sticks to pocket the designated balls into specific pockets, following a set of rules depending on the game variation. Although these games share similarities, it’s the differences that make each one unique and exciting to play.

Basic Overview

Carom, also known as billiard carom or three-cushion billiards, is a popular cue sport that requires precision and skill. In this game, players use a cue stick to strike a cue ball and attempt to make contact with both of their object balls, as well as a cushion, to score points. Carom is different from pool in several ways, including the types of shots, the objective, and the scoring system.

Rules and Equipment

Carom is typically played on a pocketless table, which distinguishes it from games like pool and snooker. The standard carom table measures 5 feet by 10 feet, although variations in size exist. The table is covered in a tightly-woven cloth and has six pockets, or holes, at each corner and two along the long sides. The equipment used in carom includes three balls – a white cue ball and two object balls, usually colored. Additionally, players require a cue stick to strike the balls.

Playing Surface

The playing surface of a carom table is different compared to that of a pool table. The carom table lacks the pockets found on pool tables. This absence of pockets adds a new level of complexity and strategy to the game. The table is typically made of slate, which provides a smooth and level playing surface. The tightly-woven cloth covering ensures accurate ball movement and reduces friction.


The objective of carom is to score points by making precise shots. Players attempt to strike both of their object balls with the cue ball, making sure that the cue ball contacts at least three cushions before hitting the second object ball. The goal is to earn caroms, which are points awarded for successfully completing this sequence of shots. The player with the highest number of caroms at the end of the game is declared the winner.


Number of Players

Carom can be played by two or four players. In doubles play, two teams of two players each compete against each other. However, the most common form of carom is singles, where two players face off against each other.

Shots and Turns

In carom, players take turns shooting the cue ball. Each turn consists of one shot, during which the player attempts to make a carom or score points. When a carom is successfully made, the player earns a point, and it becomes their opponent’s turn to shoot. The game continues in this manner until a predetermined number of points or a time limit is reached.

Scoring System

Carom uses a unique scoring system based on the number of caroms made. The player receives one point for every successful carom. In some variations of the game, additional points can be earned by completing special shots or achieving certain milestones. The player or team with the highest number of points at the end of the game emerges as the winner.

Skills and Techniques

Cueing Technique

A key skill in carom is mastering the cueing technique. Players must have precise control over their shots to strike the cue ball accurately and generate the desired effects. The grip, stance, and stroke play crucial roles in achieving consistent and accurate shots. Beginners may initially struggle with cueing technique, but with practice and guidance, it can be perfected.

Bank Shots

Bank shots are an essential aspect of carom. Unlike in pool, where cushions may help direct the ball into a pocket, in carom, they serve as a vital tool for creating opportunities for caroms. Players utilize bank shots by striking the cue ball in such a way that it rebounds off a cushion and makes contact with the object balls. A firm understanding of angles and ball deflection is crucial in executing successful bank shots.


English, also known as spin or sidespin, is another technique used in carom. By applying English to the cue ball, players can make it spin in a specific direction, which affects its trajectory and positioning after contacting other balls or cushions. This technique adds another layer of control and strategy to the game, as players can use English to manipulate the path and angles of their shots.

Types of Shots

Direct Shots

Direct shots, also known as straight rail or direct rail shots, are the simplest type of shots in carom. In these shots, the cue ball strikes one object ball and then hits a cushion before making contact with the other object ball. Direct shots require precision and accurate aim to ensure that the balls follow the desired path and make the necessary contacts for a successful carom.

Combination Shots

Combination shots involve striking one or more object balls with the cue ball and then making contact with other balls or cushions to achieve a carom. These shots require players to carefully plan their sequences of shots, taking into account the positions of the balls on the table and the available angles. Combination shots can be challenging but offer opportunities for creative play and high-scoring potential.

Cannon Shots

Cannon shots, also known as kiss shots or carom shots, involve making the cue ball contact both object balls simultaneously without touching any cushions. Cannon shots are considered advanced shots in carom, as they require precise positioning, timing, and mastery of ball control. Successful cannon shots can result in impressive caroms and add excitement to the game.

Strategies and Tactics


Positioning plays a crucial role in carom, as players aim to set up favorable shots and angles for subsequent caroms. Skillful players strategically position the cue ball and object balls on the table to create opportunities for high-scoring shots. Careful consideration of angles, ball trajectories, and the positions of other balls is essential in planning successful carom sequences.

Defensive Play

Defensive play in carom involves setting up the balls on the table in a manner that makes it challenging for the opponent to score caroms. Players strategically position object balls near cushions or in difficult locations, making it harder for their opponent to make successful shots. Mastering defensive play requires a deep understanding of angles, ball control, and careful decision-making.


Breaking refers to the initial shot of the game, where the player attempts to break open the balls and set up a favorable position. Unlike in pool, where breaking involves the cue ball striking the pack of object balls, in carom, breaking focuses on creating initial carom opportunities. A successful break sets the foundation for scoring caroms and gaining an early advantage in the game.

Variations and Variants

Three Cushion Carom

Three Cushion Carom, also known as simply three-cushion or 3-cushion, is a popular variation of carom. As the name suggests, in this variant, players must strike the cue ball in a way that contacts at least three cushions before hitting both object balls. Three Cushion Carom requires even greater precision and mastery of angles compared to traditional carom, making it a challenging and tactical game.

English Billiards

English Billiards, often referred to simply as billiards, shares some similarities with carom but also introduces additional elements. In English Billiards, the table has pockets, adding a new dynamic to the game. Players aim to score points by potting balls into the pockets while also scoring caroms. English Billiards requires a combination of skillful carom play and pocketing skills, creating a unique and exciting game.

Straight Pool

Straight Pool, also known as 14.1 Continuous or simply 14.1, is another popular variant of cue sports. In Straight Pool, the objective is to score a predetermined number of points, typically 100, by potting object balls into pockets. Unlike carom, Straight Pool does not involve making caroms or contacting cushions. Straight Pool requires strategic shot selection, precise positioning, and excellent pocketing skills.

Popularity and Global Reach

Geographical Distribution

Carom enjoys popularity in various regions around the world. The game has a strong following in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, South Korea, and Japan. Carom has also gained traction in countries with a rich cue sports culture, such as the United States, where it is played alongside pool and billiards.

Tournaments and Championships

Carom features numerous tournaments and championships that showcase the skills and competitiveness of top players. The Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB), the governing body for carom, organizes various international events, including the Three-Cushion World Cup and individual World Championships. These high-profile competitions attract top players from around the globe and contribute to the growth and popularity of carom.

Online Platforms

In recent years, carom has made its presence felt in the digital world. Online platforms and mobile applications provide opportunities for enthusiasts to play and compete against opponents from different parts of the world. These platforms simulate the game’s mechanics and allow players to practice their skills, participate in tournaments, and connect with the global carom community.

Physical Demands and Fitness


Carom demands a certain level of endurance, as matches can be mentally and physically taxing. Players need to maintain focus and concentration throughout each shot, thinking strategically and calculating angles and positions. The duration of a match can vary, and players must possess the stamina to sustain their performance over extended periods.


Precision is a fundamental requirement in carom. Players strive to strike the cue ball accurately and achieve the desired contact with other balls and cushions. Achieving consistency in their shots relies on precise control of both the speed and direction of the cue ball. Developing precision takes practice, honing fine motor skills, and enhances a player’s overall game.

Hand-eye Coordination

Carom demands excellent hand-eye coordination to effectively position the cue ball and accurately strike the object balls. Players must assess distances, angles, and ball positions in real-time, translating this information into precise movements and shots. Regular play and practice can improve hand-eye coordination, honing the skills required for success in carom.

Cultural Significance

Historical Roots

Carom has a rich history that dates back centuries. Its origins can be traced to various cue sports played across Europe and Asia. Carom has evolved and spread over time, with different variations implemented in different regions. As a result, it has developed a diverse set of rules, techniques, and cultural influences, contributing to its popularity and cultural significance.

Traditions and Rituals

Carom, like many cue sports, has its own set of traditions and rituals. Players often maintain specific pre-game rituals, such as cleaning the cue stick, lining up the balls in a certain order, or taking a deep breath before each shot. These rituals serve as a means to focus and mentally prepare for the game, adding to the overall experience and atmosphere of playing carom.

Influence on Art and Media

The game of carom has found its way into various forms of art and media, reflecting its cultural significance. Carom is often depicted in paintings, literature, and films, capturing the essence and beauty of the sport. Furthermore, carom has inspired the creation of specialized cue designs, table accessories, and even fashion trends. Its influence extends beyond the game itself.

Comparison to Other Cue Sports

Differences with Snooker

Snooker, another popular cue sport, differs from carom in several ways. Snooker is played on a larger table with smaller pockets and features 21 colored balls in addition to the cue ball. The objective in snooker is to pot specific balls in a particular sequence, with each ball carrying a different point value. In contrast, carom focuses on making caroms using only three balls, without the inclusion of pockets.

Contrasts with Billiards

Billiards is often used as an umbrella term that encompasses various cue sports, including carom, pool, and snooker. While carom represents a specific variation of cue sports played on a pocketless table, billiards encompasses both pocketed and pocketless games. Carom and billiards differ in terms of rules, equipment, and gameplay dynamics, offering unique experiences to players.

Contrasting Pool and Carom

Pool, also known as pocket billiards, is a distinct cue sport from carom. The most prominent difference lies in the presence of pockets on the pool table, which adds a considerable level of complexity and strategy. In pool, players aim to pocket their designated object balls after contacting them with the cue ball. Carom, on the other hand, focuses on scoring caroms by making precise shots without utilizing pockets.

Carom and pool also differ in terms of equipment, shot selection, and scoring systems. These distinctions make carom and pool two separate and engaging cue sports, each with its own set of challenges and strategies.

Carom and pool have distinct characteristics that set them apart from each other. While pool involves pocketing specific object balls, carom focuses on making precise shots and scoring caroms using only three balls. The absence of pockets in carom adds a layer of complexity and emphasizes ball control and accurate positioning. Whether you choose to play carom or pool, both games offer unique experiences and opportunities for players to showcase their skills and strategies.