What Are The Rules For Cutthroat Pool?

Cutthroat pool is a pool game that is played with varying amounts of players. Most pool games are played with 2 or 4 players depending on whether or not you are playing teams. So, cutthroat is great when you have an odd number of players or you just want to include more people in the game.

Cutthroat isn’t a common game so many people don’t know the rules. The object of cutthroat pool is to be the last man standing. With most pool games the goal is to make your object balls first. In cutthroat, it’s the exact opposite. You want to make your opponents balls first.

The Basics

The goal of cutthroat is to be the last man standing.

The standard game of cutthroat is played with 3 players. With 3 players, the 15 balls are split up into 3 groups: 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15. However, depending on how many players are playing, you should split the balls up evenly.

  • 2 players: 7 balls each
  • 3 players: 5 balls each
  • 4 or 5 players: 3 balls each
  • 6 or 7 players: 2 balls each
  • 8 – 15 players: 1 ball each

The first person to make a ball gets to choose who gets what groups.

Since the goal is to be the last man standing, you typically don’t want the group associated with the ball you made. For example, if you made the 1 ball you probably want someone else to have 1 through 5.

There are a few exceptions to this suggestion.

For example, if you made the 1 ball but the 2, 3, 4, and 5 ball are all very hard to make, it may be best to take the 1 through 5 group.

In cutthroat pool, you get to shoot until you miss and when all of a player’s balls are all knocked in, that player is out of the game. They no longer get to shoot and the game becomes a 1v1.

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The typical fouls that apply in 8 ball pool apply in cutthroat.

You can’t…

  • hit another ball with your stick
  • hit the cue ball twice
  • knock a ball off the table

All of these fouls result in loss of turn.

A scratch is also a file and results in ball in hand for the next player.


When you scratch in cutthroat, the next player gets ball in hand. This means the player can put the cue ball anywhere they want on the table.

Also, when you scratch the other players get to take one of their balls out of the pocket. The balls are spotted with the player’s ball who is shooting next in front.

If a player had previously been eliminated they are able to re-enter the game.

The Rack

Cutthroat is played with 15 balls and the cue ball just like 8 ball pool, unless you’re playing with varying amounts of players. If you’re playing with varying amounts of players and balls, you will have to adjust accordingly.

In cutthroat, the object isn’t hitting in the 8 ball. So, when racking it isn’t important to put the 8 ball in the middle.

When racking for cutthroat, it is common to put the 1 ball in front and the 6 and 11 ball in the other corners. This is because the balls on the corners are most likely to go in on the break. So, you want to make sure 1 of each group is on each corner.

Some people still do out of habit but it isn’t necessary. The rack for cutthroat can be in any order you want. You want them to be pretty mixed up so that they are properly spread around the table.

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Is There a Tie Game

What happens if the last shot leaves just the cue ball on the table in cutthroat? Who wins?

If the final shot makes the shooter’s ball and his opponents ball in resulting in just the cue ball left over, then one of each players balls is spotted on the table. The player that was shooting gets to continue shooting unless the last shot was made illegally. So, there are no draws in cutthroat.

In Conclusion

Cutthroat is a great game to play when you have varying amounts of people that want to play. The game is relatively simple and adheres to many of the same rules as 8 ball pool.

With Cutthroat the object is to be the last man standing. Your goal is to hit everyone else’s balls in before your balls get hit in. Cutthroat is played in normal turns and you’re allowed to shoot until you miss as long as each shot is made legally.

I hope this article helped you understand the rules for cutthroat. If you have any questions, comments, or know any other multi player pool games, please leave a comment below.

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  1. I love this game, I played cutthroat with my friends before and we were debating over the rules. So thank you for posting this. Having the real rules handy is super helpful!

    1. Yeah, this game isn’t as popular so, it’s common that the rules get mixed up. If you have any questions about the rules or a situation that I missed in my article, please let me know.

    1. Yes, I believe you can, as long as you hit one of your opponent’s balls first, the rules state that you have to hit your opponent’s ball first, but any numbered ball can fall resulting in a legal shot. So, if you can make your ball by hitting the other person’s ball, you should continue shooting.

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