Complete Guide to Bumper Pool Rules: Play Instructions

Did you know that bumper pool has been around since the 1500’s. Like other cue sports, bumper pool is derived from similar lawn games played by the French nobility. Bumper pool most closely resembles lawn croquet. Modern bumper pool became popular in the late 1940’s, with a surge of popularity in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Today, bumper pool tables can be found alongside standard pool tables and shuffleboards in your favorite game rooms and bars. Multigame tables often feature bumper pool, since its smaller. The exciting game of bumper pool combines the strategy and skill of traditional pool with new obstacles and challenges. Before we get into the rules of bumper pool, let’s take a look at what makes bumper pool tables different from standard pool table.

The Bumper pool tables are about half the size of traditional pool tables, and can be rectangular or octagonal. The smaller size means bumper pool tables are fantastic for home game rooms! There is only one pocket on each side of the table. On top of the table, eight rubber bumpers are arranged in a cross pattern in the center. Two more bumpers flank the pockets. Think of a bumper table like a game of pinball. The bumpers are set up to prevent straight shots, so players must navigate the bumpers. The bumpers provide resistance, deterring straight shots.

Rectangular Bumper Pool Table

Rectangular Bumper Pool Table

Bumper pool is a great chance to practice your angled and bank shots. Master your bank shot using angles and the side cushions to sink balls.

Octagonal Bumper Pool Table

Octagonal Bumper Pool Table


Like all cue sports, the bumper pool setup is important to gameplay. In bumper pool, there are ten balls, five red, five white, with no cue ball. In a bumper pool ball set, there will be a spotted red ball and a spotted white ball.  First, line up balls as marked on both sides of the table. Then, place the  spotted ball directly in front of the pocket as shown in the diagram below.


Okay, so now your table is set up, but how do you play bumper pool? According to bumper pool rules, a game can be played with two players, or in two teams. From there, they determine the order of the game by striking the spotted ball opposite their opponent’s right side pocket.  The player that sinks their ball or gets closest to the pocket continues next. The marked ball must be pocketed before the rest of the balls.  Once a ball is pocketed, that player can continue making shots until they miss.

Using calculated precision, the players can knock an opponent’s ball out of position. Bumper pool is a game of defense, which really sets it apart from traditional pool. If an opponent’s ball is close to the pocket, the other player can use their own ball to knock it to the other side of the table. The game becomes fierce, as players try to prevent each other from sinking any balls. A good defense mechanism is to keep at least one ball on your side of the table as you play.


While bumper pool rules are relatively simple, there are rules to learn. As with many bar sports, the adherence of these rules may be up to your host when playing. When learning to play bumper pool, it’s best to stick to the basic bumper pool instructions first before learning any new games or rules.

  • Any time a player pots their opponent’s balls (except for the last ball,) this is considered a foul. As penalty, the opponent can drop two balls into their pockets. However, if a player sinks their opponent’s own balls into a pocket, this counts as a pocket for the opponent.
  • If a player causes a ball to leave the table at any point during the game, their opponent can place the ball anywhere on the table, and can remove two of their own balls from the table.
  • Jump shots, over bumpers or balls, are not allowed in bumper pool, but there is no penalty. This is at the discretion of game host.

Now that you know how to play bumper pool, it’s time to gather some family and friends for a night of endless laughter and friendly competition. Master the basics and you’ll be ready to share your knowledge. Find everything you need to complete your ultimate game room in our full catalogue.

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