Pool tournament rules are typically a bit more severe and technical than what you find in typical pool hall games. Some pool tournament rules are merely extensions or clarifications to the rules that every player knows, while others may be rules that players have never encountered.
There is no standard set of pool rules for pool tournaments across the country. Pool tournament rules cover different variations, because pool tournaments encompass many different types of pool games. You could find yourself playing eight-ball, nine-ball or straight pool, with a host of variations designed to speed up gameplay.
Well-run tournaments spell out all of the rules and post them in a place where you can see them. If they're not posted, ask for a written copy. Never assume that house rules are in effect, even if the tournament is held at a place where you frequently play.
Elimination and Races
Organizers designate the terms of winning the tournament. Some tournaments are elimination tournaments, where an even number of players compete in matches, and the loser of each match is eliminated from playing. The winners move on to play the winners of other matches, and those losers are eliminated, until there's a single winner.
Race tournaments are another popular option. In this format, players typically race to win three or five games, or to score a certain number of points.
Know the Standard Rules
Standard rules for different billliards variants outline fouls, scratches, spotting and ball-in-hand situations. Many pool hall players have no familiarity with some of the more in-depth rules, especially the rules about fouls and spotting, and there's almost always a question about in-hand allowances. Before you go to a pool tournament, make sure to review the standard rules for the variant you're playing. It's up to the tournament organizer to decide how strictly the rules are enforced, but assume you'll be playing with standard rules until you find out otherwise.
Check the Organizer's Affiliations
Some tournament organizers prefer the Billiard Congress of America (BCA). Others go by the American Poolplayers Association. Yet others may have no affiliation at all, or may prefer another organizing body. While standard rules are standard rules, some of the more technical regulations vary slightly from organization to organization. Find out whose rule book the tournament organizer uses, and consult those standard rules to ensure you know how to play.
Four-ball billiards is less common in the United States, but European and Asian versions are extremely popular. Learn about these variations and their scoring.
The history of billiards is a long, rich subject. The billiards game you play today has come a very long way from its origins as a lawn game in France.