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|Cue sports are a wide variety of games of skill generally played with a cue stick which is used to strike billiard balls, moving them around a cloth-covered billiards table bounded by rubber cushions.
Historically, the umbrella term was billiards. While that familiar name is still employed by some as a generic label for all such games, the word's usage has splintered into more exclusive competing meanings among certain groups and geographic regions. In the United Kingdom, "billiards" refers exclusively to English billiards, while in the United States it is sometimes used to refer to a particular game or class of games, or to all cue games in general, depending upon dialect and context.
There are three major subdivisions of games within cue sports:
Carom billiards, referring to games played on tables without pockets, including among others balkline and straight rail, cushion caroms, three-cushion billiards and artistic billiards
Pocket billiards (or "pool") generally played on a table with six pockets, including among others eight-ball (the world's most widely played cue sport), nine-ball, straight pool, one-pocket and bank pool
Snooker, which while technically a pocket billiards game, is generally classified separately based on its historic divergence from other games, as well as a separate culture and terminology that characterize its play.
Billiard balls vary from game to game, in size, design and number. Carom billiards balls are larger than pool balls, and come as a set of two cue balls (one colored or marked) and an object ball (or two object balls in the case of the game four-ball also known as yotsudama).
In the United States, the most commonly-played game is eight-ball. The goal of eight-ball, which is played with a full rack of fifteen balls and the cue ball, is to claim a suit (commonly stripes or solids in the US, and reds or yellows in the UK), pocket all of them, then legally pocket the 8 ball, while denying one's opponent opportunities to do the same with their suit, and without sinking the 8 ball early by accident. On the professional scene, eight-ball players on the International Pool Tour (IPT) were the highest paid players in the world as of 2006 (the IPT nearly folded in 2007, and as of 2008 is attempting a comeback).
Nine-ball uses only the 1 through 9 balls and cue ball. It is a rotation game: The player at the table must make legal contact with the lowest numbered ball on the table or a foul is called. The game is won by legally pocketing the nine ball (which can be done by pocketing all the available balls in ascending order, typically 1 through 9, by striking the lowest numbered remaining ball first and then driving the 9 into a pocket on the same shot, or by pocketing the 9 ball on the break shot). Nine-ball is the predominant professional game, though as of 2006–2008 there have been some suggestions that this may change, in favor of ten-ball.
RULES: 8-ball is playes with 15 balls and a cue ball. The goal of each player is to pocket their set of balls and then to pocket the 8 ball. Straight poll is played with 15 balls and a cue ball. There are no set of balls, and each player can shoot at any ball on the table. The goal is to be first to pocket 8 balls. A player's turn is over when they fall to pocket a ball or if thay scratch.