Most tables have twelve bumpers, although some tables have fourteen or sixteen. Two bumpers flank each pocket. The remaining bumpers are arranged in a cross in the center of the table, with one line of the cross in line with the pockets. At the center of the cross, there is an open space just large enough to allow a ball to pass through. Tables with fourteen bumpers have three rather than two bumpers on each side of the center space on the line midway between the two holes.
The game is played with 5 red and 5 white balls, with one marked ball in each set. At the start of play, each set of balls is arranged on five spots near each edge of the table by a pocket with the marked ball placed directly in front of the pocket. The object is for a player to sink all of their balls into their pocket at the opposite end of the table. A player's marked ball must be sunk before the player can sink any other balls. Unlike most other billiard games, there is no designated cue ball: each ball can be shot into the pocket.
To begin play, both players shoot their marked ball simultaneously, banking the ball off the cushion to their right and attempting to sink their ball in their pocket at the other end of the table. If both players sink their first shot they each select another ball, place it in front of their opponent's pocket, and repeat the simultaneous shot. If both players successfully sink all five of their balls in this fashion the game ends in a draw.
If, on the initial simultaneous shot, one player fails to sink his or her marked ball in the pocket, the player who successfully sank a ball or who came closest to his or her own pocket shoots next. A player's turn continues until he or she fails to sink a ball.
If a player sinks one of the opponent's balls there is no penalty. However, the ball is considered sunk regardless of which pocket it drops in. If a player sinks one of his own balls (but not the last) in their opponent's pocket, the opponent may drop two balls into their pocket. A player sinking their last ball in the wrong pocket loses the game. If a player causes a ball to leave the table, their opponent may place that ball anywhere on the table (usually in the middle space surrounded by bumpers) and may (depending on local custom) drop two of their balls into their pocket.
- "BUMPER POOL". Billiard World Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- "Sinking Bumper Pool Table Balls By the Rules". Bumper Pool Table Facts. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- "Bumper Pool Table". Bumper Pool Tables vendor site. Bumper Pool Tables. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
- "Bumper Pool Rules". Bumper Pool Tables vendor site. Bumper Pool Tables. Retrieved 25 January 2010.