Pyramid pool

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Setup for pyramid pool

Pyramid pool, also called pyramids (so called because gamblers pooled their bets at the start of play), is a form of pocket billiards (pool) mainly played in the 19th century. It was one of several pool games that were popular at this time.


The earliest rules were recorded in Vienna in 1795 under the name à la Figaro or à la pyramide.[1][2] In Continental Europe, the game was played with a red cue ball and white object balls like Russian pyramid but with unnumbered balls. Any number of object balls may be used but the earliest minimum was twelve with later rule books recommending fifteen,[3] twenty-one,[4] or twenty-four balls.[5] The game arrived in English-speaking countries by 1850 but the colours were reversed with the cue ball being white and the object balls red.[6]


Object balls were racked in a triangle with any remaining balls placed at the back of the triangle. It could be played by several players, with an agreed stake per ball pocketed, or with just two players in which case the winner is the one to first sink over half the balls. Teams were also allowed if there were an even number of players. With one remaining object ball, one player will use it as his cue ball while the other retains use of the original;[1][6][7] this rule was dropped in the United States during the late 19th century which required the white ball to always be the cue ball for both players. An early version of pyramid pool awarded the entire pool to the player that sank the last ball.[6][8]:120-121 Balls do not need be to called except in the United States which was required after the break shot; this rule was added in the early 1880s.


In 1875, this game combined with black pool to form snooker.[9]:50 In the United States, pyramid pool developed into fifteen-ball pool, a precursor to rotation and straight pool. Since the middle of the 20th century, the American version of pyramid pool has been known as basic pool or basic pocket billiards which now uses modern pool balls.


  1. ^ a b Baumann, Anton (1795). Gründlicher Unterricht und Regeln des Billard-Spieles (1st ed.). Vienna: Anton Baumann. pp. 79–84. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  2. ^ Gerold, Joseph (1795). Der beliebte Weltmensch, welcher lehret die üblichsten Arten der Spiele (1st ed.). Vienna: Joseph Gerold. pp. 90–94. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  3. ^ von Alvensleben, Ludwig (1855). Encyclopädie der Spiele (2nd ed.). Leipzig: Otto Wigand. pp. 81–82. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  4. ^ Vanderheid, Christian (1866). Der Billardspieler in seiner größten Ausbildung (2nd ed.). Vienna: Albert A. Wenedikt. p. 19. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  5. ^ Bonnier, David Felix (1847). Ny och fullständig Svensk Spelbok (1st ed.). Gothenburg: D.F. Bonniers. pp. 323–324. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Kentfield, Edwin (1850). The Game of Billiards (5th ed.). London: Smith, Elder, and Co. pp. 48–50.
  7. ^ Public Domain Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Billiards". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ Shamos, Mike (1999). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. New York: Lyons Press. ISBN 1-55821-797-5.
  9. ^ Shamos, Mike (1994). Pool. New York City: Friedman Fairfax.