What is Carom Billiards? (Rules, Gameplay, Fun Facts, and More)

pool balls in triangle

You may or may not know there are several different types of games you can play on a billiard table other than the popular games pool and snooker. If you’ve ever heard of Carom billiards, you might be wondering what the game entails. So let’s find out the rules, gameplay, and some fun facts about Carom billiards right now! 

Carom billiards, also called French billiards, is played on a billiard table that doesn’t have pockets. There are 3 balls, one red and two white (one of which is the cue ball.) While there are several different games within Carom billiards, players must hit the balls in various orders to gain points and win. 

In this article, we are going to go through the specific rules of gameplay, as well as several fun facts about the Carom billiards. So keep reading! You are going to be a Carom billiards expert in just a few minutes. 

What Are the Rules of Carom Billiards?

The very first thing you need to understand about Carom billiards is how the game is actually played. However, it’s important to know that there are actually several different variations of Carom billiards. 

  • Free Game
  • 1 Cushion
  • 3 Cushion 
  • Casin 

Now, let’s step through the rules of each form of the game, so you have all the information you need to play! 

Free Game 

Free Game, or Straight Rail, is probably the most common variation of Carom billiards played today. 

And luckily, the rules are quite simple to follow. 

There are 3 balls, one red and two white; while one of the white balls is always marked, today, many of them are simply yellow.

Each player uses one of the white balls as their cue ball. and the goal is to hit both of the other balls with the cue to gain 1 point. 

One player continues to shoot until they miss a shot, then it is the other player’s turn. 

Usually, the player who reaches 10 points first is the winner of the game. However, you can play for several sets if you’d prefer. 

In case of a tie, Free Game Carom billiards ends in a shootout between the two players. 

1 Cushion

In 1 Cushion Carom billiards, the game rules are very similar; however, there is one specific difference.

The cue ball has to hit the cushion (the side of the table) at least once before hitting the second ball. 

3 Cushion 

3 Cushion billiards is, not surprisingly, very similar to 1 Cushion, but instead of hitting the cue ball once against the rail cushion before hitting the second ball, it must hit it 3 times. 

This makes the game quite a bit more challenging as understanding the angles of your shot is essential in order to hit the cushion 3 times in between hitting each ball. 


The game of Casin Carom billiards is by far the most complicated and takes the most skill. 

In Casin, you must hit certain shots in order to gain points. And when a player gets 10 points in each section, they win. 

Here are the types of shots the players must hit:

  • Cushion First
  • 3 Cushion
  • 2 Cushion
  • 1 Cushion
  • 3 Casin
  • Red Ball First
  • Direct (No Cushions Allowed)
  • Free Play

Now that you understand the rules and regulations of the various games of Carom billiards, let’s find out a few fun facts about it! 

Fun Facts About Carom Billiards

Carom billiards was invented in France, probably in the 1700s. However, billiards of some kind was being played in France as early as the 1300s. 

We know that Carom came from France as the word “carambole” in French literally means to strike to bounce off something. 

Although Carom billiards may look similar to games such as pool and snooker, in reality, the equipment used is quite different. 

The table itself is slate and felt covered, like in pool and snooker, but it doesn’t have any pockets around the edges. 

As well, the cues are shorter in Carom games, and the tips have a smaller diameter. And the balls are larger than standard pool balls

Carom billiards is still quite popular in Europe, and there are certainly quite a few players in France. However, Carom is not nearly as beloved as pool or snooker in Great Britain, the USA, or Canada. 

Final Thoughts

So, what is Carom billiards? Well, now you know the answer to that one (and a whole lot more!)

But just in case you forgot, there are various types of Carom billiards games, including 1 Cushion, 3 Cushion, Casin, and Free Game. 

While the rules differ slightly in each game, they are all played on a billiards table without pockets with two white balls and one red. 

Now you have all the information you need to enjoy a game of Carom billiards!


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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