What Are Dots and Diamonds Used For on a Pool Table?


If you’ve ever played a game of pool, you may have noticed that there are these tiny little diamonds on the pool table rails or the tiny dots on the play surface felt.

To the casual pool player, these markings may not mean very much. These dots and diamonds aren’t there by accident, however. They actually serve a very important purpose!

The dots and diamonds on a pool table are used as position markers to help increase a player’s shot accuracy by dividing the playing surface geometrically. The dots are used in games of snooker, while the diamonds can be used in games of pool.

The Use of Dots in Snooker

In a game of snooker, the dots marked on the table’s play surface help to indicate where balls should be placed. The colored balls that a snooker play must pot all have their designated start positions. Once potted, these colored balls are then returned to their positions as the player clears the table of red one-point balls, alternating between both red and colored.

The line drawn across the one end of the snooker table (also known as the top or head of the table) is known as the baulk line. You’ll notice that there are three dots along this line, the outer-most dots connected by an arch. The space in this little half-circle is known as the D (because it makes the shape of a D against the baulk line).

On the left-most dot on the baulk line, you would place the green ball. The center dot on the baulk line is meant for the orange ball. The right-most dot is the yellow ball’s designated spot. The white cue ball can be placed anywhere within the D at the start of the game’s break.

Moving down the table towards the other side, also known as the bottom or foot, you’ll see that there are three additional dots on the snooker table’s play surface. The dot in the center of the table is aptly named the center ball spot, which is where the blue ball is positioned.

The next dot is known as the pyramid spot, which indicates the position of the pink ball, as well as the start of the red ball pyramid to be formed there. The very last dot is simply called the spot, which is where the black ball (worth a massive seven points in snooker) is positioned directly behind the red ball pyramid.

As you can see, the dots on a snooker table are incredibly important to make sure that every game is consistent and fair. Everything has its place!

Difference Between Snooker and Pool Tables

You can immediately tell the difference between a snooker table and a pool table by looking at the playing surface. Snooker tables are significantly larger (to account for all of the balls in play) and are pre-marked with dots, the baulk line, and the D. Pool tables, on the other hand, are much smaller in comparison and don’t come with pre-marked indicators.

If you’re interested in playing a round of snooker, but only have a pool table available to you, it’s possible to create your own markings with chalk. Keep in mind, though, that a game of snooker is much more difficult on the smaller play surface, but this can provide you with a great cue game alternative.

The Pool Table Diamond System

If you’ve ever played a game of pool, you may have noticed the diamond markings along the rail of your table. While these diamonds (sometimes dots) definitely add to the overall aesthetic of the pool table, they can actually serve as a very helpful calculation tool! Known as the diamond system, these markings can help improve a player’s overall accuracy if used correctly.

These diamonds can help players with choosing the most effective angles for kick shots and bank shots, helping to drastically improve their aiming. When lined up, these diamonds can act as a guidance system, forming invisible lines that a player can use to their advantage. Taking a bit of physics knowledge into account, the angle at which a ball will ricochet will be the same angle at which it was shot.

Experience players can actually use the diamond system even when there aren’t markings where they should be. Some tables don’t have these little diamond marks, so it comes down to your ability to imagine your own to use! While it may sound complicated at first, the diamonds system is something that becomes easier and easier to implement the more you play.

Diamond Line Up

The first thing to do when using the diamonds system is to assign each diamond a number to better keep organized. Start at the foot of the pool table and assign the left pocket the number 1. Move along the rail, labeling the first diamond “2” and so on, eventually leaving you at the right foot pocket, which is number 5.

Then travel up the side rail, number each diamond between 1 and 9. This effectively divides the pool table into four segments along the foot, and eight segments along the rail. A segment is the space between two diamonds. The spaces between diamonds can also be used as guidance points with the diamond system. Simply assign these empty spaces with .5 increments (ie: 1.5, 2.5, etc.).

By labeling each diamond, you’ll eventually become better and faster at identifying which diamond to aim for when you’re about to hit the cue ball. It also helps you to divide the playing surface in such a way that helps you find all the right angles that you’ll need to pocket the next point.

Bank Shots

So how does the diamond system help improve your game? When it comes to bank shots, you simply need to find the diamond that will result in a ricochet angle that leads directly into a pocket. Bank shots are when you deliberately hit the cue off of the rail in order to hit a specific ball. Since you’ve already numbered your diamonds, you can easily tell which diamond you need to shoot from. Remember, the angle at which you hit the cue ball will be the angle at which it will reflect.

With this in mind, determine how many segments are between your cue ball’s position and the pocket. Once you’ve determined how many segments (or diamonds) of distance there are between your cue ball and the pocket, divide this number by two. Whatever the sum is, aim at the same numbered diamond on the opposite rail to you. For example, if there are four segments between your intended pocket and cue ball (diamonds 1 and 5), this means you need to aim for diamond 3 (two segments on each side).

Assuming that you don’t add too much spin when you hit the cue ball, bank shots using the diamond method should prove incredibly helpful to you as a player. The more and more you practice with this system, the faster you’ll be and more confident when choosing your angles.

Kick Shots

The diamond system can also be super effective in helping you increase the accuracy of your kick shots. The principal of halving the distance between your cue ball and the object ball still stands. Determine the distance between the two balls on either the rail or the foot of the pool table and divide the number of segments in half.

This halfway point is what you should be aiming for when you hit your cue ball. Kick shots are great for when your opponents’ balls are blocking a clear path to the object ball that you need to hit. The more you use the diamond strategy when playing games, the better you’ll become at understanding distance, power, and angles.

You can definitely use the diamond system to optimize your chances of success, especially if your opponent happens to scratch, which gives you the chance to place the cue ball in the perfect position to pocket another point. You can use the diamonds to line up shots and potentially get yourself out of tight situations. Your casual pool playing friends will definitely think you’re a pro!