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Except when clearly contradicted by these additional rules, the General Rules of Pocket Billiards apply.

Type of Game

"Killer" is a pool game for up to 13 players, which can be played on any pocket billiard table (any size, UK or US style, even a snooker table. just so long as it has pockets!).
When there are a lot of people and only one table, it's a good way of keeping everyone involved.

It is to a large extent a game of chance and is intended to level out skill differences somewhat. It is often played late in the evening after a league match.

In addition to the table, you need a deck of playing cards and a blackboard (it can be played without the blackboard but it helps).

Everyone pays one pound to enter, which should be in the form of a one pound coin (note to non-Brits: a pound coin is approx 22mm in diameter and 3mm thick. read on to see the relevance of this - you'll have to adapt according to local coin sizes).

Write the numbers from 1 to N (number of players) down the left-hand side of the blackboard (if there are more than 10 then write 'J' 'Q' 'K' instead of '11' '12' and '13').
To the right of each number write one of the players' names, and to the right of the name draw three tally marks, representing that player's lives.

Prepare the deck by selecting 3 of each of the cards numbered from 1 to N. Shuffle and cut. (NB It is usual to let the first person to get knocked out take over control of the cards).

Rack the balls in a triangle with the 8-ball at the centre.

The break

Turn over the first card to determine who starts the game (ie the player whose name is next to that card on the board).
The player indicated breaks the balls from anywhere behind the baulk line.

Immediately after the break shot, the coins are placed in a tidy vertical pile in the centre of the table (or as close to it as possible on the line joining the centre with the black spot).
If nothing goes in on the break shot, the player does not lose a life but gets another shot (after rthe coins have been placed) on which they do have to pot.

General rules of play

The next player is always determined by turning over the next card.

If nothing is potted, or if the white goes down or leaves the table, then the player loses a life (except on break shots). A tally mark is wiped off of the board next to the player's name and their card (just turned over) is removed from the pack.

Thus at any time the number of cards left in the pack should be the same as the number of tally marks left on the board.
Whenever the white is potted or leaves the table, the next player must play from anywhere behind the baulk line.

When the last ball is potted, the balls are re-racked and the next card turned over to determine who breaks. The coins are removed from the table for the break-off shot, and the player breaks as at the start of the game, detailed above.

When the last card has been turned over (and the resulting shot played) the cards are shuffled again before continuing.
If the pile of coins is knocked over during a shot, the player must pay another pound, which is added to the pile (which is reinstated).

When playing on a table where you have to pay for each rack, whoever pots the black has to pay for the next rack.
When there is only one card left, that player wins and takes the coins.


One can play to try to leave the next shot difficult, but the cards might determine that you are playing next yourself.
Sometimes you know that you're not up next. Like when all your cards have been turned over already since the last shuffle (except when the cards are about to be shuffled again!)

Thus there is a sense in which the game becomes easier the fewer lives you have. You are more likely to go out (if someone leaves you a difficult position) but you also have more power to put others in tricky situations with little or no risk.

There are other versions of the game, the most common being one where cards are not used. The players then simply play in the order the names are written on the board. This is not so good as it opens the door to people teaming up ("leave me an easy shot and I'll make sure that the next player gets eliminated" can result in the better players get knocked out almost immediately!). Also it removes the element of risk assessment (you always know who's next, and it's never you).

© Rupert Ward 2003, Rupe@arseweb.com

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