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Playing pool in Bali

Playing pool in Bali Joe

Playing pool in Bali

Playing pool in Bali is a totally different experience than in Australia where I have lived most of my life. The competition is keen and the pool experience rarely has the grundginess of pool places elsewhere.

See Where to Play Pool In SeminyakWhere to play Pool in Kerobokan, Where to play pool in Legian and Kuta and Where to play Pool in Bali for pool tables in other areas of Bali, on this website.

Firstly, pool is, by and large there is no cost to playing pool in Bali unlike in Australia where you might pay $4 a game, which adds up if you play 20 games a night.

There are some pool halls you can go and rent a table by the hour. See Denpasar pool halls The Ship, the Obrigado and also Kuta pool ball Paradiso where there are 12 tables and a good, full size snooker table.

Winner stays on

Most pool tables in Bali operate on the ‘winner stays on’ principle, which is good if you are a good player but not so good if you just want to play with your friend.

At quiet times, however, you can go and play with a friend to your heart’s content without having to beat some stranger first.

Secondly, pool is something akin to a national sport in Indonesia, so pretty much everyone plays, and those who play a lot are far better than the average pub pool player in Australia.

Indonesians and especially the Balinese love to gamble and pool is a popular thing to gamble on. This is partly why in some parts of Indonesia pool tables are scarce as local, Muslim communities discourage gambling.

In Jakarta there are big competitions whereby significant prize money is at stake, while in Bali these are usually one night affairs with the winner maybe taking home up to a million rupiahs, not bad for a night of fun, although the competition is pretty fierce usually at this type of event.

The rules of playing pool in Bali are a bit different to Australia, and are called ‘International Rules’, although I have no idea of the legitimacy of that claim. Australians often get confused by these rules, often complaining ‘This is not like in Australia; to which I reply, ‘No, you are in Bali!’

Foul shots and penalties for Bali pool

The penalty for a foul shot is that you can pick up the white ball, put it anywhere you like, and have one free shot. This is called ‘free ball’ or ‘ball in hand’.

In Australia they play two shots, whereby the ‘fouler’ loses a turn. As the white ball must be placed in the ‘D’ and the player must shoot forward, this can penalise the ‘victim’ which is a bit unfair.

Personally I like the Balinese rule on fouls much better as it rewards good play.

Depending on where you play, the house rules on potting the opponent’s ball varies. Sometimes it is considered a foul although rarely. Usually if I hit my ball first and happen to sink my opponent’s ball it is simply his shot, no free ball.

If I put my ball down as well, it remains my shot. Ie, it is not a foul to sink your opponent’s ball.

The game is not over until the black is gone, so fouls on the black are not fatal unlike in Australia.

Regardless of what ball you pot on the break, the table is still open until someone pots a ball in a shot where there is no foul, in general play.

At some places they pay a foul if the object ball does not hit a cushion. This is designed to prevent crappy snookers and sneaky play. Other, usually competition, rules, say that the white ball must hit the cushion.

It is really only the hard core Balinese players who will insist on that though.

A word of warning to those who think they are good

Don’t be arrogant. And be wary gambling with seemingly meek and mild locals.

There are seriously good pool players in Bali who will hustle unsuspecting tourists. Personally I never play for money. The Balinese will lose a game or two just to up the ante. See Shark Attack in Bali for my own experience of this.

By Mark O’Brien, April 2015

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Robert Keil May 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm

That what you called Australia Rules are the rules of Black Ball. This game is played most in the UK and Australia. International Rules are that what they play here in Bali and all around the world if they play Eight Ball, Nine Ball or Ten Ball! At all of this games you have Ball in Hand after a foul only one difference is at Eight Ball if you make a break foul you need to start behind the bottom line. So if you play with somebody in here you need to ask for Black ball. I Wish you a good Shot and Nice Game Robert (Licensed Pool Teacher from Germany)

Mark James Radcliffe June 12, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Very helpful information Mark.

Jeff Mahan February 12, 2017 at 8:05 pm

If you're interested about the origin of international rules, they developed while trying to get billiards to be excepted as an Olympic sport. Every country that has an Olympic team agreed to a codified set of rules of billiards. So that is the set of international rules. It never made it as an Olympic sport, so they are hardly "official", but almost every pool league across the globe, realized the legitimacy in fairness of these rules and adopted them as their official rules, sometimes with minor modifications. After having played billiards for decades with North American, and countless bar rules, I can say that I think it is by far the fairest way to play the game. Fouls are penalized to the person who makes the foul, and only that person. Overall a great set of rules that make the game more fun, and don't actually take that much to understand

admin February 13, 2017 at 10:17 am

Seems you are talking billiards, not pool. Asia plays to totally different rules than Australia, UK, Europe

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