How Long Does It Take to Play Pool


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How long does a pool game last? This is one of the questions every novice asks about the game along with the formats, rules, and scoring. You could also be asking this if you had to go to a league and just need a good estimate of how long it’ll take before you step out.

So how long does it take to play pool? The answer is that a complete tournament or game lasts no longer 4-5 hours usually, BUT it really depends on what type of league and what format you are playing. It can be less; it can be more. It also depends on what level of skill the players have.

We’d have to discuss how long one frame or session lasts, how many make up a game and the different formats too-in order to conclude how long a whole game would take.

How long does an 8-ball frame take?

8-ball is the most popular pool billiards game in the world. Since it’s the most popular format (even more than 9-ball pool, which is the second most popular) let’s talk about how long a single 8-ball frame or session lasts.

One 8-ball session takes 15 minutes at maximum; ideally just 10 minutes or lesser. 15-20 is a bad case. 30 minutes is probably the limit and it would rarely ever go thatlong.

As a fun fact, there have been matches in history that even went past 2 hours! But imagine what a drag that would have been for those watching or waiting for their turn.

In short, for league players, 7-10 minutes is usually enough. If you were to ask a professional league operator they’d say even 15 minutes is too much for 8-ball and the general opinion is that a single session should be over much before that!

What about 9-ball?

9-ball pool times vary a lot. However, on average, 9 minutes is more than enough. (8-ball has 15 balls and takes 15 minutes, so by the same rule, 9-ball would take 9 minutes because it has just 9 balls.)

The seven-minute per game shot clock

In “8-ball round robin home tournaments”, which is a handicapped format designed so that less experienced players can play against more experienced ones and get a shot at winning, they use a seven minute per game shot clock. So a player gets strictly seven minutes at most, and if the timer expires they lose and set the timer up for the opposing player.

This way a player gets around 1 minute for 1 shot. If they’re paying attention they’ll wind up before that, in 5 probably. So the shot clock is used to make sure the game doesn’t bog down and everyone gets to go home early!

Billiard rooms set 30-minute per frame

Billiard rooms often set a 30-minute time limit after which you’ll have to pay a new fee. Two newbies playing might actually drag the game for hours, so to discourage that there is usually a 30-minute timer.

What are the different formats?

Every league can have a slightly different format. The major two, country-wide leagues use the following formats:

  • VNEA leagues follow the round-robin format. Here each player from a team gets a chance to play each player of the other team and the number of matches is fixed. So if there are 4 persons per team, the number of games will just be 4*4 = 16. So just square the number of people in each team.
  • APA leagues follow a race format. A race format will have a variable number of games and the game stops when a team reaches the race count. A race to 5 would mean whoever wins 5 games first, wins the tournament. So a minimum of 5 games would be played, a maximum of 9 (race count*2 – 1), and an average of 7.

How long does the whole game last?

Now that we know that an 8-ball frame lasts 15 minutes, and 9-ball can take 9, and we also know the number of frames in each format we’d just have to multiply the time for a single session by the number of total sessions to find out how long you’ll be staying at the league that evening.

So, for example, in an 8-ball game with the round-robin format and 4 players per team, we’ll have a total of 16 matches. Each match takes 15 minutes, so the game will be over in 16*15 = 240 minutes i.e. 4 hours. This is just a good estimate though and can be more or less.

If you include an hour for starting and ending announcements and some delays, you should still be out in 5 hours.

Likewise, if you play a race to 5 in a 9-ball game with two players per race (4 races), then an average of 28 (7*4) games and 9 minutes per game makes about 4 hours again, and to accommodate some lengthy races and delays, make it 5 hours too.

So usually, 4-5 hours it is, for a fun evening at the pool league.

Related Questions

How long does it take to get good at pool?

If you practice a regular 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week, you can pretty much go from a complete beginner to an expert player in around 2 years.

How often should you practice pool?

Daily! If you are serious about improving your game to be the best, you should practice 5-6 hours daily. If you’re already a pro you may just need 2 hours a day to sustain your game, but even professional players practice 4-5 hours every day if they want to go even higher and consider it a full-time job.

See Also:
How Many Hours a Day do Pro Pool Players Practice
Is Billiards a Sport

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