Rotation – Game of the Month – April 2010

Rotation, as I bet you’ve already guessed, is one of a number of games where the balls must be played in order, starting with the 1 Ball and working your way to the highest numbered ball. It is the most difficult of these games because all 15 balls are used, making the table more crowded, and tougher to maneuver the cue ball on.

Rotation: Object and Scoring

Start with 15 balls racked with the 1 Ball in front, the 2 and 3 in the other corners and the 15 in the middle of row three. Break hard from behind the head string, with at least 4

Efren Reyes
Efren Reyes Credits Rotation for his 9 Ball Game

balls hitting a cushion to avoid a foul. On all shots, the lowest numbered ball (called the ball-on) must be hit first. The player continues at the table until he/she misses or fouls. Rotation is not a called ball or called shot game. As long as the lowest numbered ball is contacted first, any ball being pocketed is credited to the shooter and the player’s turn would continue.


Scoring is based on the number of the object ball pocketed. Making the 10 Ball is worth 5 times as much as making the 2 ball. The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent. Since there are only 120 possible points in any game (sum of 1, 2, 3 … 15), in a game of two players the first one to get 61 wins because the opponent cannot catch him/her. If a tie occurs, the player making a ball gets one extra point and the win.

Safeties and Fouls

Safeties are more tightly controlled than in many other games. Driving an object ball directly to the nearest rail without hitting another ball is a legal safety but can only be done twice in a game, with subsequent similar shots being fouls. Driving the OB to any rail other than the closest one, or hitting a second ball during the course of the shot, is always a legal safety, i.e., there are no limits on the number of times you can do them. Also, like in 9 Ball & 10 Ball, one cannot call “safety” and then pocket a ball. If you legally pocket a ball you must keep shooting.

In the event of a foul, incoming player has the choice of taking the shot as it lies, or of handing it back to the opponent who must then play it. If the foul was a scratch, the incoming player gets ball in hand in the kitchen, but could still give the shot to the opponent. On a scratch, if the ball-on is in the kitchen, since the cue ball must cross the head string before it can hit a ball, the shooter can choose to have that ball spotted on the foot spot. Three consecutive fouls by the same player is loss of game. Complete rules of Rotation.

Basic Strategies

Since high numbered balls are worth so much more than low ones, early in the game it is often better to shoot a tougher shot, a combo, or carom, etc, off the ball-on rather than just making it directly. To win making the balls in order you would have to make 11 balls, the 1 through 11, but if you can make the high numbered balls you can get past 61 with only five, the 11 – 15.

Rotation is a very tough game to master since cue ball positioning can be difficult. Many of the best players in the world use Rotation to sharpen their skills, especially in the Philippines. It has contributed mightily to their comparative dominance in 9 & 10 Ball.

Good safeties early in the game can also help you get out in front. It can be very tough to hit the ball with so many blockers. And be careful not to foul. Since fouling yields BIH in the kitchen rather than anywhere on the table you might take more chances. But remember, The incoming player can give you the shot back, so the penalty for fouls is still quite severe.

Why Play Rotation?

Reason #1? Just look what it’s done for the Pinoys. Reason #2 is that it will provide the incentive you need to work on your caroms, billiards, combinations and banks. It’s a wonderfully rich game with the strategic depth of one pocket. And it rewards creativity like one pocket also.

Give Rotation a try with one of your more open minded pool friends and see if it isn’t all I’ve said. I think you’ll like it, but let us know one way or the other by commenting on this post.

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