Kelly Pool

Kelly Pool | Rules, Strategies, and Fun Facts for Best Experience (2024)

No more waiting for perfect stripes-versus-solids setups. In Kelly Pool, you dive headfirst into a frenzy of numbered balls, each shot a puzzle, a gamble, a thrill ride of strategic chaos. Forget pre-determined pockets – your number becomes your target, and the table transforms into a battlefield where every ball is a minefield and every shot a victory dance. Trust me, once you taste the adrenaline rush of Kelly Pool, the classic pool will feel like a nap in a rocking chair. So, are you ready to ditch the stripes and solids and ignite your pool game with a twist? Let’s dive in!

Imagine a bare pool table, with 15 beautifully numbered balls basking in the green spotlight. No more pre-assigned pockets, just the thrill of the hunt! Each player draws a secret number, their personal Kryptonite to conquer on the felt. This, my friends, is your target, your destiny on a spinning sphere.

Kelly Pool (also known as pea pool, pill pool, keeley, the keilley game, and killy) throws the traditional rulebook out the window and replaces it with a rotation game with a twist. You still take turns, but before aiming for your nemesis, you must first kiss the lowest-numbered ball on the table. It’s a strategic tango, a game of cat-and-mouse where every shot is a mini-puzzle.

Ready to unleash the chaos? Here’s your game plan:

  1. Clear the Table: Ditch the stripes and solids! Arrange the 15 numbered balls in the classic triangle at the head of the table.
  2. Pick Your Poison: The fun begins with the numbered markers, often called peas or pills. Shake them in a bottle to ensure randomness, and then each player draws one, claiming their secret target.
  3. Turn-Taking Tango: It’s a familiar dance with a cheeky twist. Each player gets a shot, but remember, before aiming for your glory, you have first to touch the lowest-numbered ball on the table.

There are two main paths to victory:

  1. First to the Finish: In the simpler form, the first player to pocket their assigned number wins the game. Think of it as a race to the numbered finish line!
  2. Point Domination: Feeling competitive? Opt for the scoring variation. Players earn points for pocketing their own and their opponents’ numbers, but beware of negative points for missed disclosures!

Mastering Kelly Pool goes beyond just knowing the rules. Here are some key tips to become a numbered pool shark:

  • Cue Ball Control: It’s all about draw and follow shots, manipulating the cue ball’s spin to guide it and its prey to their proper pockets.
  • Strategic Shot Selection: Think ahead! Consider your opponent’s numbers, ball clusters, and potential future shots before unleashing your cue.
  • Embrace the Chaos: Don’t fear the unpredictable! Kelly Pool is about adapting, thinking on your feet, and turning unexpected situations into winning opportunities.

Now, let’s delve into the finer details of gameplay:

  • Rotation Rule: Remember, always hit the lowest numbered ball first, even if it’s not yours. Consider it as paying your respects to the numbered hierarchy before claiming your throne.
  • Foul Play: Don’t be a pool pirate! Fouls (like scratching the cue ball or sending it off the table) have consequences. Your opponent might get a cue ball in hand or claim additional points.
  • Variations Galore: Keep things fresh with exciting twists! Try “Last Man Standing” where the survivor with the last ball standing wins, or “Team Kelly” where you join forces and conquer the numbered battlefield together.

To become a skilled player in Kelly Pool, you need more than just a steady hand and precise aim. Let’s delve into strategic insights that will elevate your gameplay, whether you’re a beginner seeking to improve or an experienced player aiming for mastery.

Understanding the layout of the numbered pill pool balls during the initial setup is crucial. Take a moment to assess the distribution of the balls on the table. Identify clusters, open shots, and potential obstacles. This initial analysis forms the foundation for your strategy, guiding your decision-making throughout the game.

Every shot in Kelly Pool is an opportunity to advance your position on the table and gain a tactical advantage. Consider the following key factors when selecting your shots:

  • Proximity to Private Number: Prioritize shots that bring you closer to pocketing your private number.
  • Defensive Positioning: Anticipate your opponent’s moves and position the cue ball defensively to limit their options.
  • Cluster Breakup: Target clusters of balls to open up the table, creating opportunities for future shots.
  • Risk vs. Reward: Evaluate the risk and potential rewards of each shot, balancing aggression with strategic play.

Successfully navigating Kelly Pool requires a balance of defensive and offensive play. Here’s how to incorporate both into your strategy:

  • Defensive Moves: When in a challenging position, play defensively by positioning the cue ball to limit your opponent’s options. Create obstacles and force them into difficult shots.
  • Offensive Tactics: Seize opportunities to pocket balls strategically, gradually working toward your private number. Take calculated risks to gain control of the table.

For those looking to elevate their game to the next level, consider these advanced techniques:

  • Bank Shots and Caroms: Master the art of banking shots off cushions and executing carom shots to maneuver the cue ball precisely.
  • Cue Ball Control: Develop precise control over the cue ball’s position after each shot. This skill allows you to set up subsequent shots and control the flow of the game.
  • Pattern Recognition: Enhance your ability to recognize patterns on the table, anticipating ball movements several shots ahead. This skill enables you to plan strategic sequences for optimal positioning.


Forget predictable stripes and solids, Kelly Pool’s numbered mayhem awaits! Master the thrill of the hunt, strategize around every shot, and claim victory by pocketing your secret number first. So, grab your cue, embrace the chaos, and conquer the felt! This numbered revolution is the ultimate test of skill and strategy, waiting to ignite your inner pool shark. Dive in and experience the enduring appeal of Kelly Pool!


Oops! Don’t panic. Simply reveal your drawn number to all players and proceed with your next shot without penalty. But remember next time, keep it under wraps for maximum strategic advantage!

In the simpler form, nothing happens. Just continue your turn. In the scoring variation, you earn a point for pocketing their number, but they lose a point and need to disclose their number or forfeit. Whew, close call!

Foul play! Your opponent gets the cue ball in hand from behind the head string and can choose to keep the balls where they lie or ask you to re-rack the balls before their shot. Time to sharpen your focus!

Absolutely! Team Kelly is a fantastic variation. Players work together to pocket their assigned numbers first, making strategy and communication key to victory. Double the pool sharks, double the fun!

Online communities, pool halls, and even dedicated Kelly Pool leagues exist! Search for tutorials, tips, and local tournaments to level up your game and reign supreme in the numbered battlefield.

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