Pool trick shots are fairly young compared to the game of billiards itself. It obviously was a part of the game since the very beginning; due to necessities at first, and for the pleasure of it after that. It all started with jump shots and behind the back shots executed in the middle of a regular game because of a lack of other way to make a shot happen.
It’s unbelievable to think what amplitude the sport has reached nowadays. In fact, pool trick shots are now organized into well defined competitive format with points systems, various disciplines, and popular players with a large fan base. Two different sorts of event are presented to the public; artistic pool and entertainment-purposed event.
Artistic pool became both international and professional in the year 2000. They are judged just like every other “artistic sport” (skating, skiing, gymnastics, etc.) Each shot has a predetermined score based on its level of difficulty and points are taken off incrementally for each missed attempt. Players have up to three attempts to successfully perform the shot.
Competitors have a program of 160 different pool trick shots to choose from which are divided into eight distinct categories: trick/fancy, prop/novelty/special arts, draw, follow, bank/kick, stroke, jump, and masse. All categories have very well defined characteristics and every trick fits in one of them.
The biggest difference between artistic pool and pool trick shots presented in made-for-TV events is the regulation of the shots. Artistic pool has equipment and shots limitations known by all players. In the case of entertainment events, any trick can be attempted. For example, shooting a ball off the table, and such is permitted. Another distinction between the two types of event is the scoring system.
In showcases events, one point is earned every time a successful shot is completed. Players are given two chances to complete their shot, and then their opponent has to try to execute it successfully as well. Then the roles are reversed and the player with the most points at the end of a given number of rounds is declared winner.
Some notable pool trick shots became classics over the years. Shots such as “the machine gun”, “the dollar bill shot”, “the boot shot”, “the bottle shot”, “the butterfly”, and “the snake shot” are some examples. These tricks have made the sports what it is now, with people replicating them and modifying them to come up with new and always more incredible pool trick shots to the delight of the fans.
Some players also made themselves a reputation of being the top shooters of the sport for their creativity and ability to make the most difficult shots look so easy. Players such as Bruce Barthelette, Mike Massey, Jeanette Lee, Nick Nikolaidis, Stefano Pelinga, and Tom Rossman have all earned nicknames for their prowess on the table.