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Straight Rail Billiards

Straight Rail Billiards is played with two players. Each player has a white ball that will be their cue ball when they are shooting. One player will have the solid white ball, while the other has the spotted white ball. One player will thus be "white" and the other player, "spot." Rail is played with a third ball which is normally the red ball.

Each time your cue ball makes contact with the red ball and with the other white ball on the same shot, you score a "count." The first player to reach a predetermined number of counts is the winner. The goal is to "gather" the balls and bring them close together, and preferably drive them in to a corner.

There is apparently a way for a player to cheat in the game of "Rail," as was found online. As noted before, because of the limited information available on this game, this information should be taken as informal.

There may be additional, official rules that prevent such an action. The cheat can be preformed by "Crotching the balls," that is, by getting the two object balls frozen together in one of the corners of the table. The shooting player can then shoot their cue ball off the two object balls repeatedly, without moving them. This will allow the shooter to accumulate the predetermined number of counts very quickly.

This apparently occurred in 1879 when Jacob Schaefer Senior scored 690 points in a single inning by employing this strategy. One would say that may have been boring to watch, but 690 separate strokes without a miss is a feat in itself. This particular technique is often called the "rail nurse" as the player is "nursing" the rail with such shots.

Position play is extremely important. This is a game that is usually won by "not missing" rather than by making "great shots." This can be accomplished by setting up, and playing only easy shots. An "easy shot" would be one where all three balls are very close together. In situations where this is not directly possible, you can shoot the cue ball away from the other two, with the aim to bring it back.